Ireland, Nov '08 Part II

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December 16th 2008
Published: December 16th 2008
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Part II: Doonbeg to Cobh

This is Part II of the journal of three travelers (Paul, Chris & Kevon) on their trip to Ireland in Nov. of '08. Part II covers Doonbeg to Cobh.

Pub sign on Ireland's west coast. (Chris's pic. -- CP)


Doonbeg to Dingle, Wednesday, Nov. 19th


(Note: If you'd like to hear a little Uillean (Irish) bagpipe and strings music while looking at this journal, click here: and "minimize the YouTube screen to hear the music while reading the journal. There's more links to music when you get to Dingle.)

Back on the road, heading out of tiny Doonbeg, they discovered that they were only about 5 kilometers away from the substantial resort town of Kilkee, filled with pubs that were probably open the night before. They drove to the ferry for the ride over the Mouth of the Shannon, heading for the Dingle peninsula. They stopped in Listowel, where they checked out a church and a castle.

Scenes from the ferry across the Shannon heading for the Dingle Peninsula.

Colorful storefronts in Listowel, County Kerry, the "literary capital of Ireland," since many famous Irish poets and writers were born or lived there.

Statue of the Virgin above St. Mary's Catholic Church, built in 1829.

Interior of St. Mary's.

In front of Listowel Castle, built in the 16th Century.

Candid Listowel shot while wondering if their business was called Tom & Son, Peepers.

In Tralee, where they stopped at the windmill, restored, and had a lunch of soup & stew at Twenty One.

Paul in the doorway of an old cottage near the windmill in Tralee.

Scenes of the Irish countryside, north shore of the Dingle Peninsula.

And into the Slieve Mish Mountains in lowering clouds.

On the one-lane road up to Conor Pass toward Dingle.

At Conor Pass looking north toward Brandon Bay.

And down into the clouds . . . and Dingle on the other side.


On the waterfront in the fishing village of Dingle.

Signage on the quay (waterfront) in Dingle.

Murphy's: first pub in Dingle.

The bar at Murphy's

Kevon with his Obama shirt on, sipping a Murphy's -- at Murphy's. (CP)

Clothing storefront in Dingle.

In a storefront: Comemorative rugby football for last night's NZ-Munster game. (NZ won.)

After touring the quay and stopping by the visitor info center for a list of open B&B's, they hit a few shops before invading their first pub in Dingle, Murphy's. They then headed up toward Goat/Main Street. Paul stuck his head in what he thought was a pub, and an old man with a pint of stout in his hand asked, "Are you going to come in or stand there?" Paul and Chris said that they were they were looking for a place to stay, and the man pointed at an empty stool and replied, "You can stay here!" Paul and Chris looked at each other and laughed and said, “Well, that’s a good point."

Little did they know it was the famous Dick Mack's, although they did promise to return later.

They ended up at Ashes Pub on Main Street (established 1849) that had a B&B upstairs. They headed back to retrieve the car and repark before doing some serious pub crawling.

Street view on Goat/Main Street.

Views on the walk to retrieve the car: "A river runs through it.

Shrine in a car park.

Outside and in at O'Flaherty's pub, Bridge St. (built in 1846, of flagstones)

Back on Main Street, packs safely in their rooms at Ashes; serious pubbing begins. (That's The Small Bridge, last pub later that night on the right and Ashe's pub, their B&B, two doors up the street.)

Return to Dick Mack's, a shoe store & pub, one of Ireland's most famous bars.

Paul & Chris inside Dick Mack's. At one point a local woman, dog under her arm as she sipped her pint, broke into a rendition of a great Patsy Cline song acapela.

Fellow tourists Sheila (from Seattle/Scotland and a mother/daughter visiting from New York, with a local woman's borrowed puppy. (CP)

At the bar at Dick Mack's (CP)

Kevon, Chris & Paul, and on the right Oliver, cobbler/bartender, enjoying his drink in his little room. (pic by Sheila.)

Photo of Oliver about 40 years ago, cobbling and bartending. When asked, he said he made his last pair of shoes a year ago, for a friend.

More scenes at Dick Mack's, their favorite bar. (Chris's Pics.)

Paul usurps Oliver's spot. (CP)

Kevon talking "flying boats" with Alistair, who flies a float plane on Loch Lomond, Scotland. (CP)

Next stop on what Paul called "the merchant bar" circuit: Foxy John's, bar, hardware and bike store. (Image taken the next day.)

Foxy John's. Where in the USA can you get a beer and a bike?

Paul and Chris at Foxy John's.

Paul & Chris enjoying a pint at Foxy John's. Someone bought wallpaper while they were there.

At Curran's, the clothing & bedding store/pub on Main Street.

Guinness ad in Gaelic at the pub. (CP)

The proprietor at Curran's, who told them all about the Dingle Races and his painting of the famous horse-racing event.

Proprietor, Curran's pub/clothier store. (Kevon's second favorite photo of the trip. Chris's pic.)

Chris inside the clothing store/pub, Curran's, where he and Paul bought a hat for their dad, Joe.

Next was John Benny Moriarty's on the quay (Strand Street).

At John Benny Moriarty's, they had a healthy pub dinner: Paul and Chris had pan-seared sea bass and Kevon had grilled sea trout (with steamed vegetables.) They then retired to the center room to hear four musicians play some traditional music. Paul & Chris got two of their names (Eilis Kennedy and Tommy O'Sullivan) and their CDs. The proprietor of the place, John, sat in on the accordian.
(Here's a short song with Eilis:
-- "minimize" the YouTube screen to keep reading the journal with the music playing.)

On the bodhran (Irish drum), on guitar -- Tommy O'Sullivan, and on the flute -- Eilis Kennedy.

Eilie and John Kennedy at John Benny Moriarty's.

They headed back up the quay when the music ended, stopping at a public phone to call home, before heading into their final pub for the night, An Droichead Beag (The Small Bridge.) Inside was a young guy on guitar playing covers of Alanis Morisette songs and the like, and doing a very good job of it. The late-night bar was filled with a younger crowd, and after a half-pint, the three headed back up the street to Ashes, calling it a night.


Dingle to Cobh


On Main Street in Dingle on a Thursday morning.

McKenna's, Kevon's one-stop shop-spot for the trip. The nice proprietor helped him size a wool sweater for his mother, Vonnie. And then they had this conversation:
Proprietor: "Shannon's a great airport. Ye can clear US customs in Shannon now, just started. What airport will ye be leavin' from?"
Kevon: "Dublin."
Proprietor: "Oh, terrible airport. A big mess."

It was a little late for the advice.

Dick Mack's in the daytime.

Storefront window at Dick Mack's on Green Street.

Sign on the alley gate adjacent to Dick Mack's.

St. Mary's, the church opposite Dick Mack's.

Stained glass window in the church opposite Dick Mack's

Pottery shop on Green Street. Paul has a package.

Film festival poster in a shop window of Maureen O'Hara, from Dublin, Ireland's favorite female actor.

At a seafood restaurant: an atrium that they had noticed was added to many homes and buildings. Let's the light in, but no rain.

That day's catch in Dingle.

Seafood store on the quay.

Sheep and heath, down the Dingle Peninsula toward the mainland.

Pasture and hills as the clouds roll in.

Sun on Dingle Bay.

Walled pastures and the Slieve Mish Mtns.

The beach at Inch in the upper reaches of Dingle Bay.

Moving shot out the car window, near Killarney on the N22 highway.

This police car followed them for 20K on the N22, and finally pulled in front and slowed down. They figured they were getting a garda escort into the town of Macroom.

(Note: To hear more Irish traditional music with the concertina, click here:
and "minimize" the YouTube screen to hear it but keep reading the journal.)


Macroom Town Hall, on the town square.

Lights strung above the town square -- on market day.

Glass at the entrance to the, uh, . . . to the public toilets at Macroom's town square.

The remains of Macroom Castle. The town goes back to the 6th Century, although there's evidence it was the base for the Druids in pre-Christian times.

Chris & Paul at the Castle Arch, what remains of the original castle (and where parents pick up their kids from the McEgan school, located inside the remaining walls, along with a large natural park.)

One of Lady Ardilaun's cannons (gifted by her in 1924 to the town after the Irish war for independence), pointing at the Town Hall.

Kevon at the Castle, that was lost to Cromwell in the Battle of Macroom in 1650; the bishop fighting for Ireland's McCarthy clan in the Battle was subsequently hanged.

Afternoon light on buildings on Macroom's town square. A market town since the 1600s.

The unusual pub, Gearagh's Bar, in Macroom, where they stopped for a pint, and where Chris, the driver, had an energy drink.

Warming up at the coal fire at Gearagh's.

Paul & half-pint, looking out on Macroom's town square.

Upstairs at the pub with its unusual woodwork. Gearagh is the name of a nearby ancient alluvial oak forest, flooded in a dam project in the '50s -- wonder if the interior wood came from there.

Sign for Beamish, the other rival (besides Murphy's) of Guinness stout. (Smithwick's, like Harp, is an ale.)

Paul enjoying the last sip, before their final driving leg to Cork and then Cobh.

They were several hours beyond the time suggested by locals for the drive from Dingle to Cobh, which is across Cork Harbour from the city of Cork. They were behind schedule mostly because Chris was driving safely, and because night had fallen when they reached Cork, in the midst of it's heavy rush-hour traffic. At one point they found themselves circling back, and wondered if they'd end up again in Macroom. But finally they found the N25 to get them out of Cork toward Cobh.

The seaside town sits on the south shore of the Great Island in the harbor. They arrived long after nightfall, and found the visitor info center closed. They rang the doorbell at three B&B's but no one answered, and they finally opted for a grand, but dowdy hotel on the quay, The Commodore, their first and only hotel outside of Dublin.

The triple room at The Commodore, built in 1854, was 50 euros per person, and included a very nice breakfast. Once in their once-elegant room (with its 15-foot ceiling,) packs stored, they headed out for dinner and a pub-crawl down the quay. There are about 30 pubs in Cobh; they only made it to five of them.

Cobh, pronounced "cove"

The Commodore, formerly named The Queenstown to commemorate Queen Victoria's visit in 1849, and changed after Irish Independence. The trio's only hope for a room that night.

In their room on the second floor of The Commodore, which was used as a hospital after the Lusitania was torpedoed nearby in 1915. Many of Lusitania's passengers are buried in the Old Church cemetery above the town.

First stop was Connie Doolan's, definitely a locals' pub at the far end of West Beach Street.

They stopped for dinner at a 6-table cafe run by a black woman from Mauritania -- interesting, since their next pub was The Mauretania, named for the sister ship of the Lusitania that was torpedoed and sunk near Cobh. They were her only customers, and they all ordered Guinness beef stew (excellent!) and a Bulmey's hard cider.

Next pub, The Mauretania on Pearse Square (image taken the following day.)

They walked down Westbourne Place to The Quays pub, where they watched rugby highlights on the widescreen and Paul and Chris talked golf with the bartender. (Next-day pix.)

Then back to Kelly's that was packed on a Thurs. night; they hung in there til last call. (Next-day pic.)

Then it was back to the pub at their hotel, The Commodore, into O'Shea's Bar, that stayed open later -- until they closed that down, too.

But the bartender said they could keep drinking, but they had to go into the nearby Victorian sitting room to do it.

And that's where they decided to do their definitive Irish stout tasting.

The results of the Irish stout taste-off were as follows (and include observations volunteered by the hotel staff): Guinness - tangy and balanced. Murphy's - creamy and a wee-bit flat (available mostly in southern Ireland.) Beamish - smoky (and available sporadically.)

The winner: Guinness, Guinness and Guinness, (although they decided that the other two were good for a change. But Murphy's was the unanimous runner-up.)

They did their tasting in the hotel's expansive sitting room, which was filled with large, framed photos of a man named Jack Doyle, "the Gorgeous Gael." He appeared to be a boxer, turned actor, turned movie star, and they assumed he was from Cobh.

The only other guest in the sitting room was an old man on a couch, sipping a Carlsberg. They asked him about this Jack Doyle. The man said that he had actually seen Doyle in a musical review when he was young, and he knew the whole story of Cobh's most famous son.

He said that Doyle was born and raised in Cobh and originally was a famous boxer. (He won 28 straight victories, 27 by knockout, until he began showing up for his fights drunk.) Doyle next became a singing sensation, and in the early '30s went to America where he made two Hollywood movies. There he met the Mexican actress Movita, whom he later married in Ireland. (She would later divorce him to marry Marlon Brando.) In the US, he fought Buddy Baer (brother of heavyweight champ Max Baer). Doyle was knocked out, and not helped by the rumor that he drank most of a bottle of brandy right before the fight.

He came back to Ireland and he and Movita performed to packed houses in a musical revue in Ireland and England (when our friend at The Commodore saw him.) But his drinking sent Movita packing, and Doyle ended up a penniless drunk in London, living off an allowance from Movita.

The man said that near the end, Doyle spent his final days in a bar near Nottingham, consuming the free drinks bought by those who wanted the distinction of having "bought a drink for Jack Doyle." He died in England in 1978, and the O'Shea family, current owners of The Commodore, brought his remains back to Cobh, and he is buried in the Old Church cemetery up the hill.


Cobh to Wexford, Friday, November 21st


Pleasant breakfast at The Commodore's dining room, three of the five served that morning. (CP)

Outside the Cobh Heritage Center on their morning walking tour of Cobh: The statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers. She was the first emigrant to be processed at Ellis Island when it officially opened on Jan. 1, 1892, arriving from Queenstown (later changed to Cobh) on the SS Nevada in steerage. She was one of the 2.5 million Irish to leave Ireland for America from Cobh. (Six million emigrated nationwide.)

Cobh train station, heritage and visitor info center -- and a market on Friday's.

Selling baked goods at the Heritage Center market.

Walking their way south, the Pillar Bar on the left, and the large facade of The Commodore Hotel above the "yield" sign in the road.

Victorian bandstand in John F. Kennedy Park, on Cobh's working waterfront.

Curving, colorful storefronts, with St. Colman's Cathedral overhead.

Pastel facades on Old Street.

The Titanic connection: Most of the steerage passengers (Irish immigrants) were ferried out from Cobh to board the anchored Titanic before her ill-fated transatlantic voyage. (CP)

Waterfront graffiti, Cobh: "You are not your job" -- nice thought. (CP)

Four pubs and required empty kegs, Pearse Square.

Lusitania pub: Imagine their sinking feeling when they realized that it was temporarily closed.

St. Colman's Cathedral looms over Cobh, with a plant stall at the market in the foreground.

At the entrance to St. Colman's, begun in 1868 and completed almost 50 years later, in 1916.

Inside St. Colman's. (CP)

"The Crescent," townhomes above Cobh, with splendid views of Cork Harbour.

"The Deck of Cards," identical homes in an array of colors on a steep street in Cobh.


End of Part Two



28th June 2009

Lovely Pictures
Really liked the Macroom pictures, you made my home town look great.
12th March 2010

Your photos are great. I myself have been to cobh and visited the pubs. Great memories. Cork city jail is worth a visit.
5th October 2010

The pictures are amazing! I have never been but always wanted to go to Ireland..its been a dream since I was little girl..thank you for the beautiful pictures! Now I know what im missing!

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