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Lying 24km (15 miles) east of Cork City, the harbor town of Cobh (pronounced Cove, meaning "haven" in Irish), was once Ireland's chief port of emigration, with three or four transatlantic liners calling each week. For thousands of Irish emigrants, particularly during the famine years and in the early part of the 20th century, Cobh was the last bit of Ireland they ever saw. It was also the last port of call for the Belfast-built RMS Titanic before it sank spectacularly in April 1912. Cobh is still a heavily industrialized port.

The county's major coastal town is Youghal (pronounced Yawl), near the Waterford border. A leading beach resort and fishing port, Youghal is loosely associated with Sir Walter Raleigh, who was once the mayor and is said to have planted Ireland's first potatoes here. From a tourist's-eye view, present-day Youghal is a moderately attractive, congested town with a grand stretch of beach just beyond the center.