Q is for Queenstown, Ireland

April 20, 2016



This year for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m writing about the 1800s in celebration of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world in 1889, the subject of my new novel based on this adventure: Liz and Nellie.


Elizabeth Bisland never planned on going to Queenstown, Ireland, but when you are racing around the world, you have to be prepared for detours. Queenstown was named such in 1850 when Queen Victoria stopped in for a visit. In the 1920s, Queenstown was changed to Cobh.

Its major historical claims to fame from the 1800s include:

  • being the port from which millions of Irish emigrated during the potato famine,
  • Annie Moore, the first immigrant to be processed through Ellis Island in America
  • last port of call for the Titanic


When Elizabeth was there, she was desperate for a bite to eat, but she had to be quick because they didn’t know when her ship would be sailing. The weather was rough, and as soon as there was an opening, the little boat would be off to connect with the larger Bothnia.

At noon we reach Queenstown, having curved around a fair space of water and past the beautiful city of Cork. The ship has not yet arrived, but will doubtless be here in a few moments, the bad weather having delayed her; and my luggage is all hurried down to the tender, where I should be sent, too, did I not wail with hunger.

The Queen’s Hotel is not far from the station, but the evil luck which has pursued me for the last two days ordains that the kitchen of this hostelry should be undergoing repairs at this particular moment, and no food is to be had. By dint of perseverance, in frantic protest and reckless objurgation, I finally secure a cup of rather cold and bitter tea and a bit of dingy bread that looks as if it had been used to scrub the floor with before being presented to me as a substitute for breakfast.

I am warned to hold myself in readiness for an instantaneous summons to the tender, for when the steamer is signalled there is no time to waste. –Elizabeth Bisland

8 responses to Q is for Queenstown, Ireland

  1. Interesting that was the last port for the Titanic. I think Ireland would be a beautiful place to visit.

    Alex’s Ninja Minion

    • There are some fantastic photos of the Titanic leaving port here. Eerie, knowing what is about to happen to the ship and the people on board.

  2. This sounds so fascinating. I love reading travel stories (fictional or otherwise). I’ll have to check this one out, Shonna.

  3. I’ve never been to Ireland but your book excerpt and pictures made me want to go and I’m certainly curious about Liz and Nellie’s adventure. Nice to make your acquaintance. I’m meeting so many wonderful people doing this challenge. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

  4. Great picture of that old port town . . . and the bits of research highlighted here are brought to life in the excerpt. The novel looks like a story I would like to read — especially because even in this excerpt, Elizabeth’s personality is fascinating. I’m going to check it out! And thank you for visiting me for A2Z this month.

    • Thanks, Beth! But I should clarify that the excerpt is not from my novel, but from the original source material, Elizabeth’s own writings. (And to add more confusion…I did use the source material as the basis for my novel, but I expanded it to create actual scenes.)