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April 10th 2012
Published: April 10th 2012
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A pint of Guinness at Kelly’s Bar in the Irish town of Cobh – life doesn’t get much better than this!

Docking at Cobh at 4pm today felt like we’d somehow been catapulted to celebrity status, which is in stark contrast to yesterday when little more than a handful of people, including media crews, farewelled the Titanic Memorial Cruise from Southampton.

An estimated 30,000 people and a brass band had waited more than six hours at the shipping terminal and terraced streets behind to greet us.

The disappointment of having the first of our shore tours – Blarney Castle & Cork City – cancelled due to late arrivals at Southampton and strong head-winds enroute to Ireland was soon forgotten as we disembarked and met the people of Cobh.

What an amazing turn-out! The Titanic disaster’s 100th anniversary is a big deal here – the memorial cruise is just one event planned in a year-long chain of event to mark the milestone.

Interestingly, guest speaker Michael Martin noted in his talk ‘Cobh – Titanic’s Final Port of Call’ earlier in the day that not one “Irish” person had died in the disaster. It happened before Independence so therefore all those from Ireland were classed as British citizens.

Michael also explained the origin of the town’s name. It means nothing other than Cove and is the second largest natural cove in the world, behind Sydney Cove (now named Sydney Harbour).

Michael said Cobh was originally named Cove but was changed to Queenstown, as it was known at the time of the Titanic disaster. However, when Ireland declared independence, the name reverted to its original name but with a different spelling. Because there’s no “v” in the Irish language, the v was replaced with the closest sounding letters “bh”. Cobh is pronounced “Cove”.

Yesterday’s other guest speaker Susie Millar focused on her ancestors’ stories in her talk.

Great-grandfather Tommy Millar was left with two young boys (Tommy junior being 5 years of age) when his wife died. He called on an aunt to look after the boys when he boarded the Titanic as an engineer. He gave the boys a penny each and said they weren’t to spend them until the family was together again. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be. Tommy (snr.) drowned in the disaster. Tommy (jnr.) grew up to become a writer and playwright, and his granddaughter, Susie, was now on the Titanic Memorial Cruise specifically to complete the journey her great-grandfather wasn’t able to finish. Susie, also an author, still has the pennies has written a book titled ‘The Two Pennies’.

In another interesting story, a woman we met onboard said her great-grandfather had two tickets for the Titanic’s maiden voyage but didn’t use them. The family has doesn’t know why. The woman’s mother still has the two original tickets. Organisers of this commemorative trip asked the woman to bring them with her but considering their value, she didn’t.

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