Some of my fondest childhood memories involve being lifted from my bed in the middle of the night, bundled into the car and slowly falling back to sleep as my parents drove (accompanied by awesome retro soundtracks) to a holiday destination. Like when I was 7 and they road tripped across America. Seriously cool. Prompted by our ‘interesting’ family camping trip we booked 2 nights in the Maldron hotel in Cork, 3 star but enough beds for us all, yummy breakfast and a swimming pool – so, winner.
We lifted the children from their beds at 6am a few Sundays ago and headed to Cobh, just outside Cork. It took about 3.5 hours and luckily the kiddos slept for ALL of them (early morning driving ftw). Our first port of call was coffee, followed by a heated discussion about the Titanic and the Lusitania, Luis and Maxi have got quite into the Titanic after we visited the exhibition in Belfast. As a family we are a bit obsessed with shipwrecks, such fascinating stories and especially for adventurous boys a good shipwreck with the backstory and then submarine discovery goes down a storm (pun intended).
We parked in central Cobh and headed to the Titanic Experience. After paying like £50 to go to the Titanic Belfast experience I have to say this one (at only €25 for our family) was WAY better, especially for the young kids. They had actually rebuilt areas of the ship, you had a guide talking you through but also leaving you to explore for yourself, and they had a much better interactive area. It was much more focused on ‘story’ rather than fact which really held everyones attention.
We were all given a named ticket, and a class of passage and at the end you search the passenger lists if, in Maxi’s words you “made it or not”.
After that it was down to the Cobh heritage museum. This was also €25 and is a bit dated compared to the Titanic exhibition. I actually went there in 1997 with my parents and it had not changed a bit! It did have a great section about emigration and coffin ships, and of course the Annie Moore statue (first emigrant through the new Ellis Island complex). For Luis, who has been learning about her at school it was great to see some history come alive for him and the younger ones just walked around and looked at the big stuff. Cora managed to set off the alarm by getting into one of the cabins with the famished waxwork emigrants of 1840 and saving her was the creepiest experience of my life, wax work starved people have haunted my dreams since!.
Cobh itself is lovely for a walk around. We had a mooch then drove up to the local Lidl for some picnic supplies, which we ate in the park near the Titanic experience. We also went and saw the Lusitania graves which I always find fascinating. I have a bit of a thing about memorials since writing my dissertation on them, and I have to give major kudos to Cobh for the way they have commerated the 100th anniversary with their use of glass in the Lusitania graveyard. It is beautiful. You have to take my word for it because Im not 100% sure where I stand with taking photos of actual graves yet.
We walked all along the promenade in Cobh, as part of the sea front park there. The photo below is heartbreak pier. So named because many a family left Ireland from here, some returned and some didnt. I cant be dealing with guides telling me that and then looking at my 5 children who are probably (but hopefully not) all going to leave Ireland one day for in America or Australia (I might take a gap year at 50 that involves just following my grown children around, fair?).
We spent the whole of that first day wandering around Cobh before heading into Cork for our hotel. I actually much preferred Cobh to Cork, which was interesting but a little run down in places. You will have to check back later this week to see the rest of our southern adventures!