A Return To Ireland - The O'Koski Clan Edition (Part 3) / by Douglas Koski

Day 5

We awoke to another well received sunrise. We knew the morning sunlight was to be a short-lived surprise. Though it was scheduled to return later in the day, we were in Ireland. The morning forecast quickly became reality. As the sun rose it only made a brief appearance for the early risers. Shortly after it disappeared behind the clouds that were already looming overhead.

I wasn’t feeling up to heading outside for the photo-op…

Our group had prior arrangements to take part in an escape room located right in Cobh. Sinéad and I wanted to run some more personal errands. We confirmed the rendezvous after preparing for the day, and set out to Cork City. We encountered a decent amount of traffic, but the traffic was relaxed and still kept a decent pace. If only rush-hour traffic around Boston were this good!

We made our way to Sinéad’s Grandmother’s house, and then over to her final resting place. We paid our respects for a time, and then made our way back to the car as it was cold, raining, and just raw outside. The entire time we were at the cemetery we were smelling the strong scent of candy. It was a surreal experience and left us a bit bewildered.

We then headed over to the Douglas Shops to see if we could find some Cork City FC apparel. The ramp to the shops was just as ridiculous as I had remembered, but I successfully navigated it! We hopped into the shops, but the Cork City team shop was closed for another hour beyond our arrival. We wouldn’t have the time to wait, unfortunately. So, we simply altered our plans and perused the bookstore on the way back though. Sinéad and I found a red boxed special edition Paddington book that contained the entire collection of stories and original artwork. Being our big treasure find, we made our purchase and then headed to the monster Tesco before the exit to grab some additional food supplies (ah-hmm, the salt).

We made it back to the vehicle and made our way back to Cobh and reunited with the rest of our group. It was not long after our arrival at the AirBnB that we were back on the road again. It was still dark, gloomy, and raining, but we were in Ireland and needed to make the best of the day. Besides, we were going to take one of my favorite roads to drive in Ireland, the R600 into Kinsale.

The drive was great and still offered the great views I had remembered. We pulled into the main parking lot in Kinsale and fed the meter while waiting for the other car to arrive. They decided to be fancy and took the ferry over making them just slightly behind us in time. It wasn’t too long before they had caught up with us, and the collective discussion surrounded the topic of lunch. Sinéad had done her research and we were on our way to a place called Fishy Fishy.

Fishy Fishy (http://fishyfishy.ie/) was a great place to eat! Sinéad and I grabbed the owner / head chef’s book and then enjoyed a great Fish and Chips. Not being sure the portion size, we opted to split the meal. In hind sight that was not such a great idea, but not due to any lack of quantity. Sinéad has made it clear that she will not be sharing any meal with me should we get a return visit. And, I think that’s about what anyone should need to know in terms of the quality..

Our spirits lifted from a great meal we headed outside to enjoy the weather that had lifted in the same time. We were seeing sunshine again, and were ready to explore the area. People decided to go their separate ways to explore. Eddie, Theresa, Sinéad and I stayed grouped together and started off by heading towards the waterfront.

Despite how beautiful the day had become we really didn’t take much for pictures. We focused more on exploring the area in the short time we had. We found our way into a bookshop and found another book to add to our kiddo collection. The book was: The Dingle Sheep Who Could Not Sleep, by Mark Stratton & Martine Moriarty (local authors). It’s a cute story complete with an image of a sheep pooping on the last page. I also checked out another book in the children’s section, a graphic novel based on the rise of Brian Boru. The vivid depictions of battle it offered made me wonder if that was really why the Dingle Sheep could not sleep…

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Quotes of Kinsale

There seemed to be an abundance of these little quote strewn through-out the town.

We continued our exploration. Theresa and Eddie swung into an Art Gallery while Sinéad and I checked out a custom bag shop called Mamukko (https://www.mamukko.ie/). Sinéad instantly fell in love with some of the handmade bags they had on display, and proceeded to try on a variety she was hoping to choose from. We ended up going with an orange sail “Backie” bag and the little wallet to match.

We were starting to run out of time, so Sinéad and I met back up with Eddie and Theresa, and we headed back to the parking lot. We met up with Uncle John and the Aunt Maries, but Deacon Arnold was no where in sight. Those of us there all decided we wanted additional time to explore the area, fed our meters, and parted ways knowing to meet back up in an hour. Sinéad and I waited at the parking lot in case Arnold happened to come back through.

5 minutes became 10, then 20, and soon we were nearing 40 minutes and still no word from Arnold. Sinéad and I did not want to split up, but staying where we were was not helping either. I had asked for a quick internal bit of help from Diane, and told Sinéad I felt we should go look in a certain area for him. We started off that direction, and Sinéad wanted to check the shops she felt he would want to see on the way to that area. We turned the corner, and there he was! He had run across Theresa and Eddie only moments before but was still recovering from a nervous state of having got lost in Kinsale.

Deacon Arnold relayed quite the journey he had just been through and that he was exhausted but happy to made it back to some group members. I told him I had passed by an ice cream shop and was feeling like that was a good way to use the remaining time we had. He was all too happy to join. We made our way back around the corner and stopped in a Sunday’s. We met back up with Theresa and Eddie on the way over, and they also thought ice cream sounded like a good idea. They just wanted to check out one last book shop before doing so. Sinéad also wanted to check that out with them, so we made 2 groups and met back up in Sundays not too long after.

It’s not a cheat when you’ve walked a few miles for it!

De-stressed and nervousness subsided we made our way back to the cars. We still had a fairly important location to visit not too far down the road. We hopped into our respective cars and made the journey towards our next destination. A pub going local was hard pressed to be moving his feet out of the road at The Bulman Bar, but the tight road and a car coming the opposite direction gave him reason to rethink his lack of motivation. All stray feet and incidents avoided we made it to our next stop of the day.

Charles Fort

When the lighting is right, a great location looks even better. That was absolutely the case this afternoon. There was just enough of a haze in the air to subtly mute the setting sun. Clouds added to the effect and made for a wonderful chance to capture some images. We arrived to an incredible view looking back into Kinsale.

I had been working on enjoying locations with Sinéad a little more as I tend to be a little overly absorbed in the use of my camera when we go places. This posed a real challenge for me after we arrived. We entered the fort, purchased our tickets, and began the excruciating process of listening to the tour guide while the lighting was brilliant.

The tour guide was not boring, nor was he doing anything that could have been construed as wrong in his presentation. He was actually offering a very great amount of information regarding the fort and it’s history. Had the lighting been mid day or raining (like it had earlier that day) I would have gladly taken in all the information he was offering. Every part of me was screaming internally to get the photos while I could in that lighting I would never see again. I finally could not help myself and took a photo to help quite my mind.

What was really only a few minutes later, but what (as my Uncle Mike would have clarified) felt like only a few minutes - under water, the presentation wrapped up and the group split apart to take in the fort in the setting sun light.

I didn’t want to leave Sinéad feeling too lonely this time around, so I made my way back to her and we just took in the moment together. It was a beautiful afternoon to soak in together. We eventually got up and started doing a little extra exploring ourselves, but not before I sniped some photos of our group members taking in the scenery. (I’m fairly sure Theresa and Eddie will be requesting one of those shots.)


In Memory of…

the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, 1881 - 1922. Formerly, the Royal Bengal Fusiliers and the Bengal Fusiliers, 101st and 104 Regiments of Foot. 1756 - 1881.

We headed out just in to have the gates locked behind us. Theresa and Eddie asked for a final picture in front of the gate, and we happily fulfilled the request. Here’s that picture and also a bunch of the selfies taken while visiting the fort.

Not bad for an unedited cell phone picture - Pixel 2.

From there our group divided into the 2 vehicles and we started our journey back to Cobh. Uncle John and I decided to take the scenic route, which proved to be a little too scenic. We found a place to turn around but not before watching the other car drive by us in the other direction. Back on the correct road our vehicle headed out to the AirBnB. The vehicle Sinéad was in decided they wanted to check out a 911 Memorial location.

Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance

Sinéad said the site was a really nicely put together memorial, and that it was moving to see. Families of the victims have made the journey to Ireland to place belongings of the victims with a tree planted in their memory. Here are some of the images Sinéad captures during their visit.

Back at the AirBnB we were enjoying beverages and some crackers and cheese. Sinéad also wanted to show the members of the other car where her Grandmother’s house was, and the cemetery where she was laid to rest. The current owner of the house came out to see what Sinéad was doing, and Sinéad explained she just wanted to show where she grew up and where her grandmother used to live. It was a short conversation and then they were back on the road to head back our way.

Theresa, Eddie, Sinéad and I weren’t quite ready to be done moving for the day after they returned. We decided to head around Cobh and take in the town at night. It still offered some opportunities for photos, and made for a great evening walk.

Our restlessness satisfied we headed back to the AirBnB and settled in for the night. Tomorrow would again prove to be an early enough morning. We were excited for the day, though, as it held many long awaited adventures for us. It was going to be a long day, and more sleep should have been had.

Day 6

We awoke to another wonderful morning on what was going to be one our most event packed days of our vacation. The clouds we light and the sun was plentiful. It was going to be a good day for a lot of travel on foot. We had plans to eat in Cork City so we got ourselves together and out the door in the hopes of beating some of traffic. Our GPS gave us mostly accurate directions, but not accurate enough for how Cork City handles their lane routing. As there was traffic, I decided to miss turns instead of fighting to get into lanes I was directed against being in. It all worked out as our misdirection quite possibly caused us to avoid the core of congestion. We eventually found our way to St. Finbarrs Q-Park and unloaded ourselves into the chilly morning air. Having taken the Cobh ferry, the other car was a little way behind us time-wise. We waited at the designated meeting point, there was a sign. And, were ready to go once the rest of the group arrived.

We made our way over the River Lee and headed towards the center of Cork City. There were some points of interest along the way. One, I photographed for a future follow-up return - a shop that might have the Irish coin set Sinéad had been looking for for some time. Another, I photographed as a odd sports curiosity. And, a third I was too busy laughing at to take a photo of (a drag club had a posting for Trump Thursdays.) Here are the other 2.

After a short distance (that felt a tad longer in the brisk morning air), we arrived at our salvation from our morning appetites: The English Market. Sinéad had been wanting to grab a bite here since our last visit, but last time it was just a little too busy to work out. We headed upstairs to find hardly anyone was there yet. We placed our orders, took our seats, and enjoyed our breakfasts upon their arrival to our table.

Eddie had noticed the waitress had a tattoo and inquired where she recommended going in the area. She recommended Holy Cow Tattoo in Midleton. Eddie and I discussed the possibility of trying to slip in a visit before heading out, but there just wasn’t enough time. Knowing that we would eventually need to head out to the Mardyke, Eddie and I headed over to the nearest Centra to grab parking disks. We had arranged to meet the rest of the group at our next location. Much to our surprise, Eddie and I made it to that location well in advance of everyone else. Only thing to do in a situation like that, is to take some photos while waiting.

St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

The rest of the crew arrived to the sounds of children screaming. The school Sinéad went to as a girl was in the middle of recess and the kids were not allowing the sunny morning to go to waste. All too soon the call went out that play time was over. As if by instinct Sinéad snapped around at the same time as the children of the school. We enjoyed the outside of St. Fin Barre’s a little while longer and then made our way inside to take in the interior.

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My ——— Face

Sinéad hates that I ruined this great photo with my “stupid face.” hahaha. She wishes I had smiled differently. This black box hiding a portion of it should help!

Sinéad enjoyed a little conversation with the people running the self guided tours of the church before we made our way back to the vehicles. We had an appointment to visit with someone and we were starting to be late in our arrival - after already bumping back the arrival time. We got back on the road and started our drive towards the Mardyke. I accidentally missed the turn we needed and had to find a place to turn around. We got back on track and found the other crew holding a spot for us. Scratched our parking disk, and headed over to visit with Ms. Eileen Murphy.

We all made it over to Ms. Eileen Murphy’s residence and were greeted with one of Ireland’s warmest welcomes. Eileen had given Sinéad and I one of her lovely paintings the last time we visited. This time I wanted to give her a gift from both Sinéad and I, and had brought along a print of my wintertime Glen Ellis Falls photo. We enjoyed a bountiful tea with Eileen, complete with cheese, crackers, scones, and muffins. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit all together, Eileen offered out some of her paintings as gifts, and then we headed out for a walk in the Mardyke with Eileen.

We were having a great time walking around the park, but we were also getting well beyond our parking limit time (a ticket was going to be €60.) Eddie and I weren’t happy about it, but we reluctantly made our way to the cars while everyone else slowly wrapped up their walk. Neither of us wanted to leave in the middle of the visit, especially without saying our proper good-byes. We had to work on planning a chance to re-visit.

Back in the vehicles, and fortunately without €120 in fines, we made our way back into the center of Cork City. We had checked what time garages were open prior and the Paul Street Car Park looked to be the best option (we were planning to have a late and great night!). We got parked, and regrouped. Thankfully Sinéad and I have Project Fi service for our phones. This trip might have been entirely unmanageable without being able to use our phones like normal.

We discussed plan options as a whole and decided it would be best to split to 2 groups and meet back up with each other later. Theresa, Eddie, Arnold and I accompanied Sinéad towards the Imperial Hotel. There was a little time to spend before we made it to the hotel, so we stopped in a couple shops on the way through. Deacon Arnold was suffering Sketcher’s remorse so we made one of our stops a shoe place. First pair of Asics he tried on were the pair that never left his feet. He thanked the lady at the store several times, suggested they burn his old shoes, and danced out of the store. Sinéad and Theresa tried on some hats they really liked while we were there.

We also stopped at Finn’s Corner to check out some Cork City apparel. I ended up grabbing a new Back to Black Adidas sweater. We were hoping to make a game, but that was not in the cards this time around. Still had to support Cork City FC, though!

We did eventually find our way to the Imperial Hotel. And, before too long, her Uncle Tony and Cousin Sarah caught up with us and joined us for a drink in the hotel bar. The bar was just as fancy as the rest of the hotel appeared to be. I’m fairly sure the decor had hardly been updated in the past several decades, but it only served to add to the charm of the location.

This hotel is famous for being last place Michael Collins slept before the ambush that brought his death.

We had a great visit with Uncle Tony, and he told us that he had been one of the guards during the Spike Island Uprising. It was an incredible piece of his history to learn, and brought a deeper sense of reality to having visited Spike Island only days before. Uncle Tony and Sarah needed to be on their way, so we grabbed some group photos and bid our farewells.

We checked out some additional shops after our visit with Uncle Tony and Sarah, but were wanting to make sure we made our meeting point on time. Enjoying the afternoon sun we walked along the River Lee until we came to our destination. Sinéad and I knew about where to find the location from or exploration the year before. For some reason it seemed to be more of a hike than we had recalled it being. We made it though! And were ready for a chance to rest our well journeyed legs.

Franciscan Well

While the information on their site and menus listed story telling time after our arrival time, we had actually arrived in time for it to have just wrapped up. They had recently changed the time and were in the process of getting things updated. Would inquired about the cost of doing a tour, but upon hearing the price our travel fatigue pushed us to decline. Uncle John and the Aunt Maries weren’t far behind us. We grabbed a large table, ordered a few pizzas, and grabbed some brews.

A little later in the evening we were joined by Geraldine and Co. We had the pleasure of enjoying the evening with Geraldine, Doreen, Kathleen, Sally, Bronagh, and Conail. We tried our best to keep conversation flowing, but it was getting difficult to yell louder than the idiot kids who were screaming next to us. Must have been a birthday party, and the attendees were fairly reflective of the idiots my friends and I attempted to avoid 13 years ago at the bars.

I spoke with Conail and Eddie for the majority of the evening as they were about the only people I could hear. We had great discussions, though, and overall I was enjoying our evening out. The couple brews I had met with exhaustion that had been slowly creeping up on me through the majority of our visit, I think I was also starting to come down with a cold, and my sinuses were on fire from the glorious stouts I would have loved to have plenty more of. We were starting to run close to closing time for the car park we were parked at so we said our good-byes and made our journey back to St. Paul’s Ave. My body had taken to shaking while at the bar, and I wasn’t able to fight that off until I got some sleep. We had walked about 10 miles and had been going for nearly 18 hours. Rest was needed and did it’s wonders. The next day might not prove to be not quite as eventful, but it was still eventful enough. I grabbed as much rest as I could.

Continued in Part 4…