WARNING: This blog’s going to take a couple of day to write, so here goes. When it’s finished I’ll remove this caveat.
We’ve had a really busy couple of days for two reasons, the number of things we’ve seen, but also the amount of ground we’ve covered. Right now I’m scribbling this from our new AirBnB in Tramore which is on the coast South of Waterford. It’s our final stop before heading back up to Dublin to catch the ferry back to the UK tomorrow.
Yesterday we had a really interesting day around Cork and Cobh, which was our first port of call (if you’ll pardon the pun) yesterday morning. Cobh – formerly known as Queeenstown – is famous for two things. Firstly, it was the place where hundreds of thousands of people left their homeland as part of the Irish diaspora. Few left voluntarily. Most left through force of circumstances. Many left because of the famine, others because they were deported as criminals. Nowadays Cobh seems like a lovely place. It’s a massive natural harbour and the town itself is a major tourist attraction that attracts people from all over the world because of another tragic story – that of the ill-fated luxury liner, the Titanic. Queenstown was the Titanic’s last port of call. It was never seen again because four days after leaving Ireland it struck an iceberg and sank with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
Wandering around the town nowadays it’s difficult to imagine the way the town was the centre of so much human stress and misery. It’s a jolly place full of bars, restaurants and buskers entertaining the crowds. It’s only when you visit the excellent Cobh Heritage Centre which is located in the old railway station that you start to realise the enormity of the town’s history. Their exhibition is a real eye-opener. It documents the history of Queenstown which includes immigration, imperialism and the history of the Trans-Atlantic Liners, including the Titanic. All of the exhibitions are fascinating, but for me as a photographer, the pictures of the Titanic taken by Father Francis Browne are of especial interest. Their quality is superb and the scenes they capture are incredibly powerful as he had no idea that he was documenting the last days of the ship.