Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Second largest harbour in the world?

For centuries Cobh harbour has been an assembly point for naval fleets, readying for action. Thus the town thrived. Even more business came with it's role as a point departure for mass numbers of emigrants from Ireland from the mid nineteenth century on. Later again, it was an embarkation point for the first luxury liners crossing the Atlantic.

Locally they claim to be second only in size to Sydney -this may be contested - but it is certainly a fine natural harbour. The attractive town is located on the southern edge of the largest of several islands, the skyline dominated by the outline of St. Colman's cathedral.

Titanic set off on her fatal voyage from Cobh. It would have been possible for her to be in the harbour but the race to get her cargo of mail across the Atlantic as soon as possible meant that she was anchored outside for a rapid getaway. Passengers and post bags were tendered out to her.

Those walking with guides on the Titanic Trail around the town, heard many stories about of Cobh's personalities, visitors and its connection with naval matters. Finishing at Jack Doyles pub, hot Irish coffees were particularly welcome after thick fog and Irish mizzle all morning. (For those who are not familiar, Irish coffee is a mix of coffee and whiskey with a float of cream on top).

As we prepared to depart southern Ireland, local tenor Ryan Morgan put colour into a grey day with a solo performance in the Qilak Lounge. Fram was the last ship bringing visitors to Cobh this year, so she sent off by the Brass Band playing on the quayside as we sailed.