The Old Fogies go to Cobh in Ireland

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh is located on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour and offers a dramatic and picturesque scene when coming into the town from the water. The houses are built up the hillside and dominating the town is St Colman’s cathedral which is perched on top of the hill.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

People have inhabited this area for over centuries, however it was the 18th century when the port was developed with a fort being built. The port was known by various names before the 18th century before it was renamed “Cove” (“The Cove of Cork”),
It was renamed by the British as “Queenstown” in 1849 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and changed back to Cobh in the 1920s by the Irish Free State, Cobh is the Gaelic word for cove. Although to English speakers, it looks like ‘cob’ it is actually pronounced ‘cove’.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh really came to prominence in the 19th century when the natural protection of its harbour made it a valuable naval military base. It still is an important base for the Irish Naval Service, their headquarters are on Haulbowline Island facing Cobh.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh was used an embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. However it gained international recognition as a major transatlantic Irish port, the town was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. This period of the town is marked by a statue on the quayside of Annie Moore and her brothers. Annie Moore was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York in 1892. We both stood looking at the statue and remembered our visit to Ellis Island a couple of years ago.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh was also a port from which the large transatlantic liners would depart from, the most famous of these liners was the ill fated RMS Titanic that visited the port in 1912 before sailing into the Atlantic and its tragic fate. Of the 123 passengers who boarded at the port with only 44 surviving the sinking. The former office building of the White Star Line now houses a Titanic museum.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Unfortuntely this was not the only maritime disaster related to the port, a few years later, the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania, was sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. 1,198 passengers died, while 700 were rescued. The survivors and the dead alike were brought to Cobh, and over 100 of those who perished in the disaster where buried in the Old Church Cemetery in the town. The Lusitania Peace Memorial is located in Casement Square marks this tragedy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh is still a popular port for large cruise liners, over 100,000 cruise liner passengers visit the town each year. The ships berth right in the centre of the town at Ireland’s only dedicated cruise terminal.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

For such a small town, there are a large number of memorials and as you wander around there are reminders of its maritime and emigration past.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Next to the railway is the Cobh Heritage Centre which includes ‘the Queenstown Story’, you can wander around the centre which has a café and gift shop but need to buy a ticket to see the exhibition that includes The Immigration Story, Building the Titanic and Cobh as Queenstown.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

With limited time and rain threating, we decided to begin to explore the town, a good starting place was the promenade with its bandstand and small memorial park dedicated to American president John F Kennedy. There are also a memorial to Antarctic explorer Robert Forde.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Near Casement square is statues to local heroes, athlete Sonia O’Sullivan and boxer Jack Doyle.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The town centre is full of bars, cafes and restaurants with a few gifts shops to explore, but we wanted to see a little more of the less tourist side of the town. So we decided to walk up the West Beach past the old Town Hall where there were a number of traditional Irish shops geared to the local community not just visitors.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Walking up hill, we reached Harbour Row and looked out over the harbour to Spike Island and Haulbowline Island. The threatened rain finally appeared and we gave up on our plan to walk to the Titanic Memorial Gardens and made our way back to the ship.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh certainly plays on its maritime history especially being the last port of call of the Titanic and offers visitors a wide range of attractions in a generally small area. If you are not attracted to the Titanic story, it is worth wandering the streets above the harbour and explore this attractive and unusual town. In many ways it has changed very little in the last 100 years and is still a bustling little port in a picturesque setting.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

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