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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Cork County > Cobh
Cobh (An Cóbh) is a sheltered seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland with a population of around 13,000 inhabitants.

The locality, which had had several different Irish-language names, was first referred to as Cove ("The Cove of Cork") in 1750. It was renamed Queenstown in 1849 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and so remained until the name Cobh (closer to the Irish spelling) was restored in 1922 with the foundation of the Irish Free State.

Cobh is located on the south shore of the Great Island in Cork Harbour, (reputed to be the second largest natural harbour in the world), on south-facing slopes overlooking the entrance to the harbour. Facing the town of Cobh are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island. On a high point in the town stands the Cobh Cathedral, St. Colman's, seat of the diocese of Cloyne.

According to legend, one of the first colonists of Ireland was Neimheidh, who landed in Cork Harbour over 1000 years BC[citation needed] He and his followers were said to have been wiped out in a plague, but the Great Island was known in Irish as Oilean Ard Neimheadh because of its association with him. Later it became known as Crich Liathain because of the Lehane tribe who were rulers of it. The island subsequently became known as Oilean Mor An Barra, (the Great Island of Barry & Barrymore) after the Barry family who inherited it.

The village on the island was known as Ballyvoloon, overlooking "The Cove" and this was first referred to as Cove village in 1750 by Smith the historian who said "it was inhabited by seamen and revenue officials". The Cork directory of 1787 shows about thirty businesses in the town including one butcher and one draper. The Water Club established at Haulbowline in 1720 was the progenitor of the present Royal Cork Yacht Club (now based in Crosshaven) and is the oldest yacht club in the world. The Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) was based for many years in Cobh and the present Sirius Arts Centre was formerly a clubhouse of the RCYC organisation. In 1966 the Royal Cork Yacht Club merged with the Royal Munster Yacht Club, retaining the name of the RCYC but moving its headquarters to those of the RMYC at Crosshaven at the other side of the harbour.

Cobh is well served by pubs and hostelries. The oldest recorded pub on the island is reputed to have been the "Anti Gallicon" situated in the Holy Ground, and apparently liable to flooding when the tide came in. This pub dated back to the 1780s and was named after opponents to the French "Gallicon" faction who opposed the powers of the Pope.

Cove underwent rapid development in the early 1800s assisted by world events. Due to its naturally protected harbour Cobh has historically been important as a tactical base for naval military bases. For instance, Cobh was of major tactical military importance as a naval base during the Napoleonic wars between France and England. Today, the Irish Naval Service is based on Haulbowline island facing Cobh.

One of the major transatlantic Irish ports, Cobh was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. On 11 April 1912 Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Local lore has it that a Titanic crew member John Coffey, a native of Queenstown, jumped ship although there is no record of him on the crew list. 123 passengers boarded in all; only 44 survived the sinking.

Cobh was also a major embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. The records of such deportations can be found in the ship log books in the Cobh Museum, which since 1973 is housed in Scots church (Presbyterian church until 1969 closure) overlooking the harbour.

The main hub for the arts in Cobh is the Sirius Arts Centre located on the waterfront. It hosts many cultural events both in house and around Cobh.

The Maritime Song Festival takes place each year in May with live performances and impromptu sing-songs of sea shanties and traditional music of the sea at the Sirius Arts Centre and a number of hostelries around Cobh and the Great Island. It also coincides with the South of Ireland Pipe Band competition.

The Cobh Peoples Regatta is held every year around August. It is the cultural highlight of the Summer. The event traditionally includes on-stage performances from local musicians and performers as well as a Cobh pageant to decide the Queen of Cobh for the coming year. The festival ends every year with a fireworks display over the Harbour at midnight.

Cobh's most successful soccer team is Cobh Ramblers, the club where Roy Keane made his name and earned a transfer to English side Nottingham Forest, as well as where current Irish international footballer and Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland started his career.

Cobh Golf Club have a 9-hole golf course at the east end of Cobh. However in January 2008 work will start on a new 18-hole championship course for Cobh Golf Club at Marino on the main road (R-624) into Cobh. The main founder member of Cobh Golf Club is Henry Cunningham.

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In: Cork
People: 6,517
Speak: English, Irish
Type: Tourist Village
GPS: -8.2967, 51.851