This is a picturesque town about three hours by train from Dublin where we spent last weekend. It is pronounced “Cove” because of the Irish language “bh” making a “v” sound (cf. the girl’s name Siobhan, pronounced “Shevawn”). OK, enough philological linguistics.
But a bit more history. The town’s name was changed to Queenstown in 1850 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria but in the 1920’s after independence from the British, the Irish changed it back to Cobh and quite rightly, too. The cheek of these English!
It was as Queenstown that it became known as the last embarkation point for emigrants to the US in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. This was the last part of Ireland that those people would have seen as they departed for a new life, most of them never to return. It was the last port of call for the Titanic as well and the White Star Line building on the Cobh waterfront has been preserved as a Titanic museum so we were able to stand on the very floorboards on which the 130 or so Irish passengers had assembled prior to embarking. Quite a powerful and moving memorial. Each visitor is given a facsimile ticket for an actual passenger with their name and occupation and boarding status (1st, 2nd or 3rd class) in beautiful copperplate writing and at the end of the tour you find out the fate of “your” passenger. Mine, the Rev. Charles Kirkland aged 52, did not survive. More details of the Cobh Titanic connection are at the museum website.
Cobh is quite a small town and is dominated by St Colman’s cathedral which stands on a hill behind the town, as the photos below show.
Those photos were taken on the Sunday morning. It was a different story on Saturday afternoon when we climbed up the hill to the cathedral in what was probably the worst day of weather we have yet experienced in Ireland – a cold, howling gale with bursts of heavy rain, testing every fibre of my kiwi Blunt umbrella kindly given to me by Fiona before leaving home (a brilliant product, by the way, and worth every penny, you will be pleased to know, Fiona). But once inside, we found a grandeur approaching that of the English cathedrals:
The little town itself is quite pretty, so to finish with, a few shots of Cobh and the seafront. A great, relaxing weekend. (Later on Sunday we went into Cork, a 25-minute train ride, but it rained most of the time so we were not able to explore as much as we would have liked and the view through the rain-soaked windows of the sightseeing bus did not allow for photos. We will return at some point.)