This weekend saw the much anticipated opening of Titanic Belfast, the museum that pays homage to the centenary of the sinking of the now famous Titanic ship. Dignitaries, press and crowds were all on hand for the opening of Titanic Belfast, which kicks off Belfast’s own Titanic Festival during the month of April.
The Irish Times reports on the opening of Titanic Belfast saying that the attraction, whose design is based on the bow of the Titanic, capitalizes on its unique location, built right beside the slipway where the liner was floated in 1911.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson took advantage of the opening of Titanic Belfast in hopes of attracting more people to come and visit peace process-era Northern Ireland.
“While many people will come to see the visitor attraction I believe they will be captivated and fall in love with the people of Northern Ireland,” said the Democratic Unionist leader.
“This is a new era in this province and I believe that we want to bring people to Northern Ireland not just to see what a generation 100 years ago were able to achieve, but what this generation can achieve in this new era of peace and stability."
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that Titanic Belfast now stands as a testament to what political powersharing in the region had achieved.
“This building is a fantastic achievement,” he said. “It’s here because of the peace process, it’s here because people like Peter Robinson and myself and others have pushed forward decisively in leadership to make a bold statement, as bold a statement as this building makes, that we need to stand together — that united we are strong, divided we are very, very weak.”
Both Robinson and McGuinness were on hand at the opening ceremony, and marked the occasion by together cutting a blue ribbon. Hoping to remain respectful to the 1,500 lives that were lost in 1912 aboard the Titanic, the ceremony was kept “understated and simple.”
Great-granddaughter of Thomas Millar, a deck engineer on the Titanic who perished in 1912, Susie Millar provided an inside look at the exquisite new memorial.
Titanic Belfast "shows early 1900s Belfast and what was happening here at the time with all the sights and sounds of the shipyards and what it was like to work in them,” said Millar to the Detroit Free Press.
Millar went on to say that “visitors will see exhibits depicting the early days of Belfast's docklands, with holograms and recordings bringing them to life. Then they can step into projected images of the Titanic itself, experiencing life on board and the iceberg hitting the ship.”
"You hear the Morse code signal then the sounds and cries of the passengers in the darkness as testimonies are read out," Millar said.
In order to break even, Belfast Titanic would need to attract 300,000 visitors annually. The attraction pre-sold 100,000 tickets prior to its opening.
The official opening of Titanic Belfast helps to kick off a Titanic Festival in Belfast which will run through the 22nd and feature 120 unique events.
Here's a preview of the Belfast Titanic: