Students of Arts, Culture and History visited Dun Laoghaire’s National Maritime Museum on Tuesday
October 1st. Through the many exhibits we examined, we learned about the history and evolution of
the lifeboats connected with Dun Laoghaire, the tragic sinking of the ‘RMS Leinster’ by a German
U-Boat on 10th October 1918 and the beginning of construction on Dun Laoghaire harbour in 1815.
We learnt that the town was renamed Kingstown in honour of the visit of King George IV in 1821
but later reverted to Dun Laoghaire in 1920 as Ireland moved towards independence. As well as the
mail boats and later passenger ferries operating out of Dun Laoghaire, we had an opportunity to
study more traditional boats, such as the currach.
We also learned about the Irish Naval Service, and the ‘Great Eastern’ which, when launched in
1858, was the largest ship in the world. On its maiden voyage in 1860, an explosion killed
several crew members and it became a financial disaster as a passenger ship. It was later
relaunched as a cable laying ship and it laid the first successful telegraph cable across the
Atlantic from Ireland to the United States, being about the only ship afloat that could hold the
necessary amount of cable for such a task. It laid over 48,000 km of telegraph cable from 1866
to 1878. The ship ended life, however, as a floating music hall and gym!
We enjoyed this live learning experience and we came to understand more of the intricate
history of Dun Laoghaire. We returned to dry land all the better for the experience.