The Longhope Lifeboat Disaster 1969

Northern Lace

Fifty years
ago today the Longhope lifeboat answered a shout to go to help the Irene, a
cargo ship which had lost power and was drifting on to rocks on the east coast
of South Ronaldsay. The weather was
horrendous, with hurricane force winds, and the Pentland Firth, one of the most
dangerous pieces of water in the world, was boiling with mountainous seas. Eight men were aboard.

The next
morning the lifeboat was found upside down in the Firth. All eight men were in the cabin. The coxswain still had his hands on the
wheel.

Longhope is
about a mile across the water from Flotta where I lived until recently. The graveyard is beyond the village. A lonely and lovely spot. As you enter, the memorial to those eight men
is visible between the pillars, stark and haunting. A simple representation of courage. The graves of the men who…

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