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Laurentic gun recovered off Malin Head 02.10.07

A LOCAL dive team have recovered an historic gun from the wreck of the Laurentic sunk off Malin Head in 1917.
The cast-iron artillery piece - seven metres long and weighing more than seven tons - was finally taken ashore on Sunday at the end of a mission that began three years ago.
The seven-ton, seven-metre Laurentic gun is taken ashore at Downings pier. The owner of the wreck, Ray Cossum, was on hand at Downings pier to witness the completion of the salvage operation that was first initiated in 2004.
It was a poignant occasion too for the dive team.
“It’s incredible to be involved in
an operation like this”, said Joe Devenney, one of the divers involved in the mission.
“You feel as though you are connecting with history, rescuing something that would otherwise be lost forever”.
Divers Kevin McShane, Ivan Irwin, Eoin Fogarty, Míchéal McBride and Míchael Doherty were also there for the historic landing.
Built as a luxury liner by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1908, the Laurentic was requisitioned as a troop-carrier at the outbreak of the First World War. It took part in a mammoth convoy that transported 35,000 Canadian troops to Europe, before being converted to an armed merchant cruiser.
On January 25th, 1917, the ship was rounding Malin Head when she struck two German mines.
The crew struggled to clamber into lifeboats in the dark to escape the rapidly sinking vessel, which went to the bottom 45 minutes later. It resulted in the loss of 354 of the 722 passengers aboard. 68 bodies were eventually recovered and buried in Fahan graveyard.
Laurentic salvage owner, Ray Cossum witnesses the landing of the gun.
With so much gold lying on the seabed, a massive recovery operation was launched. Initially expected to be completed in a matter of months, the operation lasted over seven years, with 3,186 of the original 3,211 gold-bars being recovered by 1924.
More than 13 local divers were involved in the recovery operation, including Michael McVeigh, Liam Gillespie, Ivan Kerr, Tommy McKeemey, Noel Mc Shane, Eamonn Doherty and Sean Doherty.
The gun will be mounted permanently on public display on the pier at Downings Bay.
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