My Grandfather’s Grandmother left Ireland in 1880. Despite tons of research, I’ve yet to determine the county she lived in before she left for America. Which is exactly the reason I wanted to visit the Cobh Heritage Centre http://www.cobhheritage.com.
Located in a Victorian Railway Station, the museum features fascinating exhibits about what it was like to emigrate from Ireland. Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown was one of the main exit ports for emigrants. From 1848 to 1950 over 2.5 million people waved goodbye to Ireland and sailed away to a new life in North America (and Australia). It was also the last port of call for the Titanic before it sank.
For me, it’s very likely that my great-great grandmother left from this port, so it was quite surreal to stand there, next to the statue of Annie Moore (the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island) and see the port, feel the salt air on my face and hear the seagulls. I thought about what it must’ve been like, to say goodbye to your home, knowing you’ll likely never see it again and to go to a new land promising a better life…yet with so much unknown.
It was the first stop of many on our trip, but it was a moving experience to learn more about the reasons why so many of the Irish chose to immigrate to America.