VIDEO: Courtmacsherry remembers Lusitania victims with touching tribute at sea

A wreath is laid by members of the RNLI on the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Pictures: Niall O'Sullivan

One West Cork community marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania with a poignant commemoration at the site of the wreckage.

A number of boats left Courtmacsherry this afternoon, including the RNLI lifeboat, and travelled approximately 18km to the location of the sinking off the coast of Cork.

"As you look out from the top of the Coolum Cliffs, the Lusitania lies about three quarters of the way to the horizon," said Dan Dwyer, captain of the 'Lady Patricia', one of the boats which attended the commemoration.

A wreath was laid at the site by the RNLI lifeboat, and a blue balloons were released by passengers on the boats, while others were released at other locations around West Cork, including at local primary schools which were visited by the RNLI this year. Each balloon bore the name of a victim of the sinking.

VIDEO: Courtmacsherry remembers Lusitania victims with touching tribute at sea

Photo: Niall O'Sullivan

A number of passengers on the boats were descendants of both people who died on the Lusitania and locals who assisted in the rescue and recovery of bodies.

One woman travelled to Courtmacsherry from England to honour her great-grandfather who died while working on the ship, and travelled on to Cobh after the ceremony to visit his grave.

"My great-grandmother couldn't afford to travel to Ireland for his funeral or to visit his grave at the time. I was told ahe died five years after him of a broken heart. I've come here to remember them."

Local photographer Niall O'Sullivan attended the ceremony as he heard stories about the sinking throughout his life.

"My great-grandmother lived near the coast, and on the day the Lusitania sank she heard the blasts and she could hear people screaming in the distance. I got involved with the commemoration as I feel a personal connection to the tragedy because of my great-grandmother's story."

VIDEO: Courtmacsherry remembers Lusitania victims with touching tribute at sea

Photo: Niall O'Sullivan

From a boat carrying Gregg Bemis, the owner of the Lusitania wreck, a loner diver slipped into the Atlantic. Eoin McGarry has explored the wreck more often than any other living person, and yesterday he descended to the wreck to lay a plaque. 

"Gregg Bemis and Eoin McGarry on behalf of the international diving community wish to pay solemn tribute to the 1201 victims of the tragic sinking of the RMS Lusitania on the 7th May 1915, 100 years after the sinking," the plaque reads.

"To those 1201 souls: you will never be forgotten. Hopefully someday the truth around the sinking will be revealed."

Four flares were then fired into the sky over the sunken ship by the RNLI before all boats returned once more to shore.

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