Belfast Telegraph

Angus (100) was on the quay as Titanic sailed

By Anna Maguire

He was a baby in his mother’s arms as she watched Titanic sail from Belfast. And yesterday master mariner Angus MacDonald returned to the harbour area to celebrate his 100th birthday.

The centenarian — surrounded by 30 grand and great-grandchildren — started life at sea as a teenager.

His life on the ocean wave took him to America, where he dodged U-Boats, through the Suez Crisis and the Indochina wars of the Far East, where he dabbled in espionage.

Returning to the Titanic Quarter in its centenary year, he credited eating fish and drinking a regular pint of buttermilk for his longevity. He said: “It’s been a long, long road, and I travelled it as well as I could. When I left Belfast’s docks (in 1929) they were going full blast. Finally, I have arrived here in this beautiful building and I find everything really super.”

Seafaring was in the blood of the Islandmagee man.

Angus and his late brother William — also a master mariner — followed their father on to the ocean, transporting linen to eastern Europe.

At the age of 25 Angus travelled to Aruba, and transported oil in lone tankers up North America’s coast.

After 17 years on the Caribbean colony, he and and his wife Helen returned to their native Islandmagee with their daughter before his last voyage in 1974. Helen passed away in May 1997.

Clutching a birthday message from the Queen, the master mariner said: “It’s a lonely life at sea, but it’s been a good life, and I lived it quietly and enjoyed it.”

He added: “It’s amazing what they are doing here (in the Titanic Quarter) now.”

Background

March 1, 1912: Master mariner, Captain Angus MacDonald, is born in Islandmagee.

1929: He sets sail in The Laird Londonderry — his first voyage of a 45-year career at sea.

1937: He travels to the then-Caribbean colony of Aruba, earning his crust transporting oil from Venezuela to Canada.

1945: He marries wife Helen in Islandmagee. They return to Aruba where two of their daughters are born.

1956-1957: He transports tankers to the Suez Canal.

1974: The master mariner makes his last voyage on The Glenport and retires.

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