The 123 flares released from Spike Island commemorated the individuals that boarded the ill-fated ship from nearby Cobh on April 11, 1912.
When the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic four days later it sank with the loss of over 1,500 lives, including 79 of those who boarded in Cobh. Among those who died was Cobh native Able Seaman Lionel Leonard who travelled as a third class passenger. His body if recovered was never identified.
Cobh, the last port of call for the Titanic, will host a year-long series of events and activities that will commemorate the legacy of the Titanic and the people associated with her.
Yesterday the Navy berthed the LE Emer in Deep Water Quay, outside the Cobh Heritage centre with the ship being open to the public for the afternoon. A poignant gun salute exchange from Spike Island and the LE Emer also formed part of the commemorations.
Mr Marc Anderson, project director Titanic 100 Cobh 2012, says yesterday’s ceremonies were quite a ‘poignant’ start to the Titanic commemorations in the town.
“It is a great opportunity for the people of the country to acknowledge passengers on the Titanic.”
Mayor of Cobh, Cllr Jim Quinlan, has said the highlight of the year in the town will be the Titanic 100 commemorations.
Speaking during the ceremonies, he said it was an honour and privilege to officially launch the historically and culturally significant year in Cobh’s history.
Attendees at yesterday’s ceremonies included Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney, TDs David Stanton and Sandra McLellan, Senator Paul Bradford, Mayor of Cork city Cllr Terry Shannon and Cllr Barbara Murphy, deputising for the Mayor of County Cork.
Titanic Centenary Week will take place from April 9 to 15, exactly 100 years on from the Titanic’s maiden voyage.
Included in this special week will be a family food and retail stall compound.
An outdoor commemorative concert running over four nights will tell the story of The Titanic, its connection with Ireland and its impact on the world through musical and dance genres. Other events include a special St Patrick’s Day Parade — Cobh 1912 and The Ford International Short Film Competition with The Titanic as the theme where finalists efforts will be screened in front of a live outdoor audience.
Spike Island will also host to a number of outdoor concerts in the summer.
A number of high profile Titanic ambassadors havealready come on board including athlete Sonia O’Sullivan, actress Fiona Shaw, Fáilte Ireland chairman Redmond O’Donoghue, chairman and MD of Henry Ford Eddie Murphy, yachtsman Ron Holland and presenter of SeaScapes Tom MacSweeney.
The commemorations will continue with the opening in the coming weeks of The Titanic Experience in the old White-Star building in Cobh.
Restoration work on the Titanic Pier at the back of the White-Star building will also get underway in April.”