RMS Leinster

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Leinster RMS 1897.jpg
Postcard image of the RMS Leinster
Name: RMS Leinster
Owner: City of Dublin Steam Packet Company
Port of registry: Dublin, Ireland
Route: Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire)-Holyhead
Ordered: 1895
Builder: Laird Brothers of Birkenhead
Cost: £95,000
Yard number: 612
Launched: 12 September 1896
Completed: January 1897
Out of service: 10 October 1918
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918 while bound for Holyhead.
General characteristics
Class and type: Steamship
Tonnage: 2,646
Length: 378 ft
Beam: 75 ft
Height: 42 ft
Installed power: Single eight-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine
Propulsion: Twin propellers
Speed: 24 knots
  • During World War I:
  • one 12 pounder gun
  • two signal guns

RMS Leinster was an Irish ship operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. She served as the Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire)-Holyhead mailboat until she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918, while bound for Holyhead. She went down just outside Dublin Bay at a point 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) east of the Kish light.

The exact number of dead is unknown but researchers from the National Maritime Museum believe it was at least 564, this would make it the largest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.[1] [2]


In 1895, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company ordered four steamers for Royal Mail service, named for four provinces of Ireland: RMS Leinster, RMS Connaught, RMS Munster, and RMS Ulster.[3] The Leinster was a 3,069-ton packet steamship with a service speed of 23 knots (43 km/h). The vessel, which was built at Laird's in Birkenhead, England, was driven by two independent four-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines.[4] During the First World War, the twin-propellered ship was armed with one 12 pounder and two signal guns.[5]


The ship's log states that she carried 77 crew and 694 passengers on her final voyage under the command of Captain William Birch. The ship had previously been attacked in the Irish Sea but the torpedoes missed their target. Those on board included more than one hundred British civilians, 22 postal sorters (working in the mail room) and almost 500 military personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. Also aboard were nurses from Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.[6]

Just before 10 a.m. as the Leinster was sailing east of the Kish Bank in a heavy swell, passengers saw a torpedo approach from the port side and pass in front of the bow. A second torpedo followed shortly afterwards, and it struck the ship forward on the port side in the vicinity of the mail room. Captain Birch ordered the ship to make a U-turn in an attempt to return to Kingstown as the ship began to settle slowly by the bow; however, the ship sank rapidly after a third torpedo struck the Leinster, causing a huge explosion.

Leinster's Anchor – Carlisle Pier, Dún Laoghaire, adjacent to the National Maritime Museum.

Despite the heavy seas, the crew managed to launch several lifeboats and some passengers clung to life-rafts. The survivors were rescued by HMS Lively, HMS Mallard and HMS Seal. Among the civilian passengers lost in the sinking were socially prominent people such as Lady Phyllis Hamilton, daughter of the Duke of Abercorn, Robert Jocelyn Alexander, son of Irish composer Cecil Frances Alexander, Thomas Foley and his wife Charlotte Foley (née Barrett) who was the brother-in-law of the world-famous Irish tenor John McCormack. The first member of the Women's Royal Naval Service to die on active duty, Josephine Carr, was among those killed, as were two prominent trade unionists, James McCarron and Patrick Lynch.[7] Captain Birch was also among those lost in the sinking. Wounded in the initial attack, he was drowned when his lifeboat became swamped in heavy seas and capsized while trying to transfer survivors to HMS Lively. Several of the military personnel who died are buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery.[8]

Survivors were brought to Kingstown harbour. Among the survivors were Michael Joyce, member of parliament for Limerick, and Captain Hutchinson Ingham Cone, former commander of the USS Dale (DD-4). One of the rescue ships was the armed yacht and former fishery protection vessel HMY Helga. Stationed in Kingstown harbour at the time of the sinking, she had shelled Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin two years earlier. She was later bought and renamed the Muirchú by the Irish Free State government as one of its first fishery protection vessels.

Ninetieth anniversary of the sinking of RMS Leinster

UB-123 was probably lost in a minefield in the North Sea on its way back to Germany, on or about 19 October 1918. No bodies were found.[9]

Anchor of RMS Leinster, showing memorial plaques.
Anchor of RMS Leinster, showing memorial plaques.

2008 Commemoration

In 2008, ninety years after its sinking, a commemorative stamp was issued by An Post, recalling particularly the Post Office's 21 staff who died in the tragedy.[10] The sinking of the vessel is further recalled in the postal museum of the General Post Office, in Dublin's O'Connell Street.

2018 Centenary Commemoration

On 10 October 2018 an official commemoration took place in Dún Laoghaire attended by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D. in which she confirmed that Leinster is now under the under the protection of the National Monuments Acts, which covers all shipwrecks over 100 years old.

See also


  1. ^ Donal Byrne (10 October 2018). "Events to mark centenary of RMS Leinster sinking". RTE. Retrieved 10 October 2018. Today marks the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster, which resulted in the deaths of 564 people in the single-largest loss of life on the Irish Sea.
  2. ^ Byrne, Donal (10 October 2018). "The Sinking of RMS Leinster and SS Dundalk". Rte.ie. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  3. ^ "RMS Leinster Log". Maritime. Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company. 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  4. ^ "The Irish Mail Service". The Engineer. London. LXXXIII: 280. 18 September 1896. Retrieved 29 November 2017. (registration required)
  5. ^ "The Sinking". rmsleinster.com. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  6. ^ Lecane, Philip (2005). Torpedoed! : the R.M.S. Leinster disaster. Penzance: Periscope. ISBN 978-1-904381-30-3.
  7. ^ C. Desmond Greaves, The Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, p.221
  8. ^ "Grangegorman Military Cemetery". 28 February 2011. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  9. ^ Roy Stokes Death in the Irish Sea: The Sinking of RMS Leinster and Philip Lecane Torpedoed! The RMS Leinster Disaster
  10. ^ "Minister Hanafin launches RMS Leinster anniversary stamp". An Post. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2010.

Further reading

  • Bourke, Edward J. Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast: 1105–1993, published by the author, Dublin 1994.
  • de Courcy Ireland, John "Ireland and the Irish in Maritime History", Glendale Press, Dublin 1986.
  • Higgins, John (Jack) The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster Recalled; article in the Postal Worker (Vol 14, No 11, November 1936), the official publication of the Post Office Workers Union, written by the only survivor from the ship's mailroom.
  • Lecane, Philip Torpedoed!: The R.M.S. Leinster Disaster, Published by Periscope Publishing Ltd, Cornwall TR18 2AW, Softback, ISBN 1-904381-29-4 Published in Ireland, hardback, ISBN 1-904381-30-8
  • Lecane, Philip “Women and Children of the R.M.S Leinster: Restored to History,” Elm Books ( ISBN 978-0-993189 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.-4-6), Dublin 2018.
  • Stokes, Roy Death in the Irish Sea: The Sinking of RMS Leinster, Collins Press, Cork 1998. ISBN 1-898256-52-7
  • Liffiton, John L. The Last Passenger Liner Sunk in the Great War. article in the Medals Society of Ireland Journal (No. 49, September 1999).

External links

  • RMS Leinster "Home Site"
  • video of 90th anniversary
  • Irish Wrecks Online
  • List of Casualties

Coordinates: 53°18′53″N 5°47′43″W / 53.3147°N 5.7952°W / 53.3147; -5.7952

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=RMS_Leinster&oldid=889681861"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Leinster
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "RMS "; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA