Am I showing off? Only a little. You see, I booked my opening day ticket back in January when the press office was still advising, if rather vaguely, that 'searchable genealogical records' would be available.
Although this was clarified back in February, I decided to go along anyway. Out of noseyness and architectural interest more than anything else, because I'm not a huge Titanic fan and I have no family connections with the North, let alone Belfast's shipbuilding industry.
So, wary of the hype, I went along, and I'm not in the slightest unhappy that I did so.
This wasn't to be the first queue I joined. A similar period was spent waiting for the 'suspended car ride through the shipyard', after a 'technical hitch' brought the cars to a standstill.
Once cranked up again, the six-minute ride was a huge anti-climax and, frankly, I felt a bit embarrassed sitting in the futuristic-looking thing.
I didn't feel this 'journey' added anything (other than more time in a queue) to the experience.
No detail seems to have been left out. In the Fit-Out and Maiden Voyage galleries (to me, the most interesting after the Boomtown Belfast exhibition area), there were recreations of the first, second and third class cabins, and touchable samples of the carpets, ropes, linens, furniture finish etc.
I had a quick play on the so-called genealogical database just to see what it held. Basically, you can search the details of all passengers and crew under all manner of criteria.
So I was able to find out what became of selected passengers (Jeremiah Burke, aged 19, a farm labourer who joined the ship at Queenstown, died... Patrick Canavan, a 21-year-old general labourer met a similar fate) and could search for statistics (only three of the under-14-year-old Irish girls who boarded at Queenstown survived).
I heartily recommend it, despite the queues and the silly gimmicky car ride.
Titanic update –
Ancestryhas released the following records:
- Outward Passenger List
- Crew Records
- Deaths at Sea
- Halifax, Canada, Fatality Records
- Halifax, Canada, Titanic Graves