Balmoral celebration ‘should be quiet and dignified’

A man who was born after his mother cancelled her plans to sail on the Titanic at the last minute has criticised the tone of celebrations on board the vessel retracing the ill-fated liner’s voyage.

A man who was born after his mother cancelled her plans to sail on the Titanic at the last minute has criticised the tone of celebrations on board the vessel retracing the ill-fated liner’s voyage.

Derry Healy, 92, from Cork, said he was disappointed by what he saw when the Balmoral called to Cobh on Monday as part of its Titanic Memorial Cruise.

“Most of the people on board know nothing about Titanic. They paid thousands of euro for this trip and they were boozing and dancing, from what I saw. I think they should have been quiet and dignified,” he said.

Mr Healy’s mother, Ellen Harrington, who was 22 at the time, was due to sail on board Titanic with her first cousin, Hannah Naughton, for a new life in the US.

But days before she was due to sail from Cobh, she changed her mind. The decision to stay in Ireland may have saved her life. Ms Naughton was among those who drowned when Titanic sank.

Mr Healy said his mother always felt she got a second chance at life. She married Patrick Healy in 1916 and the couple had eight children. She died aged 76. “I’m thinking about the Titanic a lot this week,” he said.

Derry’s mother was one of 50 people who were due to travel on the Titanic but cancelled shortly before it sailed.

Organisers of the Titanic 2012 commemorations have rejected the criticism of the Balmoral’s cruise and said it would include a dignified memorial at the wreck site later in the week.

The ship’s master, Captain Robert Bamberg, issued a statement thanking those who lined the quaysides to welcome his vessel and passengers.

“We are overwhelmed by the town’s welcome to us, and we have never experienced so many people awaiting our arrival on the quayside,” he said.

“Cobh has played such an important role in the history of the RMS Titanic, and we were proud to have been there on this very special cruise to commemorate that tragic voyage, 100 years on.”

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