Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) is located on the south side of the Great Isle, an island within Cork Harbor on the south coast of Ireland. Cobh is only 30 minutes from Cork, but it feels like a completely different place – and well worth a detour. When it comes to places to visit in Ireland, you’ve probably heard of cities like Dublin and Galway, and Cork. You’ve heard of the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry and maybe even thought about visiting the Aran Islands.
But today I want to introduce you to a smaller, lesser-known town in Ireland that should absolutely be on your Ireland bucket list: Cobh.
Probably the most popular thing to do in Cobh is to visit the Titanic Experience, a museum housed in the original White Star Line office. On April 11, 1912, the last 123 passengers to board the Titanic boarded from there.
Titanic Experience Cobh, includes a guided tour, where you will learn what it was like for those 123 passengers to board the Titanic. You’ll also get a glimpse of what life on the Titanic would have been like for first and third-class passengers and you’ll be able to see what’s left of the ‘Heartbreak Pier’, where all passengers left Queenstown Harbor from.
The most unique thing about this tour is that when you arrive, you are given a fake ticket with the name of one of the 123 Titanic passengers who boarded the ship in Queenstown. After the tour, there is a museum exhibition to explore everything about the Titanic, and there you can find out the fate of your passenger, i.e. whether he survived the sinking of the Titanic.
Tickets are 10 euros per adult and are timed. It is recommended that you book your tickets in advance to ensure you can visit at your desired time.
If you want to learn even more about Cobh’s history and its connections to the Titanic, then you’ll also want to book the one-hour Titanic Trail walking tour.
Yes, you will learn more about the Titanic and its passengers on this tour, but you will also learn other things about Cobh.
For example, Cobh has connections to another famous shipwreck. In 1915, when a German submarine sank the passenger ship RMS Lusitania, it sank not far off the coast of southern Ireland. All passengers (both survivors and many dead) were brought to Queenstown, and many were even buried in the local cemetery. You will visit the Lusitania Peace Memorial in Casement Square on the Titanic Trail tour.
One place you’ll visit on the Titanic Trail tour is St Colman’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral that can be seen from almost every point in Cobh.
The cathedral looks quite old, but construction only began in 1868 – and was not completed until 1919. The cathedral overlooks Cobh harbor and has a tall bell tower that houses a carillon of 49 bells.
It is worth stopping by to see this beautiful cathedral.
This is one thing I personally couldn’t do in Cobh due to time constraints, but if you’re spending a few days in the area then I’d also recommend taking a tour of Spike Island, which is basically Ireland’s version of Alcatraz.
Spike Island was originally home to a monastic settlement but was eventually dominated by military installations. The star-shaped fort on the island (now known as Fort Mitchell) was once home to one of the largest prisons and convict centers in Europe.
In the same way that you can take tours to Alcatraz from San Francisco, today you can take a tour to Spike Island from Cobb. There are guided day tours and even an after-dark tour if you’re into the darker side of history.