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President to pay a poignant tribute at last port of call

A RELATIVE of a young woman who boarded the Titanic at Cobh 100 years ago today has described the events being held to mark the centenary of the tragedy as a "huge tribute to all the people who lost their lives".

Nora Hegarty (18) boarded the ship with her cousin Jeremiah Burke (19) and 121 other passengers to make the journey to America.

Cobh was the last port of call for Titanic after she set out on maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City on April 10.

The cousins, who were travelling in third class, were among the 1,517 people who perished after the ship, which had 2,223 people on board, struck an iceberg three days after leaving Cobh on the night of April 11, 1912.


President Michael D. Higgins was due to attend a national commemoration ceremony in Cobh this afternoon.

Incredibly, Burke threw a bottle containing a short farewell message into the sea, which found by a man out walking in the inner harbour in Dunkettle, Cork around a year later.

The letter, which reads Titanic: Goodbye to all -- from Burke of Glanmire, was returned to Burke's family, while the bottle was given to the Hegarty family.

Speaking yesterday Helen Murphy, a grandniece of Ms Hegarty, from Rochestown in Cork, said the letter from Jeremiah Burke was "totally authentic".

"It's awful to think that a member of your own family suffered such a tragic death and the terror that must have been associated with it, and the fear of knowing it was going down," said Ms Murphy.

"The people are being remembered and talked about and their stories are being recounted. They haven't been forgotten and that's very important."

The event in Cobh will begin with the President's inspection of the Guard of Honour, followed by a national tribute in John F Kennedy Park and a presidential international fleet review.