Cobh, Country Cork
12.08.2010 - 12.08.2010 15 °C
While reading over my past entries I realized that I never spoke about Cobh other than to mention that it was where Murphy’s and Beamish stout beers were made. Having spent the morning of the 12th at Blarney Castle, we had the afternoon free once we returned to the ship. I had initially booked a second excursion for a walking tour of Cork City, but thankfully I came to my senses and cancelled because two back-to-back excursions would have been tiring. When the busses took us back to the pier my parents and I decided to get some lunch in Cobh, which is the largest island in Cork Harbour. My credit card bill, which arrived this morning (oh, the pain!), tells me we ate at The Quays Restaurant. It’s a charming establishment in a white clapboard house with a terrace right on the pier. Being in a seaside town the menu was heavy on fresh catch of the day fish and seafood, which of course limited my options! Mum and dad say that the seafood chowder was good and Dad’s scallops were delicious…I’ll take their word for it! We accompanied our meal with pints of Murphy’s stout and Guinness; Dad compared the two and declared Guinness the better one. Personally I like Murphy’s better because it’s sweeter and the aftertaste is better, similar to the red ales I like so much.
After lunch mum went back to the ship while Dad and I wandered around Cobh (pronounced Cove). Though technically an island in Cork Harbour, Cobh is linked to the mainland by a railway and many bridges. It has an interesting history dating back to the 17th century and is best known as the main emigration point of the Famine years. Our tour guide to Blarney Castle pointed out the rock walls that lined the streets, which were a famine project. During the great Famine the landowners paid the poor to pick up rocks and build walls for a penny per rock (or per day…unsure). The poor built the walls all the way to Cobh and eventually boarded the emigration ships. There’s a statue in Cobh Harbour of Annie Moore and her brothers; she was the first person to be processed at the Ellis Island immigration center in New York in 1892. It’s a sad history, especially when you add the fact that it was the last port of the Titanic and is where the victims of the Lusitania were brought. Dad and I saw all of the memorials on the pier and in the main streets. There were some guided walks of the “Titanic Trail” for reasonable prices (12€ per adult) and exhibits at The Queenstown Story Heritage Center (Cobh’s name from 1849 to 1922), but Dad and I decided to walk the pier, go visit St. Colman’s Cathedral and take in some fresh air. There’s a promenade with benches, fountains and a restored pavillion; it’s a pretty little pier town and quite picturesque when you see it from across the harbour (or in our case from the ship’s deck!). The cathedral looms over the rows of coloured houses; one street in particular is nicknamed “deck of cards” because the houses are built on a steep slope.
If you ever go to Cobh or the Cork area, the Fota Island Sanctuary is one of the islands in Cork Harbour and I’m told is a great place to visit. Apparently they’re known for their cheetah feeding hour… sounds grisly!
We went back to the ship and up to the 19th aft deck to get the best view of the departure. It seems like all the town of Cobh was lined up to wave us goodbye…I guess a ship bearing 3,200 passengers is good news for the local economy!