10 October, 2008

Remembering the Leinster

Fr. Mangan had the best line in St. Michael's Church this afternoon.

"We'll have a collection now, for the banks."

It brought the house down. It was a touch of levity at a poignant occasion, the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster, the old mail boat. 501 was the official death toll, but it was probably higher than that. It was the greatest ever loss of life on the Irish Sea and it occurred just a month before the First World War ended.

There were familiar faces at the commemoration, and many had lost a grandparent or some other family member in the tragedy. Saddest of all was the mention of the postal sorters. They hadn't a chance - sorting the post below deck, many of them would have died instantly when the torpedo hit. They were four miles east of Kish lighthouse at the time, and although Captain Birch ordered a 180 degree turn in the rough seas a second torpedo led to the ship quickly sinking. He was injured in the attack and drowned when his lifeboat foundered.

The U-boat UB123 that fired the torpedoes never made it back to Germany. Commander Ramm and his crew perished in a North Sea minefield a week after the Leinster sank and thirty six more lives were lost. They too were remembered today.

After the inter-faith ceremony we marched down to the anchor monument on the Queen's Road and wreaths were laid by schoolchildren.


Meanwhile the world's stock markets have had one of their worst weeks on record. It makes matters all the more challenging for Brian Lenihan and the rest of the cabinet as they prepare for a tough budget on Tuesday.

"Bheidh an cáin fhasinéis ro-dheachair" was the view of our Oireachtas Irish class this week. The budget will be tough, and that was before this weeks downward slide of the world's markets.

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