Belfast & Titanic

Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

This has taken a while but I knew I wasn't going mad and that Pirrie was laid up at the time of the disaster. This is an article from the London based "Daily Mirror" dated Friday April 19th 1912:


Lord Pirrie, Father of Titanic, Is Told Sad News At Last.


Lord Pirrie knows the worst.
Lying on his bed of sickness at Witley Park, near Godalming, the father of the Titanic, the man whose great comprehensive brain made it possible to build the greatest ship the world has ever known, has had to be told the dreadful news of what has befallen her on her first trip.
As was pointed out in the Daily Mirror of Tuesday last,the tragic tidings were being kept from him as long as it was humanly possible to do so. To tell him might have killed him.
But no man of Lord Pirrie's stamp is content to lose touch with the doings of the world for long; even on a bed of sickness, even against his doctors orders, at vital risk to himself, he must know what is going on. So long as he is in the world he must be of the world


And so Lord Pirrie has learned the awful truth; the chairman of the great shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff knows that the wonder ship he conceived and his company carried out is lying, a broken, battered mass of iron, steel, and wood, full two miles under the grim Atlantic.
The news could not be kept from him any longer, The Daily Mirror was last night told by a member of Lord Pirrie's household.
He wanted to know how the Titanic was progressing; and somehow - one knows how bad news has a way of coming instinctively to those mainly concerned in it - he began to get an inkling that all was not well with her.
And so, because he worried, the truth had to be broken gently to him. Not the whole, dreadful truth - for the newspapers are still kept away as much as possible from him - but the salient points of it.
Lord Pirrie knows that the Titanic has sunk, and that many of the human beings who entrusted themselves to her keeping have been lost.
"Some of the newspapers had to be shown to him," said The Daily Mirrors informant. "We kept the news from him for as long as we could, but it could not be kept from him forever.


"How it has affected him it is not easy to say at present. To-night he is not perhaps quite so well as he has been recently.
"I believe that he has not said a great deal on the subject yet, but that he has expressed a great-hearted sympathy concerning the dreadful loss of life and the many poor people who have been affected by the loss of the Titanic.
"What Lord Pirrie is told rests mainly with Lady Pirrie. Messages are continually coming for him, but they all go to Lady Pirrie first."
But for the fact that he had to undergo an operation Lord Pirrie might have been a passenger on the Titanic.
Hitherto it has been his invariable habit to take his personal share in the triumphs of the first voyages of the great ships which his brain has enabled his firm to turn out in Belfast.
It is a curious and sad coincidence that a brother of Mr. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, is at present lying ill and forbidden to know the fate which has come upon the great ship which a week ago sailed forth in all the splendour and pride of her new life.

Evidently, the date of this report suggests that Lord Pirrie was told about the sinking most likely on the Thursday after the disaster, or at the very earliest the Wednesday. Not a huge difference from everyone else in the world, but it was kept from him.