Commemoration group seeks Cork relatives of Lusitania sinking

A commemoration group is attempting to track relatives of a number of passengers aboard the torpedoed cruise liner Lusitania, almost 100 years ago.

Commemoration group seeks Cork relatives of Lusitania sinking

It sank within 18 minutes after being attacked by a German U-boat, south east of the Seven Heads peninsula in West Cork.

The group is liaising with the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Lusitania Commemorating Committee which is also planning to remember the sinking with a series of events next May.

Maritime issues are very close to the heart of people in the lifeboat village and the gallantry of the RNLI crew and other rescue boats which went to the aid of the passengers and crew of the liner will also be honoured.

A total of 1,198 people died with 761 survivors in the tragedy of May 7, 1915.

Mary O’Leary and her history group of Jim Crowley, Michael Madden, Joan O’Donovan and Diarmuid O’Mahony are now seeking public assistance to help trace relatives with Cork connections which they plan to invite to the commemoration.

Ms O’Leary said among the relatives being sought are those of a Jack Coughlin (or maybe Coughlan) who was a native of Goleen.

He had married Katie O’Neill, a native of Castletownbere in Butte Montana in 1905.

“Jack, 39, and his wife Katie, 36, had been travelling home to take over the family farm in Goleen. They were accompanied by their three children, John 3, Margaret, 2 and Jeremiah 11 months.

“Katie along with John and Jeremiah survived. Margaret drowned and her body recovered while Jack’s body was never found,” Ms O’Leary said.

Another link, she said, relates to a Julia O’Sullivan, born Julia O’Neill at Gleann na bPiobaire, Upper Froe in Rosscarbery, Co Cork. She was aged 25 and married to Florence O’Sullivan from Kilgarvan, Co Kerry. Both Julia and her husband Flor survived.

The historical group, she said, is also looking for links to two friends from Cork city. Kate McDonnell was the daughter of Eugene McDonnell of 25, Prosperity Square, off Barrack Street while May Barrett came from 120, Barrack Street. Both were aged 25 and were rescued.

Anyone with any information can contact Mary O’Leary at 087 4170263 or maryhollyoleary @gmail.com.

A series of centenary events will take place in Courtmacsherry over seven days next year, starting on the May bank holiday weekend. The group previously launched a fundraising book to aid the local lifeboat, Step back in Time in Courtmacsherry.

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