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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 11:37 GMT
Sea disaster victims remembered
Princess Victoria
All but 44 passengers and crew died on the Princess Victoria
The 55th anniversary of the Princess Victoria ferry disaster which claimed more than 130 lives has been marked.

The boat went down off the County Down coast - out of 177 people who set out in storms on the 21-mile crossing from Scotland, only 44 survived.

A specially-commissioned accordion piece, Victoria, was premiered.

The service organised by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes was held in Larne, at the site of a memorial to the disaster.

Every woman and child on board the ship died in the disaster.

The mark which it made scarred the memories of that generation, and it remains very real for people in Larne to this day
Reverend John Nelson

It was one of the first roll-on, roll-off ferries built, and its fate was sealed after a huge wave crashed through the car deck doors on the North Channel route between Stranraer and Larne.

The wreckage of the Princess Victoria still lies at the bottom of the Irish Sea, five miles north north east of the Copeland Islands.

Twenty-seven of the victims came from Larne, and Reverend John Nelson said the shockwaves of the tragedy were still felt in the County Antrim town.

"The Stranraer boat was always such a major part of life in Larne, people always assumed it was safe and they couldn't imagine that such a tragedy could happen," he said.

"The mark which it made scarred the memories of that generation, and it remains very real for people in Larne to this day."

Betty Crawford's 16-year-old brother was a crew member who died on the Princess Victoria.

She was 18 at the time, but she said she only felt a sense of closure at the 50th anniversary.

"That was the first time I really grieved with other people," she said on Thursday.

She said the performance of the tune Victoria by the East Antrim Accordion Orchestra would be especially poignant.

"I remember him every year, but it's special now because he loved accordion music," she said.

A music piece was written for the service

Ferry disaster victims remembered
30 Jan 03 |  Northern Ireland

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