A less than “titanic” tribute in Cobh

30 Jan


This posthumous tribute to the Irish travelers who died on the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912 is posted on a nondescript rock on a main pathway in Cobh, Ireland. 

Few tourists crowd around the rock for photo opportunities. Few locals acknowledge its presence before crossing the street.

Despite being a monument standing only 4 feet high, it represents the memories, sights and sounds of over 100 years ago when a behemoth vessel, 105 feet tall, nearly 900 feet long, gently sailed away from the seaside town, carrying over a thousand passengers en route to Southampton, England, where they would then leave for New York City, the Titanic’s first (and last) trip abroad. 

123 Irish men, women and children were aboard the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, all unaware of the tragedy that would befall them that night. Most would perish after the vessel clipped an iceberg and began to sink. Some survived, scampering onto one of the few lifeboats on board (previous laws only required ships to have a few lifeboats– the Titanic had 20, not nearly enough for all the passengers). Nearly all stayed in the third class cabin, as according to their social status. 


Many of the third class had settled in to enjoy their trip to North America. One English teacher in the second class noted that the passengers “were enjoying every minute of the time,” while others described the “gay party in steerage,” where young boys tossed ice cubes at one another for a lark.

Fun soon led to chaos as the ship struck the iceberg south of Newfoundland. As the night turned to early morning, more of the third class were in danger of death than any other demographic. Just over 45 per cent of the third class perished in the icy North Atlantic ocean, triple the death rate of the second class and 23 times higher than the number of those found dead who sailed in the first class cabins.

Today, Cobh is home to both the small memorial and a modest Titanic “Experience” museum across the street. Although few people remain to remember the days of reaction to one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history, the town of Cobh will forever hold their own monument, just down the road.  


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