Tag Archives: Clonakilty

A to Z of Statues – M is for Michael Collins

We were going to visit the Michael Collins Museum and as we waited for it to open at ten o’clock we walked around the square in search of photo opportunities.

Michael Collins is one of the great characters (heroes?) of Irish history, a soldier, a politician, a patriot who was eventually betrayed by a man less worthy (Éamon de Valera) and murdered in an ambush somewhere close to Clonakilty at Béal na Bláth.

Read The Full Story Here…

Twenty Good Reasons to Visit Ireland

Northern Ireland Blue FlagCobh Waterfront IrelandConor Pass Dingle IrelandGiant's Causeway Northern IrelandHackets pub Schull West Cork

“Take every praiseworthy characteristic of the Irish pub – democratic; spontaneous; generous; sociable; wild; nostalgic; cossetting – and you have to amplify all those characteristics to explain the charm of this little bar, with its stone floor, with its artworks, with its punky staff, with its excellent drinks and its soulful cooking. Hackett’s has the warmth of a hearth – you are drawn to it as you are drawn to a crackling fire, all energy and comfort.” – John and Sally McKennas’ Irish Guides

The Dark Hedges Northern IrelandBlarney-Castle1Yellow Window KinsaleThe Burren County Clare Ireland

“The Burren is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.”

Ireland Beach

“At the very edge of Europe, as far west as you can go in Ireland…. once described by National Geographic as the most beautiful place on earth… a place where the mountains roll into the ocean.”

Ireland Inch BeachMizzen Head Ireland 1Clonakilty Green Door

“Dubliner seems to me to have some meaning and I doubt whether the same can be said for such words as Londoner or Parisian” – James Joyce

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

‘Are you right there Father Ted?’

Ireland Mizzen HeadTitanic Museum Belfast

“Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled – and still smiles – at the idea of the unsinkable ship” –  Charles Lightoller (Surviving Officer) in ‘Titanic and Other Ships’

Ballyvaughan Ireland

“Irish road signs are idiosyncratic in the extreme… a masterpiece of disinformation.  A sign is designed to lure you towards a place that you’ll never see mentioned again, unless it is marked in two separate directions on the same post.”  – Pete McCarthy

No Grave digging signTraditional Irish MusicIreland Guiness

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