In a quiet corner of the grounds of Belfast’s City Hall lies the Titanic Memorial Garden. I found myself there a few weeks ago, on a bright Tuesday afternoon , completely by chance. I realised rather embarrassingly that I’d never been there before.
There was just me and one other tourist there. I say ‘one other tourist’ because I felt like a tourist too. Yes, the City Hall is familiar to me and I know the story of the Titanic like most people do, but I tried to see it through fresh eyes, like I imagine the tourist must have done. And so, instead of just walking on through, I stopped a while and spent some time reading the Titanic story. Familiar though it is, it still brought a lump to my throat.
I wandered around a little more, taking in the backdrop of the City Hall and the beautiful garden, full of hellebores and hyacinths. The marble statue you see below was unveiled in 1920 and was first located in the roadway in front of the City Hall. Later, in 1959, it was moved to its current position inside the grounds and the Memorial Garden was then built around it in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
The garden is set on two levels, the upper one containing the memorial plinth as seen below, the lower a grassed terrace surrounding the statue itself. The memorial plinth has fifteen bronze plaques which list, in alphabetical order, the names of all those who perished in the sinking – some 1,512 people in total. It is the only memorial in the world that lists everyone who perished (passengers, crew, musicians etc).
A section of one of the brass plaques…
Although the garden is located right in the centre of the city, I found it a rather tranquil space …a perfect little spot to sit and gather one’s thoughts, recall a bygone era and maybe remember lost loved ones. I found myself remembering my grandad who painted a few ships in his time. If you find yourself in Belfast one day, I do recommend a visit.