On the southern coast of Great Island, with extensive views of Cork Harbour, COBH (pronounced “cove”) makes a great escape from the city on a fine day. This historic and unpretentious resort, clinging onto a steep, south-facing slope, sports a stony beach, a promenade with a bandstand and gaily painted rows of Victorian hotels and houses. Much of the tourist traffic comes now from the dozens of huge cruise-liners that dock here every year, continuing a long tradition for this fine, natural harbour: Cobh was a port of call for the Sirius, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, in 1838, and for the Titanic on her disastrous maiden voyage in 1912. The port was also a major supply-depot during the American and Napoleonic wars, and became Ireland’s main point of emigration after the Great Famine. This long and often tragic seafaring history is vividly detailed at the Queenstown Story, a heritage centre in the former Victorian train station on the seafront (the town was renamed Queenstown after a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849, but its old name was restored after Independence). If your appetite for salty tales and memorabilia still hasn’t been sated, get along to the Cobh Museum, housed in a nineteenth-century Presbyterian church on the west side of the town centre.
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