One of the highlights of the past year was the opening of the new Titanic centre in Belfast. It has proved extremely popular with tourists and local people as well and has been an important addition to our tourism product.
Belfast was the home of the Titanic and a century ago it was a truly titanic city, an industrial powerhouse, with the biggest shipyard in the world, the largest linen factory
A Night to Remember is the title of a book and a film about the Titanic. The book was written in 1955 by Walter Lord and the film followed in 1958, starring Kenneth More.
The producer of the film was William MacQuitty (1905-2004), who was born in Belfast, the son of the managing-director of the Belfast Telegraph. On 31 May 1911 he was just six years old when he went down with his father to the Harland & Wolff shipyard and watched the launch of the Titanic. Many years later, in his autobiography, he recalled the launch of the great ship and wrote, 'I felt a great lump in my throat and an enormous pride in being an Ulsterman.'
MacQuitty had a remarkable life and in 1959 he helped to found Ulster Television, becoming its first managing director. In 1991 he published his autobiography under the title A Life to Remember.
The sinking of the Titanic was indeed A Night to Remember but there was another night that was much more deserving of the title A Night to Remember.
Two thousand years ago in Bethlehem there was a wonderful night when the Saviour of the world was born. Angels announced His birth to a group of shepherds, who were out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their sheep, and they came to the stable to see the new-born child.
Christ by highest heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
The Lord Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven and was born on earth so that we might be born again. He came into this world so that He might die at Calvary as our sinless Saviour, taking our sins upon Himself.
That night when the Son of God was born on earth was truly a night to remember!