A coastal drive south of Cork,Ireland

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October 20th 2013
Published: October 23rd 2013
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The weather looked promising when we woke after a good night’s sleep and we hope that it continues for the day as our plan is to drive down to the coast south of Cork and explore the coastline.

The roundabouts in Ireland are even more confusing than those in England where you have to get into the right lane for exiting the roundabout or you will get tooted at if you get it wrong and obviously put yourself at risk of getting rammed! And the one at the hotel that we had to negotiate to get on our way was a doosy as it went under a main highway and had 4 sets of traffic lights in it to add to the need for concentration. It took us two attempts to get in the right lane which meant we actually exited the roundabout on more than one occasion but had to come back to try again and get the right road to take us out towards the coast.

Ahead of us and from our elevated road position towards the coast, the scenery had disappeared and we were soon to find out why. Moments later the heaviest rain we have encountered on the BBA V2 engulfed us necessitating a slow down to drive safely. The rain passed almost as quickly as it had arrived and we splashed on through surface water coving the road when we made it down to the flat run towards the coast. We were beginning to wonder if we were going to be able to see and do anything on the coast once we made it there but thankfully the weather continued to improve as we got nearer to Kinsale on the R607. Then we came across an odd thing, given the sheets of rain we had driven through a few kilometres further back inland, and that was a completely dry road ahead of us. No rain had fallen here for some time yet we had come in almost a straight line and we could still see the deluge of rain behind us moving inland. Most weird!

Heading down the hill into the harbour town of Kinsale we noticed another of those quirky things only found in Ireland and that was a notice warning motorists to ‘Watch out for Road Bowling’. And there they were a group of half a dozen young men bowling balls, like lawn bowls, on the side of the road. Just what the game was all about and what the rules and aims of the game were we shall never know as another heavy shower of rain swept across our path although it didn’t stop the men from their activity.

We took a short stop in the town of Kinsale to buy lunch and would have taken a walk around the town as it looked interesting but the return of a heavy rain shower stopped any idea we had in that.

Driving on towards the coast we arrived at the Old Head of Kinsale where we had read there were some interesting walks to take in and around the lighthouse and cliffs. And with the rain now cleared and weather out to sea looking brighter we thought we would have at least an hour to do some walking.

That would have been OK had it not been that our information on the walking at the lighthouse clearly being out of date as the promontory was close off to the general public as there was now a private golf course there. We later read that the locals have been protesting since access was closed off and at times the protest has taken the form of ‘Peoples Picnics’ when people have somehow got by the gate and set up to picnic and protest. We could have tried that today but although the rain had gone the wind was still blowing strongly and we would have had to tie anything in the open down so it didn’t fly away. We had our lunch in the car and then took a walk as close as we dared to the vertical cliffs outside of the gate to the golf course to take in the scenery up and down the coast. With the current weather pattern the Atlantic Ocean was rolling in with sizeable swells crashing spectacularly far below us on the rocks.

The headland is also famous in history for the point of land closest to where the British liner the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U Boat in 1915 with the loss of 1198 lives.

Driving south, away from the headland, the land before us was gently rolling and under the sky which was still relatively dark even though the rain had gone, the grass looked an even more intense green than we have seen in the past few days. It may also have had something to do with the different light that we had on the coast.

At Courtmacsherry Bay there were people out wind surfing in the strong breeze. They were travelling so fast they were difficult to photograph other than on a long lens. More surprising though were the surfers and for goodness sake the swimmers without wet suits on! They were either crazy or drunk or both!

The road followed a harbour that ran deep inland and at one point we had a family of 2 adult swans and their 5 signets flying in formation ahead and off to the harbour side of us only metres off the water. We couldn’t catch up with them which indicated they were flying at 30kph at least. Then they suddenly lifted from their low flight in unison and crossed the road heading inland and disappeared.

Clonakilty was another traditional Irish seaside town with a narrow main street that hadn’t altered for 150 years or more and with the sun now out we stopped to take a walk. To our pleasure we discovered another Mr Simms Sweetshop (we hadn’t realised but they must be a chain in the UK and Ireland) and topped up our supplies of éclairs, liquorice allsorts and chocolate mints. One disappointment is that no one seems to make the old style coffee mints any more.

Heading for home we took the N71, the main inland road towards Cork. At Bandon, we passed by the Graham Norton River Walk named after the BBC television chat show host who lived in the town.

At the intriguingly named village of Halfway we crossed over the Owenboy River which gave rise to a smile for both of us as we were reminded of our very good friend Owen back in NZ who would be catching up with again soon in the person.

Our approach to the hotel thankfully didn’t require us to negotiate the roundabout again which was a relief after this morning’s efforts.

We finished off a pleasurable day out after some wonderful coastal and rural scenery taken in along with the villages and towns we stopped in or past through. Dinner was at the diner next door to the hotel. We felt we owed them something after getting their internet free for the 2 nights we have been here!

Additional photos below
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24th October 2013

Road bowling has history
Interesting game played mainly in County Cork and County Armagh...which fits your location! It has been round for 300+ years and often gambling is involved to bet on who can take the least number of throws to get their ball or bullet along the set course of country roads. The ball is actually a cannonball of set size and weight!
24th October 2013

Wished we had stopped to find out first hand but it was raining.The Irish don't seem to mind the rain but guess that is because it rains a lot!

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