For the 123 people that would leave on Titanic from her last port of call, Cobh was the a gateway to the new world. The majority of those 123 were third class passengers, travelling to America to begin new lives. The number included seven second class passengers, and only three first class. They came from all corners of Ireland to Cobh, a town with a maritime heritage stretching back hundreds of years.
On that day, 10 April, at 1:30pm, a flurry of whistle blowing indicated the tender ships PS Ireland and PS America had finished ferrying all the passengers to Titanic. Moments later, its final pick-up of people and post aboard, Titanic left Cobh sailing unwittingly towards disaster.
Titanic: A legacy
The rest of story, whether for TV, film or the written word, is well documented. The iceberg, the tragedies, heroes and villains of the Titanic story – ask almost anyone about Titanic, and they will fill you in on the timeline of the Ship of Dreams.
What is not so well known, is how the most notorious maritime tragedy of all time effected the towns Titanic left behind.
Cobh is just one town that still feels Titanic’s legacy.
Today, Titanic and her passengers are remembered with reverence at places such as The Titanic Experience in Cobh. Here, in suitably respectful style the unanswered questions and the incredible coincidences of the Titanic story are brought into high relief.
All of the exhibitions have one thing in common: a reverential respect for the gravity of what happened. Through touch screen technology and holographic imagery, we’re given the background and context to Irish emigration in 1912, we see inside the famous ship and re-live the tragic events leading to disaster. The exhibition finishes off with footage of Titanic’s final resting place on the seabed. There’s also a guided Titanic Trail Tour, which winds through the buildings, streets and the actual pier the passengers left from.
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Dr Michael Martin is well known in Cobh. His tours, his insight and his endless knowledge, not only about Titanic, but about emigration in general, are second to none. For each step his tour rambles through Cobh’s streets, you learn something new, gain new perspectives and begin to get a handle on how and why Ireland became so dependant on emigration and ships like Titanic.
Overall, Cobh holds a unique place in the larger Titanic story. The hopes and dreams of those who embarked at Cobh add a certain romance to this tragic tale. You can experience their world and connect to Titanic in Cobh today.