A Titanic day in Cobh

Cobh Travel Blog

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Cobh

My friend had grand ideas about hiring a car and exploring far and wide. But as I don't drive and she doesn't have a credit card, we failed at the first hurdle. So, where to spend a day somewhere easily accessible from Cork? Cobh was the obvious answer.

Every hour or so, a train leaves Cork and follows the water out of the city towards one of the world's great natural harbours. The train ride is quite scenic, as it crosses a couple of islands linked by bridges and offers lots of picturesque watery views for most of the way. Cobh is the end of the line, formerly known as Queenstown when it was a huge port, a vital last stopping point for ships heading across the Atlantic.

Deck of Cards, Cobh
 

I knew about Cobh for one reason, and I suspect it is the same reason as nearly everyone who visits the area...the Titanic connection. After leaving Southampton, the ill-fated ship paused briefly in Queenstown as it then was, to take on more transatlantic voyagers and goods. and to disembark a few incredibly lucky passengers. I have a family connection with the Titanic...my grandma used to claim that a cousin of my granddad's was a pianist in the band that played as the ship went down, and while it was a romantic tale to believe in, we were all a bit sceptical as all sorts of tales were embellished or just plain made up after a few too many brandies, until a newspaper article from the time resurfaced. A cousin did indeed go down on the Titanic, but as a regular crew member, not as a pianist, so she was half right.

One of Cobh's squares
Partly due to that, I am quite fascinated with anything to do with the Titanic, and Cobh knows how to play to its audience. The Titanic Gardens, a few statues and memorials about town, a Titanic walking tour, and, down at the water's edge, the Titanic Experience. 

It was unfortunate that our visit coincided with a large group of Italian teenagers on a language learning holiday, as entrance is by guided tour only. The staff seemed a bit flustered by the Italians, and it meant regular tourists like us had to wait a while for them to pass through. We were assigned the name of a real passenger from the Titanic and given a class (I was in steerage, naturally...I know my place), and our guide took us from room to room, explaining bits and bobs with the help of some video characters who popped up in mirrors and on walls.

A monument to the Lusitania
It was all very slick and well done, but felt a bit rushed and crowded, two dozen people all trying to look at a few exhibits in a tiny space before the guide or the video character ushered us into the next room so the next group could come in. It was all a bit frustrating, as clearly there's a lot of info in this museum, just not enough time to take it all in. Anyway, we reached the last room and discovered whether our new identities survived or not (I went down with the ship, my friend was one of the few survivors), and we could learn a bit about who they really were. 

It was time for an ice cream on the pier, where we spotted jellyfish in the harbour. From here, Cobh is especially pretty, rows of terraced houses stacked on top of each other, each one painted a different colour to the next, with the huge cathedral crowning the hill.

Cobh Cathedral
Aside from the Titanic memorials, Cobh also has a connection with another transatlantic liner from the same period, the RMS Lusitania which was tragically torpedoed not far off shore during the First World War with over a thousand lives lost. Another claim to fame is that Cobh is the home town of Ireland's best athlete, the long distance runner Sonia O'Sullivan, immortalised in an odd-looking statue on the sea front. 

We climbed the hill to the cathedral, a huge building for such a small town, and much more impressive than the cathedral in Cork. Just around the corner, a long and steep terraced street leads back down to the harbour, each house slightly lower than the next, nicknamed the deck of cards. Back down in the harbour, it was too late to visit the Queenstown exhibition on emigration in the train station, so we walked along the seafront for a mile or so for some views out to the many islands in the harbour, one a naval base, another with a fort/prison known as Spike Island. 

As the sun came out, it was time to leave Cobh and return to Cork, pick up my bags and take a bus to Dublin Airport for the next stage of my journey...Latvia!

planxty says:
I am with you on that one, I hate being rushed through museums. It looks interesting though and especially with tyour family connection. Great review.
Posted on: Sep 08, 2017
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Cobh
Cobh
Deck of Cards, Cobh
Deck of Cards, Cobh
One of Cobhs squares
One of Cobh's squares
A monument to the Lusitania
A monument to the Lusitania
Cobh Cathedral
Cobh Cathedral
Deck of cards, Cobh
Deck of cards, Cobh
Cobh
Cobh
The Titanic Experience, Cobh
The Titanic Experience, Cobh
Cobh
photo by: Andy99