Was Pirrie really sick


Sep 28, 2002
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A lot of people I'm sure have read that Lord Pirrie left Belfast because of sickness in 1912 and had to have an operation.

Was he really sick or was just using this as an excuse to get away from the political situation in Belfast. He chose Nationalism which was not popular with the majority of the workers of H&W.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Pirrie was certainly sick. He had suspected prostate cancer. I don't know if the diagnosis turned out to be correct, but on 22 February he was operated on. In 1912 it was a pretty drastic operation and for several weeks The Times frequently reported on his health. By the time of the sinking, he was still recovering, though he can't have been as bad as is sometimes made out. On 18 April he took on a new directorship and by June he was hobnobbing with Kaiser Wilhelm II at Kiel.

Was it his health or his powerful friends that kept him out of Lord Mersey's court? I suspect the latter.

It should be remembered that Pirrie spent much of his time in England anyway, either in Downshire House or at Witley Court. There was nothing especially odd about him leaving Belfast, though in February he left in a shower of eggs, flour bombs and herrings, of all things!
 

Martin Pirrie

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Dec 30, 2000
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Dave is correct. Lord P. did have an operation for prostate cancer in early 1912. I have a record of Lady P. writing to Lady Aberdeen (the wife of the Viceroy) stating that although Lord P. wanted to sail on Titanic's maiden voyage, his doctor had forbidden him to do so.
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Dave and Martin,

It was certainly good timing to be sick. He made himself very unpopular in Belfast with his stance for Home Rule. If it was known then that he plans to move the Yard I doubt if he would be welcomed back to Belfast.

Although he made a political mistake in his choice here in regards the vast majority in Ulster, he later turned back to Unionism.

It is strange that maybe this sickness was brought on by his actions in the political situation in 1912.
 

Martin Pirrie

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Jim, Lord P. suffered for some time with his prostate gland and had, had treatment before 1912. I have always wondered if this ailment prevented him having children. The ITV programme stated that he never returned to Belfast after the infamous public meeting with Churchill. That's not true is it?
 

Dave Gittins

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Of course it's not true. Pirrie accomplished many more things in Belfast in the years after Titanic. There are photos of him in Belfast after 1912. The best known would be the one taken outside Ormiston House with Lady Pirrie. And he chose to be buried there. Lady Pirrie also was seen in Belfast after Lord Pirrie's death.
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Martin,

What I am saying is that Lord Pirrie's timing with his sickness was very fortunate. There have been some doubts about his sickness, as to whether is was an excuse to escape the hostility from Belfast in 1912. Remember 1912 is a very important year in the history of Ulster in many ways

He did indeed return to Belfast and was well received in further developments in Belfast. He turned out to be very well liked by the workers. He became Controller of Merchant Shipping during the First World War.

John Parkinson remembers well his funeral in Belfast, very large indeed. In fact he was buried on the same date that he started his apprenticeship at Harland & Wolff.
 

Martin Pirrie

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Jim, Lord P's life appears full of coincidences with dates! I hadn't realised that his funeral was on the date he started at H & W, thanks for that. Titanic was launched on his and Lady P's birthdays, 31st May, although in the Canadian records his birthday is shown as 24th May and his only first name as William. He appears to have adopted James later.
 

Mark Baber

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in the Canadian records his birthday is shown as 24th May

Hello, Martin---

What records are you referring to? A year or two back, I tried tracking down Lord P's birth certificate and was told by Canadian and Québec federal, provincial and municipal government offices that there are no official government records, only his baptismal record, which I obtained from St. Andrew's Church. It shows 31 May as his birthdate.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The question of Lord Pirrie's support for Irish Home Rule in 1912 has been raised on several occasions, but never satisfactorily explained. I believe that, in reality, the reason for Lord Pirrie's pro-Home Rule stance at that time was connected with his support for the Liberal Party - which had been trying for many years to improve the condition of Ireland. Lord Pirrie would have been simply following the "party line", and he undoubtedly under-estimated the bitterness which the Home Rule issue had engendered in his own, largely Protestant workforce.
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Stanley,

Lord Pirrie did in fact follow the Liberals, he was more a Liberal unionist than he was a Home Ruler. I would say that he only set out to appear as being fair to both sides. I believe that he was an Unionist. His sister signed the Ulster Covenant together with Thomas Andrews widow in Comber.

Have a look at http://lafayette.150m.com/cra3290a.htmlhttp://lafayette.150m.com/cra3290a.html

This is at Stormont the Northern Ireland Parliament
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello James,

I am not sure what you are getting at in this thread. Many people supported the third Home Rule Bill, which was being pushed through by the Liberal government of Herbert Asquith. As a Liberal supporter, Lord Pirrie would have felt obliged to support the Bill and, like many other liberal-minded people in both England and Ireland, he would have envisaged that the 32 counties of Ireland would soon be enjoying a very large measure of internal self-government. This did not necessarily make him a “Nationalist”￾, because Ireland would have remained within the British Union.

It is incorrect to say that he was a “Liberal Unionist”￾ in 1912, because the Liberal Unionists had actually left their party to join the Tories. It is also misleading to equate Lord Pirrie’s views on Home Rule in 1912 with, shall we say, Eamon de Valera’s views in 1916, or 1921.

As I have said in another thread, there was certainly some lively debate (and a lot of posturing) about the Home Rule issue but, in 1912, nobody could have anticipated the Easter Rising and the tragic events which followed it - just as nobody could have imagined that World War I was about to destroy the status quo in Europe and other parts of the World. In retrospect, Lord Pirrie clearly have made a mistake in 1912, but he seems to have changed his mind shortly afterwards.

On a different, though related subject relating to Belfast and the anti-Home Rule movement, am I right in thinking that one of the Orange Lodges in Belfast is named as Thomas Andrews Junior, and that a neighbouring lodge displays the Titanic on its banner?
 

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