Belfast people have a very long and glorious ship-building history. As we look closer at the city today, we find that evident in their celebration of the “building” of the Titanic in 1911…and not the sinking of it. There was a sister ship, called the Olympic, and built in the same shipyard a year earlier…it was by far the most famous ship ever built (& lasted as a cruise ship until 1937).The Titanic got much less coverage…until the English bought her, modified her and sunk her. (Even though Scotland and N. Ireland are part of the UK, they can’t help but twist the tale of mother England now & again.)
“We built a marvelous ship & it was OK when it left here.” is their favorite T-shirt.
The building just opened in April 2012 and is worth a visit, if you are nearby. The architecture is amazing.
The guide on our tour of the harbor, before we headed to the museum, said that the architect claimed that the building was designed to look like ships’ bows. The Northern Irish have decided (in their “glass half-empty” way) that it actually resembles an iceberg…how inappropriate. The tour of the River Lagan on a small tug-like boat, gave us quite a history of the ship-builders and the firm Harland & Wolff, who build these amazing large ships over 100 years ago. Here’s the boat and their number for your reservation.
We walked across the street afterwards to officially continue our research on the McCannes at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI…isn’t that simple?). We went on line in the research rooms and got some microfiche to study. Now we understand why it takes a professional genealogist to do this kind of work and a tremendous amount of patience, too. We tried one microfilm of marriages from 1727-57 from Saintfield (remember?).
No dice, but the very helpful “librarian” gave us a list of professionals. So, that may be our answer.
We’re headed up to the coast tomorrow. Staying at Bushmill’s Inn….maybe a whiskey tasting is in our future, eh? See you up there.