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Six Dun Laoghaire Men Lost in German Bombing of Lightship Remembered (Podcast)

10th June 2021
Artist Kenneth King's depiction of a German bomber over the lightship Isolda off the Wexford coast on December 19th, 1940. Six Dun Laoghaire men died and 22 survived
Artist Kenneth King's depiction of a German bomber over the lightship Isolda off the Wexford coast on December 19th, 1940. Six Dun Laoghaire men died and 22 survived

There are no words to describe the impact on relatives and friends of having someone lost at sea, but Elleesa Rushby’s own family experience is informing research she is undertaking on its toll.

It is known as ambiguous loss, and Rushby grew up with the impact of the death of her grandfather, William Rushby, whose body was never found after the Isolda lightship which he was crewing on was sunk off the south-east coast in December 1940.

As Afloat reported previously Coxswain Patrick Dunne (47), James Hayden (38), Patrick Shortt (44), William Holland (58) and Patrick Farrell (24) also died after a German aircraft released its bombs on the ship, having circled the Isolda three times.

The ship was clearly marked “Lighthouse Service” in large white lettering on its hull. Royal Irish Academy historian Dr Michael Kennedy says buoys on the deck of the Isolda may have been mistaken for mines.

The Isolda lightshipThe Isolda lightship

Ireland had a three-mile nautical limit, but essentially it “meant little to British and German military forces who were well aware the island was undefended”, he says.

The Commissioners of Irish Lights ship Granuaile remembered the six men with a wreath-laying ceremony at sea last December, and a video was also released to honour the Isolda crew for their “loyal and dedicated service”.

Rushby explained how she became involved in an interview first broadcast on RTE Radio’s Seascapes, now broadcast on Wavelengths this week.

Relatives who may wish to contact Ms Rushby can do so by contacting the Commissioner of Irish Lights at Harbour Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin on 01 2715400 or by email at [email protected]

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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