The Lusitania Gifted to Cork Museum

A WWI enlistment poster evoking grief over the lives lost on the Lusitania, and a black and white depiction of the sinking of the ship.

The shipwreck of the RMS Lusitania has been gifted to a museum in Kinsale, County Cork, exactly 104 years after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915 during the first world war.

The Lusitania, a Cunard liner, was the largest ship in the world when it was sunk by the German submarine. It went down in 18 minutes, 11 nautical miles off the Kinsale coast, killing 1,198 passenger and leaving 761 survivors.

Gregg Bemis, the American businessman who has owned the salvage rights to the wreck since 1982, signed the donation agreement with the Old Head of Kinsale Museum on May 7, the anniversary of the tragedy

Gifting the Lusitania: Pictured (left to right) Old Head of Kinsale Museum chairman J.J. Hayes; secretary Con Hayes; Gregg Bemis, owner of the Lusitania; and Richard Martin, solicitor, at the signing ceremony.

Bemis, who initially hoped to make money from the scrap metal of the ship, became obsessed with finding proof that the Lusitania was secretly carrying war supplies from then-neutral America to Great Britain when it was sunk, told RTÉ’s News: “Today we are finally coming to a close of my relationship with the Lusitania. I’m getting too old to continue with this thing forever and I’m going to be 91 at the end of this month, and it is about time I have some new people responsible for carrying on the research and the exploration and the recovery of artifacts for the museum.”

In 2017, the museum opened a Lusitania memorial garden complete with a 20-meter-long bronze sculpture in honor of the victims.

With the help of Bemis’ incredible donation, it is now hoped that a full-scale “living museum” can be built to allow the Lusitania’s story and history to be shared.  ♦

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