LOCAL HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY
PAGE LAST UPDATED 04/11/99 17:33
THIS IS WHERE WE ARE!
MAP OF THE GREAT ISLAND
The Great Island is situated
in County Cork in Munster,
COBH - A TOWN STEEPED IN HISTORY
The signs of this town's extensive history can still be seen, the shipping offices, docks which are still in use today and the piers from which the emigrants departed.
The Great Island is situated in the second largest natural harbour in the world - Cork Harbour, which for many centuries has been a safe haven for ships of all kinds. The town of Cobh rises in tiers above the seafront and wherever you stand you will have a panoramic view of one of the most beautiful harbours in these isles.
Known as the Cove of Cork, this little fishing village was virtually unknown until the time of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars which took place from 1792 to 1815. Cork Harbour became an important port for naval and commercial fleets offering safe anchorage, refuelling and recreational facilities. It was said the up to 300 ships were at anchor at one time and one could walk the full length of the Harbour accross these ships.
Queen Victoria visited in 1849 and the town was re-named
Queenstown in her honour. By this time the village had grown to a busy,
cosmopolitian port. The harbour's important strategic position was evident with
naval and commercial activity at its height.
Many convicts were transported from the harbour on tall ships to Australia and emigrants boarded the "coffin ships" for the new world of America. About 2 million people emigrated from Queenstown from 1848, this made it the single most important port of emigration.
Transalantic liners continued to call to Queenstown, later to be re-named Cobh, bringing many famous visitors and also taking the emigrants to a new life abroad. Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic and the Lusitania was also a frequent visitor. A number of victims and survivors of the sinking of this liner were brought to Cobh. This service ceased for a number of years, but has been revived and the great liners have returned once again.
PLACES TO VISIT ON GREAT ISLAND
ST. COLMAN'S CATHEDRAL
This beautiful Neo-Gothic Cathedral stands in the centre of the town on a hill overlooking the harbour. It acts as a focal point for travellers coming by sea, air or road. The Cathedral is the first and last building many emigrants saw on their way to a new life in the New World. The foundation stome was laid in 1868 and the Cathedral was completed in 1916. The funding for this building came in the main from local contributions and artisans and craftsmen came from all over the world to create this place of worship which is world reowned. The Cathedral boasts a superb 49 Bell Carillon and people come from all over the world to play and listen to the beautiful sounds created by this wonderful instrument.
THE OLD YACHT CLUB
This building was once the centre of Queenstown society gatherings as it was the home of the Royal Cork Yacht Club which was founded in 1720 and is reputed to be the oldest Yacht Club in the World. The building fell into dis-repair but has been beautifully restored by the Sirius Commemoration Trust. It now houses a thriving Arts Centre where art exhibitions, concerts and many social events are held. There is also an apartment attached to the building where "artists in residence" come from all over the world to stay and create in this wonderful atmosphere. The Cobh & Harbour Chamber of Commerce have their Office here as well as the Cobh Tourist Office which caters for all your visitor needs and offers a comprehensive information service for tourists and locals alike.
Housed in the former Scots Church building, this museum is full of natural charm and character. There is a wide ranging exhibition of historical memorabilia on display and a friendly staff to answer any queries. This unique collection is a capsule of life on the Great Island throughout the ages and is well worth a visit.
COBH LIBRARY BUILDING
This building once housed the Market Building and
was the scene of immense grief following the sinking of the Lusitania. It was here
that the bodies of those who died were laid out for identification. In happier times
it served as the marketplace for the Great Island. Today, the ground section to the
left houses the Court House and this section is used for many civic occasions and many
national and international dignatries have been accorded civic receptions here. To
the right we have the Cobh Library which boasts a huge selection of books for both
pleasure reading and research. There is also a photographic exhibition of the making
of the Granada Movie about the Lusitania which was shot in Cobh a number of years ago.
This venue is also used for meetings, exhibitions and a very successful Writers
Circle meet here regularly.
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