Green Green Ireland, Cobh (pronounced Cove), Cork and Kinsall
Now that we are finally in Ireland, we understand why it is called the Emerald Isle…lush and green. We disembark from our cruise ship at Cobh and travel 20 minutes directly to Cork. Cork is a small city with lots of personality and seemingly so perfectly Irish. As with many small towns in Europe, it is on a river. We pass by old bridges as well as a spectacular modern new one, shaped like a harp on its side. It is slow going for our bus as we have hit Cork at rush hour. The road curves like a snake through the busy downtown as it follows the river. We are headed to the famous Blarney Castle.
The history surrounding the castle is fascinating. Controlled for many years by the McCarthy clan, it has been kept in very good shape, but is not inhabited. It is very spectacular, tall and large… but the real draw for us were the gardens and the estate on which the castle is located.
At Blarney Castle we are taken aback with the beauty of the woods, gardens, stables and Druid stones and of
course, to top it off, a medieval castle peeking through the tops of the trees on a hill beyond. The grounds seem very mystical to us, and evidently to others as well, as we find some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here. There are witch’s stones, Celtic gardens, and many references to Druids, knights and life in the 1200’s. The scenery was just stunning against the overcast sky, with dark and mysterious, trees, bushes and plants we had never seen.
Okay, so you’re going to ask if we kissed the Blarney Stone. The answer is NO! We elect not to kiss the Blarney stone. First of all, it was an hour’s wait in line and then you must lean backwards and have your feet held by others, in order to give it a kiss. No thanks! We will just have to take our chances that we will have the “gift of blarney” without the kiss. ;-)
On part of the estate, there is the Village of Blarney. It is totally charming and sits on an outcrop of the castle. We are told that it is one of the finest examples of an “estate town” in all
of Ireland. In 1765 James St. John Jeffreys, laid out the town and began building homes for the workingmen. Also, the Blarney Woolen Mills were born as the river was used for the energy at the mills. Blarney tweed won a world reputation for excellence. In it’s heyday in the 1700 and 1800’s the woolen good were used in fashion houses in London, New York and Paris.
Today the old woolen manufacturing plant has now been converted to the largest retail store in Ireland. Beautiful Irish woolens, scarves, coats, sweaters, and coats at amazing prices were sooooo tempting. However, since we do not have any space in our suitcases, we passed ;-).
After a break for a coffee and muffin, we boarded our bus. Just as we were leaving the parking lot….a woman came running up the aisle to say that she had left her camera somewhere in the Woolen Mill store. UT OH! Since we had already left the parking lot, the gracious driver told her that he would turn the bus around, giving her about 3 minute to run in and try to find her camera. I’m not even going to tell you what everyone
on the bus was thinking as there may be children reading this LOL… She tore off the bus running, and unbelievably, she returned with her camera within 2 minutes….we all cheered because we could relate to the trauma of losing a camera!
Out into the countryside as we drove towards Kinsall a small fishing village on St. George’s Channel. We passed through green and beautiful rolling countryside with dairy cows and “jumping woolies”. We loved the name “jumping woolies” for sheep ;-) Before arriving in Kinsall, we stopped at the mouth of the harbor to tour Charles Fort. There was a similar fort on the opposite side of the channel. During WW II, the Irish stretched a cable across the channel between the 2 forts to stop U boats from entering the harbor.
Kinsall is a small fishing village, built around a semicircular harbor with shops and places of business all around the harbor. Since it was lunch time, we took Ian’s recommendation, and had fish and chips and fish stew at Dino’s, a local restaurant.
After lunch we bought an official Irish Team Jersey that will be used in the European Cup this summer.
The Irish are very excited that their team will compete. We also found a little used bookshop that had a wonderful atmosphere….Jean would love to have this little shop. Just as we were leaving, a lovely fog started rolling in to the harbor and made for a beautiful backdrop to our leaving this part of the world.
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