Belfast Telegraph

In Titanic effort to get things right, you keep us on our toes

By Paul Connolly

With the anniversary of the loss of a certain ship fast approaching, readers, viewers and listeners of the media have been, well let’s say, inundated with material.

There’s a TV mini-series, a movie re-release in 3D, new buildings, ship restorations, pop concerts and even a classical composition called Requiem For The Lost Souls Of The Titanic.

The Belfast Telegraph has played its role, too. True to form, as a newspaper should, the coverage has been rich, wide and varied.

In the past two weeks alone, there’s been a series of supplements and a series of posters, plus countless articles, letters, e-mails and online comment.

The quality of the Telegraph’s material has been first-rate, in my opinion (disclosure: I was involved in a couple of the supplements) without descending into mawkishness.

A common theme from readers is the asking of the question: should we really be ‘celebrating’ a ship that sank with the loss of some 1,500 souls?

It’s a fair point, but I think the tone of the Telegraph’s contributions has been of commemorating, rather than celebrating.

Eddie McIlwaine’s evocative retelling of how he remembers sitting on a boulder on Carnmoney Hill with his father, hearing him describe how he watched as Titanic steamed up Belfast Lough was very much in this fashion.

It was also quite profound to read the stories of the ordinary folk and also to be reminded of the healthy nature of political debate 100 years ago.

I particularly enjoyed Eamonn McCann’s re-invocation in the Tele yesterday of the famous headline of the Left-leaning Daily Herald on April 18, 1912.

‘Women And Children Last!’ it screamed, while inside the paper demanded to know the fate of third-class passengers who perished: ‘Where were those 53 steerage children, Mr Ismay, when you saved yourself?’ it asked.

Lord Leveson, take note — newspapers have always been savage, even in the ‘good old days’.

Two readers, Oscar Ross and Brian McCalden, wrote in to highlight what they believed to be errors in one of the supplements, called ‘Titanic: the city it left behind’.

While lavishing praise on the publication generally, they take issue with a small number of picture captions describing various views of Belfast. We have reviewed the captions and they appeared as they were sent in by third parties.

However, Oscar and Brian’s comments will be passed on to those agencies for further investigation and our librarian, Paul Carson, will amend our records should the need arise.

Thanks, gents, for keeping us — and our suppliers — on our toes.

Belfast Telegraph


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