PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – Thomas Millar of Belfast, Ireland was an engineer for Harland & Wolff, the British heavy industrial company that specialized in ship building. In the early 1900s, the company designed and built the RMS Olympic and her sister-ships, the RMS Titanic and HMHS Britannic. At Harland & Wolff, Millar worked as an engine fitter and helped build the engines for both the Olympic and Titanic.
In 1912, just three months after his wife died leaving the 33-year old Thomas to raise the couple’s two young boys, he decided that he would sail on the Titanic to New York where he would start a new life for himself and his sons. He signed up for a job as an assistant deck engineer on the Titanic and made plans to leave Ireland and start again in America.
Just before boarding the Titanic, Millar gave each of his sons – 11-year old Thomas Jr. and 5-year old William Ruddick – a shiny, new penny. The boys, who were being left with their aunt, were told to keep the pennies and not spend them until their dad returned to get them.
Around 11:40 p.m. on the fourth night Millar was at sea, his plans made a dramatic turn as the result of an iceberg. Thomas Millar’s body was never found after Titanic sank.
Susie Millar, Thomas’ great granddaughter, will visit Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge during March when the museum honors the hardworking, skilled Irish laborers helped build Titanic in Belfast. Millar, who still resides in Belfast, recalls her grandfather, William Ruddick Millar, reading books to her about Titanic when she was a young girl.
“The whole world has a fascination with the Titanic,” Millar said. “Strangely, Belfast has not been one of those areas terribly interested in the Titanic until recently. The largest man-made movable object on the face of the Earth at the time – the Titanic – was designed and built right here in little, tiny Belfast. With the approaching Centennial, the people here in Belfast are finally interested in learning about Titanic.”
Susie Millar, who was a longtime television reporter in Ireland, will arrive in Pigeon Forge on Saturday, March 19, 2011 and will be at the Titanic Museum Attraction daily through Wednesday, March 23, 2011. In honor of her visit, Titanic Museum attraction has prepared a special display focused on her great grandfather, Thomas Millar. The highlights of that display are the actually pennies handed to Thomas Jr. and William Ruddick by Thomas Millar just before he climbed aboard Titanic.
“I’m proud to keep Thomas Millar’s short story alive,” Susie Millar said. “He was so young – and it’s an honor for me to tell people about him. It’s thrilling for me personally to see how many people are still interested in Titanic.”
Throughout the entire Month of March the Titanic Museum Attraction honors the Irish—the spirited, irrepressible, hardworking men and women from the Emerald Isle. Come prepared to be entertained with the music, song and folklore that accompanied these courageous souls on their voyage to America.
Although it has been open less than a year, the Titanic Museum attraction already is recognized as one of the Great Smoky Mountain area’s top attractions. Approximately 100,000 “passengers” have visited the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge every month since its grand opening in April 2010.
The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. is open daily at 9 a.m. Reservations are strongly suggested (many days sell out entirely). Or, passengers may purchase tickets online at www.titanicpigeonforge.com or by phone at 800-381-7670.
Cedar Bay Entertainment owns and operates Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Mo. and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. A privately owned-and-operated entertainment and development company, Cedar Bay is headquartered in Branson, Mo., the site of its first Titanic Museum Attraction. Since it’s April 2006 grand opening, Titanic Branson has welcomed nearly 3 million guests.