Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival: Viscount Pirrie book going on show in old office

Gift: Lord Pirrie’s book
Gift: Lord Pirrie’s book
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A valuable leather-bound book gifted to the 1st Viscount Pirrie almost 100 years ago is to go on display in his former office at the Titanic Hotel.

The book, which last went on show in Northern Ireland more than a decade ago, will be one of the highlights of this year's Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.

Titanic Foundation chief executive Kerrie Sweeney jumped at the chance to display the book in the room where so many famous ships were designed.

"We are delighted that the public will have an opportunity to see Lord Pirrie's book and that this event will be taking place as part of the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival," she said.

The lovingly decorated item was given to Lord Pirrie by shipyard workers in 1921, when he was made the 1st Viscount Pirrie.

He started his career as a 16-year-old apprentice in 1862 and went on to become chairman of Harland and Wolff, which he helped transform into the biggest shipbuilder in the world.

The shipyard's most influential boss and former harbour commissioner served as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1896 and was made the first honorary freeman of the city two years later.

He and his wife, Lady Margaret Pirrie, were also instrumental in raising money for the development of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Lord Pirrie died in June 1924 while on a sea trip to Buenos Aires.

His body was brought back home on the RMS Olympic, his favourite ship.

He was then buried in Belfast City Cemetery.

Harland & Wolff CEO Jonathan Guest said the exhibition would draw attention to the "exceptional life" of Lord Pirrie and his lasting impact upon the city.

The book, which was last displayed in Belfast City Hall more than 10 years ago, will be available to view on Sunday and Monday.

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