Last port of call embarks on a busy week of commemoration
COBH IS ready to play its part in the Titanic 100 commemorations after a local committee spent the weekend finalising what will be a busy week of events to mark the centenary of the ill-fated liner’s visit to the Cork Harbour town.
Cobh, or Queenstown as it was then known, was the RMS Titanic’s last port of call after it had departed Southampton and Cherbourg. The Harland and Wolff-built liner dropped anchor a mile off Roches Point at 11.30am on April 11th, 1912, before recommencing her maiden transatlantic voyage.
It was at Queenstown that 123 final passengers – three travelling in first class, seven in second class and the remaining 113 in steerage – joined the White Star liner, being ferried from the pier in Cobh on the tenders PS Ireland and PS America.
According to the author of The Irish Aboard Titanic, Senan Molony, one of the passengers, weaver Eugene Daly from Athlone, took out his uileann pipes and played A Nation Once Again, Boolavogue and Spancil Hill as the tenders brought the Irish boarding passengers out to the Titanic.
Some 79 of the 123 passengers were lost in the sinking. They will be remembered in Cobh this week along with the rest of the 1,514 who perished after the ship hit an iceberg some 676km off Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, that April 15th.
The week’s events get under way today when the cruise liner Balmoral docks in Cobh at 2.30pm as it retraces the voyage of the Titanic with some 1,309 passengers, including descendants of Titanic passengers and enthusiasts.
On Wednesday Cobh will move centre stage in commemorations when President Michael D Higgins will lead a national tribute to the ship and those who perished on it when he attends a public event on the waterfront promenade in Cobh.
The event, being organised by Titanic100 Cobh, will see President Higgins inspect a guard of honour and attend an ecumenical service concluding with a recital performed on the 49-bell carillon of St Colman’s Cathedral before he reviews a sail-past by the Irish Naval Service.
Among other notables set to attend are Oscar-nominated actor Fiona Shaw, Olympic silver medallist Sonia O’Sullivan, Mayor of Cobh Jim Quinlan, the chairman of Fáilte Ireland Redmond O’Donoghue and Irish diver Rory Golden, who helped to recover artefacts from the wreck in 2005.
The Cobh commemorations will continue with “An Irish Connection”, a series of outdoor concerts running from April 11th to 14th which will tell the story of the Titanic’s connection with Ireland. Among the singers participating are Cathy Jordan of Dervish, soprano Cara O’Sullivan and tenor Paul Byrom.
The concerts, which take place on the promenade, will feature music composed by Brendan Graham, Shaun Davy, Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains and Johnny Duhan, among others.