Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 16 September 2011

Thousands Are Sailing

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
To a land of opportunity
That some of them will never see 

(The Pogues ‘Thousand Are Sailing’)

Sepia Saturday this week has a 1910 photo of the offices of the London and North Western Railway Company, on the Quay, Waterford, Ireland. Alan invites the themers amongst us to choose from the ‘suitcase full' suggested by his prompt. During a wonderful holiday in Ireland in August 1998, we visited the town of Cobh in County Cork. The highlight of that day was ‘The Queenstown Story’ housed in the restored Victorian Railway Station of Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’).

This was a dramatic exhibition, rich in the history of Cobh, which had been re-named Queenstown in honour of a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849, and did not revert back to its old name until 1922.  There were recreations of life on board a convict ship bound for Australia in 1801, The 2.5 million adults and children who emigrated from Ireland via Cobh on 'Coffin Ships’ to escape the famines and poverty, were also commemorated. The ill-fated Titanic which sank on her maiden voyage was remembered because Cobh was her last port of call. We also relived the World War 1 sinking of the Lusitania at Kinsale, off Cork Harbour in 1915, with the loss of 1198 lives, an act which was to bring the USA into the war. Outside the exhibition, on the quayside stood a statue of Annie Moore and her brothers, who left Cobh on New Year’s Day 1892 for a new life in America; she was the first emigrant ever to be processed in Ellis Island. This was one of those ‘living’ exhibitions’ where the voices of the people and the sounds of everydy life aboard ship were re-created. Reading some of the stories of those early emigrants was very moving.

The town itself was charming, and colourful with so much to see and do. I had made a scrapbook of the holiday and jotted some notes alongside the photographs, postcards, maps and tickets, and I noted that after visiting the exhibition we admired a Mexican ship which was in port. The smart young officer and ratings, in full dress uniform, turned heads about the town. It was a warm and sunny day and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park near St Colman’s Cathedral.

So from Alan’s possible themes list I managed holidays, railways, ships, Ireland and travel....but no handcarts! The latter were probably more in evidence at our next day’s outing - a tasting trip to the Jameson Whiskey Heritage Centre - but I can’t remember....I wonder why.


  1. I had never heard of Cobh before. It sounds like an interesting place to visit.

  2. How very interesting. I'm so used to viewing immigration from the receiving end. I love to see it from the other side. We are planning a trip to the UK next summer. Might have to add Queenstown as a destination.

  3. Sounds like you took your life in hand to board a ship from that port.

  4. It is an interesting poster. They were always willing to sell a ticket to get somewhere. The safety of the trip was never questioned.

  5. Interesting visit to a place which many, many emigrants would have known first-hand. I have seen the name of the port of Queenstown written at the head of many passenger manifests, but never knew that it was now called Cobh.

  6. I never knew that Cobh had been named Queenstown at one time and new little about the emigrants I'm ashamed to say. Interesting post Nell.

  7. I was born in Ireland but brought up in various other places. Holidays generally involved seeing grandparents but also visiting various parts of Ireland, Cobh included. I remember none of it. :( But your post has inspired me to revisit.

  8. My daughter went to Cobh and said that she could feel the sadness in the air. Such hard times for Ireland. I don't know where my Irish ancestors sailed from; some of the family went to the States and others came here to New Zealand. A very interesting post.

  9. As always Nell, you take us on a delightful trip - and your choice of destination, Cobh, is a place I have always wanted to visit. I have enjoyed accompanying you so much I think I might tag along for the distillery trip as well!

  10. Nell, wow ... what a great post so full of history and interesting facts. You gave me a lot to think about. I loved the pictures too.

    Thanks so much for sharing, and for paying me a visit.

    Kathy M.

  11. Quite interesting. And the ship with all the lovely flags is wonderful.

  12. Now you really have me wishing to plan a trip! What an interesting place to visit. Such mixed feeling the port must have produced - anticipation of happiness, fear of the trip itself and a little melancholy at leaving loved ones behind.

    Wonderful post! If you ever make it here, you will have to visit the distilleries in Kentucky. :) Now that is something I might be able to do some weekend!

  13. Beautiful photos and interesting stories. Right away the antique first one drew me in. I learned much here including the original name of Queenstown. You did a great job keeping the scrapbook.

  14. perhaps there was a handcart after perhaps too much whiskey?!?
    a most enjoyable post!! and you weren't kidding about scrapbooking. nice job!! you show here a sailboat and it makes me think of those i saw last friday at the old port. they drew in a nice crowd!!

  15. A lovely post, highly evocative of the plight of those who had no choice to emigrate to an unknown land, with no hope of ever returning. A similar fate happened to many generations in the Canary Islands, swept up by the Spanish to populate their new conquests in the Americas. They included the entire founding council of the new city of San Antonio, Texas, whose Mayor and First Alderman both came from Teguise, the then capital of Lanzarote.