Cobh to remember 108th anniversary of Titanic sinking

For the first time in over 20 years, there will no public ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic in its last port of call, Cobh, Co. Cork, as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown measures.

Instead, a member of the Cobh Tourism Board will place a solitary floral tribute on the Titanic Memorial in the town square, to honour all those who lost their lives 108 years ago.

Commenting, Chairman of Cobh Tourism Jack Walsh said, “Instead of a traditional public ceremony this year, we are inviting everyone to say a prayer or share a thought this Saturday (11th April) for all those who embarked on their final journey from Queenstown, as the town of Cobh was then known, on board the ill-fated Titanic.

“As you remember all those who died on Titanic, please also think about those who have been taken from us in the current Pandemic – they are not a statistic or a story, they are real people with families who love them and hopefully their ancestors will continue to remember them and commemorate this current tragedy long into the future.”

The colourful town of Cobh is famed as the last port of call of the Titanic.  All year around, you can visit the town’s Titanic Memorial Garden, which is situated on the waterfront overlooking The Titanic’s final anchorage.  Here you will see a Glass Memorial wall which bears the names of the 123 passengers that embarked in Queenstown.  The town also has a Titanic Memorial in the town square, dedicated to the 79 passengers who boarded The Titanic in Cobh on 11th April 1912 and lost their lives. And there are a number of fascinating museums and heritage centres dedicated to The Titanic story, including Cobh Heritage Centre and The Titanic Experience.

Continuing, Jack Walsh said “Cobh is a beautiful, scenic town with a rich maritime history and the Titanic story has become deeply engrained in our local identity. Those who departed from Titanic’s last port of call did so with trepidation, excitement and in hope of a new life in America. The tragedy that unfolded on that maiden voyage is something that we are committed to paying tribute to, even this year, with an overarching emphasis on remembering above all else the tragic loss of life for many of those onboard.”


Historical context

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.

In 2013 a Titanic Memorial Garden was opened in Cove Fort at the eastern end of Cobh Town. This secluded historic fort has spectacular views over Cork Harbour and overlooks the last anchorage of the Titanic. A Glass Memorial Wall within the garden has the names of the 123 passengers who boarded in Cobh and also a memorial stone to Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line who was travelling on the Titanic when it sank.

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.


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