The HMS Laurentic – A Donegal Tragedy

Laurentic Centenary

One hundred years after one of Ireland’s greatest marine tragedies…people from Ireland, the UK and Canada are joining hands to remember a forgotten WW1 shipwreck

The Story: On January 25th, 1917, the HMS Laurentic set sail on its fateful journey from Co Donegal to Canada. But it would never arrive, sunk by two German mines before it even got out of Lough Swilly. 354 men died that January night, men from Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Newfoundland, Canada.

The Commemoration: Aside from a few treasure hunters seeking the gold it was carrying, the Laurentic sunk from memory like many World War 1 events in Ireland. But over the last decade, the Laurentic has become of a symbol not only of a tragedy, but of unity. Because every year dozens of men and women have religiously made their pilgrimage to Donegal to remember this ship – men and women from all communities. In this its centenary year, the commemoration promises to be biggest yet, a gathering attracting people from around the world.

The Gathering: Since 2005, the Laurentic has been the spark for a cross-community – and cross-cultural—gathering in the Northwest of Ireland. What started as a single Newfoundland ex-pat wanting a connection to his homeland, has turned into a yearly commemoration drawing people from both sides of the border, and from Canada too. This year, over 20 family members of Laurentic victims will be traveling to Buncrana to discover the stories of their lost relatives. The weekend promises to be alive with stories and memories.

Note: Newfoundland native, and organizer Don McNeill, as well as family members of Victims can be made available for interview.  

 Student Passion: While the commemoration has been going on for over a decade, only this year have local schools dug into the history. They have been contacting the relatives to get every detail of the Laurentic story. The school history project has ignited a unique Donegal passion for local history, and because of this, children will be setting the example for the 100 year anniversary.