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.