Cobh is a charming little seaport town located in County Cork on Ireland’s south coast. Overlooking Cobh Harbour, it is known primarily for its hospitality and rich maritime history and it’s an area of Ireland that is well worth your visit.
A Little Background
Though called “Cobh” for the first time in 1750, the town was later renamed “Queenstown” following a visit from Queen Victoria in 1849. It wasn’t until 1921 and the establishment of the Irish Free State that its original distinction was brought out of retirement.
Cobh has a maritime past unrivalled by most cities and includes some of the most important moments in world history. It was from the shores of Cobh that 2.5 million emigrants left for America between 1848 and 1950 – the most well known of those, Annie Moore, was the first immigrant to pass through New York’s Ellis Island. The Annie Moore Statue, a popular stop and photo op for visitors, is located on the cruise ship pier just outside the Cobh Heritage Centre.
Cobh is also recognised for its distinction as the last port of call for the Titanic. It was here that the doomed passengers last touched land before attempting to cross the Atlantic on April 11th, 1912. Another ill-fated passenger ship, the Lusitania, torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1915, has ties to Cobh as well. Its survivors and those less fortunate were brought to Cobh, many of the victims buried in Cobh’s Old Church Cemetery.
Points of Interest
Cobh’s tourism focuses mainly on its maritime legacy with a memorial to the Lusitania and a couple of Titanic-related attractions in the mix. For instance, reserve your spot on the Titanic Trail, a one hour guided tour of the town by Cork Historian and enthusiastic tour creator Dr Michael Martin. This fascinating walking tour brings to life the story of the RMS Titanic and explores the historic town of Cobh, none of which has changed since the ship’s sinking over 100 years ago.
So you want more history? Make the Cobh Heritage Centre your first stop. Here you can amass a better understanding of the origins and history of Cobh through exhibits on the Irish Famine, emigration to the New World, and both of the famed cruise liners. The Centre is located in an old train station right on the harbour giving visitors the feeling of embarking on a journey of their own.
Want to get away from the water? A short trip to the village of Carrigtwohill to visit the Barryscourt Castle, a 16th century castle that was once inhabited by the de Barry family, is a great way to spend part of a day in beautiful southern Ireland. Admission is free and their knowledgeable guides will lead you through the castle’s towers, chapel, garden, and living quarters, showcasing what life was like for the family over 400 years ago.
Want to see some record-breaking? If so, no trip to Cobh would be complete without a visit to St. Colman’s Cathedral and Carillon, the lone feature dominating the landscape and one of the tallest in Ireland. This neo-Gothic cathedral overlooks all of Cork Harbour and contains the largest church carillon in all of Britain and Ireland with 49 bells.
Cobh may be a small harbour town but it’s overflowing with history the locals are just waiting to share with you. With a calendar full of historical and cultural festivals, a harbour rich with stories to tell, and an array of attractive day trips, there’s never a bad time to visit.