In the summer of 2016 the Mailboat Leinster Centenary Committee was formed in Dun Laoghaire to organise suitable events to mark this significant centenary of the sinking of the 'RMS Leinster'. The Dublin Bay OGA has transferred their midsummer race for the classic Leinster Plate to fit in with plans for Centenary racing in Dublin Bay, 14 - 15 September, 2018.
The main events, of course, will occur on the Centenary Day itself, 10 October, when at 1000 the towns of Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead will observe one minute silence marking the precise time that the ‘RMS Leinster’ sank.
Further details of the arrangements will appear in the OGA Newsletter, Gaffers Log and here on the website, but in the meantime, gaffers seeking more details should contact immediate past President of the DBOGA Tim Magennis.
No other maritime event will have so much public appeal in Ireland this year as the Centenary Commemoration in September and October of the sinking of the Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead mailboat ‘RMS Leinster’ on 10 October, 1918 within sight of those watching her departure.
It was the worst ever maritime disaster in the Irish Sea resulting as it did in the loss of 550 lives. The news of the sinking by a German U-boat a mere 12 miles from Dun Laoghaire and a month before the end of World War I hostilities was virtually suppressed by the authorities with the result that it is only in comparatively recent times that it has emerged as a major disaster, far removed in the context of international news of the sinking of the ‘Titanic’ or the ‘Lusitania’ off Cork in the southwest of Ireland.
More Irish lives were lost in the ‘Leinster’ sinking than on either of the aforementioned great liners. Those who would have considered the ‘Leinster’ to be a legitimate wartime target could point to the presence on board of hundreds of soldiers, among them personnel heading back to war after recuperation in Ireland.
But there was one small but significant group of men on whom public sympathy at once descended. They were the 22 postal workers from the Dublin area who would have already begun the task of sorting the mass of mail bags ready for onward dispatch when they landed in Holyhead a few hours later. They were the first to die when the second torpedo from the submarine scored a direct hit on their postal sorting room. Only one of them survived. He had gone on deck for a smoke. Just one month later, all World War I hostilities ceased.