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Titanic 100 Year Celebrations: Disaster-Hit Ship To Be Marked By Exhibitions Across The Globe

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Pressing a penny piece into the hands of his two sons, Thomas Millar told them not to spend the money until he came home to them after his sea voyage was over.

But Belfast youngsters William, five, and Thomas, 11, were destined never to see their father again.

And one of the pennies is now on display in a museum in Tennessee, thousands of miles from Northern Ireland.

For Millar senior's sea voyage was on the Titanic, the ship he had helped build at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and on which he served as an assistant deck engineer.

Millar, 33, was to go down with the ship and the penny given to his son William was kept in the family before being donated to the Titanic museum at Pigeon Forge in Tennessee.

On the night of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, Millar's great-granddaughter Susie Millar, 44, will be aboard the cruise ship Balmoral for a memorial service at the spot in the Atlantic where the ship sank.

Susie Millar said: "My great-grandmother had died shortly before the Titanic sailed so William and Thomas were orphaned by the tragedy.

"They were looked after by their aunt Mary who already had eight children. My great-grandfather had been born in Carrickfergus and was the only person to work on building the Titanic and to sail on it."

Ms Millar, who runs a tour company specialising in Titanic sites in Belfast, said that for many years the city was shocked into silence by the 1912 tragedy.

She went on: "Nobody would talk about it. Here was a ship for which Belfast was immensely proud. The city had built the ship and two weeks after she left Belfast she was at the bottom of the ocean."

"It has taken the city a long time to feel proud about the Titanic again."

Before sailing from Southampton with the Balmoral on April 8 next year, Ms Millar will help promote the new £97 million Titanic Belfast building at Harland and Wolff which opens on March 31.

Then while she and others mark the 100th anniversary afloat on the Atlantic, a commemorative service will be held at Belfast City Hall.

Several other Titanic exhibitions will open around the world in 2012.

On April 12, an exhibition complete with interactive touch screens will go on display in the USA.

At the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, visitors will be given the chance to feel what it was like to sail on the Titanic and to see the wreck thousands of feet down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Take a look at some of the pictures from the exhibitions below.

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