Secret replica a star on maiden voyage


THE WRAPS came off a Co Mayo community’s most closely guarded secret yesterday when a 76ft model of the Titanic was launched on Lough Conn near Crossmolina.

Local craftsmen in the parish of Addergoole have been working on the replica since January as a tribute to 14 emigrants from the area who travelled on the White Star Liner’s original voyage. Only three of the group, all women, survived.

There were fireworks in the night sky over Lough Conn last night as the mini-Titanic was floated past the Pontoon Bridge Hotel, while a Titanic ball was taking place. The “apparition”, as it was described by Mary Rowland of the Mayo Titanic Society, came as a total surprise to the more than 400 guests who paid €70 a head to attend the function.

Unlike the original vessel 100 years ago, yesterday’s inaugural voyage from a bay near the village of Lahardane went without a hitch. In calm conditions several local fishing boats towed the engineless Titanic 2 from its secret berth to the southern shore of the lake, where it formed the centrepiece of last night’s light show.

Many of those attending the ball were from the US, descendants of those who survived the tragedy, such as Delia McDermott and Annie McGowan.

One of the builders of the replica, Ray Lynn, said the vessel was built since Christmas in the strictest of secrecy in a shed at the rear of Lahardane village.

Local supermarket owner William Barrett said their biggest fear was the vessel might come to grief on the rock-dotted lake. “The last thing we wanted in the middle of Titanic Cultural Week was to have a replica vessel sinking in the middle of Lough Conn.”

From midnight tonight the bells of St Patrick’s Church, Lahardane, will toll until 2.20am in memory of those who became known as the “Addergoole 14”.

US relatives of the Addergoole passengers have financed two new stained-glass windows in the church. Tomorrow at 2pm the Bishop of Killala, Dr John Fleming, will preside at a centenary Mass and dedication of the themed windows. Later, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will unveil a memorial garden.