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The town of Cobh developed from a small village into a significant sea port during the Napoleonic wars when the harbour became an assembly point for the fleets. . Under threat of invasion , protective forts were built on Great Island and the town of Cobh grew into a busy centre to support the Navy and Military. After a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849, the town was renamed "Queenstown" until 1921 when the Urban District Council reverted to the original name of Cobh.

Historically, Cobh is renowned for being a departure point for the transportation of convicts on tall ships to Australia and for Irish emigrants destined for the New World in North America. Approximately 2.5 million left from Cobh out of 6 million adults and children who have emigrated from Ireland during 1848- 1950. To record the unique history of Cobh, The Queenstown Story, a special exhibition of the origins of Cobh and Genealogy Center is at Cobh's Victorian Railway Station. Also on display is Cobh's connection with the liners - Titanic and Lusitania. Cobh was the last port of call of the ill fated Titanic. The Lusitania was torpedoed off the Cork coast with the loss of 1198 lives. A memorial is situated on the quayside.

The Cobh Museum in the former Scots Presbyterian Church houses a fine collection of model ships, boat building tools, photographs and paintings from Victorian times. The magnificent Italinate Old Yacht Club building has been beautifully restored and is now the Sirius Arts Center and home to the Cobh Harbour Chamber of Commerce. Standing proud above the town of Cobh is the imposing St. Colman's Cathedral with its carillon of 42 bells. Designed by Pugin and Ashlin , St. Colman's is a fine example of French Gothic architecture. The Cathedral stems from the diocese of St. Colman in 560 AD, who founded his monastery here.

The environs of Cobh offer superb leisure facilities. Three golf clubs: Harbour Point, Cobh and Fota Island boast of premier courses set in stunning scenery with clubhouse amenities and equipment second to none.

The beautiful Fota Arboretum and Gardens are adjacent to the Fota Wildlife Park on Fota Island. The arboretum at Fota displays an internationally renowned collection of trees and shrubs forming part of the ornamental gardens of Fota House, a magnificent Regency mansion. Fota Wildlife Park is set in 70 acres of natural landscape and is home to a wonderful collection of wild animals from zebras and cheetahs to penguins and wallabies and is open to the public from April through October. The East Cork Bird Trail winds around Great Island, Fota Island and across to Carrigtwohill. This unspoiled trail is home to over 70 species of animal and birdlife and is a birdwatch delight for the enthusiast.

Water sports range from world class deep sea shark and wreck fishing, sea angling and shore fishing. International Sailing at Cobh provides sailing, wind surfing, canoeing, powerboating and boat hire. Harbour cruises operate daily.

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