That Sinking Feeling

It’s nice to feel welcome.

We were guided into the town of Cobh by friendly little blue motorhome signs, directing us to the carpark by the railway station where there are dedicated bays for vans to stop for a night or two. It’s not a campsite and there are no facilities. It was just some parking spaces and a little sign saying that we’re happy to have you stay a couple of nights. And it was pretty much full. We only stayed one night, but we went out for dinner, visited a couple of the museums and went to the supermarket – not a bad return for the town of Cobh.

Feeling wanted

The view was great, overlooking Haulbowline Island and the approach into Cork harbour. Behind us was the line into the town’s train station. It’s true to say that the trains were a little noisy, but there weren’t many running overnight.

The view

Oh, and we were dwarfed. Our little van looked lost in a sea of enormous motorhomes. As we sat by the van having a cup of tea and watching the world go by we could hear a group of teens approaching along the promenade that ran between the parking area and the water. “That one’s really cool” they agreed, before noticing us sat there. We smiled. They looked startled, they blushed, giggled and hastily went upon their way. So there you have it, Betty Bus – officially declared to be much cooler than your average motorhome.


Cobh has also been known by the names of Cove and Queenstown in the past and has a long history of emigration. Almost half of the people that emigrated from Ireland did so through the port of Cobh (then Queenstown). Many left via Cobh for entirely different reasons, as convicts loaded on ships to be transported to Australia. These in themselves were reason enough to visit the town, but there are also two infamous maritime tragedies are closely linked to the town.


On 11th April, 1912 the RMS Titanic made it’s final port of call at Cobh before beginning the final leg of it’s fateful journey to New York, a destination it would never reach. Of the one hundred and twenty three passengers that boarded that day, only forty four survived. The story of the Titanic is one we all know, but the museum housed in the White Star Line’s ticket office is still worth a visit. The first part of the tour is guided and we were lucky enough to get the tour all to ourselves. The derelict pier where the passengers boarded the tenders to be taken to the ship (The Titanic was too large to dock at Cobh) still remains, a ghostly reminder of that tragic voyage.

RMS Titanic Model

Loading pier

Across the road is the Queenstown museum, which gives a much broader view of the towns history, including the WWI sinking of the RMS Lusitania on 7th May, 1915, victim to a U-Boat’s torpedo attack. Both survivors and the dead were bought ashore to Cobh and over one hundred of the one thousand, one hundred and ninety eight people who lost their lives are buried in the town. There have been many controvosies and conspiracy theories around the sinking of the Lusitania. The Germans claimed the ship was carrying ammunition and was therefore a legitimate target. The British have always denied this. Divers have found some evidence of munitions aboard the wreck, although not in any great quantity. Some believe the sinking could have been prevented and was allowed to happen to bring the Americans into the war, although if that were true it was a tactic that failed. The truth is lost in the mists of time.

We’d enjoyed our time in Cobh, it had been interesting and educational, but it was time to move on and head further East. We’d visited Hook Head when we first arrived in Ireland and it looked a great place to camp for the night, but a broken alternator belt had meant we’d had to find a campsite and an electric hookup to charge our batteries. We decided to try again. In the calmer sunny weather we were experiencing it felt a different, much less wild place than we’d seen two weeks earlier. It was the perfect place to spend the night.

Hook Head


6 thoughts on “That Sinking Feeling

    • Both great places to visit, but for very different reasons. Some lovely coastal walking around Hook Head, a few seals to be seen too. Glad to have evoked good memories.

  1. Hi again to you two,
    Just read this (and the next one – Longest Day), feeling more and more envious as I went along.
    We know what it’s like to be surrounded by huge motorhomes, getting the same feeling last year in Bavaria and Austria. One German ‘bus’ seemed to have more axles than we had gears! We were the only residents on that site when he arrived (early May) and…
    you guessed: he parked right next door to us!
    Our alternator belt also gave up the ghost in Germany. We got superb service (as always) from the nearest VW garage, unlike some of them in UK!
    We’ve had a few jaunts ourselves this year… France, Devon & Cornwall, Northumberland, Scarborough and Cheshire, so must get them written up and posted, although there is some info about our various trips since 2012 on the T4 forum. Look me up as Basscamp67 if you wish.

    Great blog. Please keep it up.

    • Ireland was a funny place with regard to camper vans. Generally the motorhome was definitely king, but there were funny little pockets, like the campsite at Mannix Point, where there were lots of camper vans! Kind of like the camper van’s last stand 😮

      The Alternator belt does seem to be a weak point on early T4s. We always carry a spare 🙂 They changed the design on the later 2.4 engines and did away with the v belt.

      I’ve seen your posts on the T4 forum in the past, I like finding out where people are going with there vans, gives us plenty of new ideas. Northumberland is definitely on the list.

      • Northumberland: we can definitely recommend the Camping Club site at Dunstan Hill, which is handy for beaches (enormous, and even better, almost deserted), plus Craster (smokehouse, etc), Alnwick (Harry Potter, if you must), Bamburgh Castle, Berwick on Tweed, etc., etc. Didn’t see many wild camping places, but we weren’t looking. No doubt they’re there somewhere!

        Now started having thoughts about next year’s ‘big trip’: probably into Europe again, but who knows? We have to get to Annecy sooner or later – out of high season of course. ACSI card rules OK! No doubt there will be other shorter trips in UK – the hit list is getting longer week by week.

      • Cheers for the info Geoff. I’d also like to go back to Seahouses as I remember a good fish and chip shop there! And the Farne Islands for the seals 🙂

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