Big welcome for 'Titanic' memorial ship in Cobh

Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 01:00

ADVERSE WEATHER conditions delayed the arrival of the Titanic Memorial Cruise to Cobh yesterday with the liner not docking in the Co Cork town until shortly before 6pm. Its scheduled arrival time was 2.30pm.

The MS Balmoral, carrying more than 1,300 passengers from 22 different countries, is retracing the steps of the ill-fated Titanic liner. The 12-night cruise, which originated in Southampton, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star liner.

The ship will now follow the same route as the Titanic – although the Balmoral had to leave two days earlier than its predecessor because it is a smaller and less powerful vessel.

Hundreds of people lined up on the quayside in Cobh yesterday to greet the passengers. The captain and crew of the MS Balmoral were also welcomed yesterday by local dignitaries, including Mayor of Cobh, councillor Jim Quinlan.

Mr Quinlan, who is also a history teacher, said passengers mainly boarded the Titanic in Queenstown (now Cobh), with only seven lucky people disembarking in the town.

He said that more than 100 people boarded the liner with all but six of them travelling third class.

“So the vast majority were third-class passengers embarking in Cobh. The last mail was also taken off at Cobh. It anchored in the harbour for approximately an hour and a half at that time.”

Former lord mayor of Cobh, councillor John Mulvihill jnr, said there was a great atmosphere in the town this week.

“It is an amazing atmosphere today. I have never seen so many people in the town, but I think the environment and atmosphere is correct for what we are commemorating.

“The whole community has come together on this. We have a lot of ships coming in every year but there is something very special about this week.”

Meanwhile, outdoor gala concerts which will tell the story of emigration and the Titanic’s connection with Ireland will be held in Cobh this week.

The concerts will be hosted on the historical site where the last passengers boarded the Titanic.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April 1912, it sank with the loss of more than 1,500 lives, including 79 of those who boarded in Cobh.

Among those who died on the Titanic was Cobh native Able Seaman Lionel Leonard, who travelled as a third-class passenger.

Mr Leonard was born in Queenstown (now Cobh) in 1876 and was christened Andrew Shannon in St Colman’s Cathedral. In 1912, having become a US citizen to work in the merchant fleet, he was a quartermaster on the SS Philadelphia of the American Line.

Arising out of a miners’ strike, the Philadelphia’s passage to New York was cancelled and Leonard was instructed to sail to New York on the Titanic. He travelled with four fellow American Line employees.