May 16, 2015

The sinking of Lusitania

An Post of Ireland marked the centenary of the WWI sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania with a special commemorative stamp issue on 7th May 2015. The stamps (68c and €1) feature specially commissioned paintings by Vincent Killowry capturing the dramatic scenes of the ship at sail and then listing badly before sinking.

 The sinking of the Lusitania took place on this day (May 7th) approximately 14 miles off the Irish coast near the Old Head of Kinsale. The ship was struck by a single torpedo and sank quickly after a second explosion. Although there were sufficient lifeboats on board, the badly listing ship made it impossible to execute a full evacuation. Of the 1,959 people on board just 761 were saved, many of them by boats launched from Kinsale, Cobh and Cork city.

Lusitania was launched by the Cunard Line in 1906, as an ocean liner, famous for its luxury and speed. It was, for a brief time, the largest ocean liner in the world and held the record for crossing the Atlantic. Prior to the sinking Germany had declared the seas around Ireland as a war zone and had placed newspaper advertisements warning people not to sail on the ship. Among the casualties of the sinking was Hugh Lane, art collector and benefactor, founder of Dublin’s Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, the first public gallery of modern art in the world.

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