Archives for posts with tag: Cobh

We were treated to a wonderful morning a few days back. Fog and frost covered the fields, the rivers and the hedges. All was quiet. Armed only with an iPhone and Instagram, I visited a few beauty spots and took some photos. Some of them had a good reaction on the Internet, so I have reproduced them here, going back to the originals and seeing if I could improve on them.

View from Belvelly Bridge

View from Belvelly Bridge

Belvelly Castle, Great Island, Co. Cork.

Belvelly Castle, Great Island, Co. Cork.

Fortified House, Ballyannan, Midleton, Co. Cork.

Fortified House, Ballyannan, Midleton, Co. Cork.

Estuary, Ballyannan, Midleton, Co. Cork.

Estuary, Ballyannan, Midleton, Co. Cork.

Midleton, Co. Cork.

Midleton, Co. Cork.

Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork.

Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork.

Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork.

Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork.

We took a boat trip to Spike Island in the centre of Cork Harbour last Sunday. This small, unprepossessing island has a remarkable history. It was a monastic settlement in early Christian times. A military fort was built there in the 18th Century and in the 19th Century it became a holding centre for convicts on their way to Australia. The island was occupied by British forces until 1938 and in the 1980’s it was re-opened as a prison, earning it the monicker “Ireland’s Alcatraz”. The prison has now closed, and the site is currently under the control of Cork Co. Council.

The main building on the island is a star fort, that, with Fort Carlisle and Fort Camden at the entrance to Cork Harbour, provided a strong line of defence from any possible attack from the seas. An impressive 6 inch gun is still in place there, silently directed towards the mouth of the harbour. It has never been used in anger, but plans are afoot to fire it during the Titanic centenary commemorations next year.

In 1985, the fort was used to house juvenile offenders. It was not fit for purpose and later that year, the inmates rioted. Most of the buildings within the fort were burned down. The prison was subsequently modernised but following a dispute with prison wardens, the minister for Justice summarily shut the prison down. In 2006, plans were announced to build a modern prison on the island, replacing the existing prison in Cork. These plans were abandoned after Ireland’s economic collapse. The facility is now deserted apart from the occasional guided tour.

Prisoner cell, in use up to 2004.

During the summer, visitors can go to the island by boat from Cobh. The tour itself is quite fascinating given its strategic location in the harbour and its historical significance. There are still a few issues however. It’s a pity visitors can’t stay longer on the island. There is almost no opportunity to explore it for yourself before you are called back to the boat. Most of the buildings outside the fort are in a perilous state and even some of the more recently occupied rooms could benefit from a spring-clean. Much work needs to be done to bring the history of the site more to life: signs, displays, audio-visuals etc. The narrative from the tour guide was uncritical and failed to take into account many of the complexities of our country’s past. Despite these quibbles, it’s a must see by anyone with an interest in the history of Ireland.

A map of the island is below.

The World cruise ship came to Cobh yesterday. It will be berthed in Cork Harbour for the next two days. It’s an interesting concept: the passengers own their cabins and many of them are long-term residents. It’s like a floating apartment block where the view outside the front window is constantly changing. A way of living that chases the summer around the globe, if you like.

Here are some pics from yesterday evening.

This weekend, the “Independence of the Seas” arrived in Cobh, Co. Cork on it’s maiden voyage from Southampton. It’s the biggest cruise ship in the world, but from what I can gather, it won’t hold that record for long.

Rather than show photos this time, I’ve recorded a short video instead. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

Yesterday we went down to Cobh to see a huge ocean liner arrive into the port.

Navigator Arriving

The town of Cobh* has a fascinating maritime history. For decades, before the rise of air travel, it was the departure point for millions of Irish people as they set sail for the New World. It was the last port of call of the Titanic before its fateful crossing. It received the dead bodies from the Lusitania, when it was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale. And it is a later addition to the Republic of Ireland, a “treaty port” ceded to the State by Britain just before the onset of World War II. The headquarters of the Irish Navy is just across a narrow channel from Cobh, on the island of Haulbowline.

The Navigator of the Seas

The ship, the Navigator of the Seas, is one of the largest cruise ships in the world with a weight of 140,000 tonnes. It can carry over 3,000 passengers. In this case, the boat was on a short weekend trip from Southampton. The passengers must have been amazed when they were greeted by a large crowd of onlookers. It was a holiday weekend here, with a local festival happening in the town.

Goliath

My kids were well impressed. A floating hotel of this magnitude is an impressive sight, no matter what age you are.

Looking up

* Cobh is pronounced, and means, “Cove”: unusually, an “irishisation” of an English word. Most of our place names are anglicisations of Irish Words.

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