Mention the Titanic or the Lusitania and most people will make the connection with great maritime tragedies. A little research will lead to further instances where thousands have died in single instances at sea. The toll down the years is horrific. Yet I learnt today of an incident close to home which claimed the greatest loss of life in Irish waters.
RMS Leinster, making the short hop from Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) just to the south of Dublin to Holyhead in Wales had barely left port to enter the choppy Irish Sea. She carried 771 passengers and crew.
A couple of weeks earlier Germany had asked President Wilson for peace terms, but its submarines still lurked in coastal waters. One of them launched three torpedoes, two of which hit, the second sending the ship quickly to the bottom. It is estimated that more than 500 were killed. Many were civilians as well as military personnel from Ireland, Britain, Canada, The US, Australia and Canada.