Isolda Commemoration 19th December 2020

Isolda Commemoration 19th December 2020

Isolda Commemoration 19th December 2020

Irish Lights Marks 80th Anniversary of the sinking of Isolda

And pays tribute to those who lost their lives at sea

19 December 2020:  Today marks the 80th anniversary of the sinking of Isolda, a service vessel owned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights (Irish Lights). On 19th December 1940, Isolda sailed from Rosslare with a relief crew on board for the Barrels and Conninbeg lightships. Irish Lights, operating the lighthouse service, was considered neutral during World War II.  A German aircraft attacked the vessel despite it being clearly marked ‘Lighthouse Service’. The Isolda was carrying buoys, which may have been mistaken for mines. It is reported that the aircraft circled three times over Isolda, and on the last pass released bombs, which hit the ship starting a fire. The survivors landed at Kilmore Quay in their own lifeboats. There were twenty eight crew on board, including the master, Captain Alan Bestic. Six men were killed and seven wounded.

Yvonne Shields O’Connor, CEO, Irish Lights, said, “In normal times we would have come together to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the Isolda. On this occasion, we have prepared a short video to mark the anniversary and pay our respects to those involved.   This was a deeply sad day in the history of Irish Lights.  The incident highlights the dangers encountered by Irish Lights and its personnel in the course of its long history.  Our thoughts are with our former colleagues who lost their lives and with their families”

Those who lost their lives are honoured and acknowledged for their loyal and dedicated service:

P. Dunne; Coxwain, Dun Laoghaire, aged 45.

P. Farrell; AB Dun Laoghaire

Jimmy Hayden; Fireman, Dun Laoghaire, aged 37.

William Holland; Chief Steward, Dun Laoghaire, aged 57.

William Rushby, Leading Fireman, Dun Laoghaire, aged 43.

Paddy Shortt; Fireman, Dun Laoghaire, aged 43.

May they rest in peace.


Elleesa Rushby, granddaughter of William Rushby, is researching the lives of the Isolda men for her PhD and plans to write a collection of short stories about their lives. She said “they may not have been famous, but I’m sure that each of them was remarkable and their loss left a deep grief in their families. I would like to celebrate their lives”.

Elleesa is looking to interview descendants of the six men to hear their stories and any memories that may have been passed down through the generations. If you would like to make contact with Elleesa contact Irish Lights.


Notes to editors

For further information contact Jane McGahern, Communications Manager, Irish Lights: p: 01 2715455/ 087 2758967

About The Commissioners of Irish Lights

The mission of Irish Lights is Safe Navigation at Sea.  We are a maritime organisation delivering essential 24/7 safety and navigation services around the coast of Ireland (North and South), 365 days a year. Our vision is to protect lives, property, trade and the environment by delivering next generation maritime services at the interface of navigation technology, engineering and data management.  Playing a lead role in maritime safety, Irish Lights operates a 24-hour emergency response function.  

Irish Lights is responsible for Maritime Aids to Navigation under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention. This remit includes the provision and maintenance of over 340 general aids to navigation, the superintendence of approx. 3,200 local aids to navigation, and marking or removing dangerous wrecks outside harbour areas around Ireland.

Irish Lights also provides a range of navigation and contract commercial services including ship charter, buoy and maritime data. We provide value added services to support the development of the broader maritime economy including Met and Coastal Data Services. The Irish Lights tourism and heritage initiative, ‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland' was developed in partnership with local communities and offers visitors from home and abroad the chance to visit or stay in a working lighthouse.   

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Emergency Response: For aids to navigation contact our 24-hour emergency response number on 01-2801996



About the General Lighthouse Authorities

The General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland are Trinity House, the Northern Lighthouse Board and Irish Lights. Together they have the statutory responsibility for the provision of marine aids to navigation around the UK and Ireland. Their joint mission is the delivery of a reliable, efficient and cost effective aid to navigation service for the benefit and safety of all mariners.

Please visit the following websites for more information

Trinity House:

Northern Lighthouse Board:

Irish Lights: