The disaster movie was also a love story that featured a fictional blue diamond necklace called the Heart of the Ocean. On board the real Titanic was a married man who had run off with his lover and had given her a blue diamond necklace. He went down with the ship. She survived.
Some Belfast residents are concerned about the appearance of celebrating the sinking of the ship.
“A little more restraint would have been welcome,” writer Donald Clarke said in an article in the Irish Times newspaper.
The history of the Titanic is uneasy for reasons beyond the famous disaster.
The other legacy
The year of the ship’s launch, 1912, was one of political turmoil in Ireland. The Home Rule movement, which favored a bill granting the Irish government autonomy within the United Kingdom, gathered strength across the country. It was defeated later by the Ulster Covenant.
Four years later were the first stirrings of the Easter Rising, which led to the partition of Ireland into two states, and the roots of “the Troubles,” with decades of conflict between Protestants and Catholics.
The Harland and Wolff shipyard, which built the Titanic, employed 35,000 people, but the vast majority were Protestants. By Irish Catholics, it was seen as a Protestant-only company.
“We had the world’s largest shipyard, and it was almost entirely a Protestant workforce and, therefore, [some say] it was virtually a Protestant ship,” William Crawley said March 4 on his BBC radio show “Sunday Sequence,” provoking a strong reaction from listeners.
The Rev. Mervyn Gibson of the Westbourne Presbyterian Church, known as the “Shipyard Church,” said history will be acknowledged by his new project, called Titanic People, to be hosted by the church.
“What we intend to do is tell the story of the people of East Belfast, warts and all,” he said.
Titanic People will focus on the often forgotten lives of the ordinary people who built the ship and will be open by the end of the year.
“We’re trying to generate a tourist product that will be of interest,” Mr. Gibson said.
“We’re in for the long haul, not just this year. We hope to say: Come to the church where [the workers] worshipped, the streets where they lived, the places they drank.”
Organizers hope Titanic People brings much-needed investment to impoverished East Belfast, an area that suffered from both the loss of engineering jobs and three decades of bloody conflict.