I’ve known about the story of the Titanic since I was old enough to appreciate a story of tragic romance. Meaning that I saw the movie before I ever actually realized that the sinking of the Titanic was more than a really sad movie. Because of my lack of actual historical background on the subject, when I visited Cobh, Ireland, I had no idea that I was visiting the last port of call for the ship that was once deemed to be one of the safest ships afloat.
The ship, formerly known as the RMS Titanic, was built at the Harland and Wolfe shipyard in Belfast. It was the largest passenger steamship of the time and was owned by the White Star Line. It took three years to be constructed, and in today’s terms would have cost around 7.5 million US dollars. The ship’s maximum capacity was 3,457 people, which included both passengers and the crew.
The ship sailed first from Belfast to Southampton, then to Cherbourg France. After that, its last stop to let passengers aboard the ship was in Cobh Ireland, called Queenstown at the time.
From there, the Titanic’s first and only voyage began, in April of 1912. One hundred and twenty three passengers boarded the ship at Queenstown, and only forty four of those people survived. In total, there were 2,228 passengers onboard the ship, a total of seven 705 people survived.
When the ship struck the iceberg and it was determined that it would sink, they began putting people in lifeboats, however the titanic only carried 20 lifeboats, which had the capacity to carry 1178 people, and many of the lifeboats were sent out far below their capacity of 65 people, one only carrying 12.
Walking through the exhibit at the heritage center, and then looking outside and seeing the port where unknowing passengers once boarded the Titanic was a poignant experience. I’d always thought of the tragedy as extremely sad, but it always had a twinge of hollywood movie drama added to it in my mind. Walking down the same streets that many of the passengers walked down, and thinking that they probably still have family living in or around the town brought it to life in a very real way. The story of the Titanic is and always will be tragic and saddening, but after visiting the last place that the ship lifted anchor, I have a very different perspective on it than I did before.