A Day in Cobh

If you’re a foreigner with an Irish surname, this bustling seaside town could be more important to you than you realize. Cobh (pronounced cove, meaning “haven”) used to be called Queenstown, and it was once Ireland’s chief port of emigration. For thousands of Irish emigrants, particularly during the Famine years and in the early 20th century, Cobh was the last bit of Ireland they ever saw. It was also the last port of call for the RMS Titanic before it sank in April 1912. That story is expertly told at Cobh: The Queenstown Story (Deepwater Quay; www.cobhheritage.com; 021/481-3591). Part of the Cobh Heritage Centre, the exhibition is open from May to October daily from 9:30am to 6pm; and November to April Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 5pm, and Sunday and public holidays 11am to 5pm Last admission is 1 hour before closing. Tickets cost €10 adults, €8 seniors and students, €5 children, and €25 families.

A short walk from the Cobh Heritage Center, the Lusitania Memorial (Casement Sq.) commemorates the British luxury liner sunk just off the Cork coast by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915, killing 1,198 passengers. Queenstown was the base for the heroic Irish rescue efforts that saved 764 lives. Across Casement Square from the memorial, the Titanic Experience (www.titanicexperiencecobh.ie; 021/481-4412) is more of a themed attraction than a museum—it’s just a few re-created rooms from the ship and a series of exhibits about the ill-fated voyage, emptying into a very busy gift shop. From April to September it’s open daily from 9am to 6pm, with tours every 15 minutes; from October to March the opening times are 10am to 5:30pm, tours every 30 minutes. The last tour starts 45 minutes before closing. Entry costs €10 adults, €8 seniors and students, €7 children 4 to 16, and €20 to €31 families.

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Frankly, your time would be better spent climbing the hill to the handsome neo-Gothic St. Colman’s Cathedral (www.cobhcathedralparish.ie; 021/481-3222). Started in 1868, the cathedral was the country’s most expensive religious building of its time. The largest of its 47 bells weighs 3[bf]1/2 tons, and the organ has nearly 2,500 pipes. The interior is vast and ornate, including a beautiful nave and precipitously high chancel arch. It is also a popular venue for concerts and recitals.

If you want to discover more about Cobh’s role in the Titanic story, an hour-long walking tour visits several related sites, putting it all into the context of the town’s maritime history. In truth, this is a general historical tour of the town with just a couple of Titanic connections, but it’s informative nonetheless. The tour departs from the Commodore Hotel, 4 Westbourne Place, at 11am and 2pm daily. (From Oct–March, the tour only runs if there are pre-bookings.) It costs €12.50 adults, €5 children age 11 and under (plus a £1.50 booking fee). For bookings, call 021/481-5211 or visit www.titanic.ie.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.