Cobh's houses have been generally very colourful, but the best known of them are the so-called „Deck of Cards“ houses. They are the houses of a street called „West View“. The 23 almost equal houses were built on 23 levels and each one differs in colour from its neighbouring building. No wonder that they are one of the most often photographed motives in Cobh. Best view can be enjoyed from the western end of Beechmount (where Park View becomes West view), close to the Cathedral. From there, you can see the front and the back of the houses.
This was the highlight of my Cobh visit and something I would like to recommend you to do if you are interested in the Titanic and/or early 20th century Cobh. Michael Martin, almost a local celebrity and the creator of this tour, brings the age of oceam steamliners back to life and gives you an insight into the city in the 1910s. The historian is a real Titanic expert and very commiutted to his tour. Indeed, on that day I was the only one who has prebooked the tour online and he ran it nevertheless.
The tour goes along the former piers of the big shipping company and lasts for around 1 to 1 ½ hours. Michael focuses the story on the 123 passengers that embarqued the Titanic in Cobh, but also draw the bigger picture. It includes also the Lusitania, the Irish emigration and the unveiling of the Titanic Memorial by Millvina Dean, the last Titanic survivor.
You can book the tour online for 9,50 EUR. It includes a discount on the „Titanic Experience“, an exhibition located in the former White Star Line builing as well as a pint of Beamish Stout. Meeting point is in front of the Commodore Hotel, just a short walk away from the train station. The tour runs daily at 1100 and in the summertime also at 2 pm (all data as of early 2013). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Medieval texts mention an Irish monk called Brendan who lived in the 6th century. According to this text called „Navigation Sancti Brendani“ Brendan explored some Islands to the Northwest of Ireland. The descriptions of the several islands can be interpreted as a discovery of Iceland, Greenland and America – around 450 years before the vikings and more than 900 years before Christopher Columbus. However, there are no proofs of his voyage and some of the stories in the „Navigatio Sancti Brendani“ are definitively from the world of phantasies. In 1976, a sailor proved that it was possible to travel to America in a Curragh, the type of ship supposedly used by St. Brendan. Historians speak about the „tradition of St. Brendan“ when it comes to this story as it is still disputed if the voyage ever took place – and if yes then in which way.
St. Brendan is considered to be the patron saint of seamen and divers. As a town associated with ocean steamliners, Cobh doesn't lack a statue commemorating St. Brendan. It is located in the small park in front of Commodore Hotel.
Annie Moore is a personage associated with the Irish emigration to the Americas like few others. On January 1st 1892, she became the 1st person to enter the USA through the new facility at Ellis island which became a synonym for US immigration of that time. Moore and her two younger brothers, who travelled with her as well, are represented on a memorial which is located close to the place from where once the big ships departed. The thoughtful face of Annie and the enthusiastic expressions in the boys' faces symbolize the hope and the sorrows linked to an emigration such as Annie's. The statue was unveiled on February 9th 1993.
The Cunard Line was probably the best-known competitor of the White Star Line and a key player on the North Atlantic. During the big age of ocean steamliners, Cobh was the main port of Irish emigration and every larger shipping company had an office in the town. When the Cunard Line ship „Lusitania“ was sunk in 1915 off Kinsdale, rescue efforts were coordinated from this office while bodies of the victims were brought to the space in front of the office.
Cunard and White Star merged in 1934 and Cobh's Cunard office was moved into the White Star Building. Years later, the building was sold and passed several hands. However, you can still see some details showing the Cunard heritage. Note the beautiful flower patterns. The Cunard Crest, which was located on top of the building for around forty years, is still preserved in the small Cobh City Museum. Until early 2013, it was the local branch of a bank and was put op for sale when the bank closed. Hopefully, the future looks bright for this building which received an architectural award in 1994.
You will get detailled information on the Lusitania, the Cunard line and this building on the Titanic Trail (see separate tip).
In the former building of the White Start Line, a museum called „Titanic Experience“ has been established. It takes you through the story of this infamous ship from the its construction at Harland & Wulff in Belfast to its sinking in the night to April 15th 1912. It looks a little too commerzialized for my taste with shiny panels and multimedia screens. With 9,50 EUR entry fee for an adult (2013), the fee is pretty high for a comparable exhibition in most parts of Europe. In Ireland, it is a little above average, especially compared with the "Queenstown Story" exhibition (7,50 EUR; 2013) with a more serious and more scientific approach. Nevertheless, I would recommend it as I enjoyed it and you would get to see a lot of interesting exhibits and infomation.
The museum focuses on the 123 passengers which embarqued in Cobh. As a museum visitor, you will get the identity of one of those passengers. You will follow his or her way through the building, virtually embark the Titanic and try to get a space on one of the lifeboats. In the second last room you will get some information about the fate of the Titanic. The last one is dedicated to the said passengers where you will find their biographies. There, you will also find out if your alter ego survived. I was Edward Ryan by the way, one of the last male 3rd class passengers to reach a lifeboat.
There is a row of houses in Cobh known as The Deck of Cards. They are built on the hill descending down from the Cathedral to the harbor. They are build on 23 different levels due to the incline. They are all painted different colors and are very beautiful. And yes to me they did resemble a deck of cards.
There is more to Cobh than just a large church and a Heritage Museum. There are also friendly locals to meet. My partner Mark knew his family immigrated from Cobh on the ship the Mauritania. He has done a lot of research on his Irish ancestry. As we strolled through the town we saw a very small bar on a corner called The Mauritania. We felt we just had to drop in for a photo of Mark at the Mauritania. Little did we know that we would meet some really nice folks to hang out with inside. The owner of the bar was a man in his his late 50's. There were two younger men playing darts in the back of the bar. We told the owner about Marks connection to the Mauritania. They started playing old Irish songs and Mark sang along with them. At one point he and my daughter got up to dance to one of the songs. The owner and the two other men pulled me up from my chair and had me singing along with them while Katie and Mark danced. I have a vido of them dancing posted here on this page.
Annie Moore was the very first person to pass through the immigration station at Ellis Island in the United States. She left from Cobh and arrived in New York City. There is also a memorial to her at Ellis Island. I found the memorial quite moving. It stands on the harbor side in Cobh. You can see that her younger brother is pointing with enthusiam towards the harbor and perhaps New York. But Annie is looking over her shoulder with some saddness back towards Cobh and Ireland. I felt this summed up the story of Annie Moore and most Irish American immigrants very well.
In front of the Heritage Center is a endearing statue of Annie Moore and her brothers who were the first immigrants to be processed through Ellis Island on January 1st, 1892 as they entered America. Annie and her brothers sailed for 12 days in steerage leaving Queenstown on December 20th.
There is also a statue of Annie and her brothers on Ellis Island.
The Cobh Heritage Centre walks you through its history, not only is it famous for the port of emmigration but the Titanic made a stop here as well as the doomed Lusitania.
There is also a genealogy research service in the Heritage Center
This was a port stop on a Transatlantic cruise from Miami, Florida. We chugged in here during the night and arrived before dawn. An elderly gentlemen had passed away as we made the five day journey across the Atlantic and the cruise line wanted to transport him off the ship without notice, however our tablemates caught them as they loaded him into a waiting ambulance. What a way to go - on the go!!
Cobh has a thriving Arts Centre , right in the middle of town and open to all. The Sirius Arts Centre takes its name from the paddle steamer Sirius, built in 1838, the first ship to cross the Atlantic from Cobh to New York without a sail. The centre occupies an elegant Italianite building designed by Anthony Salvin and built in 1854 by James Smith Barry for the Cork Royal Yacht Club. The RCYC founded in 1720 is probably the oldest yacht club in the world and though the HQ is no longer at Cobh, the building is now put to even better use as an Arts centre. The Sirius operates a monthly schedule of music, visual art, literary events and occasional theatre. All events are open to the public and the concerts in particular draw large crowds. Photography also is well catered for at the Sirius and in the past year there have been several controversial and cutting edge exhibitions. All events are advertised locally and everybody on the mailing list is sent a monthly schedule of events.
The Titanic trail is a tour which aims to explore (or exploit, depending on your point of view) the connections between the Titanic and Cobh. As everybody knows, Cobh was the last port of call on the Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912. 123 passengers embarked at Cobh, making up the total of 2,206 people on board. Every location which has any connection with the Titanic is visited on this tour and to those with a specific interest in the ship, and indeed to the average visitor, it can be extremely interesting. One of the buildings visited is the Cunard Line offices , now a TSB branch, on East Beach. This building has received an architectural award in 1994 and the photo shows some of the rosette detail, a motif I also noticed in the cathedral.
The Titanic Trail Walking Tours take place everyday all year round and leave from the Commodore Hotel. A complimentary pint of Guinness is served at the end of each tour in one of the local pubs. Tours cost EUR8.50 and last from 60-75 minutes. Children are charged half-price.
Casement Square is one of two large squares in the centre of town. To the rear, the large yellow building with the arch underneath, used to be the town hall and was used as a temporary morgue for some of the victims of the Lusitania disaster in 1915. Today the building is used as a public library and courthouse. I can think of nowhere nicer to sit and browse through some books. The rest of the square is laid out in shops, bars and restaurants and is usually a livelyspot to have a drink or a coffee in.
The nicest way to come back from the centre of town from the cathedral is via West View. West View, also known as 'the deck of cards' is a spectacular street, mildly reminiscent of San Francisco, where houses tumble downward one on top of the other in a remarkable domino effect. Though built in the 1800's the 23 houses are in pristine condition, all painted different colours and mostly with flower-filled window boxes and hanging baskets as well. The effect is magical and walking down West View is great fun, if a little precipitous. What walking back up again is like, we would have to ask a resident but isuspect it's anything but fun. According to local legend, it was running up and down hills just like this one, that honed Cobh-born Somia O'Sullivan's skills as an athlete.
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