|Waterfront Cobh, Ireland|
Charley's family history could be traced to County Kildare and later County Cork and the port of Cobh. From 1848 to 1950 no fewer than 2.5 million emigrants left the port for other lands. During the famine years (named "The Great Potato Famine," although there was a plentiful supply of potatoes but the English demanded the shipments), seventy thousand people left from Cobh to escape the ravages of starvation.
|Statue of Annie Moore and children, representing all those who left to seek a better life.|
We visited "Cobh, the Queenstown Story" exhibit in the Cobh Heritage Center, where we saw convicts' quarters below deck on their way to Australia, "so airless that candles could not burn." We saw families of emigrants in steerage quarters and read their diaries. The howl of a storm almost knocked us off-balance. We saw photos of those who had crossed on the Lusitania before its fateful voyage.
|A passenger documented her Atlantic crossing on the Lusitania 1913|
Before our trip to Ireland, Charley and I had both read Dead Wake by Erik Larson. It's the story of those who sailed on the Lusitania, as well as those who destroyed it, hour by hour from its sailing in New York to its sinking off the Irish coast. We paid a visit to the massive French Gothic St. Colman's Cathedral, out of all proportion to the town, where many of the bodies lay after tragedy struck.
|Cobh waterfront 1880's with St. Colman's Cathedral in background|
|Inside St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh|