It was followed by a wreath-laying and closing ecumenical service in the town, which was the last port of call of the ill-fated liner. A wreath-laying ceremony also took place aboard the LE Eithne, at the Titanic’s last anchorage in Cork harbour.
Meanwhile in Belfast, where the ship was built, a minute’s silence was held as a memorial was opened alongside Belfast City Hall marking the centenary.
A great-great-nephew of the ship’s doctor helped unveil bronze plaques listing more than 1,500 passengers and crew who died when the liner struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic on Apr 15, 1912.
The boat was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and relatives of the workmen were present for yesterday’s ceremony.
Jack Martin, 12, descendant of Dr John Simpson, also laid a wreath and said: “I am proud that I am keeping the memory of my ancestor alive and it keeps memories fresh.”
A letter penned on board the Titanic by the Belfast doctor to his mother is to be brought back to Belfast for exhibition. The letter from Dr John Edward Simpson was written on paper headed RMS Titanic and brought ashore at Cobh. From there it was posted to his mother Elizabeth, who lived in south Belfast.
Dr Simpson, who was married with a son, had previously worked on another White Star Line ship, Olympic.
Jack’s father John Martin today said it meant a lot to him that the note, in which Dr Simpson described settling into his cabin, was to be on display in Belfast.
“It is the last tangible object that we have from John Simpson; everything else that he had was lost,” he said.
Dr Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck in 1985, was in Belfast for the ceremony and delivered a memorial lecture.
Across the world, the tragedy was commemorated. Cruise ship MS Balmoral, tracing the liner’s route across the Atlantic, paused yesterday over the wreck and a memorial service was held, with wreaths thrown into the sea.
In Halifax, Canada, where 150 victims of the disaster are buried, church bells rang out and there was a candle-lit procession.
In Lichfield, England, candles were laid at a statue of Edward Smith, Titanic’s captain.