Romeos visit to Titanic & Asgard
Author: Pat Murphy Posted on: 30/1/13 Print Version

Photos by Pat Murphy
Gerry O'Neill's ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out) concluded their 2012 programme of outings with a visit to the TITANIC Exhibition Centre in Belfast in November and to the recently conserved ASGARD exhibition in Collin's Barracks in December.
Visit to the Titanic

On train to Belfast
The visit to the TITANIC attracted 25 ROMEOS travelling by train in reserved seats to Central Station in Belfast then transferring to a Bangor bound train for the 4 minute journey to the Titanic Station. From the station it is a 10 minute walk to the 38.5 metres (126 feet) high Exhibition Centre. A few of the less hardy taxied on the return journey.

The Exhibition Centre

Draughtsmen at work
Lunch, considered expensive, in the Exhibition's Restaurant was followed by the self-regulated tour. With so many write-ups, visual, audio and 3D displays throughout the exhibit, navigating the 5 levels is best completed at your own pace. Inside the iconic building, visitors re-live the entire Titanic story from her birth in Belfast to the fateful maiden voyage and her eventual discovery on the seabed. It was disappointing that there were no artefacts from the ship on display and that the replica of the ship's famous 'Grand Staircase' was out of bounds.

Preparing for launch

The launch

3 Million Rivets used

Preparing to fit a propellor

Visit to the Asgard
The outing to the ASGARD began with over 30 ROMEOs converging on the Museum Caf� at 11pm for coffee and scones. On entering the dedicated ASGARD exhibition hall Walter (Wally) McGuirk explained the history of the conservation programme and the part played by the 6 volunteers, 4 current members and 2 past members of Howth yacht Club.

Before conservation

John Kearon at work
The conservation team was led by Master Shipwright and Ship Conservator John Kearon, with the aim of conserving the vessel and in the process saving and securing as much of the existing original components as possible, while also retaining the structural integrity of the vessel. John and his team began the programme in 2007 and in August 2012 the finished conservation work went on public display.

Part of the conservation work

The aft deck with original wheel

After conservation

The Experts

Wally explaining the conservation
The professional shipwrights worked on the hull while the 6 volunteers spent the previous 10 months conserving, repairing and replacing the spars, standing and running rigging. This work was carried out in Wally's warehouse in Arbour Hill and on completion transported to and fitted to the completed hull. The original wheel, donated by the McLaughlin family in Howth has to be one of the highlights of the exhibition.

The Bantry Boat
Prior to leaving the Museum, we visited the 'Bantry Boat', it is the oldest surviving vessel in the French navy. It featured in the failed Dec 1796 invasion when bad weather prevented the landing in Bantry of a formidable French armada of 48 ships and some 15,000 troops under the command of General Hoche, and with Wolfe Tone on board. Most of the fleet returned to France but one ship's longboat, which was used in a French scouting landing, was washed ashore with her crew on nearby Bere Island. After a varied life she was restored/conserved by John Kearon at the Liverpool Museum and returned to Collin's Barrack Museum. Unfortunately it is very badly displayed but well worth a visit. It would be nice to see it with models of French sailors of the period sitting on the thwarts with oars.

Visit to Irish Distillers

On the Whiskey tour
The last event of the last outing of 2012 was a visit to Irish Distillers where an excellent meal was consumed followed with a guided tour of the Whiskey Museum.

Mr Stanley at rest

The Old Jameson Distellery

The last supper of 2012
We wait with bated breath for Gerry's 2013 programme.