The Titanic. Perhaps you’ve seen the theatrical film. Maybe you’ve read one of the books about the great ship, or watched a documentary about the search for the wreckage or about investigations then and now about what happened when the huge ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Perhaps you’ve read novels or biographies or memoirs of the people who survived the sinking, and those who did not.
It has been one hundred years this spring since the launch and the sinking of the Titanic. Celebrations and memorials are being planned in many parts of the world where Titanic touched and changed lives — including a ceremony at the site of the sinking, where rose petals will be dropped into the sea to remember those who died that day in April.
There is one Titanic story only Belfast can tell, however. Belfast built Titanic.
Tell it the city does, too, with a major museum called Titanic Belfast, whose official opening is on 31 March. There are nine galleries in the museum, which is built at Belfast’s harbor near where the Titanic herself was constructed. They begin with the story of what Belfast was like in the early twentieth century, how the shipyards and shipbuilding works operated, and then continue on to the story of the building of Titanic herself, which took three years from hull to interior fittings. There’s a gallery which gives insights into the passengers who traveled on Titanic, and what their lives were like on board. The sinking is brought to life in another area, and there are exhibits which show what the world’s reaction to the sinking was at the time. There is an area devoted to myths and legends surrounding Titanic, and an area focused on the on the discovery and exploration of the wreckage of this historic ship.
Just a few miles away, at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, you can get a taste of what the day to day life was like for the men who built the great ship, and for their families. This is an outdoor museum with historic buildings and streets recreated, and with historic interpreters on hand to take you back in time to a day when a man who installed electrical fittings on the Titanic might well go home to eat his dinner by candlelight. A hundred years ago, and yet, not so far away: children played games outdoors in good weather, families argued and made up, and people were excited by the sailing of the great ship .
Some of those who built the Titanic sailed on her, too: workers were put in a lottery to reward their work on the ship. A group of them sailed off on the journey. Most did not return. There’s a memorial in their memory on the grounds of the city hall in Belfast.
To mark the opening of Titanic Belfast there will be a number of events from late March through mid April, including concerts of classical and popular music, plays, talks, and memorials.
photographs courtesy of Tourism Ireland
you might also like to….
join Perceptive Traveler Liz Lewis as she visits an interactive Titanic exhibit in Melbourne, Australia
learn about a Titanic exhibit in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
see the trailer for the James Cameron film, which is being re-released this April
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