The ride to Cobh was very bumpy. We traveled through another storm on our way and once again jumping and hopping was our mode of transportation throughout the ship. I was very thankful for the hand railings throughout the ship. I am thinking this will not be the last of our rock and roll ride on this cruise. We have to keep in mind we have not even reached the open Atlantic.
As we arrived in Cobh, the ship sailed up the coastline thru the large natural harbor for about two miles. It appeared that the entire town had come out to welcome the ship. People were lined up along every available viewing space on streets and piers. As we pulled up to the dock they were waving and cheering and a musical band was playing. I felt the sense of a good Irish welcome. A brief rain storm came through as we were docking and it didn’t seem to dampen any of the spirit. No one left, but the umbrellas came up. As the storm passed, it was a pleasant surprise to see a double rainbow appear over town. I could only think of how incredible it was to have this part of our welcome to Cobh. Maybe this was a good sign of luck. We have heard that Margaret might have said of her experience on the Titanic that ‘it was pure Brown Luck- Unsinkable.”
We disembarked the ship for a Harbor Titanic Tour and walked through the masses that had come out to welcome us, as well as to attend other events underway for the Anniversary Cobh Titanic Heritage. As we walked through the crowds I could feel the spirit, friendliness, and overall Irish spirit. I thought that perhaps Margaret’s spirit was also being felt since her parents, John Tobin and Johanna Collins emigrated from Ireland. In fact, her father came from Fermoy, Ireland in 1823, a town just 28 miles inland from Cobh. The feeling of excitement must have been significantly different than when they left during the potato famine and political unrest. Both John and Johanna were widowers who moved to Hannibal, Missouri, home to many other Irish settlers, where they met each other and married circa 1862. Later, J.J. and Margaret “retired” to Ireland near the lakes of Killarney from August of 1899 – August of 1900.
Continuing on the harbor tour, we could only imagine how the Titanic would have majestically appeared near the entrance to the harbor to those emigrants. Francis M. Browne, a 32 year-teacher had taken photographs crossing from Southampton. He had requested to continue on the journey to his management, but was told to disembark in Cobh. He had taken 76 pictures during the crossing. Without that decision these pictures of the ship on its voyage, among the few surviving from the Titanic, would also have been lost when Titanic went down.
After the tour, we had a local Irish beer and enjoyed the company and discussion with others in an old Irish pub on the waterfront. I suspect we were sitting in the same chairs that many emigrants had used a 100 years before.
We left later that night, a short turnaround, but not as quick as Titanic! As we departed, we wondered how Margaret felt as Titanic lifted anchor and steamed towards America. Now, she was finally on the last leg of her journey to see her grandson. Little did anyone know that this was the last time Titanic would see land but more importantly many passengers who perished would never see their destination. Now, we are also starting our journey to truly pay our respects.
I feel like I have a broader understanding of her and her journey. Perhaps during the next five days as we travel to the memorial site I will be able to reflect on her experience and develop a deeper understanding of my fascination. There is no doubt that Margaret was a true woman of adventure.
We will be traveling in the open Atlantic for the next four days to eventually arrive at the most significant part of this journey… Paying our Respects.