The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

Poetry and Song

Frank Higgerty

Leinster passenger Francis Edward Higgerty was a Canadian whose ancestors had come from Ireland. On his way to take up a commission in the British Army, he took the opportunity to visit the land of his ancestors. The visit cost him his life.

Frank Higgerty liked to write poetry. The emotional effect of visiting Ireland, the land of his ancestors, is shown in the following poem, written in Dublin on 8 October, two days before the Leinster sinking. The poem was found on his body.

From Canada my homeland, to Ireland my Sireland
From Ottawa to Dublin, some three thousand miles away
The call of one’s relations, above the din and war of countries
Conserves the one green spot in memory for ever and a day.
And when back o’er the sea I wander to the land that there lies yonder
I’ll bring tidings from dear old Ireland to the land I adore,
To Canada my homeland, from Erin my own Sireland,
Stretch fond memories and emotions for ever and evermore.

Detailed information on Frank Higgerty may be found in The Canadian Connection part of the website.


A Father's Grief

Teenagers Anthony Baker, Anthony Jones and Ralph Murray, students of the Irish School of Telegraphy, Cork were lost on the Leinster. The body of Anthony Jones was recovered and buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Cork. The bodies of Anthony Baker and Ralph Murray were never recovered.

Les Morts

They sleep in quiet waters where Kish towers,
‘Mid sand and slender sea-grass soft and deep,
Through all the sunlit and the moonlit hours
They sleep

They are content, they murmur not, nor weep:
No rushing flotsam hastes to mock their powers;
They are content, and very deep
Their sleep

No tombs enclose them, and they need no flowers,
No mothers’ kisses make their fond hearts leap—
‘Mid slender sea-grass, bending where Kish towers
They sleep.

In deep and sorrowing memory of my three pupils, Anthony Baker, Anthony Jones and Ralph Murray, the last-named my son, all aged 17 years, who died the death of martyrs on October 10th, 1918, torpedoed aboard the R.M.S. Leinster, during a rough and swift-running sea, and in sight of the Kish Rock Lighthouse.
—Albert Murray

Maude Marsham Rae, picked up by H.M.S. Mallard. Her husband, Second Lieutenant Lindsay Leon Marsham Rae, 2nd Battalion Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons, was lost. Maude Marsham Rae, picked up by H.M.S. Mallard.  Her husband, Second Lieutenant Lindsay Leon Marsham Rae, 2nd Battalion Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons, was lost. Lieutenant Roland Lloyd R.N.R., Captain of H.M.S. Mallard. Lieutenant Roland Lloyd R.N.R., Captain of H.M.S. Mallard.


Leinster Poem

R.M.S. Leinster

Thursday 10th October 1918 and the end of World War One was nigh,
And of 771 passengers aboard the R.M.S. Leinster, 501 were today to die.

At the end of that fateful day, as the true horror of the tragedy unfurled,
we learned of the loss of crew, of military personnel from around the world.

From Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada,
For in World Wars our men and women bravely came from so near and far.

This was the greatest ever loss of life in the Irish Sea, and there is no denying,
a terrible waste of life, children, mothers, families left distraught and crying.

The Leinster had been hit, struck by torpedoes, and not just one but two,
A German submarine UB-123, its torpedoes fired so accurately and true.

We do not look back in anger, for the young German crew there is no shame,
for in War, troops fight in the belief and orders, and attributed can be no blame.

Later, returning home, the German submarine stuck a mine in the North Sea,
the 35 crew were killed, now just memories, for family and German history.

The RAF, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Navy, Army, the forces lost fine young men,
and in Josephine Carr from Cork in active service was lost the first WREN.

Who could have foreseen, sailing from Kingstown, Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead,
that so many civilians, postal workers and crew, would also be injured or dead.

Now hands extended via the Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire Link, across the Irish Sea,
Result in “Friends of the Leinster” holding a memorial service, to their memory.

The commemoration not to just the 501, many still in their watery graves,
but to also honour those who assisted the survivors, ensuring that 270 were saved.

In St Michael's and St Cybi’s the congregation will hear the peal of the church bells ring, and hear the pupils of St Joseph's, Dun Laoghaire and Park School, Holyhead sing.

We will never forget our forefathers who perished in war, on land, in air or at sea,
for it is they who ensure we are here today, living in peace, freedom and liberty.

God Rest Their Souls

Jeff Evans, Holyhead, Chairman Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead Link. Specially written for the 2003 commemoration services in Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead.

Maude Marsham Rae, picked up by H.M.S. Mallard. Her husband, Second Lieutenant Lindsay Leon Marsham Rae, 2nd Battalion Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons, was lost.
Edward Salisbury Moors, Engineers Steward on the Leinster was born in Birkenhead, where the ship was built.  He was married to Mary (nee Richards).  They lived in Holyhead.  Edward was lost in the sinking.  He was forty-eight years old.
Edward Moors' Memorial Card
Edward Moors'  Memorial Card.


The Mail Boat Leinster

On 26 August 1946 Father Joe Ranson wrote down the following from Patrick Doyle, Kilmacoe, Co. Wexford. Patrick Doyle sang the song to the air of another local ballad, “The Poulshone Fishermen.”


You feeling hearted Christians all in country or in town
come listen to my doleful song which I have just penned down
‘Tis all about the wartime act, that awful tragedy
when the Dublin mail boat Leinster was sunk in the Irish Sea

On the tenth day of October, nineteen eighteen being the year,
the mail boat on her passage went I mean to let you hear:
with six hundred and ninety passengers and seventy of a crew,
she sailed from Kingstown Quay for Holyhead bound to


In pride and stately grandeur, the Leinster plodded her way
and all on board were of good cheer with spirits light and gay
‘not fearing that the submarine was lurking ‘neath the wave
to send them all unto their doom and to a watery grave


The submarine came at them when they did least expect
and fired torpedoes at the boat which quickly took effect
her boilers burst the flames ascend with fury to the sky,
‘mid echoes of the deafening din you could hear the women cry.


Oh the Leinster now is sinking fast and she is going down
and many too while in their bunks are numbered with the drowned
the passengers, their lifebelts on unto the boats repair
while cries for help do rend the skies in sad and wild despair


Now to conclude and finish, my doleful lines to close
May God have mercy on their souls and grant them sweet repose
Beside the mail boat Leinster they quietly now do sleep
Amid the cold and changeless waters of the Irish Sea so deep



The Leinster was launched by the Countess of Cadogan, the picture is of her husband.
On 12 September 1896, the R.M.S. Leinster was launched at the yards of Lairds of Birkenhead, the 616th ship built by the company. The ship was launched by was Beatrix, Countess of Cadogan, accompanied by her husband George Henry Cadogan, Earl of Cadogan and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
George Henry Cadogan  




Frank Higgerty

A father's grief

Leinster poem

The Mail Boat Leinster


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