Marcua Levin is sailing on Cunard’s Queen Victoria on a transatlantic cruise.
Ninety-nine years ago on April 11, RMS Titanic set sail from the port of Cobh, Ireland. Of the 123 passengers who boarded in Cobh, 79 perished when the good ship went down the next morning, April 12.
Queen Victoria sailed a similar route a few days ago. As we sailed with France on one side of the vessel and the UK on the other, our trip was uneventful. The weather was glorious, cool and sunny. But the date coincidence does give one pause!
Last week Cobh Tourism Ltd. and the annual Titanic Commemoration in Cobh memorialized the event.
Fifty area school children read the names in John F. Kennedy Park (yes, that JFK) and the mayor, Finbarr O’Driscoll, placed a wreath in the sea in memory.
Cobh, the Gaelic name for the port – there is no “V” in the language – is a beautiful port on the southern coast of County Cork. Named “Cove” in 1750, it was renamed Queenstown in honor of a visit by Queen Victoria (not the ship, the monarch, in 1849.) The name Cobh, with the Irish spelling, took effect in 1922 when the Irish Free State was founded.
Cobh is the second-largest deep water port in the world. It is second only to Sydney, Australia, and has long been a center for European trade with the world.
It is also one of the most convenient I have ever visited. Steps from the gangway one finds The Heritage Center, documenting this port where men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia left their homes. Built in an old rail station, the Center houses the histories, ship manifests and photos of émigrés who left Ireland by the hundreds starting in the 1860s to find a better life in the U.S.
Notable at the port is the sculpture of Annie Moore and her two brothers. Annie was the first immigrant to land at Ellis Island. A similar sculpture of Annie and her brothers can be found at Ellis Island. Immigration officials gifted Annie with a $10 gold piece upon her arrival.
I was fortunate yesterday to revisit the city of Cork, and to go for the first time to the scenic village of Kinsale called the “gourmet capital of Ireland” for its different restaurants and variety of cuisine. I also visited Charles Fort where the Spanish Armada was defeated in 1601.
The area is absolutely beautiful.
When I was 13, my friend’s mom, Mrs. Connery, said of Ireland “the green is so green and the blue so blue.” That concept has remained with me for a long time.
On a sunny day in April, with a howling wind and temperatures in the low 50s, I’d say she was 100 per cent correct.