If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “My ancestors were from County Cork,” I would be rich. Of course people did hail from County Cork, however, many more left from County Cork at the port of Queenstown (now Cobh). What stuck in the mind of the immigrant was County Cork or just Cork. It was this information which was passed down through the generations.
When you think of the port of Queenstown (Cobh), think in terms of Liverpool or New York City. It was a huge port servicing ships worldwide. Ships would leave from Queenstown directly to other ports or the ships from other ports would dock in Queenstown to pick up additional crew, passengers and cargo.
Let me put this in perspective. Between 1848 and 1950, it is estimated some 6 million people left Ireland. Of those, 2.5 million left through Queenstown/Cobh alone. The Cobh Heritage Centre is an excellent place to learn more about this fascinating piece of
history: www.cobhheritage.comThis museum is top-notch. Upon my visit there a few years ago, I walked away with a better understanding and appreciation for what the Irish went through. The museum presents both the triumph and the tragedy of the experience.
While I may be concentrating on “Cork” be aware similar quirks exist for the other major Irish ports of Belfast, Dublin and Londonderry/Derry. Whenever I hear “My ancestors were from [pick your port city], I assume the ancestors at least left through there.