Easy-reader on the story of the sinking


It was something of a coincidence that in the week of hearing about the imminent publication of Paddy O'Sullivan's book - the Collins Press is hoping to have it out by November 5th next - the Mercier Press should have been in touch to announce details of one of its new titles, The Cove of Cork by Bill Wall, who teaches at Presentation College in the city.

The cove mentioned in the title is the very same place into which the bedraggled survivors and lifeless bodies were brought after the horrific Lusitania disaster.

Wall's new book is the final one of a trilogy which has included The Powder Monkey and The Slave Coast. One may gather from this that sea salt is in his veins.

The folk who hail from Whitegate in Cork Harbour, as he does, know the traditions of the sea, have been bound by it and, in many ways, bound to it. There is a direct connection between Wall the writer and the Lusitania's story, because he has written it, too, though in a different manner from the way O'Sullivan has treated the subject.

Wall's book will concentrate on the Lusitania and the submarine that sank it. It will be what he calls an easy-reader for eight-year-olds and it is due out next spring. In the offing is a bigger book on the Lusitania - That Black Day - which should be on the bookshelves by 2000.

A sailor and a published poet as well as a teacher, his new book, he thinks, will appeal very much to boys and girls who have a sense of adventure.

The author came to the subject because of his family's links with the sea and seafaring. Two granduncles were in the Royal Navy during the Battle of Jutland in the first World War. Another uncle was in the convoys that serviced Murmansk. A third, also a seaman, died off Alexandria in the second World War.

The movie Titanic has engaged the public and become one of the great Hollywood success stories. The story of the Lusitania may be an even greater one. When the RMS Lusitania, then the fastest liner afloat, went down 83 years ago, seven days after it left New York, something had changed in the world.