They sailed steerage on the Nevada out of Cobh – the island in Cork Harbour – on 20 December 1892. One hundred years later, the Irish sculptor Jeanne Rhynhart was commissioned to create two statues of Annie – one for Cobh, and the other for New York.
So now Annie stands as a symbol of the many millions of Irish who embarked on that very same journey. The reason? On arrival in the States, she was the first-ever immigrant to be processed at the new Customs facility on Ellis Island.
Viking long ships and Norman cargo vessels. Spaniards and Barbary pirates. Convict ships bound for Australia and emigrant ships to America. Trading vessels taking hides, butter and beef from Ireland’s lush green fields and Golden Vale out across the world. Or bringing in wine, hops and spices.
The schooner Hellas, arriving with the first consignment of tea to Ireland in 1835, for Samuel Bewley. The Titanic, making its final port of call. These are just some of those who have dropped anchor along this coastline, and who have set sail from here too.
For while the locals are drawn to its wide golden beaches, its historic merchant cities and picturesque seafaring towns, this South East corner is relatively undiscovered by those from further afield. So sitting in a café or at a quayside bar, the voices you’ll hear will most likely be Irish, and the talk will be of the game of hurling, or the latest goings on in Ireland’s parliament.
To be sure there are some oddities here and there: accents that are half Irish and half French, say – or half German, Spanish or Dutch. Clues perhaps to the South East coast’s cosmopolitan, laidback feel, and its strong gastronomic reputation.