A two stamp set, released by Ireland’s postal service today (Thursday May 7th, 2015), marks the centenary of the WW1 sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania off the coast of Cork in May 1915.
Some 1,198 passengers and crew died after the ship was struck by a torpedo fired by a German submarine. The sinking and shocking death toll is popularly regarded as prompting the decision by the USA to enter the war, albeit some two years later.
The An Post stamps (68c and €1) feature specially commissioned paintings by Vincent Killowry capturing the dramatic scenes of the ship at sail and then listing badly before sinking.
The stamps, First day Cover (FDC) and minisheet are available from Irish main post offices or online here.
Vincent Killowry, is a renowned West of Ireland based artist. He has worked on a number of stamp projects most notably An Post’s Volvo Ocean race set.
The sinking of the Lusitania took place on this day (May 7th) approximately 14 miles off the Irish coast near the Old Head of Kinsale. The ship was struck by a single torpedo and sank quickly after a second explosion.
Although there were sufficient lifeboats on board, the badly listing ship made it impossible to execute a full evacuation. Of the 1,959 people on board just 761 were saved, many of them by boats launched from Kinsale, Cobh and Cork city.
Lusitania was launched by the Cunard Line in 1906, as an ocean liner, famous for its luxury and speed. It was, for a brief time, the largest ocean liner in the world and held the record for crossing the Atlantic.
Prior to the sinking Germany had declared the seas around Ireland as a war zone and had placed newspaper advertisements warning people not to sail on the ship. Among the casualties of the sinking was Hugh Lane, art collector and benefactor, founder of Dublin’s Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, the first public gallery of modern art in the world.