Laurentic gun recovered off
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 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
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
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
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.
Return to > News