Cobh (pronounced Cove) is the port for the city of Cork, the third largest in Ireland. This was the final port where the Titanic took on passengers and in those days a ship that size had to anchor far away and the passengers and their luggage were rowed out to it from shore. Now the anchorage is deep and the port is large enough for two ships our size. Last time we were here in a pouring rain, but today was so bright and sunny we hardly recognized the place. A museum here preserves the memory of all the starving Irish who left from here to sail to the New World and escape the famine and poverty. Cobh was their last view of their homeland. The town is very walkable and we climbed a steep hill to its magnificent St. Colman’s Cathedral where a mass was taking place at 10am on a Tuesday for a handful of worshippers. Nearby a lovely row of brightly painted Victorian era homes named the Deck of Cards, were the subject of much photography. Flowers bloomed brightly everywhere and some palm-like vegetation proved that even though we are far north of home, the climate is much milder here.
There are many high points for a tourist in this area - Blarney Castle, the Waterford Crystal factory, Kilarney Lakes with Muckross Castle, but we saw them all on our last visit to Ireland so we took a walking tour of Cork with a stop in a pub. At the tour talk the guide said disparagingly, “I don’t know why you would need to take a tour to visit a pub,” but as folks who never go to bars, we don’t feel totally comfortable in pubs and weren’t able to access the pub culture as well as we would have liked when we were here before.
Cork is an old town; Vikings were trading with the locals here in the 1100’s. Because it has the largest natural harbor in Europe, trading was the name of the game to the present day. Various invaders came through and burned things down and the locals rebuilt bigger and better. Today those buildings that survived the last looting and pillaging are carefully protected on the outside, although renovations are allowed inside to made them practical for people to live and work in them today. Our walking tour went to St. Finbarr Cathedral, built during a particularly affluent time in the mid 1800’s. The building budget was modified numerous times during the fourteen years it took to erect this magnificent edifice. For the most part we would say that Cork is not a world class tourist city, but a fine place to live. The pub was our final stop and we sampled the two favorite local ales and concluded that if we haven’t like the taste of beer after all these years, we probably never will.