Cork’s fine natural harbour is the second largest in the world after Sydney and it has provided the maritime town of Cobh, with a splendid history. From the millions of emigrants who left here on foot of the famine to the Titanic’s visit in 1912, its heritage runs deep.
Cobh has three heritage trails, laid out along blue (Quayside), green (Cathedral) and pink (Holy Ground) routes. Taking the visitor along seafront walks and some wonderfully steep and colourful streets, they work together to tell the fascinating story of this maritime jewel.
Cobh was named Queenstown for a time - after Queen Victoria, who took her first steps on Irish soil here in 1849. It ceased to be a British naval base in 1937, although its hilly streets are still dominated by the stately St. Colman’s Cathedral. The Gothic Revival building dates from 1868 and its granite and limestone architecture, is crowned by a carillon of over 40 bells.
Cobh’s role in the story of Irish emigration is evoked in the waterfront statue of Annie Moore. She left here in 1892, becoming the first person to set foot on Ellis Island in New York.
Sometime later, in 1912, Cobh was the last port of call on Titanic’s maiden voyage and the ill-fated liner is recalled by Cobh’s Titanic Memorial and former White Star Line offices. So intact is the fabric of the town, it’s not hard to imagine the luxury liner at the quays today.
Elsewhere, The Queenstown Story traces Cobh’s heritage at the old railway station and the heritage trails take in John F Kennedy Park, a former residence of Fr Matthew and West View, a dizzyingly steep street known as the Deck of Cards, for its colourful terraced houses.
Cobh is a living history and Cork Harbour welcomes cruise passengers, tourists and day-trippers of all varieties. It serves as a gateway to the riches of the Rebel County.