Day 4 started off like every other day on our trip. We got up, made it down for hotel breakfast, and figured out what the plans were for the day. Sinéad and I wanted to see a church in Cork City, so we decided to make our way on foot, and my in-laws were going to meet us later with the car. Sinéad and I got ourselves cleaned up, packed up, and out the door we went.
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral
It was a nice little 1.5 Km (we were in Europe) walk to get to our intended destination. I was not quite sure what to expect as Sinéad only really described it as a "cool, old church." We made our way along the sidewalks of the narrow streets and, upon passing the last of the row houses, the church came into sight.
I thought this building across the street was pretty cool looking, so I decided to throw it in here.
This was Sinéad's old school, back in the day. It was also right across the street from the church.
We sat outside for a little and took in the front of the building before heading in. There was a lot of detail and meaning to absorb. There were signs as we headed into the church that said to ask permission before taking photos, so I did just that and got the permissions. The inside of the church was incredible.
One last Selfie before we go!
We enjoyed St. Fin Barre's for quite a while, but realized we had to get going if we were going to meet Sinéad's parent's on time. We headed out but it had been so long since Sinéad last made the walk to where we needed to meet, that we got a little lost. We stopped into a little grocery shop and got some directions. Soon we were on the right track, but we walked a little out of our way to get there. We eventually did make it to our destination, and we were in for a wonderful visit with an old family friend named Eileen Murphy.
Ms. Murphy had worked hard to prepare for our arrival and we enjoyed some wonderful snacks and tea! We admired the painting she had taken up since retiring, and shared stories. There were more things to go see, though, and Ms. Murphy was excited to be our tour guide. We headed out and checked out the "Shakey Bridge" and Mardyke park. We also were able to see the house Sinéad grew up in on the way.
It was suggested we remember to genuflect when getting close to this statue.
Sinéad used to climb on this tree as a little girl.
We attempted to see the Mardyke Museum of Cork History, but it was closed on Mondays. We had to settle for me pretending to be Mario on the way back to Ms. Murphy's house.
dada-da da-da da da
We returned Ms. Murphy to her home and tried to convince her to join us for a little more of an adventure, but politely declined as she didn't want to slow us down. We hopped back into the Skoda and made our way to our next destination.
We arrived at the fabled castle that could bequeath a well known gift upon willing visitors and it was sadly raining a little too much for my DSLR. I took charge of my father-in-laws cell phone and my wife's GoPro, and Sinéad and I set off to see this famous castle.
I was able to get some of the photos together and slightly edited from Mr. O'Mahony's iPhone. I tried to sneak in some shots in between taking video with the GoPro. Here are those images!
We had a bit of an adventure finding a place for dinner after our visit at Blarney Castle. We stopped at a restaurant right around the corner, but they were closing and directed us to a pub that was part of their establishment right next door. Sinéad really wasn't feeling the pub, so we packed up and ventured back towards Cork in the Skoda.
We weren't sure where we wanted to eat when we left, but it wasn't long before we decided we wanted to try the restaurant we weren't able to try with Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion. We unknowingly plugged the wrong destination into the GPS and then my father-in-law and I proceeded to ignore/laugh at nearly every step the GPS provided as we guessed our way there. Against all logic we made it right to The Elm Tree, in Glounthaune, in about as best a path as we could have gone (on a lot of roads I had never seen before).
The food was excellent! I had the steak, and I haven't had a restaurant steak in the US that was as good since (not from a lack of trying on my part). It was my first taste of some wonderful Pepper Sauce (don't worry, I brought sauce packets back with me!). I also tried my new favorite hard cider there - Orchard Thieves (do worry, I didn't remember to look if there was any in duty free...). I have since messaged them on Twitter in the hopes they would be shipping to the States in the future, but looks like I'll have to wait till I go back for now.
We left behind our appetites and (unknowingly) a coat, and made our way back to Jury's. My father-in-law and I enjoyed a beer at the Hotel bar before making our way to our rooms for the night.
This day started off a little slower then the other days so far. We all met up for another great breakfast. I was becoming quite the pro at making tea and coffee with the interesting dual purpose machine the inn had setup. We had to park the car across the street as the parking lot at the hotel was full when we had returned the night before. I made my way over to the car, and grabbed Sinéad at the hotel. She wanted to show me another sight in Cork, so the 2 of us took off and found our way to...
The Cork Gaol
This was an interesting piece of history for the City of Cork. It's completely decommissioned now, but it's still quite a foreboding structure. Sinéad and I headed in and started ourselves on the self guided tour.
There was a section of the Gaol setup as an audio/video display to teach more about the history of the building. It was an interesting setup and chronicled how judges might have treated different people and circumstances. It also showed the range of reasons why people were imprisoned.
An Oddly Familiar Name...
In an odd way, looks like my brother-in-law was with us in spirit. The clipping has quite the description as well! Can't say I'd be seeing Johnny denying any of the qualities pointed out!
We stayed for the duration of the presentation, then made our way back towards the Skoda. Grabbed a couple more pictures on the way.
Once we were back in the trusty Skoda, we made our way down to the Mardyke park area. Sinéad was still very interested in visiting the museum there, so we made a quick stop. I was surprised. For being a free museum it had a lot more to offer than I was anticipating. There was a wide range of history covered and plenty of artifacts on display as well.
We had dinner plans still awaiting us, so we made our way back to Jury's to pick up the other 1/2 of our entourage. We planned our dinner timing well enough that we got to discover just what traffic Cork had to offer us. It was slow going but we eventually found some far less traveled roads. About the time we got out of traffic it seemed we were already at Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion's. It wasn't long before we were back out on the roads, this time following their little red Fiesta.
Uncle Frank had warned me that we'd be taking some narrower roads on the way over, but what we ended up taking really wasn't bad at all. We also got to take in some great scenery along the way! We eventually made it to our dinner destination, and it did not disappoint! We had followed Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion to wonderful restaurant called Bunnyconnellan Bar and Restaurant. The food was as great as the views we got to enjoy. I also got to have a 2nd taste of both pepper sauce & Orchard Thieves (and it again proved to be my new favorite hard cider).
The Brownie Post
This was where the infamous brownie post originated. Not one typically to share food photos, but I thought this one deserved it!
After we finished our wonderful meals, we made our way down the drive. Aunt Marion wanted to show me how much the area had changed over the years. There were new houses all around what once were very humble beach houses. They used to be summer get-a-ways for families.
Summer Beach House
Just slightly up from the beige colored houses still stands what once was a summer beach house get-away. It's a little rusted over from the years.
A Polite Message
Saw this on the way down to see the beach house. Blurred out the phone number, but that definitely wouldn't be a common sight in the States.
I returned to the Skoda to see about getting it out of the drive. It was a long stretch of road with cars on either side. I drove up to the restaurant to attempt the turn around spot, but someone was as illiterate as they were inconsiderate. The sign on the spot had been ignored, so I needed to find an alternate way back out. Fortunately, I had several years of landscaping experience, and was still okay with reversing long distances using mirrors. It was a tight squeeze back through, but I got it out without any issues.
We then followed Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion to Crosshaven. We ate a lot and were in need of a nice evening stroll. They knew just the route and path to take, and it turned out to be a beautiful evening for a great stroll.
We helped push a vehicle so that it could re-align itself for a jump start, and celebrated the success when the engine successfully fired up. We then made our way to a path that would take us up to Camden Fort Meagher. Sinéad was still ready for some hikes, because when she started on that trail, she left us all in her dust. I ran up it to catch her, and we got to enjoy a little bit of a sunset together as everyone else caught up with us.
We had also made it up to the fort, but it was closed for the evening. It was getting rather dark, so I decided to test my camera's low light ability. I think it preformed fairly well!
We enjoyed our stroll back down to the car and chatted the entire way. Once we got back, Uncle Frank offered to lead us back towards Cork. It was really nice to have that lead car to follow as we were heading back, as the roads were exceptionally dark. We flashed our 4-ways as we parted and we were lucky to find a spot at the hotel for the Skoda. It was fairly late when we got back, so we made way to our rooms and rested up for our next day of adventures.
This was a day for a little driving to be done. It was discovered that a coat had gone missing, so the hunt was to be on for it! We were also looking forward to seeing another town not too far away. We ate our breakfasts, grabbed what we thought we might need for the day, and piled into the Skoda. We left Jury's behind as we made our way east towards...
The drive into Cobh was a pleasant straight-forward ride, until we got into the city itself. Then the GPS took us down a hill I would avoid in winter. A little downshifting and caution later we found a parking space and took in some of what Cobh was built around - being a city that could easily dock incredibly large boats.
This feature made Cobh an integral part of one of the most well known large ships ever. We would get to visit a museum dedicated to that ship soon, but first we took in a little of the park area next to that building.
As the photo above hints, the building we were about to see was a museum and memorial to the Titanic. This was the last town it picked up passengers from before it set out for open waters. The dock where the passengers boarded the ferry that would bring them to the Titanic was still partially there. Sinéad and I made our way into the museum and got in line for the next tour.
The tour continued on with replicas of what both the 3rd class rooms and 1st class rooms would have looked like. First was the 3rd class room, and then we were brought into the 1st class room. There were also menus of what the meals would have been like for the 2 different class passangers as well.
The next room we were brought into was a video presentation recounting both the tale of one of the rescuers, and the actual sinking of the Titanic. We watched through the entirety of the presentation and were let out into the remaining part of the museum to take in any additional facts about the ship and it's ill-fated voyage. We also got to find out if the name we were given on our ticket ended up being one of the survivors.
We headed out and rejoined Mr. & Mrs. O'Mahony, and then we took off in the Skoda. There was a spot that I wanted to check out, and everyone was kind enough to go along with it. We set our destination in the GPS and took our leave from Cobh.
We had started our journey entrusting our fates to our GPS. We should have done some checks of the maps before hand, because our journey got fun! The GPS took us down incredibly narrow country roads; complete with hedgerows immediately on both side and 80 Km/hr speed limits (no joke, and 2 way traffic). It would have been ideal for driving with a stick. Our Skoda was an auto, but we still had a little fun. Eventually we found ourselves on a road named Shanavagoon wondering if we'd be on Shanavabeach road next. We also passed by Ballymaloe Cookery School before making it into town.
As we were entering the center of town, I had to pull over and take a picture of a house I didn't think I would actually see (but was hoping to). Just a day or two before, Sinéad had retorted rather sharply to my surprise regarding not having seen any thatched roofed houses so far. There was such a house as we entered Ballycotton, though. It looked to be a rather bright and cheerful building, as well!
While I was pleased to have found this house, it was not our actual destination in Ballycotton. What we were actually there to see was just a little further down the road. And, it turned out to be a little cooler than I had anticipated.
Ballycotton Lighthouse & Cliffwalks
The center of Ballycotton was a small one. There was an incredibly old looking little stone church as we headed, in before the thatched roof house. We weren't sure exactly which road to take once into town, and initially found ourselves at the docks. Pulled a couple point turn-around, and took another road that looked promising for better views of the lighthouse. We found a safe place to pull off at and discovered there was a cliff walk pathway setup.
As we made our way over to the cliff walks, we got some great views of the cliffs and the life that cascaded over the edges.
As we got to the start of the cliff walks the view of the lighthouse was unimpeded. I started with the panorama shots.
We had driven by information on taking tours of the lighthouse island on our way into Ballycotton. This wasn't going to be the trip to include that tour, though. The cliff walk was a great addition to seeing this little lighthouse. The lighthouse reminded me of Nubble Point back closer to home.
We had plans to meet up with some people a little later on, so we got back in the Skoda and started making our way out of Ballycotton. On the way out of town we came upon an interesting little shop called the Killkenny Shop. We were in need of a restroom, and possibly a small bite to eat, so we stopped to take a look. It turned out to be a wonderful stop! There were hand crafted goods from local artisans, and it was hard not to leave with more than we could afford. The cafe wasn't looking to be the right spot at the time for food, so we headed back towards Cork.
We made a quick stop at the Elm Tree restaurant and were completely surprised to find my father-in-laws coat was still there! The server sounded to have returned it with his nose held high and fingers barely making contact - as if he wanted to return it with a set of tongs...
We tried stopping for a bite to eat at The Great O'Neill pub on our way back through Glounthaune, but it wasn't open at the time. So, we made our way back to Jury's and enjoyed a pretty great late lunch there. We headed up to our rooms after to get refreshed. I took one last shot of our hotel view while we were there.
We headed out to meet up with Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion as we had a little free time before having a dinner date. It was a great visit, and Aunt Marion had made sure I would have plenty of pepper sauce packets for my return home (I have already used some of them since getting back, too). Knowing we had to hit the road, we said our goodbyes promising to visit again before heading back up to Shannon.
From there we headed over to the meet and visit with some old friends of Sinéad's family. I got to meet a wonderful couple Ed and Marie (pronounced like Maurie), their daughter Laura, and her boyfriend Patrick. We had a great evening and touched upon some very touchy discussions of American politics before turning to which county was better as Patrick was from Kerry. We stayed until very late into the night before we said our goodbyes and headed back to Jury's. My father-in-law drove us back, and somehow I woke up without a hangover the next day.
This was to be our last full day in Ireland. While I was happy to be heading home, I had barely made a dent in what there was to see in Ireland. Sinéad and I will simply need to return to see more of the country in the future. As it was the last full day, I decided to start it off with something a little different for breakfast. I tried a taste of the white and black puddings. I did prefer the spiciness of the black pudding over the white. While they weren't horrible, they just weren't my favorite breakfast item on my plate. We all finished up our breakfasts and headed back up to our rooms to pack before checkout.
Sinéad and I finished up our packing first and returned to Jury's lobby to find a visitor waiting for us. Ms. Eileen Murphy had come back to see us before we headed out. Sinéad and I sat and visited with her and shortly after Sinéad's parents made their way down as well. Ms. Murphy had brought us a few of her paintings for us to take home. Sinéad and I were thinking to do a couple last errands before leaving, so we made plans to meet back up with everyone in a few hours. We made sure our luggage was secured in the Skoda, and then we headed out for a last walk-about around Cork city.
We picked up some souvenirs that we had eyed up earlier in our trip, grabbed some soup and sauce packets, and ate a wonderful lunch at Amicus. We were starting to run short on time, so we made our way back to Jury's. We got a bit of time to recharge before Sinéad's parents arrived, and the we made our way out to do our last visits with Uncle Tony and his children, and then Uncle Frank and Aunt Marion.
A Quick Mission
We just had to grab some photo evidence of just how much Ireland loved my 1st visit on our way over for our goodbyes.
The goodbyes were tough given the distance the ocean spans, and rarity of visits. I was reminded of some of the tough goodbyes I had as a kid. We had a check-in awaiting us in Shannon, though, so we made our way north in the Skoda.
A little north of Mallow there was a ruin site I knew I wanted to visit. I knew I had taken a lot of photos of the trip and wanted to be mindful of my fellow companions and how patient they had been with me through-out our trip, so I decided to forego grabbing some some other photos on the way up so I could take a little time at this location. It was a really neat site to see, and did have a surprise that wasn't visible from the road. There was a great arch in the ruins.
I was also surprised to find there was a sign at the gate entrance explaining the ruins I was exploring. I was yet further surprised by this when attempting to avoid the cow pies scattered all about the ruins. I would not have thought the land the ruins were located on would be used as a pasture.
Beyond this door was a small plot of grass semi-surrounded by the base of stone walls. Beyond those walls was a heard of cattle. I didn't want to risk my luck to see if there was a bull, so I made sure to leave when my buffer zone became occupied.
I took some time to grab some quick photos while the cows were out of worry's reach. Had to make sure to watch every step I made as the ground was well fertilized.
Back in the Skoda we continue our drive to the Shannon Airport. The sunset and clouds made for a beautiful drive. We still had plenty of distance to travel, but made it to the hotel before the sun finished setting. There was an amazing sunset when we arrived, and it will be one committed to memory. Our priorities were far from photos when we arrived.
We got the car unloaded, and were very surprised at how nice the rooms were at the Park Inn. We were somewhat sad that we spent so much of our stay at Jury's. My father-in-law and I grabbed the trusty Skoda and brought it back to the Hertz rental return. We were happy to find that the return point for Hertz cars was about as close to the hotel as we could get. Our walk back to the Park Inn was a quick one, and we were able to catch what was left of that great sunset as we walked.
We arrived to find that the ladies in our group had grabbed a table in the hotel restaurant. The food at Jury's was sadly missed it what was an incredibly slow service meal with food quality to match. We had time to unwind before heading to our rooms, though. We enjoyed each other's company and hit up the vending machines when we made our way.
Sinéad and I watched a little TV as we dozed off for the night. The next morning was going to come early, and there would be a lot to do in a short time once it did.
This was to be our last morning in Ireland for our trip. It had been quite the adventure and we were sad to be heading home so soon. I think Sinéad was already starting to plan when our next trip would be, though. We all managed our morning routines, packed up everything that might have found a way out of the suit cases, and made our short walk to the Airport. We waited to eat until we were through both check-in and the duty free shop. It wasn't too long after that we were already at our gate. A whirlwind morning that was shortly followed by boarding. I grabbed a few final pictures as we were leaving Ireland.
What followed was a surprisingly quick 5 hour flight home (Dramamine was again my friend). The flight was followed by an incredibly slow 3 hour bus ride back to NH, after Sinéad and I just barely caught our bus. Nothing quite as effective as massive amounts of unexpectedly early long weekend vacation traffic to make you miss where you had just been. We survived the traffic, and disappointed ourselves with a dinner at the Barley House. It just didn't measure up to the last week of food we had enjoyed. We made it home after that, unpacked what we could, and fought off sleep for as long as we could. A simple ending to a great vacation abroad!