Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Tale of Cobh

It's a sunny Saturday morning, which is a precious gift in Ireland, and I pack up for the day. I go out of my apartment complex to meet up with two other girls from my program. We head off to catch a bus that will take us to the city's main train station. We get to the train station early and wait for our program director, then we all take off, chatting and laughing, for the town of Cobh. It takes us only about a half hour-to-45 minutes to get there. I wish the train didn't go so fast; I so badly want to stop to pet some horses, and there's a castle ruin right as the River Lee meets the harbor, that I so badly want to sneak off  to. But we stay on the train till we reach the coastal town. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. We walk down the sidewalk from the train station as the sea air blows in, and the sights before us just keep getting better and better. First we go into the Titanic museum and do a 'live' tour so that we can experience what the passengers went through. This is an emotional time for me, standing at the same building and window, on the dock that those passengers stood on all those years ago. Our tour involves going from room to room so that we can experience the inside of the ship. My eyes stare at a wall for a long time, with all the names of the passengers who loaded there in Cobh. Mostly Irish people traveling third class, I learn that many of them were actually around my age. Lot of young guys and girls in their early twenties. I think about how that'd be pretty much the worst death, drowning out in super cold water at night, as as you watch the world's greatest ship sink. Never making it to the Land of Opportunity.

After that sad experience at the Titanic, we walk around the lovely town. Cobh is full of steep streets. At the top of one of these steep streets, the view takes my breath away. The name Cobh is the Irish word for Cove, and when standing on top of the hill, I watch the sea cove sparkle in September sunlight, the birds rising and dipping above it. On top of this hill is a very tall church, and as I look way up at the steeple top against the clouds moving, it looks like the whole steeple might fall down on me. We go inside the magnificent building in a hush. I take a few photos then sit down in the historic pew where bottoms have sat for hundreds of years, and pray. There is something very cool about this, hard to explain. I gaze up at the high ceilings, full of artwork, supported by marble pillars. Wow, I can't imagine the people who built that place.

After the most scrumptious lunch of fish n' chips at a harbor-view restaurant, we walk down to touch the sea. Or, at least, that's what I did! I can't wait to touch it, me being a water-lover. There is no beach, just sea wall, stairs leading into the water for the fishermen, and cobblestones slopes all seaweed-strewn. I stare into the seaweed at all the barnacles. I gather sea glass and shells to take home. Awhile later we have ice cream at a tiny joint, where there's just the coolest sayings all over the walls, then go to the park and sit for awhile. I sit in front of the rail over the water and fishing boats, and pen these words on the page:

                               "For the Beauty of Cobh"
                    On the coast of Cobh I sit and write
                    The day is lovely, rare and bright
                    Fish and chips is my lunch
                    Then on some sweet delight I haply munch
                    I play with slimy seaweed
                    To make haste, I have no need.
                    I find shells and sea glass
                   Some little shops I stop at and pass
                   Tall streets, steep streets, everywhere
                   Sailboats on the water here and there
                   This is where Titanic last came through
                   Loading up with third class Irish crew.
                   Memories, tales, and history here,
                   With the smell of sea air always near
                   Massive church steeples and houses on the hill
                  For the beauty of Cobh, come and get your fill.
                                                                        ~ By Amelia Newman

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