Maritime Heritage of Cobh

Cobh, pronounced Cove, situated in Cork Harbour, has the second largest natural harbour in the world and is the largest in Europe.

When Queen Victoria visited Ireland for the first time in 1849 it was at Cove (which it was then known as) she first stepped ashore. She was only in Cove for a very short time and she “acquiesced” to the renaming of the town to Queenstown in honour of her visit. The town was renamed Queenstown from then and all shipping lines would advertise the town as “Queenstown” in their advertising and posters.

Following Irish Independence from Britain in 1920, the town was renamed Cobh, which is also pronounced as Cove.

Cobh’s history is entwined with great ships, majestic ocean liners and adventurous tales of the sea. As Ireland’s most strategic port of call for transatlantic liners, it became the main port of emigration from Ireland. The Statue outside the Cobh Heritage Centre shows Annie Moore and her two brothers. She was only 15 when she travelled to America and by a flip of fate became the first person to be processed through the newly opened Ellis Island Immigration Centre in New York. A gentleman before her stepped back to allow her through, not realising that the Mayor and Press were all waiting to publicize this historic occasion.

Some Cobh buildings along the main front were built with ballast bricks. These bricks would be left behind in Cove after the ships were able to fill their cargo areas fully. They were of a special brown, beige colour, so if you see any of them in a building you will know they may have sailed the ocean.

Many famous ships and ocean liners came to Cobh. From the age of Sail through to the great age of Steam and into the present age of Diesel. These included the paddle steamer ‘Sirius’, which in 1838 became the first ever ship to cross the Atlantic from this Harbour to New York without the aid of sail. The Cunard Ocean Liner Lusitania, which was torpedoed in May 1915, with the loss of 1198 lives with her famous “Blue Ribband” winner sister ship, Mauretania, were weekly regulars.

Cobh, was the last port of call for RMS Titanic which anchored at the mouth of the harbour on April 11th 1912. One hundred and twenty three passengers left from Cobh on the Titanic.