Past & Present

History Of Cobh

Embark on your Ireland’s Ancient East or Wild Atlantic Way Adventure from this historical location. Commanding panoramic views of one of the finest natural harbours in the world, the tiny fishing village of Cobh (the cove of Cork) was virtually unknown up until the early 1800s.

With the advent of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), Cork Harbour became an important refuelling and assembly point for British naval and commercial ships. Up to 300 ships at a time could be seen at anchor in the waters of Cobh!

Queen Victoria’s visited in 1849 and Cobh was renamed Queenstown in her honour. By then the village had grown into a busy town. It became a hive of naval and commercial activity as Cork Harbour’s strategic position in the North Atlantic was recognised.

Tall ships called to transport convicts to Australia and to carry emigrants to North America. Wine arrived from Bordeaux. Ships carrying food, leather and timber left from Cobh to journey to the four corners of the globe. Later, the Transatlantic steamers and great ocean liners continued the task of carrying the Irish to new lives in new lands. From 1848 to 1950, over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland. About 3 million left from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration.

Historic black and white photo of a waterfront with a grand cathedral overlooking a town. small boats float in the water, and historic buildings line the shore.
A split image showing a young man with a duffel bag on the left, and a world war i recruitment poster titled "irishmen avenge the lusitania" depicting a sinking ship and people in water on the right.
A scenic panoramic view of a coastal town with historic buildings and a prominent cathedral reaching toward a clear sky.

Cobh Of Today

Cobh bustles with energy and is just 20 minutes from Cork city and there are hourly rail connections to and from the city. The town’s architecture and streetscape is distinctly Victorian. From the steep hill on which it is built, St. Colman’s Cathedral dominates the town. Its 49-bell Carillon is the only such instrument in Ireland and is the largest in Ireland and Britain.

Cobh’s location makes it an ideal place to visit whilst in Cork and it boasts an impressive range of tourist amenities. There is a wide range of tourist accommodation available including Bed and Breakfasts, Airbnb, self-catering and small & mid-sized Hotels. There are many restaurants and cafes catering for all tastes close to the town centre.

Attractions for tourists abound and include museums, walking tours and many more sites of historical interest and importance. Shore and lake fishing, sailing, water sports, bird watching, etc. are also available. We welcome over 100 cruise ships annually, including the “largest liners in the world” which berth a mere 200 metres from the town.

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