Wild Atlantic Family Research on Tour
A few weeks ago, WAFR left the beautiful county of Galway to head south. Our destination? Cork. Ireland is a small country but Cork is quite far away from the stone walls of the west. Four hours later we arrived in Cobh (until 1922 known as ‘Queenstown’).
Those who left Ireland will be aware of Cobh’s history. As myself and Mr WAFR stepped out onto the balcony at the Titanic Experience I did feel very sorry for all those people who left Ireland against their will, hoping to find better things in the USA or Canada or wherever their journey took them. ‘Heartbreak Pier’ as it is locally known is the original prier and last point of land contact with Cobh. The Titanic passengers were only a few of the millions to leave from that spot.
Cobh is quite a beautiful place (even in the rain) and though the Titanic didn’t call to the town (it waited offshore where tenders ferried the passengers out to save time), it is unnerving to imagine the excitement of those passengers awaiting the trip. Everyone entering the old White Star Line Offices is given a boarding card recording the name of a real passenger. These were the final passengers to board the ship before it left for New York. At the end of the tour you find out the fate of that passenger. Morbid? Perhaps. However, it does bring into sharp focus the fact that these were real people not just statistics.
Unfortunately, my passenger Mary Bourke did not survive. Mary was aged 40 and lost at sea. She was known as one of the ‘Addergoole Fourteen’, a group who set out from Co. Mayo. She was travelling with her brother John and his wife. It is said, that she refused to leave her brother, giving up a place in a lifeboat to stay with him. The sale of the family land after the death of their stepmother is thought to have paid for their passage. In May 1912, the Western People reported that ‘... when the first news of the appalling catastrophe reached their friends the whole community was plunged into insufferable grief’.
Despite the sad end, the town of Cobh does not shirk from its history but remembers those who lost their lives on that night in 1912.