While staying in Cork, we took a day trip to the smaller coastal town of Cobh (pronounced Cove). It only takes about 30 minutes by car to get there. We were able to arrive early enough to get a parking spot in a free lot close to downtown called Five Foot Way. You can follow the path from the parking lot along the ocean to get to town.
I recommend starting your trip by visiting the Cobh Heritage Center: Queenstown Story Museum. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot so it’s the perfect first stop. This museum focuses on Irish heritage and history. Queenstown was the English name given to Cobh back in 1849 after Queen Victoria visited. Once Ireland became independent from Britain, they changed the name back to its original Cobh in 1922. (If you’re deciding between visiting the Heritage Center in Cobh or the Emigration Museum in Dublin, choose this one).
While in the museum, we were able to use computers to discover that Mark’s father’s grandfather – Jeremiah – left from Queenstown to the US! (At least we think it was him, since we were always told he left from County Cork and this was a popular port). We also believe his grandmother left from County Cork as well, but we were unable to locate her name in the system. It was such a special experience to find what we think is his signature in the ship documents! In the photo below you can read the third name: Jeremiah Keane (aged 21).
It costs 11 euros to visit this museum, and you can purchase your tickets online in advance. When we arrived in the morning there wasn’t much of a queue so I’m not sure how necessary it is to book ahead of time. For information on ticket prices and opening times, check out the link here: Cobh Heritage Center. I recommend giving yourself about 1-2 hours to visit the museum, especially if you plan to do any research.
After exploring Irish history at the heritage center, I recommend following the road another 5 minutes to downtown. From here, you can make your way up West View (a street in Cobh) to find the houses which were charmingly given the nickname, ‘Deck of Cards’. It’s an incredibly steep road, so be prepared for a trek. The colorful houses are worth it though! Near the top, there is a park across the street where you can get a great view of the houses. If you are adventurous (like us), you can continue climbing and take a left onto the parallel road called Spy Hill. Although there is a tall wall, if you’re able to climb up or stand on your tip toes you can get an even better view, including the whole Cathedral!
After the hike to see the Deck of Cards, we looped back down towards St. Coleman’s Cathedral to get an up close look at it. It’s about a 10 minute walk from this area and it’s free to go inside. From the Cathedral, you get stunning views of the ocean and downtown Cobh as well.
After walking around the down town area, I recommend grabbing lunch at a local pub. There are a few nice options, depending on what you’re in the mood for. We ate at Gilbert’s Bistrot in the Square which was right in the heart of Cobh.
After you grab lunch, it’s time to head to the Titanic Experience. It’s about a 5 minute walk from downtown, so everything is very close and easy to get to. I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance since time slots will sell out and become unavailable. A late afternoon slot around 3:00pm is ideal, so you have plenty of time for a relaxing lunch.
The Titanic’s last stop before heading to NYC was Queenstown! For many family and friends, this was the last time they ever saw their loved ones. The Titanic Experience walks you through the journey of these travelers and first hand stories of survivors. In the beginning, you get the name of someone on the ship. The first portion is guided and the last bit of the museum allows you to go at your own pace. At the end of your visit, you can find out whether or not your person survived or went down with the Titanic. It costs 10 euros to visit this museum. For more information about tickets and opening times, check out the link here: Titanic Experience.
After the Titanic Museum, we walked 20 minutes back to our car. Our day in Cobh was spent exploring family heritage and taking in sweeping views of the colorful houses. It’s the perfect day trip from Cork and something you can’t miss if you love history!
Stay tuned for more about our road trip through Ireland!