The Inquiry into the Sinking of the Titanic

During the last couple of weeks TY students have been studying a broad range of poetry including works from greats such as Seamus Heaney and TS Eliot. Last week, “After the Titanic” by Derek Mahon was the focus of attention. The poem looks at the tragedy of the Titanic from the point of view of a survivor – Bruce Ismay. He was the managing director of White Star Line the company that owned the Titanic. Mahon’s interpretation vividly captures the haunting memories of the broken up ship and describes Ismay’s feelings when the investigation into the sinking took place.

After reflecting on the poem, a challenge was put to the TY’s. In 20 mins, and in groups of 8 or 9, they had to prepare a rehearsed improvisation of the  inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic centering on Bruce Ismay. In group one, Jack Conway led the courtroom process with great authority while Drew Keeley defended himself in the role of Ismay. Witnesses were called and barristers examined. This improvisation was very convincing indeed.

Witness for the Prosecution
Witness for the Prosecution

Another group was led strongly by the prosecuting barrister, Ciaran Mulroy. Gabriel Mayrhofer, as Bruce Ismay did not stand a chance under the tough line of questioning. Despite many objections by counsel for the defence, Sean Landers, Ismay was found guilty of negligent manslaughter.

The Questioning of Ismay
The Questioning of Ismay

Both groups got very much into the spirit of the hearing and everyone fulfilled their roles and improvised greatly without any written script. This experiment  with rehearsed improvisation is one that will be repeated during the course of the year.

5 thoughts on “The Inquiry into the Sinking of the Titanic”

  1. When I first read this poem I found it interesting as he gave us his point of view after the sinking of the ship and how he delt with it. I believe that Ismay was very hurt and sad to see everything he had done sink down into the sea. Ever since that sinking I dont think he ever got over it. In the play I was the lawyer of Mr.Ismay and I had to defend him. I believe it was a good idea as it gave us a feeling of how he felt but at the same time what a court room is like.

  2. I think that the poem “After the Titanic” was in a way sad because it decribed the sorrow in Bruce Ismay’s life after he had seen the Titanic Sink. I feel that Ismay was a hard working man who had put much of his time and dedication into building the Titanic, and after seeing the ship sink must have been one of the worst experiences of his life. Durring the improvisation, I played the role of Bruce Ismay. The improvisation was a good idea after reading the poem because it was able to give the class a more insight on what happened even later after the sinking of the Titanic.

  3. I like the poem because it looks at the Titanic from a different perspective. I don’t think it was Bruce Ismays fault for the sinking of the ship, I belive the captain should be held responsible. I was a Barrister defending Bruce Ismay. The improvisation was a good idea because it gave us a better understanding of what happened on the night of the TItanic.

  4. I thought it was interesting to read about the Titanic from a different point of view. When you think about the Titanic you think about loss and death, this poem displays the sinking of the ship from the view point of the designer (Bruce Ismay).

    I have no great respect for Ismay as his cowardly and selfish actions on the night of the Titanic let to the death of others – he boarded a lifeboat before all women and children had been evacuated which is against common practice.
    In my opinion however I feel that his thoughts on the lifeboat were disturbing and vulgar – He was more concerned about the destruction of his ship than the deaths of thousands of people.

  5. The Poem was really good, my favorite part was the first sentence because it made me think a lot.
    I understand the feelings of Ismay as it is very reasonable.
    My role in the improvisation was the judge as i was interested in it.

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