#TITANIC - In the latest edition of his history of Ireland in 100 objects in The Irish Times, Fintan O'Toole examines the legacy of an admission ticket to the launch of the Titanic in Belfast on 31 May 1911.
On that day, he writes, "a huge crowd gathered at the Harland and Woolf shipyard at Queen's Island in Belfast Lough for the launch of the great transatlantic liner Titanic. Among them were many of the workers who had built it. This admission ticket belonged to David Moneypenny, a ship's painter who worked on the first-class quarters."
He adds: "For him, for his colleagues, for Belfast and Protestant Ulster, this was a moment of extraordinary accomplishment. Titanic was at the leading edge of 20th century technology."
O'Toole positions the Titanic as a symbol of Belfast's remarkable growth in the late 19th century to become Ireland's largest and most productive city, largely built upon the "kind of globally significant industry" that Dublin and southern Ireland were sorely lacking.
But while marking the gulf of separation between these two Irelands - the largely Protestant industrial powerhouse and the Catholic land "of romantic peasants" - Titanic also represented two very different versions of Ireland in popular culture: one of the hundreds of post-Famine emigrants who died when the ship sank on 15 April 1912, and that of the start of what O'Toole describes as "an almost apocalyptic sense of threat" to the Ulster Protestant identity, the reverberations of which are still felt today.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.