Lusitania victim finally remembered – 101 years later

Newly-wed Margaret Shineman had lain in a grave in Kinsale as an unnamed victim


A young bride, who perished along with her husband when the Lusitania was torpedoed off Ireland in 1915 has finally been recognised with a gravestone bearing her name being unveiled in the Co Cork cemetery where she lies.

Margaret Shineman (nee MacKenzie) was in an unmarked grave at St Multose’s Graveyard in Kinsale for 101 years, but on Saturday at 2pm – the exact time the Lusitania was torpedoed by German submarine U-20, on May 7th, 1915 – a gravestone bearing her name was unveiled.

Dermot Ryan of Kinsale History Society explained it was down to a cruel twist of fate that Mr and Ms Shineman were on the ill-fated Lusitania – which sank with the loss of 1,198 lives – as they were originally booked to travel on another liner, the Cameronia, to return to her native Scotland on their honeymoon.

“Margaret McKenzie was from a tiny fishing village in the Scottish Highlands called Shieldaig, but she emigrated to the United States where she met James Shineman in Wyoming and they were married in April 1915,” he revealed.

“They were due to travel back to Scotland on their honeymoon on the Cameronia in May 1915, but she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty so they were booked instead on the Lusitania which was a much more luxurious liner and they were upgraded to a second class cabin.

“Tragically, they both died when the Lusitania was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale and although Margaret’s body was recovered and brought ashore in Kinsale, she was not identified and she was buried with just ‘Unknown Victim (Woman) of the Lusitania Outrage’ on her grave”.

Several weeks later the body of Margaret’s husband, James Shineman was washed up at Carrigaholt in Co Clare where the authorities were able to identify him through a pocket watch from Wyoming and he was buried in the local cemetery with a headstone bearing his name, said Mr Ryan.

Now, 101 years on, Ms Shineman has been recognised with the unveiling of a plaque bearing her name in St Multose’s Graveyard thanks to the efforts of a number of Lusitania researchers, including American Eric Sauder and British couple, Richard and Bronwen Woods.

Mr Ryan revealed that Ms Shineman’s grandnephew William Laidlaw was unable to travel from his home in Scotland for the ceremony due to ill-health, but around a dozen descendants of both Lusitania victims and survivors travelled with Mr and Ms Woods from the UK for the ceremony.

“Bronwen did a lot of the research to identify Margaret Shineman and Richard told her story in the church before we went out to the graveyard to unveil her headstone and lay a wreath,” said Mr Ryan. “It’s a really poignant story but it’s fitting now that her grave here in Kinsale finally bears her name.”