The title quote is from Una Reily, MBE of the Belfast Titanic Society, and I couldn’t agree with her more. Belfast has a great deal to be proud of regarding the construction of Titanic and these past few weeks of commemoration have seen the reconnection of the city with the pride of the people who built her. I was pleased to attend the 100th Anniversary Titanic Commemoration Service at Belfast City Hall this past Sunday April 14th, the date of the ship’s sinking 100 years ago. The service included music from the Harlandic Male Voice Choir and Queen’s Island Male Voice Choir, the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra Brass Section, and music guest Brian Kennedy. The video above has some highlights from the ceremony including speeches from the Lord Mayor Niall O’ Donnghaile, MBE of the Belfast Titanic Society Una Reilly, and memoirs from the late President of the Belfast Titanic Society John Parkinson who remembered seeing the ship before she set sail. The music in the video is a compilation of music that was performed during the ceremony. The first song is a hymn that would have been well known and sung 100 years ago, ‘Eternal Father Strong to Save,’ which is a plea to ‘hear us when we cry to thee, For those in peril on the sea.’ The final song ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ was heard by the people on the last life boats as they rowed away from Titanic while she sank, it is the last song performed by the ship musicians in attempts to keep a sense of calm on the ship.
The focus was on the pride of the men that built the largest ship ever constructed at the time as well as the memory of those who perished on that fateful night. It was a beautiful opening to the new Titanic Memorial Garden with the nine-meter long plinth with the all of the names of those who died on the Titanic inscribed on fifteen bronze plaques. It is the first memorial to list all of the names of the people who died in alphabetical order, regardless of class, age, and gender. It is directly behind the existing Titanic monument statue designed by Sir Thomas Brock, carved from Carrera marble, which was unveiled in 1920 and was refurbished for the ceremony. The whole garden, with its lovely assortment of flowers that bloom most often in the spring when the tragedy occurred, makes a wonderful addition to the City Hall grounds and will be cherished by Belfast’s citizens forever.