The final section of the Queenstown Story is definitely upbeat and a welcome change in tone from all the previous doom and gloom. Now we have a recreated deck to stroll on, posters of liners to feast our eyes on, a replica of a cabin to ooh and aah over and even a ship's cinema. The little cinema holds about 12 people at a time and presents a fast-paced pathe-news style broadcast of significant moments in Cobh. There is footage of the Irish President De Valera and Jack Doyle, the legendary boxer. Passengers and VIPs embarking and disembarking make it veryeasy to imagine the permanent buzz that existed when this town was a port of call for transatlantic liners.
This is where I want to leave this virtual tour of Cobh, with happy memories of the glory days of a beautiful and vibrant town.
The Queenstown Story is open seven days, with last admission at 5.00pm. Cost is EUR8.00 but given the wealth of information and amount of interactive exhibits, it is definitely worth the money.
Fota House, Gardens and Wildlife Park is one of East Cork's principal visitor attractions. While well worth visiting on their own behalf, it's possible to combine a visit here with your trip to Cobh for no extra bother or expense. Fota has its own pretty little station and you can get off here either on the way to or on the way back from Cobh. Entrance to the Wildlife Park is possible from the railway station but it's about a 12 minute walk to get to the house and gardens. The arboretum at Fota is justly famous and an absolute joy to wander around. It's always been a haven of peace and tranquility but on my most recent visit I was thrilled to find a new enticement to chilling out. This is the Reflective Circle - a circle of 5 redwood chairs, sculpted from a nearby fallen stump. You are invited to sit in this harmonious circle and contemplate nature and the beauty all around. Say no more - I'm busy meditating!
I've deliberately put the Queenstown Story under the 'off the beaten track section' of this travel page because I think it overshadows everything else in Cobh and leaves people with images of death and starvation and all-round misery. In this page I have striven to describe Cobh in terms of the town it is today not to wallow only in the good and bad nostalgia associated with it's many memorials to death, emigration, drowning, starvation and imprisonment.
Having said that, there is no doubt that The Queenstown Story is an absolutely brilliant Heritage Centre and it really delivers on its promises. If you pay only a cursory amount of attention you will come away a lot wiser about the course of Irish history and if you are prepared to actually read and pay close attention to the exhibits, you will find yourself incredibly well-informed on a whole range of topics. The first section of the story deals with emigration and the dreadful conditions of the so-called 'coffin'ships. Dramatic sound effects and life size figures help to recreate the horror of those forced by starvation to emigrate but it also illustrates the dreams and hopes of those who thought they were going to the land of full and plenty.
The third section of the Queenstown Story deals in great depth with the sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania. A movie recreates the excitement and expectation of the emigrants waiting in Cobh for the arrival of the Titanic. A whole wall of memorabilia displays photographs and items like menus from the diningroom of the ship. Passenger lists are recreated along with the inevitable asterisks to denote those drowned and those saved. Newspaper Headlines and extracts from newsclips are played and the atmosphere of shock and growing horror as the news filtered in, is realistically portrayed. Likewise, the details of the demise of the Lusitania are faithfully charted and many many stories about the hunt for survivors by desperate relatives coming to Cobh. Anybody with even a passing interest in these topics will find this interesting, to the many who can't get enough on the subject, this will be completely fascinating. By the way, to anybody expecting to hear the theme song from the movie 'Titanic', I am glad to report that this is a Celine-Dion-free zone.
Transportation is a euphemism for conviction and sentencing to imprisonment in the colonies, principally Australia. If conditions on the 'coffin' ships were bad, they were nothing compared to the conditions on these prison ships where thousands of Irish, on the flimsiest of pretexts, were incarcerated in the most brutal manner imaginable. As well as the hazards brought about by starvation and poor hygiene, prisoners were routinely treated with such physical barbarity that many never survived the journey. Those that did survive took their chances in Australia and amazingly, many did well and made a new life for themselves. One of the more interesting exhibits in this section of the story is the one that deals with female emigration. By the 1840's in Australia there were two men to every women in urban Australia, eight to one in the countryside. To counteract this the government set up schemes which resulted in more than 4,000 Irish workhouse girls being sent as domestic servants to Australia.
Yacht Club Quay, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Good for: Couples
We stayed here last year vitually to the day and a lot of work has been done to an already lovely...more
Westbourne Place, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business