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Mary McCarthy, whose husband’s grandfather Adam Smyth died in the sinking of the RMS Leinster, with a wreath as she leaves Dun Laoghaire. Paul Sherwood/Crotty Communications
Maritime Disaster

Commemorative events to take place to remember 500 people killed in sinking of RMS Leinster

The vessel was torpedoed 100 years ago today.

A MINUTE’S SILENCE has taken place at the wreck site of the RMS Leinster near Dublin Bay this morning.

The ship sank 22 kilometres off the coast of Dún Laoghaire 100 years ago today, when it was struck by three torpedoes from a German submarine.

More than 500 people perished in what was the biggest ever number of Irish people killed at sea.

This morning, the LÉ Orla escorted the passenger vessel St Bridget, which carried families of the deceased to the wreck site, where a minute’s silence was held at 8am.

A wreath-laying ceremony also took place at the site to start a day of official State commemorations marking the event.

Speaking earlier this week, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, said that the memory of the sinking is important to today’s Defence Forces.

“The sinking of the RMS Leinster resulted in a terrible loss of life that people still remember and remark upon, with a particular poignancy that it came so close to the end of the war,” he said.

Meanwhile, An Post staff nationwide will also observe a minute’s silence at 9.50 am in memory of 21 of their colleagues who lost their lives aboard the ship.

Around 9,000 people will pause to remember postal sorters who were among the first people killed in the attack, and were in the ship’s mailroom when tragedy struck.

A commemorative stamp will be unveiled at the official State commemoration event in Dun Laoghaire later this morning, which will be available from the GPO and

That will be followed by a special performance of the story of the RMS Leinster at the Pavilion Theatre.

Later today, the vessel will come under the protection of the National Monuments Act, which covers all shipwrecks over 100 years old.

And at 6pm, historian James Scannell will deliver a talk on the torpedoing of the RMS Leinster at Pearse Street Library.

In a statement, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said she deeply honoured to represent the Government to remember those who had died at the commemoration.

“Today, we remember each and every one of those who perished and the countless families on both sides of the Irish Sea and as far afield as America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who grieved for their terrible loss,” she said.

“We remember too the members of the crew of UB-123, who themselves were killed one week later.

“We pay tribute also to the heroism and kindness shown by the rescue services, nursing and medical personnel in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.”

With additional reporting from Garreth MacNamee.

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