‘Lusitania’ owner pays tribute to those who helped recover artefact
Lifeboat davit is the largest artefact recovered from wreck of the liner sunk in WW1
The davit from the ‘Lusitania’ at the Old Head of Kinsale Lusitania Museum.
The owner of the Lusitania has paid tribute to communities north and south of the Border for their role in bringing one of the largest artefacts from the ship to a museum in Co Cork dedicated to the story of the liner which sank with the loss of almost 1,200 lives.
American Gregg Bemis, who owns the salvage rights to the wreck of the Lusitania, paid tribute to a number of people involved in the donation to the Old Head of Kinsale Lusitania Museum of the 3 metre high lifeboat davit from the Cunard liner which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on May 7th 1915.
Mr Bemis paid particular tribute to Co Down trawler skipper, the late Gerry Doyle who recovered the davit while fishing off the Old Head of Kinsale over 50 years ago and to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Newry Maritime Association for their part in returning the davit to West Cork.
There were 16 lifeboats on board the liner, each supported by two steel cranes, or davits which were used to lower the lifeboats into the sea and the salvaged davit, now installed at the Old Head of Kinsale Lusitania Museum, is understood to be the only one to have ever been recovered from the wreck.
The davit was recovered by the late Mr Doyle when fishing over the wreck site in October 1965 aboard his trawler, Croidte an Duin and, unable to free it from his nets in Kinsale, he brought it back to his home port of Kilkeel in Co Down where he loaned it to Newry and Mourne District Council.
But Mr Doyle, who died on October 2nd 2017, had made it clear to his local council that he was keen for the davit to return to Kinsale and that happened after the Old Head of Kinsale Museum opened in 2015.
Writing in August 2017, two months before his death, Mr Doyle recalled how Mr Bemis tracked down the davit and asked him if he would consider donating it to the Old Head of Kinsale Museum which he agreed to do.
On Friday evening, Mr Bemis paid tribute to the late Mr Doyle as his widow, Josie and adult children, Maire and Niall were among an estimated 100 people who gathered at the headland to see the davit unveiled as a pointer to the spot some 18kms offshore where the wreck lies.
Among the guests at the unveiling was the chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Cllr Mark Murnin and six of his fellow councillors from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland as well as Minister of State and local Cork South West TD Jim Daly.
Old Head of Kinsale Lusitania Museum Secretary, Con Hayes said the donation of the davit as highly significant, saying it was the largest artefact to date recovered from the wreck which lies on the seabed at a depth of 93 metres.
“It might be the largest artefact that we will ever get from the wreck of the Lusitania but the fact that we have installed outdoors and it’s not behind glass means that people can touch it and take photographs with it - it’s going to become a landmark exhibit for us at the museum”.