When the Titanic was built…

Turn the clock back one century with PD Singer. Her book Maroon tells the story of two Irish shipbuilders who work on the Titanic. Here’s a taste of their world, in fascinating details that make Dublin in the era of luxury liners come alive again!

If we stepped back a hundred years into 1912 Belfast, we’d find one of the biggest industrial powerhouses of its day, a bustling city of 400,000.  Cotton and linen mills abounded, but the most visible industry was shipbuilding. At any one time, Harland and Wolff employed from 12,000 to 14,000 men in hundreds of disciplines.

They worked as riveters, painters, joiners, fitters, machinists, engineers, haulers, and a hundred other jobs, building everything from the little 8000 ton tenders that would shuttle back and forth from the great ships to the shore, to the 45,000 ton Olympic class behemoths that were the largest the world had seen.  On payday, Harland and Wolff could get everyone through the pay lines in under fifteen minutes.

Men such as Donal Gallagher, a cabinetmaker,






and Jimmy Healy, a boilermaker,

considered themselves fortunate to work in skilled trades, making twice as much money as those doing less skilled labor. Still their workday started at 6 am and ended at 5:30 pm, with breaks for breakfast and lunch, and they also worked a half day on Saturday, with one week’s holiday and days off for Christmas and Easter.

They’d walk home or take the streetcar, which had only recently, for them, been upgraded from horse-drawn to electrical. Even then, the cars were double-decked.


It was common for workers to live in row houses, “two up, two down,” in groups of eight. Some are still being used, and even gentrified. Belfast was a leader in running water; houses built after 1878 had piped-in water and small back yards, and were gas-lit until electricity became more common. Jimmy and Donal shared one of the two bedrooms upstairs in a house like these.

This was life for the men who built the Titanic. But their stories were unique, and I have chosen to tell Donal and Jimmy’s story: two men who found love and feared losing everything because of it.


The best jobs in 1911 Belfast are in the shipyards, but Donal Gallagher’s pay packet at Harland and Wolff doesn’t stretch far enough. He needs to find someone to share his rented room; fellow ship-builder Jimmy Healy’s bright smile and need for lodgings inspire Donal to offer. But how will he sleep, lying scant feet away from Jimmy? It seems Jimmy’s a restless sleeper, too, lying so near to Donal…

In a volatile political climate, building marine boilers and armed insurrection are strangely connected. Jimmy faces an uneasy choice: flee to America or risk turning gunrunner for Home Rule activists. He thinks he’s found the perfect answer to keep himself and his Donal safe, but shoveling coal on a luxury liner is an invitation to fate.

Find it here, at Torquere. http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=96&products_id=3388

All Romance eBooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-maroondonaldagusjimmy-625035-144.html

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Maroon-Donald-agus-Jimmy-ebook/dp/B005ZTAR7W/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1321452790&sr=1-2

Fictionwise: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b129186/Maroon/PD-Singer/?si=0


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