It’s a story of comings and goings, of light and shade, of welcome and unwelcome arrivals, and of life-changing departures. This laidback coast has far-off sea ports in its soul …

Discover the story of our Maritime Gateway in Ireland's Ancient East

Discover the story of our Maritime Gateway in Ireland's Ancient East
It took 12 days for 17-year-old Annie Moore and her brothers to reach New York.
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.
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Left: Reginald's Tower and a typical wooden Viking ship. Right: Tall Ships at Waterford Harbour during the Tall Ships Race
The story of Ireland’s Maritime Gateway – its South East coast – is one of constantly changing times and tides, of sunlight and shadow. Of friendly and less friendly landings, and of poignant farewells.
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.
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Left: Aerial view, Kilmore Quay, Wexford. Right: A crowd of entertainers taming a bull during Waterford Spraoi parade
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.
Looking back on the history of Waterford Quays
Looking back on the history of Waterford Quays
And the great thing is, you can find these layers of history in what is still a coast less travelled.
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.
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Left: Hook Lighthouse overlooking the sea. Right: The Lusitania's gripping history will always be connected to Cobh
It’s as if the Maritime Gateway’s connections with distant seaports got into its soul … and never left.
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