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Remembering the Laurentic dead in Fahan 29.01.08

A POIGNANT remembrance ceremony to honour those who lost their lives in the Laurentic disaster 91 years ago was held in Fahan on Saturday.
Inishowen joined with Canada in the cross-community ceremony to remember the 344 people who perished when their ship was scuttled by a mine at the mouth of Lough Swilly on January 25, 1917 as World War I raged.
Canadian Naval Captain Norman Jolin and the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Patrick Binns at the remembrance ceremony in Fahan. The event was organised by Don McNeill, a Newfoundlander living in Buncrana, and the Ulster Newfoundland Initiative, who wanted to remember the 16 young men from the Canadian province who perished that day thousands of miles from home. It is also hoped the event will be the first step towards forging stronger social, economic and cultural links between the North West and
Guests of honour on the day were Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Patrick Binns and the Canadian Naval attache, Captain Norman Jolin.
Captain Jolin said the mass grave at the Church of Ireland burial ground in Fahan was vitally important in the process of remembering fallen sailors. "Soldiers and airmen were buried, they have graves and headstones. We traditionally buried at sea so consequently there is no grave, no marker. For those buried in Fahan, that's the only marker they have," he said. Don McNeill said he was amazed to find fellow Newfoundlanders buried near Buncrana when he moved to Inishowen more than 13 years ago.
"These were young men - boys most of them - who were buried here a long way from home. It's ironic that I move here and find this." He said the aim now was to build on the remembrance event for the benefit of both regions. "We will try and get some exchanges and programmes happening between the two places and today's event will Members of the Londonderry Branch of the Royal Merchant Navy take part in the ceremony.
be the first step towards building on that," said Mr. McNeill.
Meanwhile, Inishowen Development Partnership chairman, John McCarter added: "This is really the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that the people who lost their lives on the Laurentic were commemorated and their souls brought home to rest.
"After this event today, we would hope to start and create new relationships with Newfoundland and see what can be built from that." For more photos of the event, click here .
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