Monday, 19 March 2012

Cobh - Last Stop of the Titanic

A pretty fishing and harbour town, the most impressive sight on the approach to Cobh is the 19th century Gothic St Colman’s Cathedral which sits on the hill overlooking the harbour. Situated on the Great Island near Cork, the harbour town of Cobh has links with many famous ships, including the ill-fated Titanic.

Developed during the eighteenth century, when the natural harbour was used to assemble the fleets during the Napoleonic wars, Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’) became a health resort during Victorian times. In honour of Queen Victoria’s visit to the town in 1849, Cobh was renamed Queenstown and thus it remained until it reverted to its Irish name in 1920.

Cobh was in an ideal position for Irish emigrants who wanted to escape their poverty and sail to the new world across the Atlantic, in hope of a better life in America. The terrible potato famines between 1845 and the 1851 left many unable to survive and, during this period, over 1,500,000 Irish people emigrated to America. It was also one of the great ports for transatlantic liners at the turn of the 20th century.

One hundred and twenty three people boarded the Titanic at Cobh (Queenstown) on 11th April 1912. The story is told of a young priest, Father Frank Browne, who had sailed on the ship from Southampton. On reaching Cobh, his Bishop told him he was now to leave the ship. Just three days later, as it sailed in the Atlantic, the Titanic struck an iceberg shortly before midnight. Two hours later, the ship had sunk with the teribble loss of 1500 lives.

Housed in the restored Victorian railway station, the Cobh Heritage Centre tells the Queenstown Story, an excellent multi-media depiction of the history of Cobh, the Irish emigration from the town, and the Titanic. There is now a geneology service available, which also offers an online facility.

15th April 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.



Myra Duffy said...

So many stories -I'm looking forward to the new TV version.It's interesting that,although everyone knows the story(and how it ends)there is a continuing fascination with it.

Gwen Kirkwood said...

Yet another interesting blog, Romy. One day I hope you will assemble these, with the photos, into a book.

Bill Kirton said...

Good idea, Gwen. Your pieces are always so readable, Rosemary. Surely the priest deserves to feature in a wider story - or had you already thought of that?

Joan Fleming said...

It's such an interesting little place to visit in its own right, but its connection with the Titanic makes it all the more fascinating.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Absolutely, Myra - I'm looking forward to hearing more too!

That's kind, thank you, Gwen! Hadn't thought of that.

Thanks, Bill - I had wondered about him. But feel free to use him yourself if have an idea!

It definitely does add to the attraction, Joan!

Jude Johnson said...

Lovely town and a delightful piece about it, Romy. I'll have to check my research files to see if I have anyone listed from Queenstown; I have a number of pages of the Titanic passenger registry that were a free download from a number of years ago. Though some may say the story's been told from every angle, I think there are a myriad more left to tell.

Love this blog, my friend!

Vikki said...

Interesting - I didn't know anything about this. I like the look of the cathedral!

Unknown said...

What a picture perfect place, Romy.

January Bain said...

Fascinating stuff! Thanks Rosemary!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for that comment, Jude. As you say, a lot more to tell about the tradegy.

It's very picturesque, Vikki!

Thanks for commenting, Ute!

Thanks for visiting, January!

Linda Kage said...

Wow, I can't believe it's almost been 100 years. The church in Cobh is quite impressive. I feel like I get to travel the world every time I visit your blog and see new interesting places! Thank you for the pictures.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Linda - thanks for that lovely comment!