Titanic ‘Heartbreak Pier’ to become visitor attraction in Cobh

An artist's impression of the proposed design for the visitor attraction

This is an artist’s impression of a proposed upgrade of a derelict pier from which more than a million people emigrated from Ireland, including 123 passengers who boarded a tender out to the ill-fated Titanic.

Known locally, in Cobh, Co Cork, as Heartbreak Pier, it’s hoped it will be refurbished as a tourist attraction to coincide with its 150th birthday next year. It’s estimated that more than 1m people walked on it as they emigrated to Australia and the US. Ownership of the pier was unclear for a number of years. However, after a lengthy process to identify the title holder, the pier was finally purchased by Titanic Experience Cobh Ltd in 2014.

A joint venture between Port of Cork, Cork County Council, and Titanic Experience was initiated to stabilise the structure in December 2015 and January 2016.

The design incorporates new steel piles alongside the existing piles that had collapsed. They are visually unobtrusive and do not detract from the overall look of the pier. Hidden angle connections have been installed to the joints, as have new bolts which match existing connections as far as is possible. .

“We did not want to alter the haunting look of the pier,” said Titanic Experience managing director Gillen Joyce.

“We wanted to preserve the existing structure as much as possible. This pier is history.”

An estimated 1m emigrants stepped on to ships and tenders from Heartbreak Pier as they left Ireland for Australia and the United States
An estimated 1m emigrants stepped on to ships and tenders from Heartbreak Pier as they left Ireland for Australia and the United States

A suspended viewing area will be added to the pier and it will feature interpretive signs and touch-screen technology detailing its history and stories about some of the people who emigrated from it.

Meanwhile, the Titanic Experience, on the site of the former White Star Line offices, has opened new exhibition sections which will provide visitors with the sights, sounds, and even smells from the great liner.

“We have always tried to give an immersive experience here, and with our new exhibits we take this further, bringing our key stories to life. You will now hear first-hand accounts of the sinking from survivors, meet character portrayals, and experience the rescue of more than 700 survivors on board Carpathia,” said Mr Joyce.

Thanks to funding received from Fáilte Ireland under the New Ideas In Ancient Spaces support scheme, the completed works include new character projections, audio stations and audio-visual presentations.

Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s head of programmes for Ireland’s Ancient East, said she was very excited by the Cobh project and hoped it would add to its 80,000 visitors per year.


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