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Title: Cobh  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: RMS Etruria, County Cork, Lewis Glucksman, Michael Devine (footballer), RMS Titanic
Collection: Cobh, Port Cities and Towns in the Republic of Ireland, Towns and Villages in County Cork
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an Cóbh
Coat of arms of Cobh
Coat of arms
Motto: Statio Fidissima Classi  (Latin)
Cobh is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Dáil Éireann Cork East
Elevation 47 m (154 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban 9,530 (
 • Rural 7,986 (
Irish Grid Reference W793666
Website .ie.cobhwww

Cobh ( ,  Irish: an Cóbh), known from 1850 until the late 1920s as Queenstown, is a tourist seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour and is home to Ireland's only dedicated cruise terminal. Tourism in the area draws on the maritime and emigration legacy of the town - including its association with the RMS Titanic.

Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island, and on a high point in the town stands St Colman's Cathedral, one of the tallest buildings in Ireland and seat of the diocese of Cloyne.


  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Early history 2.1
    • 19th century 2.2
    • RMS Titanic 2.3
    • Penal transportation 2.4
    • Shipbuilding 2.5
    • RMS Lusitania and the First World War 2.6
  • Demography and people 3
  • Economy and tourism 4
  • Transport 5
    • Rail 5.1
    • Air 5.2
    • Port 5.3
    • Roads 5.4
    • Cross River Ferry 5.5
  • Local government and politics 6
  • Development 7
  • Arts and culture 8
  • People 9
  • Sport 10
  • Twin towns 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


The port, which has had several Irish-language names, was first called "Cove" ("The Cove of Cork") in 1750. It was renamed "Queenstown" in 1850 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria. This remained the town's name until the late 1920s, when it was renamed Cobh by the new authorities of the Irish Free State.[1] Cobh is a Gaelicisation of the English name Cove and it shares the same pronunciation but has no meaning in the Irish language.


Statue on the waterfront of Annie Moore and her brothers. Annie Moore was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the new immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York on 1 January 1892.

Early history

According to legend, one of the first colonists of Ireland was Neimheidh, who landed in Cork Harbour over 1000 years BC. He and his followers were said to have been wiped out in a plague, but the Great Island was known in Irish as Oilean Ard Neimheadh because of its association with him. Later it became known as Crich Liathain because of the powerful Uí Liatháin kingdom who ruled in the area from Late Antiquity into the early 13th century. The island subsequently became known as Oilean Mor An Barra, (the Great Island of Barry & Barrymore) after the Barry family who inherited it.

St Colman's Cathedral

The village on the island was known as Ballyvoloon, overlooking "The Cove" and in 1743 a fort, later to become known as Crosshaven at the other side of the harbour.

The tower of St. Colman Cathedral from the streets below.

19th century

International upheaval led to Cobh experiencing rapid development in the early 19th century. Due to the natural protection enjoyed thanks to its harbour setting, the town became important as a tactical centre for naval military base purposes, never more so than at the time of the Napoleonic Wars between France and Britain. Today, the Irish Naval Service headquarters is based on Haulbowline island facing Cobh.

The wars against the French led to the town becoming a British Naval port with its own admiral, and many of the present-day buildings date from this time. The eventual cessation of hostilities dented Cobh's prosperity for a while but it soon became known as a health resort, and many convalescents came to avail themselves of its temperate climate. Notable amongst these people was Charles Wolfe who wrote "The Burial of Sir John Moore After Corunna". Wolfe is buried in the Old Church Cemetery outside the town.

RMS Titanic

Titanic Memorial, Westbourne Place, Cobh

One of the major transatlantic Irish ports, the former Queenstown was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. On 11 April 1912, Queenstown was famously the final port of call for the RMS Titanic when she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage. She was assisted by the PS America and the PS Ireland, two ageing White Star Line tenders, along with several other smaller boats delivering first-class luggage. Local lore has it that a Titanic crew member, John Coffey, a native of Queenstown, jumped ship, although there is no record of his name on the crew list. 123 passengers boarded in all; only 44 survived the sinking.

Penal transportation

Cobh was also a major embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. The records of such deportations can be found in ships' log books in the Cobh Museum, which since 1973 has been housed in Scots church (a Presbyterian church until its 1969 closure) overlooking the harbour.


A significant shipbuilding industry was developed in the town, and the remnants of the Verolme Shipyard today maintain many of the original cranes and hoists now forming part of an industrial and maritime heritage.

The original pier (as it appeared in 2007) where passengers boarded tenders to get to the Titanic at its anchorage near the mouth of Cobh harbour. The corner of the office building of the White Star Line can be seen on the right. The building today houses a Titanic museum.

The age of steam brought association with several achievements to Cobh, most notably that of the first steam ship to sail from Ireland to England (1821) and of the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic (Sirius 1838), which left from Passage West. In 1849, the name of the town was changed to Queenstown, to honour Queen Victoria who had visited Ireland during that year.

RMS Lusitania and the First World War

A tragically notable ship to be associated with the town, the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania, was sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale while en route from the US to Liverpool on 7 May 1915. 1,198 passengers died, while 700 were rescued. The survivors and the dead alike were brought to Cobh, and the bodies of over 100 who perished in the disaster lie buried in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town. The Lusitania Peace Memorial is located in Casement Square, opposite the arched building housing the Cobh Library and Courthouse.

Cobh, then Queenstown, c.1890s

During First World War, Queenstown was a naval base for British and American destroyers operating against the U-boats that preyed upon Allied merchant shipping. Q-ships (heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks) were called Q-ships precisely because many were, in fact, fitted-out in Queenstown. The first division of American destroyers arrived in May 1917, and the sailors who served on those vessels were the first American servicemen to see combat duty in the war. When that first convoy arrived in port after enduring a rough passage in what were little more than open boats, its members were met by a crowd of sailors and townspeople, thankful for their anticipated help towards stopping the U-boats that were blockading western Europe. The British commodore present met the captain of the American flagship, jumping onto the dock and asking how soon the weather-beaten American ships could be put to use. "We're ready now, sir!" was the widely quoted answer from the American.

The United States Navy established the Queenstown Naval Air Station on 22 February 1918 to operate flying boats. This naval air station closed shortly after the Armistice of 11 November 1918.[3]

Due to its tactical military importance, under the terms of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty the port remained a UK sovereign base. Along with the other Treaty Ports it was handed over to the government of the Irish Free State in 1938.

Demography and people

The population of the Cobh area has increased in recent times with new housing estates established on the outskirts of the town, placing pressures on the transport infrastructure. The town boundary has not yet reflected these changes in order to accommodate the new housing developments in areas such as Rushbrooke and Carrignafoy. Cobh is gradually becoming a satellite town to the nearby Cork City, reflected in the commuter train service and the Carrigaloe–Passage car ferry.

Economy and tourism

Tourism is a large employer in Cobh. Large cruise liners visit Cobh each year, mainly during the summer months, although many of the tourists are transported out of Cobh by bus to other tourist destinations. In all, almost 100,000 cruise liner passengers and crew arrive in the town each year when their ships berth right in the centre of the town at Ireland's only dedicated cruise terminal. Tourist attractions are focused on the maritime and emigration legacy of the town and include the Queenstown Story Heritage Centre, Titanic Experience, Titanic Trail walking tour, Cobh Museum, Cobh Road Train, Spike Island tours and St Colman's Cathedral. The town has remained largely unchanged since RMS Titanic departed from Cork Harbour in 1912, with the streetscape and piers still much the same. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island. The latter is the headquarters of the Irish Naval Service, formerly a British naval base.

Cobh was home to Ireland's only steelworks, the former state-owned Irish Steel works which was closed by its buyer, Ispat International, in 2001. There is a controversy over the slag heap on the steelworks, where there are concerns that it may be leaching into the harbour.[4] Another important employer in Cobh was the Dutch-owned Verolme Cork Dockyard, in Rushbrooke. It opened in 1960 but ceased operations in the mid-1980s. In 1981 the MV Leinster was built at Verolme for service on the Dublin – Holyhead route.[5] The last ship built at Verolme was the Irish Naval Service's Eithne (P31).[6] Some ship repair work is still carried at Rushbrooke using the drydock and other facilities. The drydock pumps are reputed to date from 1912.



Outside of the Dublin metropolitan area, Cobh is one of the few towns in Ireland served by a commuter train service. The town is one of two termini for Cork Commuter Services. The other is Midleton. Regular commuter services run between Cork city and Cobh, calling at, among others, Fota railway station, Carrigaloe railway station, and Rushbrooke railway station, along the way. Trains run every day and the journey time to Cork is under 25 minutes.

Cobh railway station opened on 10 March 1862 and was closed for goods traffic on 3 November 1975.[7]


The nearest airport is Cork Airport - which can be reached in 20–30 minutes from Cobh via the R624 road and the N25 road.


The Port Operations Centre for Cork Harbour is located in the town. The port's harbour pilot launches are based at the Camber - a pier and dock are at the eastern end of the town.


Currently there is only a single road that leads onto the Great Island, however a major upgrade of the R624 road is planned which is to include the construction of a new bridge (replacing the old Belvelly bridge) and road from Belvelly in the north of Cobh, to Tullagreen where the R624 road joins the N25 road from Cork City to Rosslare at the N25 Carrigtwohill-Cobh Interchange.

Cross River Ferry

In 1993 a Cross River Ferry was established which allowed cars and passengers to travel from Glenbrook near Monkstown to Carrigaloe on the Great Island. The crossing from Glenbrook to Carrigaloe takes four minutes and runs daily. Reservations are not required.[8]

Local government and politics

2009 Local Elections
Party Seats Change
Labour Party 3 =
Fine Gael 2 =
Sinn Féin 1 =
Fianna Fáil 1 =
Independent 2 =

Cobh Town Council is the local authority governing the town. It consists of nine elected Councillors who work with the administrative, executive and technical staff, led by the Town Manager. The Town Council has a range of functions which serve the people of Cobh. As of June 2009 the political make-up of the council is 3 Labour Party, 2 Fine Gael, 1 Fianna Fáil, 1 Sinn Féin and 2 independent councillors. The contact details of current Cobh public representatives can be found on the website of the Cobh Town Council. The town is also part of the Midleton Electoral area for elections to Cork County Council and is in the Dáil constituency of Cork East. As part of a cost-cutting review of local government instituted by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Cobh Town Council and the 79 other such local authorities in the Republic of Ireland are to be abolished from 2014.[9] New local boundaries will also apply at County Council level with a new 7-seat electoral area to be called "Cobh" which will extend from Glenville to the borders of Cork City, to Glanmire and eastwards to Cobh and Carrigtwohill.[10]


The waterfront at Cobh
The waterfront at Cobh, probably around 1900

Leisure and commercial activities have improved in recent years:

  • In February 2008 a new retail park was built (Ticknock)
  • A leisure centre, with a 25m swimming pool, was opened in August 2007. In January 2009, Aura, the management company running the centre, went into administration, and the facility was closed until June 2009 when the Coral Leisure Group took over management of the centre.
  • Since late 2008, Cobh has seen growth in new retail, restaurants and fast food openings. Many of these were in construction or planned before the economic downturn commenced.
  • Cobh has several primary and secondary schools including Colaiste Muire secondary school and Cobh Community College. In 2010 a planned new school development was drawn up by the Department of Education and Skills
  • In summer 2010, tours of Spike Island commenced in the Harbour. The tours leave from Kennedy Pier, near the centre of the town.

Arts and culture

  • The Sirius Arts Centre is the main hub for the arts in Cobh and is located on the waterfront. It hosts many cultural events and music concerts both in house and around Cobh.[11]
  • The Cobh Peoples Regatta is held every year around August.[12] It is the cultural highlight of the Summer. The event traditionally includes on-stage performances from local musicians and performers as well as a Cobh pageant to decide the 'Regatta Queen' for the coming year. The festival ends every year with a fireworks display over the harbour. It attracts up to 20,000 people
  • Cobh is the setting of the 2009 Connor McPherson film The Eclipse and was also used as a filming location for the 1999 movie Angela's Ashes



  • Cobh Pirates RFC are the town's rugby club. They compete at Junior 1 and Junior 2 level as well as having many under age teams. They play their home games at 'The Paddocks' which is located in an area known as Newtown. The facility has a gym along with two full size playing pitches, a training pitch and a rubber training surface. (The only one of its kind in the south of Ireland). In the 2009/2010 season, the Junior 2 side won every competition they entered. The Cobh Pirates Ladies team, formed in 2010, is a major development for women's rugby in both the town and Munster, with some of the current squad having begun training with the Munster side.
  • Cobh's most successful football team is Cobh Ramblers, the club where Roy Keane made his name and earned a transfer to English side Nottingham Forest, as well as being where Irish international and Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland started his career with Springfield Ramblers, the underage section of the club. Cobh play their home games at St Colman's Park, located on the Western side of the town. The ground has a capacity of 5,500 (both seated and standing) and in recent years it has seen investment and development both on and off the pitch. Cobh Ramblers' most successful season came in 2007, when they were promoted to the League of Ireland Premier Division, the highest tier in Irish football, for the 2008 campaign; however they were relegated at the end of their first season competing at that level. Ramblers currently play in the League of Ireland First Division along with south rivals, Waterford and Wexford. Cobh also had a brief spell in the Newstalk 'A' Championship.
  • Cobh Golf Club has an 18-hole championship course at Marino on the main road R624 into the town.
  • There are two Coastal Rowing clubs in Cobh, Rushbrooke Rowing Club and Cobh Fishermen. Rushbrooke Rowing Club is the larger of the two and was established in 1989.[14] Both clubs compete race the Yawl class rowing boat and compete in the Cork Coastal Rowing Association Championship.[15]
  • The annual Escape from Spike Island Triathlon which was first held in 2012 and organised by Cobh Triathlon Club takes place in late summer in Cobh. The event has both Olympic distance and Sprint distance course options.
  • Cobh GAA is the centre for gaelic games such as hurling and gaelic football, and is located at Carrignafoy
  • The inaugural Cobh 10 mile road race took place on 18 April 2010 on the streets of Cobh and the roads of the Great Island. Called the Great Island 10, it was raised funds for the Irish Cancer Society.
  • Springfield AFC. Based at Pat O'Brien Park, Ballyleary, Cobh. Caters for both junior and senior football.
  • Cobh is home to the oldest existing tennis club in Ireland, Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, founded in 1870.

Twin towns

See also


  1. ^ 'Bureau of Military history, Dublin - Witness Statement of Seaus Fizgerald TD, Chairman of Cobh Urban Council (1920-24) pages 21-22
  2. ^ "Buildings of Ireland - Cove Fort". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Van Wyen, Adrian O. (1969). Naval Aviation in World War I. Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 60. 
  4. ^ "Steel plant to close despite cost reduction deal". 2001-07-28. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  5. ^ Archived August 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Eithne P31". Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  7. ^ "Cobh station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  8. ^ "Passage West and Monkstown Cross River Ferry". 
  9. ^ "Hogan says local government reform will save €420m - RTÉ News". Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  10. ^ Wednesday, June 05, 2013 (2013-06-05). "Is a boundary redraw crossing the line?". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  11. ^ "Sirius Art Centre". Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Ball | Robert | 1802-1857 | naturalist, president of the Geological Society of Ireland". Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  14. ^ "Rushbrooke Rowing Club History". 
  15. ^ "Cork Coastal Rowing Association". CRA. 
  16. ^ "Cobh Ploërmel twinning" (in French). Directory of City Councils and Cities of France. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Cobh, County Cork, Republic of Ireland". Pontarddulais Town Council. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 

External links

  • Cobh Tourism
  • Cobh Heritage Centre
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