Just as Americans today celebrate 4th of July–their Independence Day– wherever they find themselves around the World, such was also the case in foreign climes during the American Civil War. Cork Harbour has long had strong connections with North America, and in 1862 many U.S. nationals found themselves there on their national day. Efforts to celebrate the 4th in the Harbour centred around the U.S. Consul in Queenstown (now Cobh). He was joined by many other Americans, British and Irish aboard the steamer Black Eagle, as they set off on an excursion about the area. The Cork Examiner reported on the occasion, a piece that was later picked up by the New York Irish American. 

Roche's Point, Cork Harbour by Charles W. Bash

“The boat steamed out beyond the light-house” Roche’s Point Lighthouse, at the entrance to Cork Harbour (Photo Copyright Charles W. Bash) 


This great American festival, the anniversary of the independence of the United States, was celebrated yesterday in Cork Harbour, by an aquatic excursion and pic-nic, at which the United States’ Consul, Mr. P.J. Devine, and the Captain of all the American ships in the harbour, were present, as well as the consular representatives of several other powers, and a large party of ladies and getlemen. Mr. Dawson, of Queenstown, was the host on the occasion, and his steamer, the Black Eagle, having been put in readiness for the trip, was furnished with a plentiful store of viands, with which to satidfy the sharp calls of appetite that it was anticipated would be evoked by the sea breezes. About twelve o’clock, the party were on board, consisting of, besides Mr. Dawson and family, a large number of gentlemen and ladies from Queenstown, Passage, and their neighborhoods, and the following American gentlemen, besides the American Consul: Capt. Lovel, ship Ortolan, Ellsworth, Maine; Capt. Chipman, Harry Booth, New York; Capt. Gilmore, Lillias, Belfast, Maine; Capt. Chiney, H.D. Brookman, New York; Capt. Hungerford, Mary McRae, New York; Capt. Little, William Creevy, Philadelphia; Capt. Little, C.D. Mervin, New York; Capt. Haskell, Charles and Jane, Boston. The Italian and Greek Consuls were also present, and the Austrian Consul was represented in the person of his son.

The morning was very well suited for an aquatic excursion, being bright, clear, and warm, and the appearance of the sky giving every promise of a continuance of the same weather. The waters were ruffled by a light breeze, which tempered what might otherwise have been the oppressive heat of the sun, and the spacious harbour, with its many ships lying scattered over its bosom, as well as the beautiful scenery surrounding it on every side, looked to the best advantage. The steamer left the quay at twelve o’clock, and steamed out towards the harbour’s mouth, with the Stars and Stripes flying, saluting as she passed the several American vessels that lay on her way out, all of which, having their flags flying in honor of the day, returned the compliment. The boat steamed out beyond the light-house, and the party landed by permission at Trabolgan, where they walked about for some time, enjoying the vast prospect of the boundless ocean that lay before them, and admiring the many beauties of the Trabolgan domain. Dinner having been served and done full justice to, Mr. Devine, the American Consul, who occupied the chair, proceeded to propose the toasts and sentiments which had been prepared for the occasion. Unfortunately, however, a change very much for the worse had taken place in the aspect of the weather shortly before; the rain had begun to come down unpleasantly thick, and a general disposition was manifested towards a retreat on board the steamer, which necessarily obliged the proceedings to be cut short. The Consul, therefore, after expressing the high honor he felt at having such a distinguished company assembled to commemorate what in America was proudly called “Independence Day,” proposed, without any further remark the following toasts and sentiments, each of which, as he read it, was warmly received and drunk with due honors:-

1st. The day we celebrate- May it be our happiness, on its anniversary next recurring, to commemorate the reunited consolidation of the Great Republic.

2d. The President of the United States- As a statesman and patriot he has shown himself faithful to the high trust reposed in him by the people.

3d. The Queen of Great Britain- May her reign continue to be prosperous and glorious.

4th. The United States- The home of the oppressed of all nations, especially so of the sons of Ireland.

5th. Ireland- Faithful and true now as heretofore to the United States.

6th. The friends and promoters of trade and commerce in Queenstown.

Mr. John Dawson responded briefly. The next toast was;

The consular representatives of other nations who have favored us this day with their presence and sympathy.

Mr. Malori, on behalf of the consular body, briefly returned thanks.

“The Ladies” was next given and received with the enthusiasm due to the sentiment. It was responded to by Mr. Page, after which “The Press” was give and duly responded to, when the party re-embarked on board the steamer and returned to Queenstown, arriving there shortly after seven o’clock.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m12!1m3!1d3211.5964491083073!2d-8.236803010601758!3d51.794736495687694!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sie!4v1467644407549&w=600&h=450]

Trabolgan beach, where the 4th of July revellers spent much of their day in 1862. If you zoom out from this Google Maps view you will be able to see Cork Harbour and Cobh, from where the party set off.


New York Irish American Weekly 2nd August 1862. The Fourth of July in Queenstown

Charles W. Bash Flickr Page