Tuesday, 3 August 2010



One and a half million people left Ireland during the great famine and 750,000 of those that stayed died. Visiting the Cobh Heritage Centre, one can’t help wondering what kind of country we’d have had today had that catastrophic event not occurred.

Many of the 1.5 million that left went through the port of Cobh, most to America. Their story is told here in the old converted Victorian railway station. In that same ill fated 19th century, many thousands too left as “convicts”, most bound for Australia and their grim tales may also be found here.

And the great sadness went on into the early 20th century with the disasters that befell the Titanic and the Lusitania. On April 11th 1912, a total of 2202 people (including crew) left Cobh (then Queenstown) on board the Titanic, its final port of call.

Three years later, the Lusitania was torpedoed off the Kinsale and many bodies and some of the survivors were brought ashore in Cobh. The survivors were looked after in hotels, boarding houses and by local families while 150 of the dead were buried in the nearby Old Church Graveyard. You can follow the stories of these two giant ships and many others here.

The US Navy, on its way to join the Great War, made Cobh its first port of call and, in the peace between the wars, the main callers were the huge transatlantic liners. That trade is now long gone but has been replaced, only in recent years, by the visits of cruise liners, some of them huge, virtually all on one European cruise or another. Hardly a day goes by in summer, without such a visit and so the maritime history of the town continues but nowadays without the tragedies of the past.

The Centre, adult admission  €7.10,  also has a restaurant, shops and also offers a genealogy search service. Check out the website at http://www.cobhheritage.com
Tel: TEL 353 (21) 4 813591
Recommendations for eating out in Cork - http://corkfood.blogspot.com/

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