January 18, 2004
Yesterday we made our way from Kilarney to Cork with a stop at strategic Charles Fort along the way. Our guide explained to us that its position on the water's edge made it a central fortification for the city Kinsale. The way the channel runs, ships would have to sail along the edge about a few hundred yards from the land. It was easy, then, for soldiers from the fort to fire on the ships point blank. The fort's only weakness was that it was surrounded by hills that were locations from which it could be attacked. And, in fact, it was only about 10 years after it was built that it was attacked and taken over.
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Today, we visited the Cobh Heritage Centre. I don't think I realized before today that the Titanic made its last voyage from Ireland. I knew the city was Queenstown, but that's not an Irish name, so I hadn't put the two together. The town is named Cobh today, which is a more traditional Irish name. In addition to stories about the Titanic and the Lusitania, we heard stories about the emigrants aboard other ships during the famine. It's not even possible for me to fathom the hardships these people must have faced. First, the conditions on the ship were brutal. It was hard to tell how long the voyage might take and food rations were short. Then, and what I would think would be most tragic, they would have to leave Ireland and their families, never to be heard from again.