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When The South Arklow Lightship Disappeared

7th July 2017
Dr.Michael Kennedy speaking to the UCC conference about the South Arklow lighthship Dr.Michael Kennedy speaking to the UCC conference about the South Arklow lighthship

The disappearance of the South Arklow Lightship during World War One when it was sunk by a German submarine has been highlighted at a maritime conference in University College Cork, as an example that the First World War was fought not only on foreign fields in Europe, but Ireland and mariners were on the front line. The conference – Winning the Western Approaches, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland, 1917-18’ has been organised by UCC historian, author and lecturer, Dr.John Borgonovo and is attracting a lot of attention.

Dr.Michael Kennedy of the Royal Irish Academy spoke about Irish Lightkeepers and Lightships being on the Atlantic frontline during the war, of what they saw of the horrors of war, ships being attacked, mines laid by submarines to sink ships and seafarers’ lives lost. He described the attack on the South Arklow Lightship because of its reporting of what was happening. He also described a submarine reportedly firing at Mizen Head Lighthouse in West Cork.

“Lightkeepers saw at first hand the horrors of war, because of Ireland’s strategic location for shipping in the international context,” he said. That their service during the war had not been remembered was an example of the amnesiac memory of Ireland towards maritime affairs. His talk drew strong interest in the role of the men of the Irish Lights service during World War One.

When the South Arklow Lightship was sunk by a U-boat, it was described by Irish Lights at the time that “the lightship has disappeared.” All crew were safe.

Published in Lighthouses Team

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Irish Lights is a maritime organisation delivering essential 24/7 safety and navigation services around the coast of Ireland 365 days. Its focus is reliable and cost-effective services which protect people, property and the marine environment, and support marine industry and coastal communities.

Irish Lights is responsible for providing marine aids to navigation under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. This remit includes: providing and maintaining over 300 general aids to navigation, managing about 4,000 local aids to navigation and marking or removing dangerous wrecks outside harbour areas around Ireland. Irish Lights also provides contract commercial services for ship charter, buoy and marine data services and supports tourism and heritage activities.

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