‘It was his dying wish’.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

‘It was his dying wish’. thumbnail Michael O’Hare was on the ship with Gerry Doyle when he retrieved the Lusitania Davit.

Warrenpoint man Michael O'Hare said it was his former colleague Gerry Doyle's "dying wish" to see the Lusitania's lifeboat davit returned to "its rightful home in Kinsale, County Cork".

On 7 May 1915 the Lusitania was hit by a German torpedo and sank as it sailed into the Irish Sea, just off the Old Head of Kinsale.

On board were 1,300 passengers including 129 children and a crew of nearly 700, 1,153 passengers and crew drowned.

The ship had sailed into a deadly war zone patrolled by 15 German submarines, six days out of New York and nearing its destination of Liverpool.

It is believed many of its passengers had received an anonymous telegram advising them not to travel, but the 32,000 tonne luxury liner was billed by Cunard as the "fastest and largest steamer now in the Atlantic service" and it was believed the Lusitania had the power to outpace any ship above or below the water.

In the 1970s/80s, Mr Doyle gifted the davit of the Cunard Liner R.M.S Lusitania to Newry and Mourne District Council and since then it has been located in Annalong.

However, a new visitor centre and museum in respect of the Lusitania has been constructed in Kinsale.

An American man, Gregg Bernis, owner of the wreck, is currently financing and constructing a visitor centre and museum in Kinsale, dedicated to the memory of the great ship and the unfortunate souls who perished.

Through his research, Mr Bernis discovered that Mr Doyle owned it and made contact with him asking if he would consider donating the artefact to the museum.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's (NMDDC) Chief Executive Liam Hannaway received a request from Mr Doyle to remove the Lusitania Davit from Annalong and transport it down to the Lusitania Museum in Kinsale.

In the letter Mr Doyle penned to Mr Hannaway in August, he wrote: "As the davit is at present cited on council property, I feel it best that council should remove, and on its removal I will organise to have it picked up and transported back to Kinsale where its home has always been".

Mr Doyle concluded the letter by informing Mr Hannaway: "Just a little footnote, as I'm sure you realise I am in my declining years with health problems, and would appreciate seeing my artefact returned to Kinsale. Do please give this matter your immediate attention, I thank you and await your reply".

Sadly, Mr Doyle passed away just before Christmas, before he could see the davit returned to Co Cork..

Mr O'Hare was on board the 'Croidte an Duin' which recovered the Davit with Mr Doyle.

He told The Outlook: "It was the summer of 1965 when we pulled the davit out of the sea - I was a 17-year-old crew member and Gerry was a skipper at the time.

"We were fishing off the head of Kinsale and we could see the outline of the wreck in the water, there is always an abundance of fish around wrecks.

"Initially we had no idea what we were taking up, we had been towing the davit, unknown to us, through the sand and as we pulled it up a big shiny pointed head appeared.

"Our initial thought was 'it's a torpedo' so we ran to the starboard side of the ship, it wasn't uncommon to pick up these types of war items.

"We eventually got a sling around it and got it onto the deck. Luckily enough we managed to get it to the port-side and continued fishing away.

"After we had finished our day's fishing we went back to Kinsale and word got out that we had picked up a lifeboat of the Lusitania.

"It was always Gerry's wish to have the davit returned to Kinsale and unfortunately he hasn't lived to see it through but his widow and family will."

Mr O'Hare said he was "delighted" with the decision of councillors.

"I am absolutely delighted that the councillors are in agreement that it should be returned and this will be ratified at the next full council sitting.

"The boat has no relevance up here in Annalong, it belongs in Kinsale." On Thursday, 15 February evening's Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee meeting, Mourne Sinn Féin Councillor Sean Doran proposed that the davit be sent to Kinsale.

"I have spoken extensively with the Annalong Community Association regarding this matter and I am pleased that members of council agree too that the davit should be returned to Kinsale," he said.

"It was Mr Doyle's dying wish to see his boat returned and I am delighted for him and his family that his wish will become reality." Councillor Doran's proposal was supported by SDLP Councillor Michael Carr .

"Both Mr Doyle and Mr O'Hare are to be commended for their retrieval of the davit," he said.

"I do believe the davit belongs in the museum in Kinsale, it was the last wishes of Mr Doyle who discovered the boat and we need to respect his wishes."

He added: "This belief was fairly unanimous amongst councillors at Thursday's meeting." UUP Councillor Glyn Hanna agreed that the davit should be returned to Kinsale, he commented: "It is not part of the history in Annalong and the issue needs treated with respect for Mr Doyle and his family.

"Council has not been giving the boat any attention and it would serve a much better purpose in the museum."

The minutes relating to the davit from the Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee meeting held on 15 February will be considered at the next full council meeting scheduled for Monday, 5 March.


Subscribe to read full newspaper »

Send to a friend

Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.

In order to process your information we must ask you to enter the letters in the image into the box:

CAPTCHA Image play audio version Reload Image

* Mandatory field - please complete