On 11th April 1912, Queenstown was the final port of call for the Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her maiden voyage. The 123 passengers boarding at Queenstown left from the White Star Line pier aboard the tenders Ireland and America which ferried them to the liner at anchor near Roche’s Point. Three were traveling first class, seven second class and the remainder steerage. Renowned photographer Fr. Frank Browne had traveled on the ship from Southampton and disembarked at Cobh. His photographs were the last taken on the Titanic.
At the time Titanic was the largest and most luxurious liner afloat. At 882 feet long, 92 feet wide and weighing 46,000 tons it was powered by 29 coal-fired boilers which burned almost 700 tons of coal a day. Although it is dwarfed by today’s cruise liners it still ranks as one of the most famous and recognisable liners of all time. The facilities available to second class passengers were better than those of first class passengers on competing vessels. On this voyage there were over 2200 passengers and crew aboard. There were merely 1178 lifeboat spaces!
The RMS Titanic struck an iceberg shortly before midnight on 14th April 1912. Just over two hours of terror later the Titanic sank and almost 1500 people died in what is the most widely reported shipping disaster ever. Despite the freighter Californian being within 20 miles of the Titanic all night the ship’s radio operator was off duty and didn’t pick up the distress signals from the Titanic. The crew was therefore unaware of the unfolding disaster nearby. The first ship to arrive at the scene of the now sunk Titanic was the Cunard liner Carpathia. She picked up over 700 survivors and brought them to New York.
A year after the disaster, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was held in London. The convention made rules requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person onboard and that ships maintain a continuous radio watch.
On 1st September 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright in two sections approximately 400 miles south of Newfoundland at a depth of almost 13,000 feet. Subsequent exploration of the ship by manned and unmanned submarines under the direction of American and French scientists found no sign of the long gash thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull by the iceberg. It seems that a series of thin gashes as well as the separation of joints in the ship’s hull allowing water to flood in.
The tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic is commemorated each year by Cobh Tourism. It is a fitting memorial to all those who lost their lives on that fateful voyage.
A Parade, led by a Colour Party from the O.N.E. leaves from the Old Town Hall on Lynch’s Quay to the Titanic Memorial in Pearse Square. Following prayers, hymns by the Commodore Male Voice Choir and a wreath laying ceremony the proceedings move to the Promenade for prayers, hymns by Cobh Confraternity Band and the reading of the names of the 79 passengers who boarded the liner in Cobh and later perished in the North Atlantic. The Mayor of Cobh, places a wreath in the sea in honour of all those who lost their lives. The ceremony concludes with a bugler playing the Last Post and Reveille.
The 2010 commemmoration will take place on Sunday 11th April at 2.30pm.