Philip Hind

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Hello Richard,

I can't give you a specific answer but comments such as NO POPE were common among the protestant workforce at Harland and Wolff. Indeed there is photographic evidence for this.

There is a picture of the Titanic on the stocks just prior to launch. On the fencing alongside the gantry is graffiti which reads NO POPE HERE. I know you can't see it clearly on this scan but it is there, believe me. The Southampton Maritime Museum has a huge blow-up of this picture and the words are clearly visible.

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Nov 30, 2000
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WHAT IN THE NAME OF JESSE JAMES AT NORTHFIELD...
Hm! Isn't it a fact that "3909 04" was NOT a number assigned to the Titanic when she was on the ways?
If so, then perhaps it was merely a shipyard rumor that got started and inspired someone to paint "No Pope Here!" on the fence.
Or a God-fearing soul felt building the T. was sacrelegious, and painted "No Pope Here!" on the fence. Then some smart-aleck saw it and came up with the "3909 04" canard.
Or, finally, somebody wrote "No Pope Here!" on the photo after hearing the "No Pope" tall tale so "evidence" of it could be produced.
Thoughts anyone?

Richard K.
 

Inger Sheil

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There were certainly anti-Catholic sentiments expressed at Harland & Wolff, and at least one account has them scrawled onto the Titanic while she was being constructed. Thomas Andrews - he of the Belfast Protestant elite - certainly goes up a few notches in my estimation for the way in which he was said to have dealt with the graffitti. He orded it removed, with a comment on how much it disgusted him.
 

Senan Molony

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It's a bit like hanging out a sign saying "No milk today, thank you," isn't it...

It's hardly as if someone was delivering Popes to Harland and Wolff...

Funnily enough a Pope HAS visited a shipyard! John Paul II went to the old Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, did he not, on one of his tours of Poland after Lech and the lads saw off communism.

I believe the workers had big signs up saying:
"Pope Here."

But returning to H&W for a moment:

In the lead-up to 1912 (the Home Rule (for Ireland) Bill passed in the Commons in the same week as the Titanic disaster occurred) the sectarian furnaces were being stoked as part of the burning political agenda.

In the same vein, the Unionist slogan of the time was that Home Rule was 'Rome Rule' - a reference to the industrial North East being swallowed up by the Catholic hinterland which was naturally taking its every cue from Ol' Red Socks in the Vatican...
 

Inger Sheil

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Senan -

Did you catch the photo of Pirrie and others reproduced on page 123 of Tim Pat Coogan and George Morrison's splendid new book 'The Irish Civil War'? The caption that goes along with it reads:

This photograph, taken after the first meeting of the Northern Parliament (7 June 1921) shows the character of the right-wing, oligarchic Conservative political structure that was helped into power in Northern Ireland by the Tory establishment in England. The chief supporters of this new regime were (left to right in photograph) The Marquis of Londonderry, Lady Craig, Captain Herbert Dixon, Lord Pirrie, Lady Pirrie, and Sir James Craig. Only Sir Edward Wilson and Sir Henry Wilson were absent, the latter because he expected to be ordering troops into Southern Ireland.

On the 9 April 1912 two days before Asquith's Home Rule Bill was to be put to the House of Commons, Bonar Law and other Unionist leaders held a giant rally in Belfast to oppose Home Rule - 'You hold the pass, the pass for the Empire' he told those gathered. Tim Pat Coogan reports the reaction to the meeting:

The gathering of 9 April was quickly followed up with social organization and action. The 12th of July saw what euphemists today would call 'ethnic cleansing'; 2,000 Catholic workmen were driven out of the Belfast shipyards, in spite of the fact that the chairman of Harland & Wolff, Lord Pirrie, was a Liberal and a supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.

Of course, Home Rule was deferred with the outbreak of WWI...and eventually the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916 and men like Michael Collins would take matters into their own hands.

Yeats' hope, expressed in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, would not be fulfilled:

For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said
 
R

Rolf Vonk

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Hello,

I believe the story about the number 3909 04 was a kind of fairy tale isn't it. With very much imagination one could read NO POPE when you turn back the sentence.

But there was wrote THE HELL WITH THE POPE on the hull of Titanic. An English journalist, Mr Gibbs (later Sir Gibbs) told this in his reports when he visited H&W.

Regards,

Rolf
happy.gif
 

Sam Brannigan

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While producing A Night To Remember in the 1950's the producer Bill McQuitty received a letter that read:

"Dear Sir,

In your request for information about the Titanic, I wonder if you were told that the Orangemen employed in the Belfast shipyard cursed the pope with every rivet they put in the Titanic and her registered number 390904 when read from the back of the paper it was put on read NO POPE. With this so called unsinkable ship the curse of almighty God fell on her and I wonder what they said when they heard the band played Nearer My God To Thee as she sank"

My dear old grandmother who was born in February 1911 and has just celebrated her 90th birthday still believes the no pope story to be true although it has been officially disproven. Another example, perhaps, of the sectarian divisions in the North of Ireland?

Regards

Sam
 

Senan Molony

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The Pope did manage to get on board the Titanic, of course, in a manner of speaking.

Archie Butt was carrying back an official reply from His Holiness to a letter delivered to the Pontiff by Butt from President Taft.

The parchment and seal of the crossed keys of St Peter DID get on board that vessel, despite the Northerner Orangemen's best efforts!

Waving a yellow and white flag,

Southerner Senan

(ouch! I can feel the Belfast confetti already!)
 

Inger Sheil

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Hoping there's some green in that flag you're waving, Sen...

That's one thing I love about the Southeners - the Tricolour is truly inclusive: Orange (obvious), White: Peace, Green: Obvious.

Now forgive me while I subside while muttering about blood staining the wattle.
 

Sam Brannigan

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Hi Senan!

Perhaps it was the Papal letter and not the Mummy that cursed the ship....the plot thickens!

If only everyone in this country remembered that one once in a while Inger!

Interesting that out of all the ships H&W built the Titanic was the one that had that number!

I wonder what the Olympics was.....!
 

Senan Molony

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I was actually waving the flag of the Vatican City State... yellow and white halves, with the crossed keys of St Peter.

Not sure if this was around in 1912. Didn't the Vatican only get official sovereignty in a concordat with Mussolini in the 1920s?

Where's a vexillologist when you need one?
 

Sam Brannigan

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And as a postscript, many nationalists in Ireland substitute the green, white and orange of the tricolour for green, white and yellow!

Ho Hum!
 

Inger Sheil

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Ahhhh...this is the problem with being born post Vatican II - I'm losing touch with my roots. The Pope obviously needs to re-establish 'Rome Rule' over Oz, because Catholics like m'self are slipping ;-)

Good thing my Irish mates - North and South, Catholic and Protestant - all believe in the great levelling influence of the pub. True common ground.
 

Senan Molony

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Did you not get your ashes thumbed sacredotally onto your sinning forehead today, then Ing?

Nope, neither did I. But I noticed our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) had a tell-tale smudge on his brow in a TV interview today, Ash Wednesday.

"Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."

The first day of Lent... did you have your pancakes for Shrove Tuesday? Mardi Gras, as some folks have it... but that's the same thing, an end to feasting for 40 days. The Rio carnival -"carnival" coming from "carne vale", the Latin farewell to the flesh (meat).

Makes it ironic that Carnival Cruises now bestrides the ocean wave, heaving with hefty waistlines, all queued up at the everlasting buffet...

The Titanic folk could gorge with God's grace. Easter had come and gone.

No Lent here!

Meanwhile Sam is quite right - too many trashy flag producers come out with green-white-and-distinctly-yellow flags for the Republic instead of the required orange. Is getting the orange right by adding some red to that yellow just a touch too expensive for their liking, I wonder?
 

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