Cobh Heritage Centre, The Queenstown Story


The exhibition at Cobh Heritage Centre, known as The Queenstown Story, is inventively situated within Cobh’s restored Victorian railway station, a building with its own historic story.

The Queenstown Story will engage the visitor in a journey through time, recalling Irish emigration with real stories about real people. From the indentured servants of Virginia and the West Indies plantations in the 17th century, the early settlers in upper Canada, the famine victims of the 1840s to the large-scale emigration of the 19th and 20th centuries. The visitor will also discover the hardships endured by the convicts who were transported to Australia.

The present town of Cobh has its origins as a small village nestled in the hillside on the southern shores. The village was known as Cove, being situated in the cove, or harbour, of Cork.

The town did not begin to grow until the early nineteenth century, but its strategic importance was realised in the late eighteenth century during the American War of Independence. Vital shiploads of troops and supplies were needed by the British forces fighting in America between 1775 and 1781. The entry of France into the war in 1778 heightened the danger of these ships being attacked at sea. This large and safe harbour provided ideal conditions in which the ships could assemble and be protected. The wars against France from the 1790s to 1815 were to prove the catalyst which led to the future prosperity of the town as Cove and its harbour played an important role in this war at sea.

Cove went on to become a major port with both naval and merchant shipping and was one of the major ports of emigration.

Cobh, or Queenstown as it was known at the time, has very close connections with the two great liners of the 20th century, The Titanic and The Lusitania – discover the human stories behind these tragic events.

The exhibition is a self-guided tour with audio tours available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish and Chinese. It is not just interesting and educational, but very emotive and thought-provoking.

“Take a glimpse into our storied past and walk in the footsteps of our emigrant ancestors”


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