Thomas Andrews' Brogue or Lack Thereof

Shea Sweeney

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Apr 1, 2007
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Hello everyone,

I was wondering about Thomas Andrerws and his dialect. He was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland and worked there in his adult years too. It would make sense but I am just double checking, did Andrews speak with an Irish broag as was portrayed in the 1997 film?

Perhaps from his interaction with plently of Brits he took on a more English accent? Northern Ireland is still a part of Great Britain and there are many English people there but in 1912 the island did not split into Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. That occurred in 1921.

Any insight on this matter?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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If you have the dvd of A Night to Remember listen to the accompanying 'making-of' documentary in which the film's producer William MacQuitty speaks at length. Note his Irish brogue (or lack of). MacQuitty, who was present at the launch of the Titanic, was an Edwardian born and raised in Belfast in a middle class family much like that of Thomas Andrews. Strong regional accents are generally characteristic of a working class upbringing. It's likely that Andrews had a trace of the local inflection, but in Cameron's film he was provided with a southern Irish accent to suit the expectations of American audiences. There's plenty of discussion of this matter in existing threads, Shea. Use the search engine link at the bottom of this page.
 

Martin Pirrie

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Dec 30, 2000
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Lord Pirrie, Thomas Andrews' uncle, spoke with a noticeable Belfast accent so it's likley that Andrews had too. Like Pirrie he was educated locally.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
Hello Shea,

What makes you think there are, or were, "many English people" in Ireland? If there were, they would have been more likely to be found in Dublin than in Belfast. Having said that, my gut feeling is that there have never been many English people in Ireland - indeed, it is the other way round, about 25 per cent of the "English" being Irishmen or women, while London is, and always has been, one of the World's great Irish cities (just look at the long lists of Irish names in any English phone book).
 
Dec 29, 2006
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As Bob says, accent was an indication of education, and of social class, rather than geographical origins. This would have been particularly so in the early 20th century, when a potential leader of industry such as Thomas Andrews would be seen as a member of “the officer class”￾ and, as such, separate from, and above, his workforce.

Regarding Ireland, and the Irish middle classes, there are enough recordings in existence to show that prominent Irish people such as William Butler Yeats, Edward Carson, Oscar Wilde, General Alanbrooke, General Dill, Admiral Beatty, Guglielmo Marconi and Constance Markievicz spoke in what can only be described as “posh”￾ accents.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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There are recordings of Marconi speaking in English. He sounds like an English toff. His Italian was very clear and I can understand most of it, but some have detected imperfections in his accent. Some recordngs used to be online, so try Google.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Marconi had an Italian father and an Irish mother who, in a matriarchal society such as 19th century Italy, exerted great influence on him. She was also very rich, being a member of the Jameson Whiskey family. It was largely due to his mother (and her connections) that he was persuaded to move to the UK after the Italians had shown little or no interest in his work. To say "Marconi was Italian" is like saying "Brunel was a Frenchman".

As far as I am aware, there was little sign of Marconi’s Italian heritage, he looked, spoke and acted as an Edwardian Briton. Moreover, his wife - Beatrice O'Brien — was the daughter of Edward Donough O'Brien, the fourteenth baron Inchiquin, whose family had been kings of Ireland until the sixteenth century. I feel quite justified in my claim than Guglielmo Marconi was one of history’s great Irishmen.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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It's hard to see how Marconi could have considered himself anything other than an Italian. Thanks to his mother he was fluent in English but he was born, raised and educated in Italy. He made his fortune in England of course, but in the 1920's he joined the Italian Fascist Party and was later appointed to its Grand Council. When he divorced his Irish wife and married an Italian, Benito Mussolini was his best man. Marconi made many broadcasts in support of fascism and was banned by the BBC from speaking in favour of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, which had been condemned by democratic nations. He died in Rome a couple of years before the outbreak of WW2, so we cannot know how he would have reacted to Italy's declaration of war on Britain.
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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This video of John Millar Andrews is pretty illuminating. He was Thomas Andrews' older brother by just a few years and he was educated at Royal Belfast Academical, so his upbringing was almost identical to his brother. His accent is a weird hybrid of standard English with a hint of what sounds like a North Antrim or Kilkeel lilt - coming from Northern Ireland I've never heard an accent quite like this. JM moved in fairly exalted circles so while I expect Tommy sounded almost exactly the same, his day to day contact with H&W workers may have softened the clipped tones by some degree.

Whatever, I reckon this is as close as you'll get to Thomas Andrews' accent - who'd have thought A Night to Remember was closer to the truth than Titanic?

 
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