Epic programme planned for Laurentic Centenary

The Laurentic in its heyday.
The Laurentic in its heyday.
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A major programme of events will run across Derry and Inishowen over the coming days to mark the sinking of the HMS Laurentic 100 years ago.

A new exhibition is set to open at the Tower Museum charting the story of the ship and the tragic events which unfolded locally on January 25, 1917.

Des and Ray Cossum pictured with the Laurentic bell during a salvage operation on the Allerton in 1979.

Des and Ray Cossum pictured with the Laurentic bell during a salvage operation on the Allerton in 1979.

A total of 354 people perished when the Laurentic was destroyed by mines off the coast of Downings on route to Nova Scotia. There were just 121 survivors.

Mayor Hilary McClintock will join relatives of the crew and local people next Friday to restage photos from a Mayoral lunch for the survivors held at the Guildhall back in January 1917. “It’s a great opportunity to celebrate their memory,” Mayor McClintock said.

Paying tribute to the wreck owner, Ray Cossum, Education Officer with Derry & Strabane Council, Ronan McConnell, said: “Ray Cossum’s research over the years, including audio recordings from actual survivors, has left us with a fantastic foundation for this exhibition.”

In Derry, the new Laurentic exhibition will run for six months from January 25, while on February 2, diver Don McGlinchey will speak on the Laurentic story On March 2 diver Danny Keenan will speak of the wrecks across Loughs Foyle and Swilly, and on April 6, Mr. McConnell will deliver a hands on session allowing the public to see original objects from the Laurentic up close.

A special education programme is also being delivered with the Nerve Centre, with schools invited to participate. For information contact Niall Kerr, at info@creativecentenaries.org or 7126 0562.

To reserve a place at the free commemorative lunch contact 028 71376508.

In Inishowen, highlights include a guided coach tour on Thursday, January 26, departing Lake of Shadows Hotel at 10am. There will be a Laurentic Wreath Laying ceremony at St Mary’s Cemetery in Cockhill on Saturday, January 28 at 11am, followed by another at St Mura’s Church of Ireland in Fahan at 12.30pm. Some of those who perished in the Laurentic tragedy are buried in these cemeteries.

This will be followed at 2pm on Saturday by a Reception at Fort Dunree, while Sunday, January 29, a boat flotilla will depart from Buncrana to the Laurentic wreck site.