Cobh Tourism has entered Cobh into the Fáilte Ireland Tourism Towns
competition and is one of 45 towns that can share in the €20,000 prize
Being asked to paint a picture of a town, what is special about it and
how it is different from other towns in Ireland in 600 words isn’t
The difference that sets a town apart, the geographical location,
history and culture and identity are ultimately what visitors remember
and reminisce about. In essence we were asked to paint a picture of
Cobh as if it is being recounted by a visitor telling their friends
about the wonderful time they spent in Ireland.
Further sections of the submission outline in detail all that there is
to see and do in our town and how the local community is going the
extra mile to enhance the appeal to tourists.
This is how our virtual visitor described their visit to historic, beautiful and welcoming Cobh.
The memories of a visit to Cobh (pronounced Cove, not Cobe) will stay
with me forever. Gaily painted houses are in places stacked up along
the hillside from the shores of Cork Harbour, elsewhere neat terraces
run east to west. Stately Victorian houses perch on the hillsides
while the majestic St. Colman’s Cathedral stands dramatically above
the town. Its magnificent spire reaches for the sky by day and the
stars by night as subtle and haunting floodlighting accentuate its
It was the coming of the railway over 150 years ago and transatlantic
liners carrying millions of people from Ireland through this major
port of emigration that made Cobh prosperous. From Cork city to Cobh
is just a 25 minute journey by rail or by road.
There are lots of things to see and do here: the visit of the Titanic,
the emigration of so many, the harbour, its military history and its
own “Alcatraz” island see to that. The streetscape has changed little
in over 100 years. While sampling the Cork brewed stout, Murphy’s I
think, in view of the crumbling pier from where the Titanic’s last
passengers boarded tenders I was transported back over 100 years –
sensing the excitement yet palpable sadness of those about to sail to
a new life on the largest, most beautiful ship in the world.
The heart wrenching story of the torpedoing of the Lusitania as it
approached Cobh deeply affected me. Many victims lie in the serene Old
Church graveyard just outside the town with 11,000 other souls. Three
large boulders mark their graves. A man told me how the locals
provided comfort to those who had lost everything, about the coffins
with only numbers on their lids and of the distraught mother
scratching in the clay of a newly filled grave, looking for her baby!
The people still adore Cobh born running legend Sonia O’Sullivan and
the photographs of Cobh’s most famous son Jack Doyle, boxer,
entertainer and larrikin adorn the walls of the Commodore Hotel.
The harbour was a hive of activity with yachts and teenagers in rowing
boats taking my eye away from the slag heaps on the horizon left by a
once busy steel plant. Nearby the dockyard that provided thousands of
families with their livelihood is silent apart from the seagull’s cry,
its jobs long gone. Hospitality and tourism are providing much needed
jobs. Despite Ireland’s economic woes the locals still seem to have a
sense of fun, especially in the pubs.
As evening fell I walked along the now quieter town, admiring the
colourful flower displays, good cheer emanating from the abundant
restaurants, bars and cafés. An area known as the Holy Ground – in its
heyday it catered for the needs of sailors – has views to where
Titanic lay at anchor in 1912. Insights into the town’s history are
everywhere – interesting signs, plaques and memorials, but even more
interesting are the people and the stories that they are eager to
share. It seems that everyone here wants to welcome the visitor and
find out a little about you, not in that nosey way, but in a curious
good natured homely way.
Dinner was amazing; clearly the fishing is excellent right outside the
window in what the locals describe as the second largest natural
harbour in the world.
Large cruise ships now bring passengers into Cobh as the great ocean
liners once brought them away. And so to my abiding memory of this
pretty, colourful and friendly seaport on the south coast of Ireland.
A majestic Cruise liner slipping away from the dock, a brass band
playing on the quay, ladies in period costumes gathered to wave
goodbye and some locals on the hillsides waving white handkerchiefs as
a fond farewell. As the ship’s horn bellowed I thought of the many
thousands for whom the last glimpse of their native land was the same
as the passengers on deck were having now.