Homily for Remembrance of the Clare Connection with the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918, Sunday, October 7thth, 2018 Ennis Cathedral
Celebrating the annual Day for Life
This Sunday, annually, a Day for Life is celebrated by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition.
This important issue is a big aspect of Catholic Social Teaching and there is an abundance of material to deepen one’s understanding on www.chooselife2018.ie/Day4Life/
The Tragedy of Loss and Bereavement
It was the infamous Joseph Stalin, I believe who remarked that the death of 10,000 is a statistic but the death of a single loved one is a tragedy. For many people around the country and world the sad tragedy and evil act of war, the killing of so many innocent citizens, 100years ago was a very sad event, a statistic, so to speak, but to somehere present who knewthose related tothe people involved and were related it was indeed an immense tragedy. Almost on a par with that sadness is the fact that in the midst of all the atrocities of the Great War the horror of the loss of so much innocent life was hardly remembered or noticed in the general amnesia surrounding the horror of such a war.
We gather in prayer and solidarity with allaffected. We gatherin sacred remembrance, especially mindful of the significant Clare connection!
The RMS Leinster
The story behind and the detail of the RMS Leinster is a most interesting one, so well preserved and passed on by Lucille Ellis in association with the Clare Roots Society. The RMS Leinster was one of 4 mail boats that embarked on daily trips between Ireland and England, the others not surprisingly being the Connaught, Munster and Ulster. Around 800 passengers embarked on the RMS Leinster on the 10th of October, 1918, oblivious to their fate that they were going to be torpedoed by German torpedo, part of World War I. 567 people died, despite the rescue efforts in which 241 people survived.
The Clare Connection
11 Clare people died as a result of the tragedy of war:
John Coyne Tuamgraney
Delia Davoren Ennis and Nottingham
Nora Davoren Ennis and Nottingham
Nellie Hogan Newmarket-on-Fergus and Brighton
James Hynes Tulla and Manchester
Clare Hynes Tulla and Manchester
Margaret O’Grady Quin
Owen Ward RIC Ennis and Monaghan
Margaret Cooke Ennis and Tipperary
Edwin George FerberKillaloe
Reflection on theTragedy
In reading Lucille Ellisesinformative and well producedbookleton the commemoration of the RMS Leinster with the Clare Roots SocietyI got a strong sense that for many people, here inCo. Clare, both those who died and their many relatives and friends– their lives were changed. Changed utterly. Loss, sadness, emptiness, pain, heart-ache. Questions. What if?
Today in this special ceremony we gather to remember the souls of the 11 localpeoplealong with so many morewho died as a result of this sad and tragic day, October 10th, 100years agoand also many more in the course of the Great War that was World War I.
We remember their families and the many, many people who suffered terribly as a result.
Consoling Prayer of John Henry Newman
The prayer of Blessed John HenryNewman whose feast day we celebrate during the coming week on Tuesdayassists us in our efforts:
O Jesus, Lover of souls, we recommend unto you the souls of all your servants, who have departed with the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace. We beseech you, Lord and Saviour, that, as in your mercy to them you became man, so now you would admit them to your presence above. May the heavens be opened to them. May the Archangel St. Michael conduct them to you. May your holy Angels come forth to meet them, and carry them to the city of the heavenly Jerusalem. May they rest in peace. Amen.
Time of Reflection and Memory – seeking hope
So, what hope, at all, or meaning can we draw from such a disaster and tragedy as we reflect now 100 years on?
In the face of such unspeakable and mystifying evil, sadness, tragedy – Invariably as a result of such a tragedy there are anecdotes of the triumph of the human spirit, the bravery and heroism of the rescue efforts. No matter what the magnitude and scale of the disaster – the generosity of the human spirit rises to the surface.
The Hope of Heaven
There’s a phrase in the great littlebookon the Carmody Hotel Disaster produced byJohn Bradley and the Clare Roots Society and the phrase is “People die only when we forget”. One of the outstanding treasures of being a person of faith is that we believe even when the human remembrance is long forgotten that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of new life and togetherness and reunion in our true home in heaven.
O Captain! My Captain! – Walt Whitman
Sometimes words or prose fail us in summing up the depth of feeling of a tragedy that is profound and seeks meaning. Occasionally poetic verse can help to express our search and quest for light on the darkness of a mystery. I find the words of Walt Whitman helpful in this instance as we remember in sacred memory the Clare connection with the RMS Leinster:
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! Heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace…