The town of Passage West can legitimately claim to be the birthplace of Ireland's steamship industry. The first steamship to be built in Ireland was the ‘City of Cork’, which was launched in 1815 at the actual site where the town’s maritime museum is now located. More than 200 years on, the museum is keeping alive the memory of this and other significant events, while also paying tribute to the generations of people from all walks of life that played such an important role in the maritime history of the town.
Located less than 15km from Cork City centre the museum has many historic items on display. These include handcrafted models and rare maritime instruments. Among the striking range of artefacts also currently exhibited is a valuable model of the historic ‘Helga’ (which was involved in the shelling of Liberty Hall during the 1916 Rising) currently on loan from the Port of Cork. Also on display is a model of the SS Sirius, which made history when, under the command of local man Captain Richard Roberts, left the harbour town in 1838 to become the first ship to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam power.
Maritime history is integral to the community of Passage West. It was the original location for the Port of Cork until the late 1800s and predates Belfast as the home of Ireland’s steamship industry.
The wide variety of rare artefacts and archival material on display at Passage West Maritime Museum vividly demonstrate the lower harbour area’s proud heritage in boat building and repair, while also focusing on its association with significant events in maritime and military history.