Be an elegant Aristocratic Traveller boarding the Lusitania or Mauretania in what became known as the “Golden Age of Ocean Liners”. These Ocean Liners stopped in Cobh (then known as Queenstown) on a weekly basis on their journey between England and America. The first class passengers enjoyed grand, deluxe service and facilities as good as any top class hotel. The Regal Suite on board the Lusitania would only set one of these travellers back $4,000.00 for a one-way trip! (In comparison, the average working man was earning $20.00 per week!).
Be the Captain or First Officer of one of these ocean liners, navigating from the bridge and steaming safely and speedily from Cork Harbour, out beyond the Spit and Roches Point Light House on the final journey to America. This was the age of steam and iron and the age of competition between Captains and Officers of the various Shipping Line Companies that operated in Cobh for the coveted “Blue Ribband” award. Indeed, this may have been one of the reasons why the Titanic was going so fast when she hit the iceberg as she was hoping to win over the “Blue Ribband”. The Captain of the RMS Mauretania was in charge of the world’s largest ship until the launch of the RMS Olympic in 1911 and she was the fastest until the launch of the Bremen in 1929. The RMS Mauretania was a favourite among her passengers. Like her sister ship, the Lusitania, she made weekly visits to Cobh (or then known as Queenstown).
The Mauretania captured the “Blue Ribband” for the fastest transatlantic crossing in 1909 and held the speed record for 20 years. No other ship was to attain such figures whilst remaining in service.
Between 1830 and 1930 nine million emigrants sailed from Liverpool for “New World” countries – America, Canada and Australia. 1,250,000.00 Irish left Ireland between 1845 and 1851 because of the potato famine. These 3rd Class passengers (or also known as “Steerage”) would be contained in Spartan accommodation and obviously designed for heavy use and easy upkeep. They would be surrounded by exposed bulkheads and rivets, stark white walls and brightly lit passages. The 3rd class cabins were small and deep within the ship and metal bunks with only one metal wash hand basin for all in the cabin. Access to the open decks was restricted to 1st and 2nd class passengers.
Edwardian Ireland. This was a period of social change and intellectual brilliance. It was a period of extreme nationalism, marked by sustained agitation for the repeal of the Act of Union. A forward, revolutionary woman who comes to mind here is Countess Markievicz (1868-1927). She was born Constance Gore-Booth of Anglo-Irish stock, her family estate being at Lissadell House. Constance Georgine Markievicz was an Irish Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. In December, 1918, she was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons.
Piracy on the high seas. See the world! Rob, pillage, plunder and target the bountiful ships of the East Cobh Trading Company. Profit sharing available. Signing bonus paid in gold doubloons. Generous rations and rum. Don’t be shanghai’d in Cobh. Sign up today and join with CAPTAIN Jack Farrell and Sea Pirate Queen Grace (Grainne) O’Malley in the treasures to be pirated in this harbour area. Sea Pirate Queen Grainne was the most famous pirate of the 16th Century. Her fame became so great that Queen Elizabeth 1 summoned her to London in order to meet her. Grainne didn’t speak English and Elizabeth 1 didn’t speak Irish so they had to converse in Latin.
Steamed in Cobh! Be a Steam Punk. Be a passenger on a Steam Packet Ocean Liner… This is Victorian Science Fiction. Age of steam and Iron. A Steam Punker is an Adventurer, Explorer, Aviator of either a bi-plane or Zeppelin, an Air Pirate or a Philosopher, Lady Socialite or a major reformer or suffragette! The first steamship to sail from Ireland to England was in 1821 and the first steamship to cross the Atlantic was the Sirius in 1838 which left from right here in Cork Harbour on her maiden voyage. Commercially, Steam started to replace sail on the Atlantic route from the 1860’s. To give you an idea of how big steam was – the Lusitania in her Golden Age required 6,000.00 tons of coal (this was 1,000.00 tons a day). Her steam turbines required 65,000.00 gallons of water per minute for cooling purposes.
Nellie Cashman hailed from Midleton (just east of the Great Island and Cobh). She made a fortune providing “bed, board and booze” to the gold and silver miners of Tombstone, Arizona and later in the Yukon.
Lola Montez (nee Eliza Rosanna Gilbert from Sligo). She was one of the most sought after courtesans of her era. She was famous for her “Tarantula Dance” in which the discovery of a spider in her corset would necessitate the removing of much of her clothing!
Belinda Mulrooney – the “Queen of the Klondike” – she sold hot water bottles to freezing miners and built a luxurious hotel from her profits. While she worked the bar she was able to buy a number of highly profitable mines by listening to the gossip of inebriated miners!
Not forgetting some notorious gun slingers to leave – more than likely from Cobh, onwards to the Wild West. William McCarty – also known as Billy the Kid or Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan who was a member of the infamous Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid Wild Bunch.
Oscar Wilde made a tour of the capitals of the West to lecture the locals on the decorative arts. He was a big hit with the great unwashed, who were more impressed with his drinking prowess in the saloons than his oral verbiage!