Commemorating the Titanic's sinking at the right hour
By: The Yank | Published Thursday, June 17, 2010, 6:52 PM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 9:38 PM
The parish of Addergoole in County Mayo
annually commemorates the sinking of the Titanic and the 11 members of the parish who were lost when the ship sank. Three other people from the parish survived.
The "Addergoole Fourteen
" were en route to America
when the Titanic struck an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. It sank a few hours later at approximately 2:20am on the 15th.
The 14 were following the millions of others who'd left Ireland
for the New World during the 19th and early 20th century. Actually, two were returning to America and, so, not technically emigrating at the time, but in reality they were all emigrants, all hoping for better things in America than they had in Ireland.
I'm sure the Titanic tragedy affected the whole of the parish at the time and for many, many years afterwards. In 2001 the Addergoole Titanic Society was founded with the aim of preserving the local history of the area's connection to the Titanic. Since 2002, the Society has annually rung the local church bell in the early hours of April 15 – starting at the time the ship was lost, 2:20am.
Or is it?
Actually, the good people of Addergoole are off by a few hours. You see, the Titanic did sink at 2:20am, but that was the ship's time, not the time in Ireland. A ship's time was (is? - don't know if they still do this) determined by the ship's location, specifically it's line of longitude. This concept seems odd to us today, but in the 19th century every town in America (& Britain
and probably everywhere) had its own time based on the sun until trains and telegraphs demanded less complexity in time. This is where time zones come from
Getting back to the Titanic, it was 2:20am ship's time and 5:47am GMT
(that is, Britain) when the ship went below the waves.
And in Ireland? What time was it in Ireland when the Titanic sank? Well, I'm not 100% sure, but I think the whole of Ireland was 25 minutes behind Britain at the time, which would mean that it was 5:22am in Addergoole when the Titanic went down.
Of course, they didn't have Daylight Savings Time in 1912, which would mean that to mark the exact moment the ship sank on April 15 the Titanic Society should begin ringing the bell at 6:22am. And wouldn't that be a lot better than dragging everyone in the parish out of bed at 2 in the morning?