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John McCormack to help raise funds for Leinster victims
John McCormack in 1915 Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. USA

John McCormack to help raise funds for Leinster victims

New York, 22 October 1918 - The celebrated Irish tenor, John McCormack, has written to the Freeman’s Journal newspaper from New York City to extend his sympathies to the friends and relatives of the victims of the RMS Leinster catastrophe and has offered his services to help ‘assuage the sorrows’ of the bereaved.

McCormack, along with his wife, have been deeply impacted by the disaster, which he characterised as the ‘most cold blooded murder’. It convinced him, and ‘all true Irishmen, that this is a holy war to save the world from slavery’.

‘All America is aflame with indignation’, his telegram states, ‘and nothing but the utter annihilation of German autocracy and militarism will cause her [America’s] heroic sons to stay their triumphant march to Berlin.’

McCormack writes that he has already come to the aid of 10 of the children orphaned by the disaster, but there were others he also wanted to help.

Image from a John McCormack concert programme for a benefit in support of the Sailors' Comfort and Cheer League in September 1918 (Image: Irish Music Center, John J. Burns Library, Boston College)

The tenor has been busy in New York in recent weeks fundraising for the war effort: the Secretary of Navy in the US, Josephus Daniels attended a concert at the New York Hippodrome at which the Irish tenor sang to raise funds for the Sailors’ Comfort and Cheer League.

McCormack sang French airs and Irish folk songs, to which he added ‘The Last Rose of Summer’. His last number, Fay Foster’s ‘The Americans Come’, was so much applauded that he sang a patriotic encore: ‘God be with our Boys Tonight’.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.