Flares mark end of Titanic 100 commemorations

Flares were fired off the Cork coast to mark the end of year-long centenary commemorations of the sinking of the Titanic.

The flares were set off from Cobh towards where the Titanic had anchored in Cork Harbour as part of a poignant closing ceremony on Saturday.

Hendrick Verwey, the chairman of Cobh Tourism, said it had been a “momentous year” for the town.

“We remembered all the people who died in a very special way and in a very unique way. People came to Cobh, and people are still coming to Cobh because it was Titanic’s last port of call. Cobh has an amazing history. We have the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania in a couple of years.”

The closing ceremony included speeches from Cllr Sinéad Sheppard, mayor of Cobh, as well as representatives from Cork County Council, and a pre-recorded message from Cobh historian Dr Michael Martin, who is currently in Australia.

Ms Sheppard said the town was looking forward to the Gathering celebrations next year, and to the Lusitania centenary commemorations in 2014.

“It is such a historic town. There is so much happening in Cobh and people are more aware of it now than ever. Because of the Titanic year we now have the Titanic Experience [Centre] in Cobh which is a fantastic museum.”

On Apr 11, 1912, some 123 passengers boarded in Queenstown (now Cobh), what was at the time the largest and most luxurious ocean liner afloat. Tenders ferried the passengers from the now derelict White Star pier out to the liner, which was anchored near Roche’s Point.

Three days later, the ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank with the loss of more than 1,517 lives, including 79 of those who boarded in Queenstown.

Among those who died on the Titanic was Cobh native, able seaman Lionel Leonard, who travelled as a third-class passenger. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

Events in the last year included commemoration ceremonies, marine-based activities, concerts, and Titanic talks, tours, and exhibitions.

Marc Anderson, project director of Titanic 100, described the programme as “hugely successful”.

Cobh received an economic boost of over €2m during the centenary week celebrations last April when 94,000 visitors travelled to the town.

President Michael D Higgins led a national tribute of commemoration on the quayside in Cobh on Apr 12 to mark the passing of 100 years since the tragedy.


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