A deck chair from the Lusitania which was salvaged by Blasket islanders more than 100 years ago has been restored with a view to having it put on public display.

The folding deck chair was salvaged by the islanders in 1915 following the sinking of the ill-fated liner.

More than 1,198 people died when the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat eight miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork on 7 May 1915.

The deck chair, along with some other flotsam from the vessel, was recovered by the islanders shortly afterwards.

The deck chair continued to be used on the island as a fireside armchair until the Great Blasket was evacuated in 1953.

It remained in a shed on the mainland for decades before it was donated to the Blasket Centre by relatives of one of the islanders.

As luck would have it, the deck chair features in an iconic photograph of the islanders as they evacuated the Blasket in 1953.

(Picture courtesy of Don MacMonagle)

The image, captured by Killarney photographer Louis MacMonagle, shows the folded deck chair carried by one of the islanders as they land on Dingle pier.  

Director of the Blasket Centre Doncha Ó Conchúir said the chair is of immense cultural and historical value.

"Obviously it's of tremendous historical importance given its connection with the Lusitania and one of the world's greatest tragedies. But it is also very much part of the Blasket story. It's an example of the hard life endured by the people of the Blasket and also illustrates the resourcefulness of the islanders," Mr Ó Conchúir said.

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"The islanders were always on the look-out for what they called 'raic' [flotsam], often combing the cliffs and inlets. They had heard that the Lusitania had been sunk and they were expecting material to drift northwards towards the island," he added

 In his book Twenty Years a Growing, island writer Muiris Ó Súilleabháin describes the islanders recovering the body of Henry Atkinson, an officer on the Lusitania.

 The deck chair is made of beech and the woven seat is made of rattan, a vine found in the Far East. The deck chair has been carefully restored by master craftsman Pat Broderick.

 "The deck chairs on the Lusitania and the Titanic were made by the same company in Liverpool. I was able to save most of the original timber and paintwork, copper screws and hinges. The woven rattan seating had to be replaced as it was rotten. However, I managed to source the same material and the pattern I have woven is identical," Mr Broderick said.

 "This chair has seen so much and has a fantastic story to tell. I often wonder about the people who sat on it on the Lusitania. And then on the Blasket itself, can you imagine all the beautiful Irish folktales and songs it heard by the fireside on the Blasket island," he added.

 The Office of Public Works now plans to put the deck chair on public display, either in the Blasket Centre in Dún Chaoin or on the island itself, in the recently restored house of the 'Islandman' Tomás Ó Criomhthain.