The small waterfront town of Cobh (pronounced Cove), in Co. Cork, might come up in your web searches for a variety of reasons. The town is probably best know for it’s Titanic connection – it was the last port of call before the tragic ship set sail for the New World in 1912. You also might find yourself reading about Cobh if you’re looking for beautiful Irish cathedrals, successful Irish sports personalities, where to catch a cruise liner, details about the first passenger to be processed through Ellis Island in New York, or major departure points for Irish emigrants to the United States during the famine years of the mid 1800′s. Given it’s relatively small size you could argue that Cobh has had a disproportionately large impact on the world. At least on the New World anyway.
St. Colman’s Cathedral
As you drive into the center of town, you won’t be able to help but notice the monster of a cathedral just above the small street you’re on. Whether it be a quick spin up the hill in your car, or a steep hike on foot, you won’t be disappointed when you get to the cathedral. It’s a sight to behold from below, or from out on the water, but inside, as well as up close, it is equally if not more impressive. The cathedral took a staggering 47 years to build, starting in 1868, and has received upgrades over the years including the addition of it’s 42 bells in 1916.
The Titanic Experience
Cobh will be forever associated with the tragic events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Titanic made it’s last stop in Cobh before setting sail across the Atlantic, and this is the place where the last passengers boarded – 123 of them to be exact. The Titanic Experience is a permanent visitor attraction in the town, located in the original offices of The White Star Line. You can explore the official Titanic Experience website for anything related to the facility/tour, and I definitely suggest you take a peek at Bob and Jean’s personal account of their visit to this relatively new Irish tourist attraction.
If visiting old prisons is your thing then I’m sure you’ve heard of Kilmainham Gaol and the Cork City Gaol – both well worth a visit, as is a trip across the water from Cobh to Spike Island. Over the years Spike has played host to a variety of institutions including a monastery, a fortress and a prison, and these days it is open to the public as a visitor attraction. You’ll have to get on a boat to get over to Spike Island. You can find tour details, prices etc on the Spike Island website. Also, Neil from Time Travel Ireland, who describes Spike as an “utterly fascinating place to visit”, was over for a visit recently. You might want to read what he had to say.
Fota Wildlife Park
I’ve mentioned Fota in the past on the website, so excuse me if I’m repeating myself. It’s just that, of all the zoos and wildlife parks I’ve visited, Fota is my own personal favorite. You’ll pass Fota on the main Cork road just a few miles before you enter Cobh. You can easily spend a whole day here, especially if you have little kids with you. There’s a variety of animals to enjoy, many of which wander around freely, giving you a chance to get up really close with them.
Also worth a mention
The Titanic Trail – a guided walking tour of the town of Cobh
The Cobh Museum – check their website for the most up to date info on exhibitions.
The Cobh Road Train – a Thomas the tank engine type train, that takes you on a tour around the town.
The Annie Moore statue – a commemoration to the first immigrant to be processed through Ellis Island.
Fota House and Gardens – a beautiful garden setting featuring some rare and exotic plants.
For those of you with a car, Cobh is just a quick spin down from Cork city center. It’ll take you about 25/30 minutes without traffic. If you want to leave the car behind, then you can hop on the commuter train from Kent station, located just a few minutes walk from Cork’s main shopping streets. It’s an enjoyable ride, and quite scenic in places.