Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Laurentic, which hit German mines just north of Fanad Head after leaving Buncrana.
The ship, which was traveling from Liverpool to Canada, was carrying 43 tones of gold bars which was being used to purchase supplies and munitions for use in the First World War.
There were 475 sailors and officers on board when the ship stopped off in Buncrana. Later that night, the Laurentic set sail once again in wintry conditions, but hit the mines shortly afterwards. 354 lives were lost.
A massive salvage operation took place at the time to recover the gold but as it stands almost 15 millions worth remains unaccounted for.
Now, Transition Year students at Crana College have embarked on a major research project about the ship and its links to Buncrana, culminating in the production of a YouTube video and an invitation to participate in a number of events at the weekend.
Michelle Bradley is the Transition Year coordinator at Crana College…………
YouTube link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82oonW4dSeU
School statement –
As you may have heard, the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of The SS Laurentic occurs today, 25th January. The ship, which was traveling from Liverpool to Canada, was carrying 43 tones of gold bars which was being used to purchase supplies and munitions for use in the First World War.
The boat, which had 475 sailors and officers on board, stopped off in Buncrana where the sailors came ashore to The Swilly Hotel. Later that night The Laurentic set sail once again in blizzard conditions with temperatures of -15 degrees. It hit two German mines just north of Fanad Head and 354 lives were lost.
A massive salvage operation took place at the time to recover the gold but as it stands almost 15 millions worth remains unaccounted for.We linked up with Don McNeill from The Ulster Canada Initiative and the Transition Year students have done a lot of research around the story of the ship, and the people onboard. They have contacted schools in towns around Ireland where people from The Laurentic originated to see if they could find any relatives or links and we have had a positive response. They have also received training from Jim Doherty in media production and editing interviews and they were able to interview Don McGlinchey who has dived the wreckage site a number of times.The students will also be interviewing relatives who are coming to the commemorative events which are taking place in the Buncrana area this weekend. As part of this we are holding a reception in the school on Friday morning where the students will showcase their projects and interact with the visitors that are coming mainly from the UK and Canada.
The students will be heavily involved in all events this weekend, including attending the Mayor’s lunch at the Guildhall on Friday where they are reenacting a dinner that occurred for the 121 survivors at the time. As part of this they will be recreating a photograph that was taken at the time. The students will be laying wreaths and remembrance crosses during the ceremonies on Saturday as well.
In addition to this they have designed, and are building, a model version of the ship itself which will be unveiled at the Laurentic conference that takes place in May.
It has been a lot of work but it is something unique as it will culminate in the creation of a digital history legacy. The students have really enjoyed finding out about this aspect of local history and playing their part in this important commemoration.