Ireland part three - Cork and Cobh
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On the drive from Kilarney to Cobh, we stopped in Cork and took a walk. Now we are in southeast Ireland, still near the coast. In Cork it was a grey & rainy day and we were there for maybe 2+ hours. My Dad's family was from around here somewhere, generations ago.
|Cork's historical down town||adding color to the trees||an old brewery||the river Lee|
|on the historic trail||old Catholic church||heavenly bureaucracy||gargoyles with suckling pigs|
|doorway to the best kept secrets||or to the dungeon||very old pub, see note below||still usable|
|a police station||street scene||Cork color combo|
|the Red Abbey since the 800s||an ancient place of worship|
|narrow streets in Cork||Cork at high noon||our lunch place had ripe avocados !|
note - this pub from 1698 claims itself to be the first official or registered one in Ireland but there's a lot of other contenders. Of course this debate has gone on for centuries. On another note, while the plaque on the wall outside may insinuate a connection between the Duke of Wellington & Marlborough, as if they drank together, I found out later that although they lived at the same time (plus or minus) there's no connection at all.
George Spencer Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840) may have had a dram at one time or another here, but his Irish connection is sketchy and his career was unremarkable. On the other hand, Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier & statesman, seen as one of the greatest defensive commanders of all time throughout his military career. His defeat of Napoleon's forces at Waterloo is still studied in military schools. He also served twice as Prime Minister of Britain. Wellington was a major figure in British military history, as famous as Admiral Horatio Nelson.
We travelers arrived in Cobh ("Cove") at our B&B in late afternoon, and went for a walk into town. We found no other tourists around, and enjoyed a quiet water-side dinner a little later. We were here for only one night. We're in County Cork now so red & white Hurling flags were on.
Historical note - between 1850 and 1950, Ireland lost 2.5 million people from a population of 6 million, most of whom migrated to America, or to Canada.
Every single one of them emigrated out by boarding a transatlantic ship, from a smaller ship, here at Cobh.
Of course the Potato Famine played a big part. But Ireland's legacy as one of the poorest countries in Europe goes back centuries, and also plays a part.
For the four of us on this trip, the mass Irish migration over that time period certainly included our ancestors. While the specifics may be fuzzy, the general trend is not.
See, here's our 'Irish Homecoming' theme again. Here we are again, a number of generations later....back in the land of our ancestors.
|the driver blew the horn & waved||um, in case you run into the bridge...||appears to be a protected harbor||evening in Cobh, see note|
|a port with a lot of history||White Star Lines has a lot of history||even more grey|
|center city Cobh||red & white banners for County Cork hurling|
note - all water shown from here on out in Ireland is part of the Celtic Sea.
We slept in a bit and had a luxurious breakfast and around 11 am in center-city we met our well-informed guide, who took us on a historic walk, for about one hour. We learned that this town when known as Queenstown had a long & illustrious history as a British Naval port. In Queen Victoria's time she allowed the name Queenstown to be changed back to the original Cobh.
More than 100,000 cruise ship tourists off-load here each summer, because of the Titanic connection - 'the last Port of Call' - and they visit relevant museums, and tourists kindly keep another Irish coastal town going.
|the B&B||a British Admiral built the house in the 1860s||breakfast room|
|the Admiral built the house next door for his son||old British Navy barracks.||huge retaining walls||bolted together|
|Cobh history||design derived from a Frank Browne photo||divers heading out|
|only a few more days until the final hurling match||a curragh|
|we met docent Adeen about 11 am||flowers on a grey day||a Pub's week's worth of beer?|
|local history walking tour||Lusitania sinking, see below||local tragedy|
|she was a great tour guide|
note - Cobh was the main port from which small, private vessels were launched to try to rescue the survivors of the passenger ship RMS Lusitania, having been sunk by a German U-Boat, in a location not far away. This occurred in May, 1915.
Eric Larson's book Dead Wake is a 'can't-put-it-down' handling of this weighty subject. The British pilot of Lusitania knew U-boats were around and took 'evasive maneuvers' which unknowingly put the ship in the U-boat's target zone. Had he bolted to Cobh directly, they would have survived, because that Geran U-boat was almost out of fuel, just enough battery power & diesel fuel left to get home to a north German port.
The reason that the only rescue boats - who came out to help Lusitania passengers - were small private ones from Cobh was that the British Navy had too many experiences recently with German U-Boats where rescue ships became the next target. German U-Boats targeted UK rescue ships, during WWI.
The British Navy had recently announced that they would no longer respond to any ship's sinking, compounding the tragedy. On the Lusitania nearly 1,200 people died, while 700 were saved, and, the ship sank in a remarkably short time.
There was an unexplainable 'second explosion' which doomed the ship and later experts speculated that the passenger ship was probably carrying military ordinance to the UK. Although denied by the U.S. military, historians hold it to be true. How else could that ship have gone down so quickly? Something like an outlier defeated its built-in safety devices, and sophisticated design.
After the tour we left for a short drive to another coastal town destination by the name of Tramore, not far from Waterford, where the story of tragic ends to sea-faring adventures continues.....
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