From 1848 to 1950 over six million adults and children experienced emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. Over 2.5 million Irish departed from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration.
This exodus from Ireland was largely a result of poverty, crop failures, the land system, and a lack of opportunity. Irish emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland reached unprecedented proportions during the famine, as people fled from hunger and disease.
The port of Queenstown was named for Queen Victoria. It was in 1849 that the Queen first visited the small seaport known as Cobh (Irish for Cove) on the Southern Coast of Ireland. After the Irish independence of 1922, the town was renamed Cobh and became Ireland's most strategic point of emigration, witnessing Ireland's sorrowful release of its treasured sons and daughters to brighter and better things in the New World.
The Heritage Museum, located in this small seaport village, is a must visit for those whose ancestors were involved with emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. You'll walk back into history and experience the ship voyages: the sounds of the raging sea pounding the sailing vessels, the anguished cries of the women and children, the loud bellows of the crew warning of the immediate dangers ahead, the noise from the collapsing berths, and the scatter of paper-thin tin bowls and hand-made mugs. Close your eyes to shut out the visual experience, and you become aware of the powerful smell of the turbulent sea, and sense the emigrants' despair over the unseen dangers that surrounded them. Emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland gave our ancestors the hope they needed to push forward while they prayed for a safe journey across the sea.
The self-guided tour detailing the realities of the emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland informs the visitor of the daily rations, the conditions of the steerage quarters, and the hopelessness for those too sick to think of life in the New World. See inside the ships and observe conditions onboard. Emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland represented a beacon of hope for those who had nothing to lose.
My visit to Cobh played an integral part in this journey. Through this amazing experience, I understood more completely my grandparents' emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. When I stood on "Heartbreak Pier" looking out over the ancient city of Cobh and at the spires of St. Coleman's that reached towards the sky, I imagined my grandparents' whispered prayers, their final prayers as they watched the majestic towering Cathedral fade from sight-emigration from Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland-to new beginnings.