Cobh - The Queenstown Story

by Eric Keane - Date: 2008-08-03 - Word Count: 654 Share This!

Take a step back in time and trace the history and legacy of the 2.5 million or so men, women and children who emigrated from Ireland via the historical town of Cobh. They were full of hopes and dreams as they sailed on coffin ships and early steamers, in search of a better way of life. Discover what life was like on board these early emigrant vessels, and of course on the dreaded coffin ships.


Formerly known as Queenstown, the harbour town of Cobh was once described as the 'saddest place in Ireland'. Due to the Great Famine, crop failures and the poor standard of living in Ireland during the 19th Cebtury, the piers of Cobh played host to millions of people leaving Ireland's shores, bound for greater things. It was, in fact, the country's most important port of emigration at that time. It has been estimated that from 1815 to 1970 in excess of 3 million people boarded and left Ireland via Cobh.

Cobh was also the last port of call of the ill fated Titanic as it sailed its maiden voyage to America and on the 7th of May 1915 the Lusitania sank just off the coast of Cork.

The tour…

Via exhibitions and audio visual presentations The Queenstown Story and the mass emigration from Ireland is told in Cobh Heritage Centre. The centre is housed within an old Victorian Railway Station in Cobh. It attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. It's a self-guided tour and you learn about the Great Famine and the important role Cobh harbour played as a port.

Coffin ships…

This exhibition allows visitors to experience what life was like on the coffin ships, the dreadful conditions on board etc., during the 12-week voyage to America. They were known as coffin ships due to the high fatality rate. Bsically as many people as possible were packed on board.

As part of the tour you'll enter a dark room, which has been transformed into a coffin ship. You'll hear the sounds of the hazardous sea and of waves crashing against the boat.


The Titanic is probably the most famous ship in history. Its last stop before it set sail across the Atlantic was at Queenstown (which is now Cobh). During your self guided tour (headphones are available) you can learn about the tragic story of the Titanic and the route taken on its first and last voyage. You can also view a list of the names of those who lost their lives and even take a look at some of the wreckage from the ship. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see a documentary on the Titanic.


Another tragic story is that of the great liner ship, the Lusitania. It was torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7th, 1915, during World War I. It happened just off the Old Head of Kinsale, killing 1,198 on board, 761 were rescued. It was only about 10 minutes off the coast and it sank in a depth of water of 300 feet. You can follow the route taken by the Lusitania from New York on a computerised map. About 150 victims were buried in Cobh, 80 of whom were never identified.

Annie Moore…

Just outside the Heritage Centre overlooking the harbour is the bronze statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers. Annie Moore, a 17 year old girl from Cork, was the first emigrant to be processed through Ellis Island in New York when it opened on January 1st, 1892. You can also see a statue in honour of Annie Moore on Ellis Island in New York Harbour.

Opening times…

The exhibition is open 7 days a week, 9.30am to 6pm, from the 3rd January 2008 to the 22nd December 2008.

Entrance fee…

Adults: EUR 7.10
Children: EUR 4.00
Seniors: EUR 6.00
Students: EUR 6.00
Family: EUR 20.00

How to get there…

From Cork:
Take the N25, - sign posts to Cobh before Carrigtwohill. The Heritage Centre is at Watersedge, next to train station.

Related Tags: ireland, cork, titanic, cork city, cobh, queenstown story, county cork, cobh harbour, lusitania

Eric Keane writes for the Ireland travel and accommodation website

Visit for all you need to know before visiting Cork, like what to see and where to go. You can also book B&Bs, hostels, guesthouses, self catering and">Cork hotels.

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