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    From Cobh to Ellis Island: 5,000 kilometres into history

    On the morning of 2 January 1892, New Yorkers woke up to a story that would define their city as the immigration capital of the world for the next 100 years

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    Crammed and squeezed into a vertical sliver of space in The New York Times, the article headline read: “LANDED ON ELLIS ISLAND: NEW IMMIGRATION BUILDINGS OPENED YESTERDAY.” The poor, the sick, the hopeful and the fearful flooded through the gate of Ellis Island that day.

    And as The New York Times told the city, “A rosy-cheeked Irish girl was the first registered”. That girl was Annie Moore.

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    Cobh harbour, County Cork

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    Annie Moore statue, Cobh, County Cork

    Hands stretching across an ocean

    Along the elegant stretch of promenade stands Annie Moore. Her two brothers bustle about her legs and you instantly imagine them yanking at her dress, asking her unending questions and looking to her for comfort about the journey ahead. Just like her statue at Ellis Island, though, Annie’s face doesn’t begin to hint at nerves.

    Was this a teenager beyond her years, or was she simply utterly unconscious of the part she was about to play in the story of Ireland’s emigration?

    A new beginning

    Scholar and tour guide Dr Michael Martin has, in his own words “expounded the virtues of Cobh's past on the Titanic Trail Guided Walking Tour every day since 1998”. Over that time he has come to empathise with Ireland’s emigrants leaving Cobh, Annie Moore included.

    “I am not so sure if she was scared or if she felt other emotions,” he says. “At only 14 years of age and looking after two younger brothers, it must have been an exciting and perhaps exhilarating experience. If one had never been on a transatlantic voyage there would be no idea what was in store.”

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    Cobh, County Cork