British Isles 2015:
Day 5 - Cork, Ireland


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British Isles 2015: [Day 1 - London] [Day 2 - Dover/Calais] [Day 3 - Southampton] [Day 4 - Guernsey] [Day 5 - Cork] [Day 6 - Dublin] [Day 7 - Liverpool] [Day 8 - Belfast] [Day 9 - Glasgow] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Invergordon] [Day 12 - Edinburgh] [Day 13 - At Sea] [Day 14 - Versailles] [Day 15 - London] [Day 16 - London]

Wednesday, July 22, 2015: Here's our approach to the port of Cobh.

Cobh is a pretty seaside town that used to be called Queenstown in the time of Titanic. More on that later.
Our ship turned 180 degrees to dock, so our balcony view for the day was of Spike Island (left) and Haulbowline Island (middle). That's the Irish mainland in the distance.
We had booked a private tour with Mary W. through Tours by Locals, and she met us at the dock promptly at 8:30 as agreed.
Maersk!
Cows and pretty Irish countryside.
Let's go to Blarney Castle, shall we?
We arrived in Blarney nice and early at 9:15 AM.
We had booked a private tour so we could get to Blarney Castle before the cruise ship crowds arrived. Mary dropped us off at the ticket office and told us to run for it, promising to catch up with us. We had prepurchased our tickets in advance so we bypassed the lines and walked briskly to the castle. We promised to get photos when we were done with some kissin'.
There's the castle! We couldn't resist slowing down just to get one quick photo.
Somehow, Mary caught up with us just as we were entering the castle. Here's the Earl's bedchamber, ...
... and the kitchen, ...
... and a glimpse of the people who would be ahead of us in line.
Near the top, we looked back to see the distance we had traveled. It was only 15 minutes after we had driven through Blarney, ...
... and it wasn't until we were at the very top that we reached the end of the line. Our wait to kiss the stone was only 10 minutes, and Mary marveled at both the great weather and how very short the line was.
Here's the setup for kissing the stone. There's a photographer on one side, a person who helps lower you on the other side, and two strong bars to hold on to. You can also take your own photos as well.
Here's a cute little window to look through across the way while waiting.
In no time, we were nearly there.
Debbie went first, ...
... got lowered down, ...
... and kissed the stone.
Yes! Another thing checked off the list of things to do!
Then it was Tom's turn.
Kissing complete!
On our way back down, we took our time to admire our surroundings. Here's the reason Ireland is described as having 40 shades of green. That's the Blarney House in the background.
Pretty.
More pretty.
Here's the base of the main castle interior, three floors down from the Blarney Stone, which is just above the top window in this photo.
Here's a little remaining detail of what must have been a very grand room.
When we exited the castle, the line was already down the spiral staircase and out the door. We stopped to buy our professional photos and a shotglass souvenir.
Just outside the castle, we looked up to see where the Blarney Stone is located. It's right where the open area is on the top.
In the time it took us to buy our souvenirs, the line had stretched down the hill. We had kissed the Stone at 9:40 and this is the line at 10:00 AM. In other words, our private tour was worth every penny.
We walked down to the Coach House Cafe ...
... to look at the flowers, ...
... smile at the clever use of stables as restaurant space, and to use the toilets.
The Blarney Castle grounds have extensive gardens to explore, so off we went. Here's a display of tropical plants.
What is this thing? We saw them several times during our trip and finally learned from a friend that these are Echium pininana.
Here's a huge Gunnera manicata plant.
Get ready for non-stop beauty. Here we go...
Calla lilies.
Astilbes.
More calla lillies.
Here's a rock stand called the Seven Sisters.
The yarn decorations on this arbor are temporary but adorable.
The sign for Dolmen read: "The secrets of this megalithic tomb portal are lost in the mists before history began.  Was the great rock rolled or was it lifted?  Why does it still sometimes rock?"
Wishing Steps: "For hundreds of years the Blarney WItch has taken firewood from our Estate for her kitchen.  In return, she must grant our visitors wishes."
Witch's Kitchen: "Historians will tell you that this was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers. But if you arrive early enough in the morning, you may still see the dying embers of a fire."
Witches Stone, named because it looks like a witch.
Druid Stones: "Rock Close is rich in Druid heritage and here you can see stones that formed an ancient Druid Circle and even a sacrificial altar.  It is claimed that when standing inside a circle, evil spirits cannot harm you."
More yarn art: this time in the form of a large spider web.
This was a cool sculpture.
We saw both pink and blue hydrangeas every day on our trip, sometimes on the same bush.
After visiting the gardens, we got a look at the castle again.
Here's another view, ...
... and here's a better version of the classic view that we didn't have the time to take earlier.
We got a closer look at the tree cosies that wrapped all of the tree trunks for the time being. They were all different colors and styles of knitting, crocheting, and the occasional sewing.
All of the this was courtesy of the Cork Textiles Network, according to this sign.
Our next stop was Blarney Woollen Mills, billed as the Largest Irish Shop in the World. We believe it.
Our wee grandchild already had one of these "House White" bibs thanks to a friend of Jill's who had been in Ireland the year before. We did buy a few souvenirs though: a shamrock big, a tiny bottle of Irish mead, and some Irish Breakfast tea.
We watched a presentation of Irish dancing outdoors just before leaving.
It was still sunny as we left Blarney, ...
... and started raining during our drive to Kinsale. Tom cites this as another example that Debbie is a witch who can control the weather when we're on vacation. This may very well be true because not one drop of rain fell on us all day.
Here's a gigantic building that used to be a hospital.
This statue is called Two Working Men. They are gazing up at the County Hall building which was the tallest building in Ireland until 2008.
And here is the building they're looking at.
Here is the Cork Courthouse.
Many modern businesses are now housed in classic buildings.
Here's a little restaurant that we often refer to as Scottish. Sadly, we never once ate in a McDonald's while in Scotland.
Classic building, modern businesses.
Of course, the sky cleared up as we approached Kinsale. Here's the view looking from Charles Fort to James Fort, ...
... and from Charles Fort to Kinsale Harbour.
We visited only the entrance of Charles Fort ...
... to look around for a minute.
Here are some cisterns for holding water.
Here's an aerial photo of Charles Fort, which would take much more time to visit than we had either the time or interest for, ...
... and here's a photo of James Fort across the water.
Mary dropped us off at the Bulman for lunch as we had requested.
We sat at a table in front of the restaurant ...
... and enjoyed a couple of beers brewed by Blacks of Kinsale.  That's Rocketship IPA on the left, and Kinsale Pale Ale on the right.
"Living the dream since 2013."
Sunny, or maybe Sally, was the pub dog. She checked out every single customer to see if they were okay.
For lunch, Debbie had a crabmeat sandwich on homemade brown bread.
Tom opted for fish (haddock) & chips. That green blob is minted pea puree.
Mary picked us up and we headed into Kinsale, stopping for a photo op of Charles Fort and James Fort in the distance.
You gotta love a pub called The Spaniard.
Here's Kinsale, a colorful little town just made for strolling.
Pretty!
Fresh!
Tasty! Mary stopped in here to get a map of local breweries so she can put together a new tour to offer people like us who love beer.
But let's be real here -- this is Ireland and we are in Jameson country, so it is our solemn duty to go to where she is pointing on the map: the Jameson distillery.
In the meantime, here's more of colorful Kinsale.
Adorbs!
This is the Grey Hound pub. Established in 1690, it is the oldest pub in Ireland.
Here's the Kinsale Courthouse, now housing a Lusitania museum. A statue of Peter Barry, Irish politician, stands in front.
We visited St. Multose Church, established 1190 by the Normans, replacing an earlier church from the 6th century.
Here are some tombs for the really wealthy folk, ...
... and here is the cemetery outside for the less wealthy.
Colorful macarons.
Colorful buildings.
Colorful harbour.
From Kinsale, we drove to the Kinsale 9/11 Garden of Remembrance. Established by Kathleen Cait Murphy who worked as a nurse for over 30 years in New York City.
She created this memorial on her land with a tree for each of the firemen who died as well as for their Chaplain Father Michael Judge who was a personal friend of hers.  
Many of the trees have personal items that have been donated or left by visitors.
Along the edge of the property overlooking the valley is a square surrounded by memorials.
This bench stands in honour of the 343 firefighters who made the supreme sacrifice.  In memory of Lt. James Curran, President, 1980 - 2005.  The New York Fire Fighters Burn Center Foundation.
This bench contains patches representing other fire departments in the US.
Here's a monument to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives.
At the base of the memorial are some of the mementos brought by visitors.
After Kathleen's death, her brother took over care of the garden and this memorial to her was added.
Representing each life lost with a tree makes a very powerful statement.
Next, we headed back toward Cork, ...
... past an Eli Lilly building, ...
... and on to Midleton, ...
... home of tiny sweet shops and pubs, ...
... and the mighty Jameson distillery.
With bourbon country close to our home, we know what this is all about so we didn't need to take a tour, ...
... but we definitely needed to go to the Visitor Center.
Right inside is a huge chandelier made from Jameson bottles, ...
... and an explanation of distilling is available for those who are curious.
We were here for the gift shop.
With so many options, what would we choose to bring home?
Easy! A personalized bottle of Jameson available only from the Jameson distillery, of course! (Plus a tiny bottle requested by a friend. Stupid luggage weight restrictions!)
On our way back to Cobh, we passed Belvelly Castle again. It was once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh.  It's a little bit of a fixer-upper, but a steal for only €275,000.
Mary drove us through the town of Cobh, then dropped us off at the waterfront ...
... right in front of the Titanic Experience, our next stop.
We arrived just in time for the next tour. We were each assigned a passenger ticket. Tom was given Michael McEvoy, age 19, third class.  Debbie was given Mary Agatha Glynn, age 19, third class. Would they survive their journey? We'd find out later.
The tour is designed to take you through the entire process of boarding the tenders and boarding the Titanic, to experience a little of what life onboard would be like.
Our ship, visible on the right, is three times larger than the Titanic. Just sayin'.
Around the back of the museum, we were standing in the same place where ...
... this photo was taken. The building still looks very much like it did in this photo.
This room included a reproduction of a third-class cabin.
This is a third-class menu from the Titanic.  Food was included in the price of the ticket, even in third-class.
Running water and electric lights were available in all cabins.
This was a luxurious first-class cabin. The man in the mirror was an electronic tour guide who was explaining more about the first-class accommodations.
After the guided part of the tour, there were more exhibits to see.
We were most concerned about this list, which showed the 123 passengers who boarded in Queenstown (now called Cobh). We learned the fate of our two passengers: one survived but one did not. You can probably guess which one was the lucky one.
Here's the view down the main street in Cobh.
We visited the Lusitania Peace Memorial, dedicated to the memory of all who perished by the sinking of the Lusitania, May 7, 1915, almost exactly 100 years ago.
Kelly's Bar.  No way.  They serve Guinness. We added this to our growing collection of signs with our granddaughter's name.
Here's the charming Cobh waterfront. There's a large park to wander through and enjoy the ocean air.
This is a statue of Annie Moore and her brothers on the quay.  She was the first person processed through the newly opened Ellis Island.
Titanic references are everywhere, including this reference to the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster of 1912.

After dinner, we had lovely views from our cabin of the Irish countryside.

Day 6 >


British Isles 2015: [Day 1 - London] [Day 2 - Dover/Calais] [Day 3 - Southampton] [Day 4 - Guernsey] [Day 5 - Cork] [Day 6 - Dublin] [Day 7 - Liverpool] [Day 8 - Belfast] [Day 9 - Glasgow] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Invergordon] [Day 12 - Edinburgh] [Day 13 - At Sea] [Day 14 - Versailles] [Day 15 - London] [Day 16 - London]

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