Pronounced ‘Cove’, Cobh is the cruise port of Ireland’s second biggest city, Cork, and boasts one of Europe’s largest natural harbours. Poignantly, it was also the final departure point of the ill-fated Titanic.
With its colourful seafront houses, the town has the feel of a true seaside resort, dominated by a cathedral offering fabulous views over the bay. Nearby Cork City, European Capital of Culture in 2005, hosts many festivals, ranging from jazz and folk to choral and film. The bustling city centre is home to fascinating shops and markets while traditional Irish music can be heard in many of the historic pubs and bars which populate the city centre.
Six miles inland from the city lies – and we use the word advisedly – the town of Blarney with its famous Blarney Stone. Positioned more than 80-feet up in the battlements of Blarney Castle, legend has it that kissing the limestone block provides the one puckering up with the gift of what is euphemistically called “persuasive” speech.
The sail in is superb with fantastic scenery and colourful houses. The ship berths right in the centre of the town at Ireland’s only dedicated Cruise Terminal. It was first called Cove (“The Cove of Cork”). It was renamed Queenstown in 1850 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria. This remained the town’s name until 1920 when it was renamed Cobh. The town has remained virtually unchanged since the Titanic departed from Cork Harbour in 1912.
Cobh is a very attractive town and easy to get around but is rather hilly. It has lots of history and interesting statues and monuments dotted around. So, here it all depends on what you want to do.
For Cork, there are plenty of taxis on the quay side to take you in. The train station is a short walk away and this takes you directly into Cork. (see below)
If you are staying in Cobh again there is a lot on offer. Taxis all ready to give private tours, there is a land train that takes you around the town, there are harbour tours and you can hire your own boat €49 for a family of 5 for 1 hour. If you wish to do your own thing the town is a short 15 min walk away. The walk takes you past a sea view park.
Tourist attractions are focused on the immense maritime and emigration legacy of the town. The Queenstown Story Heritage, Titanic Experience, Titanic Trail walking tour, Cobh Museum, Cobh Road Train, Spike Island tours and St Colman’s Cathedral provide plenty to see and do. It was first called Cove (“The Cove of Cork”). As you walk through the town there is a memorial to the victims of the Lusitania. If you wish to visit the Titanic Gardens then just be warned that it is about a mile away at the other side of town. The views from St Coleman’s Cathedral over the port area are stunning and you will see your cruise ship below.
There are many Typical Irish pubs with live music playing and it is nice to sit outside enjoying a Guinness or Murphys.
The Jameson Whiskey factory is 6.5 miles away, in Middleton, and they do factory tours €13.50 entrance fee (€10 for Senior Citizens). The ship was quite expensive but a DIY with a local minicab to the distillery cost about €25 each way for the cab, plus the admission into the distillery. A lot cheaper than the £49 pp the ship wanted.
There are other local taxis offering tours lasting about 2 1/2 hours, which includes a trip to the Blarney Stone for about €90, not bad if there is 4 of you.
Try a tour to Kinsale which is a very quaint little town with narrow streets. You drive through rolling countryside to Fort Charles overlooking Kinsale Harbour, and from where you could see the Old Head of Kinsale where Lusitania sank. Kinsale itself is a pretty town of `coloured houses and narrow lanes.
By Peter Dagnall
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