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RMS Leinster disaster dead to be remembered in Holyhead wreath laying

08 Oct 2023 4 minute read
RMS Leinster. Photo marked public domain

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

The sinking of the RMS Leinster by a German submarine, with the loss of over 500 lives, will be commemorated at a special service in Holyhead on Wednesday (11 October)

The tragedy in the last few weeks of the First World War claimed the greatest ever loss of life in the Irish Sea.

Among the dead, were a number from Anglesey and other parts of Wales, as well as Ireland, America and Canada.

The story unfolded 105 years ago – but is still keenly felt in the Welsh and Irish communities of Holyeahd and Dún Laoghaire where many lost family members in the tragedy.

The ship was torpedoed by a German submarine UB-123 and sank off the coast of Dún Laoghaire on October 10, 1918.

The vessel, which had large number of crew from Holyhead had been operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. It carried the mail between Holyhead and Kingstown – now called Dún Laoghaire.

Among the dead was the ship’s captain, crew members, civilians, passengers, postal-workers, as well as soldiers, airmen and nurses.

Every year, those who died are remembered during special services on both sides of the Irish Sea.


For four Holyhead residents, annual services held in their town also has a deeper meaning. All are volunteers at the Holyhead Maritime Museum and all lost grandparents to the tragedy.

Their museum includes a display about the RMS Leinster, and the volunteers are able to describe the story of the disaster, and how it impacted their famiies’ lives on a personal level.

Holyhead Maritime Museum manager Eric Anthony is one who lost his grandfather.

“There are four of us at the museum who all volunteer and we all have a direct conenction to the sinking of the RMS Leinster,” he said. “They are myself, Norman Williams, Carys Roberts and Peter Scott Roberts.  We try to help keep alive the memory of those who lost their lives.

“There were a lot on board from Holyhead, many of the crew had come from the town and there were also a lot of civilians. It had a big impact on the town which stayed in people’s memories for years after.”

On Wednesday Representatives of the Dún Laoghaire-based RMS Leinster Memorial Committee and the National Maritime Museum of Ireland will visiting the town for the 105-year anniversary, memorial service.

It is anticipated the service will also be attended by members of the public, VIPS, maritime enthusiasts, councillors, senior politicians, clergy as well members of the armed services.

Also expected are Holyhead Town Council representatives including the Mayor of Holyhead Councillor Hywel Williams, the chair of Anglesey County Council Councillor Margaret Murley-Roberts.

Pre- war photo of the crew of RMS Leinster

A wreath will be laid by Richard Cruise, the honorary chairperson of the RMS Leinster memorial committee, followed by an address and several readings.

Also joining the ceremony will be Colin Holoron, from Dún Laoghaire, a relative of James Hynes and Clare Hynes, who were aboard the ship, returning to their home in Manchester, but were both drowned, their bodies never recovered.

Mr Cruise said in a statement ahead of the event he will be telling the gathering that the committee’s visit to Holyhead “recognises and pays homage to the strong ties that exist between the two communities of Holyhead and Dún Laoghaire.”

He said “Both towns were affected by the sinking of the RMS Leinster, 105 years ago this week, with so many local lives lost. Let’s remember them all.”

The service will start at It will start at 2.30pm, and is being held at the Cenotaph, on Victoria Road.

The RMS Leinster memorial committee is also currently focused on establishing a named memorial installed at the Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

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