“Kind friends from Longford and around
I beg of you draw near,
To hear of a disaster
That has filled this world with fear.
The largest ship, the Titanic
Though built with man’s own hands. Now fathoms deep, today she lies
Near the shores of Newfoundland”. Longford Ballad, writer unknown.
Events began on Friday evening, April 13 last with the launch of a very special exhibition in the Library to mark Longford’s deep association to the doomed vessel. Entitled ‘Longford and the Titanic’, the exhibition traces the story of the fate of the Longford passengers - fourteen in total – from they when boarded the vessel at Queenstown, Co Cork, to the tragic events of April 15, 1912 when five were lost at sea.
Also included in the exhibition are the details of those who survived, many of whom went on to live long and enriching lives in New York and in other states throughout the USA.
“This exhibition is about the Longford connection to the Titanic,” committee member, Fr Tom Murray told a packed crowd. “It provides us with some insight into the lives of the 14 pilgrims, if you like, who were en route to a new life, full of hopes and dreams. We also know now that Katie Gilnagh wrote to her aunt, Annie Brady by postcard and her grand niece, Mary Farrell, is here tonight to talk about the details of that postcard.”
Fr Owen Devaney PP, Mullahoran and native of Killoe, then provided a superb rendition of that famous Longford ballad written about the close connection held by Co Longford to the ill fated vessel.
The following day, Saturday April 14 saw a very special civic reception held at Aras an Chontae, which honoured the families of the Longford passengers and remembered the county’s close connection to the Titanic.
The families were accompanied by local dignitaries, members of Longford Titanic Commemorations Committee and led by Longford Pipe Band from the Market Square to the local authority offices on Great Water Street in a special mark of respect to the centenary commemorations of the sinking of the great ship.
The families were then presented with special scrolls on which their loved one’s photograph was placed and name inscribed, before a specially commissioned painting by Pat Hourican was unveiled to commemorate the 14 Longford passengers who set sail for pastures new, 100 years ago this week.
“April 15, 1912 will forever be etched in humanity,” Cllr Padraig Loughrey stated during the reception. “Today, we remember the victims and survivors of that night from our own communities; Longford in 1912 was a very different place to what it is today. These people left for a new life with hopes and dreams and everything was marked when the ship went down. It reminds us of our own mortality.”
Sunday 15, saw the unveiling of the memorial in Ennybegs, Killoe to commemorate local hero James Farrell, who saved the lives of Katie Gilnagh and Katie Mullen before he perished.
The commemorations concluded with a gathering in the Temperance Hall last Wednesday night where many of those in attendance dressed from the era while the first ever film released about the Titanic disaster ‘A Night to Remember’ was shown.
“This week has been a special and historic occasion,” committee chairperson, Mary Carleton Reynolds said. “We have been able to honour the memory of those Longford people who travelled on the Titanic, those who perished and those who survived and bring together their families. It has provided all of us with an opportunity to remember them and I would like to thank everyone for all their support.”