Ireland – West Cork and a Puncture

Schull Harbour

It was another fine morning and waking early Richard and I drove into Schull and down to the harbour and then both ways in and out of the village to make sure that we hadn’t missed anything and satisfied that we hadn’t we returned to Rock Hill House for another fine breakfast.

Shortly after we left Schull and plotted our way east along the coast of West Cork.  When I say West Cork I am being carefully specific here because a few days previously in Cork City a man enquired where we were travelling to next and I said we were going west. ‘Where are you going, Galway?’  he asked and I told him ‘no, to Schull’, ‘that’s not west’ he said, rather indignantly, ‘that’s West Cork!’ and although Schull is clearly on the west coast I did not challenge his peculiar and insistent slice of Irish logic.

Our first stop was in the port town of Baltimore where they were preparing for a pirate festival weekend and there are two stories that I will tell you about Baltimore.  The first is that this is the town after which the U.S. city in Maryland is named as both were originally colonised by the English Baron Baltimore and his family.

The second is about pirates because in the seventeenth century this was a bolt-hole for English and Irish pirates who were operating along the south coast of Ireland.  All of this YO HO HO stuff however came to a shuddering stop in   1631 in the Sack of Baltimore, a middle of the night raid by Barbary pirates from North Africa who carried off almost the entire population of the town and sold them into slavery in Algiers.

There was a pirate exhibition in the restored castle in the middle of town which was interesting if not thrilling but we enjoyed the stories of local legends told to us by the man at the pay desk who had plenty of time to spare as we were the only visitors.  As I say, it was interesting but if you want a much better pirate experience then I suggest going to see ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ at Disney world in Florida.

Baltimore Pirate

Oh, a third story.  It is claimed that Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous white horse, Intendant, came from Baltimore but I can find no real evidence that the French Emperor ever visited a horse market anywhere nearby.

Napoleon White Horse

Back to the Pirates and the story goes that those fortunate to escape the raid left Baltimore and went inland to Skibbereen so we followed them and then had the first bit of car trouble as an orange warning light started winking to attract my attention.  I was confused.  Some warning lights are blindingly obvious, for example, ‘there is no oil in the engine and it is going to blow up’ or ‘the brakes aren’t working and you are about to crash’ etc. but some are more obtuse and this curious little symbol fell into the latter category so I put a map across the dashboard and ignored it which is my recommended way of dealing with these situations as we drove on along a series of remote roads to Loch Hyne an area of outstanding natural beauty.

We didn’t get to stay very long because between us we worked out that the warning was tyre related and sure enough we found a half deflated nearside front with an alarming bulge in the tyre wall.  I was annoyed about this because I hadn’t bought tyre damage insurance from the car rental company; I always buy tyre damage insurance and I have never had a puncture so I cursed my misfortune today.

Richard and I could have supervised a tyre change but but Kim and Pauline didn’t want to get their hands dirty so we collectively crossed our fingers and I drove slowly and carefully away from the Loch and to nearby Skibbereen where by a stroke of good fortune we came quickly to a tyre replacement workshop.

The mechanic examined the tyre and identified a previous puncture repair so it looked as though we had been stitched up by the car rental company so to get our own back we bought the cheapest possible replacement that the man had in stock and then drove on into the town and parked in a supermarket car park.

Walking into the town it is fair to say that we weren’t blown away by Skibbereen so we poked around in some visitor shops, looked for photo opportunities and then found a pub for Guinness and Wifi where we could catch up on our emails.

How Rude

We left Skibbereen with barely a backward glance and drove the few miles to our next overnight destination in the town of Clonakilty and as we drove into Wolf Hall Tone Street and checked into the Clonakilty Hotel we immediately knew that we liked this place. As we walked into town narrow streets and lanes opened into elegant squares, a town of tall spires, grand houses, towers and historic buildings.

It was late afternoon and England were playing Wales in an important football match in the European Championships so we found a pub with a television and downed a Guinness and enjoyed the 2-1 victory.  As it turned out this was quite a well-known Ireland pub on account of the number of famous musicians that have played there and their photographs were pinned to the walls. Noel Redding, the bass player with the Hendrix Experience apparently lived nearby  (probably ten minutes away) and used his influence to attract big names to De Barra pub including David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Donovan. Donovan? In case you don’t remember Donovan, here is a clip – Donovan – Colours.

Donovan is Scottish but we were hoping for a night of traditional Irish music and we were disappointed to discover that this was the week of the Clonakilty Arts Festival and tonight instead of music there was poetry and none of us are really that keen on poetry.

After evening meal we found a pub with music but instead of fiddles and accordions it was modern New Orleans blues/jazz which was pleasant enough but not what we were hoping for.  This seems a shame to me, Ireland, just as everywhere else, is changing and it appears that it wants to shake off its traditions and run headlong into a modern cosmopolitan era.  I have seen this in Greece and I hope in Ireland they come to their senses and resist it before it is too late.

De Barra Pub Clonakilty

19 responses to “Ireland – West Cork and a Puncture

  1. I had to laugh at your photo illustrating Guinness and Wifi, you teenagers are allthe same, it seems. 🙂


  2. I second Yvonne’s comment!!


  3. Those north African pirates used to enslave thousands and thousands of people centuries ago. As well as Ireland, they took fishermen from Cornwall, Wales and Britanny.


  4. I thought Rock Hill House was walking distance from Schull?


  5. Love your method of dealing with a car warning light – exactly what I would have used the map for!!


  6. The Yo-ho-ho story is such fun. On second thought, the idea of pirates dragging off an entire population may not have been as pleasant to them as it is funny to me. Gotta love history 😉


  7. One of my favorite drives in Ireland is Kinsale to Clonakilty. It is so beautiful. (Cute towns too) I am so glad you went that way and I can’t wait to hear more about “West Cork.”


    • I used the tips you gave in your Kinsale post a while back. During the course of this visit to Ireland I think I would say that Clonakilty was my favourite. I missed the stone circle which was a real shame!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gives you something to check out on your next trip!

        We only went as West as Clonakilty and then headed back due north to Clare. I had visited Dingle on a previous trip. There are corners I would like to see some day. And because I love that little bit there near Clonakilty so much I definitely want to explore it further more another time.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You and the car rentals Andrew. Well it always makes a good story if that’s any consolation. The photo of the pub with all electronics running full steam certainly is a familiar sight. Oh the presence of Ms. Wifi is always a delight on the road. 🙂


    • I do like a good car rental story. Did you notice the man behind us? I don’t think he was supposed to be in the pub at lunchtime and he covered his face for all of the pictures that we took!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha don’t you just love when you catch that kind of thing in photos? Do you remember the photo of Dave and I with our helmets on the Ryan Air flight? He didn’t hide his face but he had a look like he didn’t get the memo.:)


  9. Duct tape, Andrew. It works more effectively when you are trying to cover up blinking lights. I had a piece over one of my gauges for years. I put it on after the third mechanic told me he couldn’t find anything wrong. –Curt


  10. Good blog post, thanks for the tour!😆


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