Belfast today marks the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, with a simple ceremony to remember all those – and especially the 28 men from Belfast – who lost their lives on 15 April 1912.
At 12 noon, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, will join John Andrews, President of the Belfast Titanic Society, to lay wreaths at the Titanic Memorial in the City Hall grounds.
Following the wreath-laying, a minute’s silence will be observed and prayers will be said.
When Titanic left Belfast, on board were nine men from the Harland and Wolff Guarantee Group, led by the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews. They were some of the shipyard’s finest employees, travelling to address any problems which may have arisen on the ship’s maiden voyage to New York.
Unfortunately, all nine men – along with some 1,500 other souls – lost their lives on the night of 15 April 1912.
In addition to Thomas Andrews, the Guarantee Group was made up of William Campbell, an apprentice joiner; Roderick Chisholm, the chief draughtsman at Harland and Wolff and a man who would have known Titanic almost as well as Andrews; Alfred Cunningham, an apprentice fitter; Artie Frost, a foreman fitter; Robert Knight, a leading hand fitter; Frank Parkes, an apprentice plumber; William Parr, assistant manager of Harland and Wolff’s electrical department; and Ennis Watson, an apprentice electrician.
In addition to the Guarantee Group, the memorial contains the names of 13 other Belfast men – all of them members of Titanic’s crew – who went down with the ship: Joseph Beattie, Hugh Calderwood, Henry Creese, Albert Ervine, Hugh Fitzpatrick, Herbert Harvey, Matthew Leonard, William McQuillan, William McReynolds, Thomas Millar, Archibald Scott, John Simpson, and Richard Turley.
Today’s service also remembers six other men – J Blaney, John Harper, James Heslim, Thomas Morrow, James McGrady and W Swann – whose names were not known when the memorial was commissioned and so are missing from it.
The memorial – depicting the female figure of Thane looking down on two sea-nymphs rising from the waves with the body a drowned seaman in their arms – was first unveiled in June 1920, having been paid for by public subscription.
Originally located in Donegall Square North, it was moved to its present location, on the eastern side of the City Hall grounds, in March 1960. A new Titanic Memorial Garden – featuring a second memorial, with all the names of those who perished in 1912 – was opened last year, to mark the centenary of the disaster.