The Titanic: Now a source of pride for Belfast

Stephen Beard Apr 10, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The ship was built in Belfast, in what is now Northern Ireland.

And as Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports, Belfast is hoping it’ll become the center of Titanic tourism.

Stephen Beard: The first thing you learn from your guide on the bus tour of the Titanic shipyard: Belfast is not to blame for the world’s best known maritime disaster.

Tour guide: We handed our ship over to an English captain, a Scottish navigator and a Canadian iceberg. The Irish will take the blame for nothing!

In fact, almost everyone you speak to here is immensely proud of the ill-fated liner — and that includes Suzi Millar, whose great grandfather was a member of the crew and went down with the ship.

Suzi Millar: Titanic herself was a wonderful piece of engineering and that’s something we should be proud of…and the other industries and commerce that was happening here in Belfast 100 years ago. So it’s about looking back to that confidence that we had and trying to be inspired by it.

And unashamedly trying make money out of the Titanic connection.

Waiter: Conor, table of two Titanic salmon course, just away!

The Rayanne Guest House is one of a number of Belfast businesses to adopt a Titanic theme. Conor McLelland is the head chef and owner.

Conor McLelland: We created a nine-course version of the last meal that was served to the first class passengers on board the Titanic on the April 14, last night.

A somewhat macabre idea, you might think, but the roast pigeon and summer truffles have already attracted hundreds of diners, even at $100 a pop.

McLelland: The menu is beautiful. It’s a naturally beautiful menu. Eats really well and flows really well.

But will Titanic tourism be a recipe for economic success for the whole city? Alan Clarke head of the Northern Ireland Tourism Board clearly believes so.

Alan Clarke: That legacy of Titanic, that world brand, will carry through for the long term and actually drive sustainable tourism growth here, long term.

The U.K. government thinks so,too. It’s pumped tens of millions of dollars into a shiny new Titanic visitor attraction here. Among other things it shows this film of the discovery of the sunken ship. Not for the first time, the hope is that a shipwreck will yield untold riches.

In Belfast, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.