Cobh, named Queenstown between , has been long associated with the age of ocean steamliners and the Irish emigration of the late 19th and early 20th century. It was in this time that the city was named Queenstown after becoming the first Irish town to be visited by Queen Victoria. Therefore, Cobh's history comes back to life in an exhibition called „Queenstown Story“. In contrast to the Titanic Walk and the Titanic experience, the emphasis is not laid on the ship catastrophies of the early 20th century but on Irish emigration and the social circumstances leading to it. While the age of big passenger steamliners is shown here as well, the focus does not lie on the accident but on showing the luxury of the early 20th century ships in comparison to the poorness from which parts of the Irish society fled.
The exhibition nowadays occupies the largest part of the Victorian train station. You can spend easily 1 ½ hours in the exhibition, add or take some time depending on your interest in this topic. If you want to serach through their Genealogy databases, you should plan in some more time of course. Entry fee for an adult was 7,50 EUR (2013) which is a little less than Irish average for an attraction of this quality. It has much more to offer and has a more scientific approach than the „Titanic Experience“ (which nevertheless has its own qualities). Highly recommended!
Cobh's Heritage Centre is next door to the railway station at the water's edge. There is a large open cafe/restaurant and a well done Museum about Cobh's emigrants.
For 6 Euros you can see and hear what it was like to spend weeks as a steerage passenger in a dark ship's hold, or how dangerous it was to be a sailor on a tall ship.
The exhibition is really in two halves, the first is the dark, noisy bit, with the sounds of excited passengers and crashng waves; the second part is more of your normal museum, with a small section about the Titanic and lots of information about the luxury cruise liners of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first half of the exhibition is very good. The sound effects are very well done, changing as you walk around the displays. And I really liked the early black & white film on board a massive tall-sail ship, waves washing on the deck and crew hanging on to the sails!!
The restaurant cafe is pleasant too. Set in the old railway station, nice and bright with plenty of tables. It has a lot of the old signs and furniture from the original Cobh station.
The Queenstown Story is a rather good museum housed in one end of the railway station.
The other end is still used for the piddly little trains that still use the line (see other tip)
At only 5 Euro a head, and open all year the exhibition looks at the development of the port as the main emigration point for up to about 3 million Irish people.
Many of course never saw their homeland again. Others return after several generations and try to seek out the relatives, often armed with little more than garbled and useless information gleened from the family ; 'O'Conner, Mayo' will not get you very far.
But I digress, the museum has several highlights, including information on the 'Titanic' which called here on it's way to it's fate and re-creations of rooms from the 'age of the luxury liners'
If you entered Cobh by train the very first thing you'll find is The Queenstown Story, an excellent multi media show illustrating Cobh's illustrious maritime history. Relive the horrors onboard a convict ship in the early 19th century. Experience the living conditions of more than 2.5 million people that went to emigrate via Cobh between 1848-1950. Watch footage of the bombing of The Lusitania. Marvel at the grandiose designs for The Titanic. Highly recommended.
The Museum is open daily. Tickets are €5.
Outside the railway station you will see a small statue dedicated to Annie Moore and her two brothers. She was the first emigrant ever to be processed in Ellis Island and her statue must be without a doubt the single most photographed item in town.
Follow the street along the waterfront down to the right as you face the harbour. You come to a building that houses the Queenstown Story, the story of Cobh, the Irish immigrant expericent and the connection with the immense passenger liners, including the Lusitania and the Titanic.
There's a statue outside the exhibit building of a woman named Anne Moore with her two brothers. In 1892, on January 1, she was the first immigrant processed through the brand new facility on Ellis Island, New York.
There are also some craft and gift shops in the building and a cafe.
The exhibits are set up in three eras. The first focuses on the convict transports and the second, the era of and explores the conditions on board. In the middle of the 19th c. the potato famine drove emigration into the millions. Between emigration and death, Ireland's population halved during the course of just a few decades.
The beginning of the 20th c. led into the steam liner era for both emigration and transatlantic transport for business, holiday etc. Many liners called at Queenstown as their last port before the crossing. As I mentioned, the Titanic and Lusitania stopped here. The Lusitania was torpedoed by German U-boats in 1915 just 30 miles off the coast. There were artifacts, passenger and supply lists, posters, photographs and video exhibits. There were reconstructions of state rooms and lots of information printed on display boards.
If you visit Cobh and only get to see one thing, this should be it! The Queenstown Story is a museum which nicely presents the rich history of Cobh. There are displays on the Titanic,the Lusitania,the potato famine,Irish emmigration, the cruise ships, the coffin ships, and the convict ships . It is extremely interesting.
Admission is 5 euros Please check the website for admission hours.