The Lord Pirrie book was displayed at the Titanic Hotel Belfast on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th May 2019. It was gifted to Lord Pirrie by the employees of Harland & Wolff to mark the moment he became the first Viscount Pirrie in 1921.
The highly decorated, leather-bound book is a priceless artefact of great historical value and it was last seen on display over ten years ago at Belfast City Hall for the Titanic Festival. The book was exhibited in what was once Lord Pirrie’s office in Titanic Hotel Belfast.
Lord Pirrie was one of Harland & Wolff’s most influential chairmen, starting his career in shipbuilding in Harland & Wolff as a sixteen year old gentleman’s apprentice in 1862. He became chairman following the death of Edward Harland and went on to make the company the largest shipbuilder in the world.
Lord Pirrie served as a Harbour Commissioner, was Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1896 and in 1898 was made the first Honorary Freeman of Belfast. Lord Pirrie and his wife, Lady Margaret Pirrie, were also instrumental in raising funds for the development of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Lord Pirrie passed away in June 1924 while on a sea trip to Buenos Aries. His body was brought back to Belfast on board the RMS Olympic, his favourite ship. He is buried in Belfast City Cemetary.
The Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival is delivered by Belfast City Council in partnership with Titanic Foundation and with support from Tourism Northern Ireland, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Titanic Belfast and Titanic partners. This year the three day event aimed to attract over 100,000 visitors to Belfast’s iconic heritage waterfront through the day and into the evening.
Titanic Foundation, the maritime and industrial heritage charity, organised the display of the book with Harland & Wolff. Chief Executive, Kerrie Sweeney, said “We recognised the unique opportunity we had to display Lord Pirrie’s book in his office, the very room where so many iconic ships were designed, and we reached out to Harland & Wolff. As part of the restoration and transformation of the former Drawing Offices and Headquarters building into Titanic Hotel Belfast, we open the heritage areas in the building to the public for free on key dates. We are delighted that the public will have an opportunity to see Lord Pirrie’s book and that this event will be taking place as part of the popular Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.”
Jonathan Guest, Chief Executive, Harland and Wolff Group, commented: “Lord Pirrie led an exceptional life and left a significant lasting impact on Belfast. It is fantastic that we get to remember his work with the public display of such an important piece of memorabilia from the Harland & Wolff collection. We are pleased to be working with Titanic Foundation as part of the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival to connect our shipbuilding and maritime heritage back to this area.”