Ireland – Cork to Cobh in Ten (Irish) Minutes

Ireland Postcard Map

There is a pub quiz question that comes up regularly and which I always get wrong, which is ‘what is the nearest country to the United Kingdom’ and the answer of course is Southern Ireland or Eire but I always forget about the border with Northern Ireland and blurt out ‘France, it must be France’.

We travelled to Ireland in 2014 and went to the west coast and a year later we went to Northern Ireland and stayed in Belfast.  Despite Ireland’s reputation for Atlantic storms, dreary weather and lots of rain we enjoyed blue skies  on both occasions.  So good was the weather that Kim thinks it is permanently sunny in the Emerald Isle so we arranged to go again this year and this time chose the city of Cork, the county of West Cork and the south coast of the country as our destination.

West Cork Route

In preparation for travel I carried out my usual research and used my favourite benchmarks to try and understand the country that I was visiting.

Most impressive is that Ireland is placed seventh in the Human Development Index which means that it is the top ten of the most highly developed countries in the World and before the recent economic crisis it used to be in the top five!  The Index ranks countries by level of ‘human development’ and the statistic is composed from data on life expectancy, education and per-capita gross national income.

The economic crisis has had a bit of a negative effect on Ireland’s position in the European Happiness Index however and it is rated at only fourteenth out of thirty which is a very long way behind the United Kingdom.

Ballyvaughan Ireland

Ireland has only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites which, lets be honest, is a rather poor performance and I would suggest that someone in Dublin needs to start travelling around and making some applications – Australia has got nineteen for goodness sake!  The country also needs to do something about its Blue Flag Beaches because it now only has seventy when a few years ago it had one hundred and forty-two!

But some statistics continue to be impressive and Ireland remains the most successful nation in the Eurovision Song Contest, which with seven wins is higher than all other competitors so who really cares about the economic crisis anyway?

It was an early morning flight to Cork and by mid morning we were in possession of the keys to a silver Volkswagen Golf and making the short drive to the city and to our hotel.

It was a brand new car and had some features that I was not altogether familiar with and in particular I had rather a lot of trouble getting to grips with the electric handbrake.  The hotel was at the top of a hill and the car park sloped down towards the reception and I had so much bother with the brake and made such a dog’s dinner of parking that we almost checked in a few minutes earlier than anticipated while Kim kept shrieking “It’s not a Drive-Thru, It’s not a Drive-Thru”

Cobh Postcard

After booking in and approving our rooms the plan was to leave the car in the safety of the car park and take a train to the nearby town of Cobh (pronounced cove).  It used to be called Cove (pronounced cove) but in 1850 the British renamed it Queenstown (pronounced Queenstown) to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria.  I can’t help thinking that it is rather arrogant to go around changing place names in such a superior way and the Irish obviously agree with me because shortly after independence they renamed it Cobh (pronounced cove).

The Irish I find generally measure journeys in units of ten minutes and the helpful lady at hotel reception told us that it would take about ten minutes to walk to the train station and that the ride to Cobh would be another ten minutes or so.  It took half an hour to walk there and then another thirty minutes for the train to make the short journey around the harbour.  I made a mental note to be sure to make generous allowances for Irish timing estimates for the rest of the week.

Kilmer Ferry County Clare Ireland

Once out of the industrial suburbs of Cork the tracks followed the shoreline of the generous harbour which is said to be the second largest natural harbour in the World after Sidney in Australia.  As always you need to be careful with these sort of claims because at least a dozen or so more make exactly the same assertion including Poole in England, Valletta in Malta and Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.  I suppose it might depend on whether the tide is in or out!

So, we arrived in Cobh and walked along the waterfront and debated our itinerary and by a majority decision agreed to find a pub for a first glass of Dublin Guinness even though we were told that we should really be drinking Cork Murphy’s.

Have you got any thoughts about place names?

Ireland Guiness

26 responses to “Ireland – Cork to Cobh in Ten (Irish) Minutes

  1. Much enjoyed our two trips to Cork and Cobh too, Andrew. The Cobh story I like is that it was the last port of call for the Titanic, where (from memory) 120 new passengers boarded and seven very lucky ones disembarked. I’m sure you already know the details better than I do.


    • There is a good interpretation centre there now although it is not as good as the one in Belfast. It tells the story of those who got on and off in Queenstown/Cobh including a member of the crew who jumped ship. The best decision he ever made in his life!


  2. So was Cobh an interesting place to visit?


  3. Thoughts about place names in Ireland must surely include Derry-Londonderry-Derry-London-Derry. Why don’t they just have a local election about the city’s name and that’s it!


  4. Oh those Irish-Celtic pronunciations. I never would have guessed Siobhan was pronounced shi-VAWN until I heard it. Smithwicks (Smith-icks for my fellow ‘Mericans) was my favorite consumable in Ireland.


  5. ‘Making a dog’s dinner’ – Having never heard this expression before, I completely understand it because of your wonderful story. Slainte!


  6. Cant wait to be reminded of the rest of a short but great break in Ireland.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have always been lucky with warm and sunny weather in Southern Ireland too. Glad you had a wonderful trip. I am looking forward to hearing more about it.


  8. That song the Irish Rover keeps buzzing in my head now, “we set sail from the sweet Cobh of Cork”…..
    Looking forward to reading about your expeditions here, been to Cork years and years ago, we keep meaning to get back but never quite made it yet.


  9. ‘It’s no a drive -thru!’ Haha I will be saving that line form Kim for future reference I’m sure. An electric handbrake? I’ve never heard of it. Is there a pedal brake as well? Definitely sounds like a country Sue will not be driving in that’s for certain. 🙂


  10. I enjoyed Kim’s sense of humor, Andrew. I am not sure Peggy’s would have been as good. My experience of driving in Ireland was getting off the ferry at night for my first ever driving on the left side of the road in a small town where the streets were so narrow it didn’t matter what side you drove on. Plus it was raining and I was lost in about five minutes, or less. 🙂 I was by myself fortunately so no one had to listen to my comments. It was definitely a night to appreciate Guinness. –Curt


  11. Terrific read Andrew as I’ve been to Cork but not to Cobh. However, my experience of Cork was not as positive as yours, but I’d return to Ireland in a heartbeat. I loved it all (except Cork…) and even though I’m a Sydney-sider – and yes, we do have the best harbour in the world – I felt completely at home in Ireland, probably because so many of my ancestors came from there.

    Here’s my funny story about visiting Ireland, and Cork:


    • Thanks for stopping by. I wasn’t especially thrilled by Cork I have to say but I did enjoy the afternoon in Cobh. I liked your post about your Ireland visit, pity about the weather!


      • Yes, I guess it is an island so it will have lots of weather. But I can’t wait to return and see the differences that have occurred over 30 years.


      • I think you may be surprised. Ireland has been through an economic boom and bust, it is way more secular these days and it seems to want to modernise and change its image. You probably saw it at a very good time!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s a refreshing sight, Andrew! Cheers, mate 🙂 🙂
    New look to the blog? I like it. And Australia IS probably 30 times the size of Ireland ! I made that figure up but I know you’ll probably know the exact comparison.


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