Did you see it on the news? We don’t have much internet connection on board, so I don’t know if it showed up on YouTube or anywhere else. I hope so. I hope you get to see it.
It was humbling. It was inspiring. It was very exciting.
We were in the Morning Light Lounge visiting with Facebook friends Rikke and Brenda, when we spotted land. Everyone knew this meant we’d soon be arriving in Cobh, so we all scrambled for jackets and cameras and met again, outside. The ship was passing into the harbor, giving us a good view of the lovely Irish green hills and picturesque buildings. In the water, the occasional small, orange, speedboat could be seen, crewed by 3 to 5 orange-clad people. These boats were pacing our ship, very official-looking, so we figured they were the harbor police or something. As we drew closer to land, more people joined us on deck, and soon we’d filled the rails on the front and both sides of our ship.
I had to make a couple of trips back to our cabin during all of this – once for my coat, then again for a new battery for the camcorder and my scarf and gloves. It was COLD.
Then we spotted them.
At first, due to our distance, my mind refused to admit what my eyes were seeing. But as we so slowly neared the pier, I finally resolved the picture into reality.
People. Two or three thousand is my guess, lined up along the dock and spilling up onto the hillside roads and gardens. From the distance, they seemed to be still, just watching us. But as we drew nearer – and it takes a long time for a cruise ship to approach a pier – we heard snatches of music and occasional cheers. Soon, we could see and hear the band playing, and see people waving at us. We waved back, all of us stunned silent, yet thrilled, at the sight of them. It was a cosmic love affair, carried out among the waves and wind of the Port of Cork at Cobh, Ireland.
We took pictures and film, which I hope to show you eventually. But maybe you’ll see the professional clips on BBC or the net. It was unbelievable.
After that welcome, we couldn’t wait to go ashore. Our ship was three hours late arriving in Cobh, which meant some tours had been cancelled and other postponed. Rick and I went aboard to go through the Titanic Experience Museum, one of the best I’ve seen. Of course, Cobh has the benefit of letting you walk through the very building that those Irish emigrants walked through one hundred years ago. We got to see the very dock they used to load into their tender boat that took them out to meet Titanic, out by the Lighthouse.
Afterwards we walked around the town a bit, popping into a pub here and there to listen to music. I felt bad because some of the stores had closed already, and it was obvious they’d made an effort to do something special for all us potential shoppers. But due to our late arrival, we missed them. However, many people stayed late to talk to us. As we walked back to the ship about 9:30, we passed one little girl who said, “Hi people from the big ship. I’m glad you came.” The party atmosphere must have been very exciting for the kids.
It wasn’t all party and excitement, though. All of the exhibits and speeches brought acknowledgement of the 123 Irish people who boarded Titanic at Cobh. We heard about their stories and how the town had to work through the tragedy.
The sight of all those people on the dock combined with something Susie Millar said her presentation, to really bring home the purpose of this cruise. Susie told us how much it would mean to her to stand over her great-grandfather’s grave, one hundred years later, and honor his life. Then she said that it would also be very meaningful for her to arrive in New York, in effect, finishing her great-grandfather’s journey for him.
This is what we are doing. This, I think, is at the heart of the Cobh gathering.
Remember us. Finish the journey we started. Then go live your lives and let that complete the purpose of ours.