Titanic task for tiler gets ready for launch

VISITORS to Cobh for this year’s Titanic centenary may be in for a small surprise in the waters off the giant ship’s last port of call, in more ways than one.

In an era where every type of technology appears to be shrinking in size, to the point where just finding your phone can prove difficult, the massive Titanic has been turned into a five-metre replica.

Zoltan Panka, a 38-year-old Hungarian living in Dillon’s Cross, Cork city, with his partner, Cork woman Carmel McGrath, said he was inspired to build the impressive, soon-to-be-fully-working boat by the iconic stories surrounding the vessel.

And while the replica Titanic — currently being kept in the couple’s garage — is unlikely to be a match for any passing icebergs, it is being considered for involvement in the official centenary celebrations this April.

“I started this in November 2010 as a home hobby. It will be ready for the water by March,” explained the tiler, who developed a fascination with the mechanics of ships while spending time in the Hungarian army during the nation’s compulsory national service.

Zoltan who is originally from Kaposvár, Somogy, about four hours’ drive from the Hungarian capital Budapest, said the replica vessel includes propellers from Britain and also has a fully working steam engine.

He said that the stories behind the Titanic disaster — which sank on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg, leading to 1,517 deaths — remain as infamous in Hungary as they are in Ireland.

Although not on a par with the construction techniques at the once-thriving Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, where the 269-metre Titanic was built, the five-metre ship will be ready to set sail within weeks.

Marc Anderson, project director for the Titanic 100 group, which is organising official events for the 100-year anniversary celebrations of the vessel’s first and last voyage, welcomed the entrepreneurial skills behind the replica.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he said the group is in discussions with Zoltan about potentially using the vessel during the official events, although its inclusion has yet to be confirmed.

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