By The Raleigh Telegram
RALEIGH – A local Irish native who grew up in Northern Ireland remembers visiting the Belfast shipyard where the famous ship “Titanic” was built. The 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking is being remembered this month and the White Star cruise ship’s story in the movie “Titanic” is being re-released on the big screen in 3D.
Raleigh resident Annie Nice, who grew up in Northern Ireland, visited the Titanic shipyards when growing up in the country years ago.
“My father was a truck driver, so in the summertime, when we were off school, he would come by and take me and my brother on different trips,” she said. “One of the trips we took was to the shipyard where the Titanic was built in Belfast.”
Her dad, Gerry Britton, was a bit of a storyteller and loved history.
“Everytime we when on a trip, he would tell us the story behind it,” she said,.
“He was a huge fan of the Titanic, the world’s greatest ship as he called it,” she added.
Harland and Wolff was the name of the shipyard there in Belfast, Northern Ireland where they visited.
It was 10 shillings to get on the Titanic, her dad told her.
“People were leaving the country to start a new life in America,” she said.
Since the ship was built in Ireland, there was a lot of pride in the country.
“There was a huge amount of pride involved and the fact that it was built in Ireland,” she said. “It was such a well built ship that any other ship would have sunk hours before the Titanic did — it was just the sheer size of the iceberg that tore it open and sank it.”
There were two sister ships called the Olympic and the Britannic also built there at the shipyard. Nice says that after it was built, the Olympic was damaged in a collision and brought back for repairs, causing the Titanic launch to be delayed.
The Titanic was sailing during a time of year when icebergs were still prevalent in the shipping lanes, so she wonders if the ship had sailed on time it might not have struck an iceberg.
“These stories about the Titanic were bedtime stories for us,” she said.
At the shipyard, there were still plenty of cranes and other shipyard items there to view.
“Everything was huge, the bolts were huge, the cranes were massive,” she said. “Of course, when you’re from a small village, everything is huge.”
She said she went back to Belfast last year and they have a large exhibition at the site due to the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. There is a national pride since the ship was built in the country.
“I think because it was built, there was all the excitement for it to be built and to pick Northern Ireland to build the world’s largest luxury liner,” she said.
Many of the workers were sleeping on the streets and living on pennies a day, so participating in the construction of the ship was a major event.
“For all these people to see this luxury on the ship, the grand staircases, and the art and the statues and to see all of this grandeur, they just took great pride in it that they were working on it,” she said.
Nice said that four of the of the workers had been rewarded with a trip on the Titanic. Of course, the dream trip of a lifetime turned into a nightmare and those four workers died during the sinking.
“For some people, it was a dream to go on board this fantastic ship and start this new adventure,” she said. “Your entire life was going to change.”
Ms. Nice works as a manager at the TiraNaNog Irish Pub in Raleigh and says that the restaurant had a dinner last week featuring the last meal on the Titanic before the ship sank. When asked why people still remember the Titanic sinking 100 years later and why the story is still popular, she said that it’s a tragic tale that holds lots of appeal.
“It was a mix of rich and poor and they all died together in the middle of the night in the cold frozen sea,” she said.
“No matter how many disasters happen, they still talk about it because it was a great adventure that just didn’t work out,” Nice added. ::
ON THE WEB: The Titanic shipyard in Dublin.
Article Posted: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012.