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Sinking of Irish mail ship commemorated in Holyhead 104 years on

15 Oct 2022 3 minute read
RMS Leinster. Photo marked public domain

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

A special ceremony has been held to remember those who died aboard an Anglesey-bound mail ship which sank after being torpedoed.

The ceremony took place in Holyhead to remember those who died aboard the RMS Leinster after it was attacked while heading to the town 104 years ago, with more than 500 lives lost, the largest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.

The Leinster was an Irish ship which served as the Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead mailboat.

It was headed for Holyhead when it was targeted by a German submarine just off Dublin Bay, on October 10, 1918.

The ship’s log states that she carried 77 crew and 694 passengers on her final voyage.

Those on board included more than 100 civilians, 22 postal sorters (working in the mail room) and almost 500 military personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. Also aboard were nurses from Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

The ship sank rapidly after being hit by two torpedoes fired by the German submarine UB-123.


Earlier this week, two representatives of the Dún Laoghaire-based RMS Leinster Memorial Committee visited Holyhead to mark the anniversary of the tragedy.

Taking part were Richard Cruise, the organisation’s honorary chairperson, David Cotter, its honorary treasurer, and Mayor of Holyhead Councillor Adrienne Edwards, with her consort, Nia Roberts.

During the ceremony, a wreath was laid by the mayor and Mr Cruise at the Holyhead Cenotaph War Memorial on Victoria Road.

Both Mr Cruise and Mr Cotter had travelled specially to Holyhead to remember those from the town, and other parts of Wales, who lost their lives aboard the ship.

Also attending were several elected representatives from both Holyhead Town Council and the Isle of Anglesey County Council.

They included Councillor Hywel Williams, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alan Williams, Councillor Ann Kennedy, from the Holyhead Town Council and Councillor Jeff Evans from the Isle of Anglesey County Council.

Wreath laying

Words and selected prose were also read afterward the wreath-laying.

In his address, Richard Cruise said “Our committee’s visit to Holyhead is to recognise and pay homage to the strong ties that exist between the two communities of Holyhead and Dún Laoghaire.

“Both towns were badly affected by the sinking of the RMS Leinster, 104 years ago this week, with so many local lives lost, several of which appear on this memorial behind me. Let us remember them all.”

The Dún Laoghaire based RMS Leinster Memorial Committee is currently focusing on getting a named memorial installed at the Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour to honour all those who sailed on the last voyage of the ship.

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