THIS Sunday, April 10, Cobh marks the 110th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic - a significant date for my hometown of Cobh in East Cork, or Queenstown as it was then known.
Cobh of course was Titanic’s last port of call, so has an enduring connection and association with the ill-fated ship which struck an iceberg less than four days later and sank on her maiden voyage to New York in 1912.
In the last two years, when public health considerations and Covid 19 restrictions at the height of the global pandemic prevented public gatherings of all sorts, including commemorative events, Cobh Tourism quietly marked the anniversary with solemn wreath laying ceremonies at the break of dawn, with a solo representative and a cellist playing Nearer, My God, to Thee.
We also kept in our thoughts those affected by the pandemic, especially those who lost their lives and who lost loved ones.
While there was a certain beauty and added air of solemnity to that manner of remembrance, it is right and proper to have a community gather together and allow all those who want to participate to do so. Now that restrictions have been lifted it is uplifting to be able, once more to hold a public ceremony and to extend the invitation to all members of the public who would like to attend.
We are therefore inviting descendants of passengers, dignitaries, Cobh locals, those with maritime connections or historical interest and the public to attend and join in the commemoration.
The ceremony, organised by Cobh Tourism, will start at 2.30pm in the centre of town at the Titanic Memorial in Pearse Square and feature music, prayers, and wreath laying.
A Colour Party from the Cobh Branch O.N.E. will parade from the Old Town Hall at Lynch’s Quay to the Titanic Memorial in Pearse Square where a ceremony of prayers and wreath laying will take place along with musical honours provided by the Commodore Male Voice Choir.
Proceedings will then move to the Promenade where the names of the 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic in Cobh on 11th April 1912, of which 79 perished in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic less than four days later, will be read out.
A wreath will then be placed in the sea in memory all those lost in the tragedy. The ceremonies will conclude with Cobh Confraternity Band’s rendition of the Last Post and Reveille, which I have always found to be especially poignant.
Cobh is a beautiful, scenic town with a rich maritime history and the Titanic story is deeply engrained in our local identity. Being able to come together as a community once more for this significant 110-year commemorative ceremony is another significant step for the town in regaining normality after the challenges of the pandemic. As a town which relies heavily on tourism including the boost from cruise liner visits, we have certainly felt the impact of the Pandemic and relish every positive sign of Post Covid recovery that comes.
One such positive which we are glad to note is that delegates from the British Titanic Society will travel from the UK and stay in Cobh for four days as they host their 35th Annual Convention this coming weekend. They are hosting an event series here in Cobh, and staying at the Commodore Hotel, with plans for tours around East Cork and lectures by Titanic scholars as well as a Gala Dinner for their members. We are delighted to welcome the Society and look forward to the tourism boost their convention will bring.
As the Easter break approaches, I would encourage families to come and visit the colourful town of Cobh and learn more about our unique Titanic connection.
All year around, you can visit the town’s Titanic Memorial Garden, which is situated on the waterfront overlooking the ship’s final anchorage. Here you will see a Glass Memorial wall which bears the names of the 123 passengers that embarked in Queenstown. A Titanic Memorial in the town square is dedicated to those passengers and especially the 79 who lost their lives. And there are several fascinating museums and heritage centres dedicated to The Titanic story, including Cobh Heritage Centre and The Titanic Experience. The Titanic Trail Walking Tour departs daily at 11am from the Commodore Hotel all year round and is something I would highly recommend.
Of course, there is more to Cobh for visitors to see and do beyond Titanic. From the iconic ‘Deck of Cards’ houses along the hill which people love to photograph, to one of Ireland’s tallest buildings St Colman’s Cathedral with a resident Peregrine Falcon hunting from the spire, self drive boats on the Harbour or taking a ferry ride to check out the award-winning Spike Island with over 1300 years of history to discover.
For more information on the upcoming Titanic commemoration or things to see and do in the historic and family friendly town of Cobh see www.visitcobh.com