FIRST LOOK: Cobh’s historic ‘Heartbreak Pier’ is getting a makeover
More than one million emigrants walked its boards en route to a new life in North America, the UK and beyond.
Now the 150-year-old pier structure at the rear of the White Star Line building in Cobh, where Titanic’s 123 Queenstown passengers met their fate, is set for a much-needed facelift.
One of the most historically important piers in Ireland, known locally as Heartbreak Pier, the dilapidated structure is set for significant investment under an ambitious plan to protect and conserve it as a poignant tourist destination for Ireland’s Ancient East.
Under the plans, access to Heartbreak Pier will be from a gated entryway in the Promenade. Interpretive information stations will take visitors on an emotive journey to experience first hand the sights, sounds and stories of 19th and 20th century emigration from Ireland and they will once again be able to step on an original plank, the same last point of land contact for emigrating passengers.
An artists impression also shows an impressive sail detail, proposed as a new landmark for the seaside town. The works are expected to be completed by March 2019.
There have been many calls made over the years to invest and save the decaying skeleton from inevitable collapse, but ownership of the pier was somewhat of a mystery and challenging to the cause. After three years of research, Titanic Experience Cobh Ltd. purchased it outright in 2015.
The first steps involved securing the existing structure, which at the time was at serious risk of being swept away in heavy storms. Using hidden angle pinning, the structure was carefully stabilised without visually impacting the integrity of the pier. A number of pieces that had fallen off were reattached also as part of the work, which was carried out in December 2015 and January 2016, in conjunction with Cork County Council and Port of Cork.
“The pier at Cobh as a structure was sure to be lost to the sea, and with it a significant piece of history.” said Gillen Joyce, proprietor and manager of the Titanic Experience and partner in a joint project with Cork County Council and Port of Cork to save this historic pier.
“Having transformed the White Star Line building, and seen firsthand the impact of the site on visitors as well as the region, we felt passionately about saving ‘Heartbreak Pier’ and ensuring that it would not be lost to the elements,”