Revisiting the dramatic story of HMS Drake

THE DRAMATIC story of HMS Drake and its watery resting place off the coast of Rathlin Island is just one of the subjects in the spotlight at Flowerfield Arts Centre on Wednesday April 4, as maritime heritage authority Ian Wilson comes to Portstewart for an illustrated talk.

The evening, which starts at 8pm, is being offered in association with Rathlin Island Books, who have just published the latest book by Ian, a former history teacher at Coleraine Inst.

HMS Drake: Rathlin Island Shipwreck tells for the first time the full story of the sinking in October 1917 of the Royal Navy armoured cruiser, now forever associated with Rathlin Island and the north coast.

Ian Wilson, the foremost authority on Ulster’s maritime history, whose publications include amongst others, Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast, Donegal Shipwrecks, and Ulster’s Ships and Quaysides has now focused his attention on HMS Drake, arguably the most famous shipwreck in Northern Ireland waters, lying in Church Bay, Rathlin Island.

Accompanied by historic and contemporary stills and moving images, Ian will be presenting a look back over his career charting the role of ships, shipwrecks and maritime culture in the context of their times, and today’s.

The dramatic story of the day that some of the horrors of the Great War came to Rathlin’s quiet shores will be vividly brought to life:

‘A light westerly breeze is lifting early morning mist over calm waters… Kapitanleutnant Rohrbeck observes with sudden excitement a cruiser through his periscope. She has four tall funnels and two masts.

‘Manoeuvering U79 to the correct angle for attack, he is only 600 metres from the British ship’s starboard side when he gives the order to fire…’

Ian will welcome questions and comments from the floor, providing an opportunity for discussion and new insights into an abidingly important strand of Ulster’s history and present.

The admission charge is £5, payable at the door, and this includes interval refreshments, and copies of HMS Drake: Rathlin Island Shipwreck will be available for sale on the evening.

For further information, get in touch with the staff at Flowerfield Arts Centre on (028) 7083 1400.