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EAST CORK IRELAND
Situated on the coastline of East County Cork, there is no town in Ireland that gives you Ireland's past and present more vividly than Youghal (pronounced Yawl or as in "Y'all come to see us now!") For old time charm and modern leisure, Youghal, meaning yew wood, is situated on the main road from Rosslare and Waterford to Cork and lies at the mouth of the beautiful River Blackwater. Youghal’s most famous citizen, who was also once Mayor of Youghal, is Sir Walter Raleigh. His home, “Myrtle Grove”, was built in 1462 is still lived in today. It is also believed that Sir Raleigh planted the first potatoes here.
The historic walled seaport town of Youghal adjoins a glorious 5km beach of Atlantic Surf. The coastline from Ballycotton to Youghal has been described as an ornithologist’s paradise. It has been designated by the Irish Tourism Board as an Irish Heritage Port, due to the many historic buildings and monuments within its ancient town walls.
From Viking times through Norman times and into the days of Cromwell, Youghal was used as a very conveniently located base from which to "visit" the Southern area of Ireland. The town dates from early Christian times and mirrors all facets of Irish History, blending the heritage of the centuries with a modern seaside holiday resort, and so is steeped in history. It is one of the few towns in Ireland where its 13th century medieval walls still survive. The distinctive Clock Gate spanning the main street was actually a gaol until the middle of the 19th century.
The rich land and sea produce of East Cork is showcased in the local towns farmer’s markets.
Travelling inland, Midleton is a thriving business town, which has managed to retain its old identity. Wide streets for the motorist, colorful shops and friendly people who savor the taste of unhurried life, will delight the visitor here. History has endowed Midleton with numerous castles, which are easily reached from the town centre. The famous Old Midleton Jameson Distillery & Heritage Centre represents the modern face of the town, where you can see the history of the making of Irish whiskey and become a qualified Irish Whiskey Taster.
One of the last stops on East Cork’s coast is Cobh, situated on the southern shore of the Great Island in one of the world’s natural harbors, often compared with Sydney Harbor and San Francisco Bay. The town dates from 1750 when a tiny fishing village was established on the site of the present town. As the country’s premier port of call for transatlantic liners, it was for many years the point of departure for thousands of emigrants who were heading for the New World in search of a better life. Cobh’s situation in one of the world's finest harbors ensured its important role in maritime endeavours for over 200 years. Its strategic importance in several wars will be recalled for visitors:
The American War of Independence put Cobh on the map. Napoleon kept it there and in the reign of Queen Victoria the town grew and prospered. It was there that Queen Victoria first stepped on Irish soil in 1849 and its name was changed to Queenstown to commemorate the occasion. It was as Queenstown that the port rose to prominence as a vital link in trans-Atlantic liner traffic in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its name was changed again in 1920 and as Cobh it continues to serve as an important port of call for the majestic liners travailing the north Atlantic route. Cobh's past glories and history will be remembered in a splendid presentation which will recall the town's part in the world events from the American War of Independence to the great liner traffic of the twentieth century.
The Victorian railway station is the centre where the story of Cobh and Cork Harbour will be told. In a series of galleries and displays, including an audio-visual theatre, visitors will be introduced to the many historical dramas, which occurred in Cobh.
At the Cobh-Queenstown Heritage Centre the sorry plight of convicts bound for Australia will be recalled as will the sad story of the famine emigrants leaving their stricken homes forever. Later emigrants departed from Cobh's quays on board vessels of the great shipping lines, such as Cunard and White Star. The liners had their glamorous and romantic side, but have left two enduring memories at Cobh of the great disasters of the "Titanic " and "Lusitania". The "Titanic" sailed from Cobh, never to touch land again. The sinking of the "Lusitania" in 1915 is still remembered in the town which gave its survivors refuge and a burial place for many of its victims at Old Church Cemetery. The Heritage Centre will tell these stories in a way that is fitting and sympathetic of the endeavour and trauma of the people who were involved.
With all there is to see and do, Cobh is a town too close to the city to be missed!