Cobh on Our Own

Family

Today’s adventure in County Cork Ireland was to explore the seaside town of Cobh on our own. We delighted in the scenery as we approached the dock with the brightly painted houses facing the sea and the great church spire rising above it all. The deepwater quay and cruise terminal where we docked is immediately adjacent to downtown so we set off on foot to explore heading up the hill then again up the hill to St. Colman’s Cathedral. As we admired the architecture of this edifice completed in 1919 and enjoyed the quiet, we contemplated that this might very well be the port from which Karen’s Gleason ancestors departed for America during the Irish Potato Famine in the late 1840’s. At about that same time Queen Victoria visited the town then known as Cove and to commemorate the event the community changed its name to Queenstown. After Irish Independence it reverted back to Cobh, the Gaelic for Cove. As we left the cathedral we just walked, drinking in the atmosphere and relishing the idea that we were in Ireland together. Soon we began looking for a cup of tea. We stopped a local out for a walk with his young son and asked for a recommendation. Not only did he direct us to Café Vega, but suggested we return for a stay in Killarney which he claims is the prettiest place in Ireland. Unfortunately for us the restaurant was closed today so we moved on and walked through the local festival set up along the waterfront then returned to our ship for our cup of tea and some scones. While there we took the opportunity to make a call to Arleene, our travel agent and work on a few details regarding our 2025 Southern Caribbean Cruise and to begin planning a 2026 adventure. With that we headed back ashore and walked to the nearby Cobh Heritage Center to immerse ourselves in the history of Cobh harbor, one of the biggest deep water ports in the world. It was from here that Irish criminals were shipped to Australia, some Irish left for the Caribbean to become pirates, others made their way to the New World as indentured servants, and many farmers and families emigrated to Canada and the United States during the potato famine. In the early Twentieth century Queenstown was a busy shipping port as well as embarkation point for transatlantic travel. It was the last port of call for the Titanic on her fateful maiden voyage. It was here at theology student and photographer Francis Browne disembarked to visit family. His are some of the most poignant photos of the Titanic voyage between Southampton and Queenstown. We also learned that Queenstown participated in rescue and recovery following the 1915 sinking of Cunard’s Lusitania and that serving as a port for transatlantic passenger service declined and came to an end for some years in the 1960’s. Now in recent years they delight in welcoming cruise ship passengers once again. Back on board we got a sense of that. We could look down and see local families walking by, admiring our ship, then as we were preparing to sail away a community band regaled us with a concert while we waved to locals waving to us a bon voyage. The two of us remained on deck as we departed the harbor cruising past an oil freighter off loading at a power plant with a tug boat standing by, past Roche’s point where the Titanic embarked her last passengers, and until the local pilot left our ship. We were part of a small cadre of passengers who cheered him and yelled “Thank You!” It was a short visit, as most cruise stops are, and we didn’t get to do everything we’d like to, but it gave us a taste of Ireland and a desire to return.

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4 Comments

  1. Lynn & Art

    Brought back memories of our time in Ireland on our British Isles cruise and land tour. Cobh is a lovely place to visit and full of history. Love how the people wave to the ship and the bells ring out. Enjoy your trip.
    Lynn & Art

    Reply
    • Steve & Karen

      We were definitely impressed with the friendliness there!

      Reply
  2. Mike and Merilee

    My Great-grandmother Delia Kerrigan departed from Cobh (Queenstown at the time) in April 1896. She was processed through Ellis Island.

    I laughed about the Irishman claiming Killarney as the prettiest place in Ireland. I would say he is from there and proud of it. Killarney is a pretty town, Killarney National Park which is very scenic, is just outside of town. But there are so many pretty places in Ireland it would be hard to pinpoint just one place. I love the pride the Irish have in their country. They are the friendliest and most practical people I have met in my travels.

    We can’t wait to see you two again so you can tell your stories about this great adventure you are having.

    Reply
    • Steve & Karen

      Let’s do make plans to swap stories!

      Reply

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