Everyone knows the story of the supposedly unsinkable “RMS Titanic”, the ill-fated White Star Line vessel that struck an iceberg and sank on 14th April 1912, four days into its maiden voyage. Not so many, though, will be aware of the spooky link between the Titanic and Celtic, through its sister ship, “RMS Celtic”, which sailed under the same White Star flag as it ploughed the transatlantic route between Liverpool and New York from 1901 – 1928.
The “Celtic” sometimes docked at Cork before setting out for the New World. On one such occasion, while attempting to dock during a storm in December 1928, the majestic two-funnelled liner foundered on the rocks at Roche’s Point, off Cobh Island, the traditional departure point for Irish emigrants to the United States.
In a curious parallel to the story of the “SS Cabinet Minister”, of Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 novel “Whisky Galore”, many of the ship’s fittings mysteriously ended up in the homes and business premises of the village of Ringaskiddy, near Cork, during the salvage operation. Probably NOT through divine intervention, a prize piece, the ship’s bell, found its way into the oratory of the local church.
Way back in the pre-Fergus McCann days, in the course of renovations, the then Stadium Director, Tom Grant, unearthed an almost undistinguishable piece of apparent junk amongst a long-forgotten cache of artefacts. Realising that it was some sort of picture, curiosity prevented him from simply chucking it out. Imagine his delight when restoration revealed it to be a glorious oil painting of the vessel that proudly bore the name “Celtic”.
Once on a visit to play a match against Cobh Ramblers during a Celtic tour of Ireland, club directors tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Ringaskiddy oratory bell. It was not to be; but at least the spectacular depiction of the ship that bore the club name throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century is there for all to see when visiting Celtic Park.