Ninety-nine years ago this weekend, 14 young emigrants from a tiny Mayo village under Nephin mountain bid their families and friends a bittersweet farewell. They were off to America, but first they had to walk the 12 miles over the Windy Gap, from Lahardane to Castlebar, before catching the first of many trains in order to reach Cobh.
Simultaneously, five more emigrants started out from Caltra in Galway. All over Ireland almost a hundred others left their homes in similar fashion. With hearts filled with hope for a better life they boarded the liner in Queenstown. Little did they know that most of them had less than one week left to live. The liner they boarded was the Titanic.
Each year the people of Lahardane remember the 14 parishioners and all of the other Irish emigrants who sailed on the Titanic with readings, poetry, stories, songs, all the while tolling a bell for two hours, at exactly the time the Titanic sank off Newfoundland, very early on the morning of April 15. For more information on the unique connection of the tiny village of Lahardane to the world's largest cruise liner and maritime's biggest disaster log onto www.mayo-titanic.com