COBH, Ireland -- Of the 6 million people who emigrated from Ireland
between 1848 and 1950, 2.5 million of them sailed from Cobh.
Pronounced "cove," the city sits on Great Island, one of the
three islands in Cork Harbor that are linked by causeways.
In many ways Cobh is to the Irish what Ellis Island is to
Americans, except the Irish were departing instead of arriving.
The railway station where most of the men and women arrived
before setting off for a new life has been renovated to reflect the
style of the turn-of-the-century era.
The station is home to the Cobh Heritage Center, which features
a permanent exhibit, "Cobh, the Queenstown Story."
The exhibit outlines the role Cobh played in Irish emigration,
the deportation of convicts and the sad stories of the Titanic and
Cobh was rechristened Queenstown after a visit from Queen
Victoria in 1849. It reverted to its original name in 1921.
The town, with its Victorian seafront and rows of steeply
terraced houses, has one of the world's largest natural harbors,
which contributed to Cobh's rise as a prominent naval base in the
18th century and later to its development as a major port for
merchant shipping and luxury passenger liners.
The famine years of 1844-48 triggered a mass emigration, and the
poor headed for the U.S., Canada and Australia.
The center's exhibition presents a collection of photographs,
letters and passenger lists that trace the stories of emigrants on
their way to begin new lives in foreign lands.
Audiovisual displays presented on large video screens re-create
the horrifying transatlantic journeys made by emigrants in cramped,
The exhibit also highlights the journeys of the 40,000 or so
convicts who were sent to Australian penal colonies on so-called
These ships earned their foreboding name because so many
passengers died before the overcrowded and disease-infested vessels
arrived at their destination.
Reconstructed cabins take visitors from the worst conditions
aboard seagoing vessels to the opulent surroundings found aboard
the luxury liners of the time.
A section of the museum is dedicated to one of those liners, the
Titanic, which made its last stop in Cobh before setting off on its
doomed Atlantic crossing in 1912.
Three years after the Titanic disaster, the Lusitania was
torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine just off Kinsale,
southwest of Cobh.
Many of the survivors, as well as the casualties, were brought
here after the attack.
Visitors are taken through the ordeal in re-created hotel
lobbies and a hospital where the injured lie in wait for medical
Cobh Heritage Center
Phone: (011) 353 21 813-595