Tag Archives: Cork Ireland

Entrance Tickets – Blarney Castle, Ireland

Blarney Castle

The main reason people visit Blarney Castle is to kiss the stone of eloquence – the famous Blarney, because it is said that whoever plants his lips on this saliva sticky stone will never be short of words ever again.  Politicians for example make a visit here a priority before they begin their careers and it turns them immediately into gobshites who cannot shut up or say anything sensible ever again – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Pritti Patel and so and so on.

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Ireland – Signs of the Times

No Grave digging signTourist Office Sign SchullSchull Closed Staff Rest

You will probably have to open this one & enlarge it to see the sign content….

Funeral Samaritans StopIreland Shit Ice Cream

Ireland – Cork, Kissing the Blarney Stone and a Big Secret!

Cork Ireland

“I go off into Dublin and two days later I’m spotted walking by the Liffey with a whole bunch of new friends.” – Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones)

After a fine full Irish breakfast at the Montenotte hotel we checked out and prepared for a morning in the city of Cork.  I struggled a bit again with the electric handbrake but thankfully managed not to crash into the hotel reception and after a few moments driving through the city streets I eventually got the hang of it.  We parked the car and set off on foot into the city centre.

(Update note.  In 2019 I bought a new car with an electronic handbrake and after a day or two mastered it completely.  I wouldn’t be without it now).

The first city that I visited in Ireland was Galway in the Province of Connaught and I liked it there, I liked it a great deal and I now tend to make comparisons with it and my first impression of Cork was slightly disappointing.  Cork was destroyed in the Irish Civil War of the early 1920s when it was the stronghold of the anti-treaty side and I suppose that accounts for the modern development and lack of heritage and I have to say that it didn’t especially thrill me.

English Market Cork

We walked around the centre, visited the indoor English Market and then crossed the River Lee and made our way to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a Protestant church where a service was due to begin imminently which meant that we were unable to go inside.  There was an admission charge as well which always puts me visiting a church.

Kim and Pauline went shopping while Richard and I found a pub for a Guinness and after we all met up again we turned our back’s on Cork, returned to the car and set off to our next destination – Blarney Castle, a few miles out of the city.


The main reason people visit Blarney Castle is to kiss the stone of eloquence – the famous Blarney, because it is said that whoever plants his lips on this saliva sticky stone will never be short of words ever again.  Politicians for example make a visit here a priority before they begin their careers and it turns them immediately into gobshites who cannot shut up or say anything sensible ever again!

We paid the (senior) admission fee and made our way through the extensive grounds where Blarney Castle presents a fairy-tale picture,  tall towers are set within wonderful gardens containing such romantically named corners as the Druids Altar, the Witches Kitchen, the Wishing Stairs, The Rock Close and the Poison Garden.

The Blarney Stone is situated at the very top turret of the castle and to kiss it you have climb a steep staircase and wait patiently in turn.  There was a rather long queue and Richard decided very early on that he was not prepared to stand in line and would prefer to visit the gardens instead.

Kim, Pauline and I carried on and shuffled forward for the next few minutes until we reached the doorway and to our horror saw the endless queue snaking all the way to the top which was going to take almost two hours to get here and then we made a decision – and I am going to tell you a big secret here and I absolutely don’t want you to tell Richard.

We didn’t go to the top and kiss the Blarney Stone either but we all told him that we did and that he had missed a unique and wonderful opportunity.

We were pleased with our decision and you should be too, because if I had kissed that slobber stained stone then this post would be twice as long!

Instead we walked around the gardens and admired the views and were eventually reunited with Richard and we told him about the once in a lifetime experience of kissing the stone.

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah!  –  Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah!

Blarney Castle

We would all probably of liked to stay longer at Blarney Castle but by late afternoon we were running out of time and ahead of us we had a two hour journey through West Cork and to our next destination, the village of Schull where would be staying for the next two nights.

The Rock Hill House Hotel it has to be said was a curious place, about a mile out of the village and set on a windswept headland in a wild garden with dancing daisies underneath a pastel blue sky hosting a flotilla of billowing clouds racing by in the stiff breeze.  Inside was eclectic and curious but the rooms were comfortable and well provided and had good views over the garden and the sea and we declared ourselves satisfied when we set out for the village and an evening meal.

After dinner we walked along the streets of the village as far as the harbour and then went in search of a pub for a final Guinness.  Two years ago we found a pub called Eugene’s in a place called Ennistymon which we have all been happy to declare our favourite pub in Ireland and tonight we came across Hackett’s which we were equally happy to put straight into second place.

It seems to me that the Irish people are the friendliest in Europe, possibly even the World, everyone in here had kissed the Blarney Stone for sure and after a few minutes we were included in conversations and felt part of the community and by strange coincidence we found ourselves chatting to a man called Eugene who shares his time between his home here in Schull and his second in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire just a few miles from where we live.

After an excellent evening and that final Guinness we made the short way back to Rock Hill House.  It was the longest day of the year and a clear night so although the sun had not long disappeared already the sky was beginning to brighten again in the east.

Do you have any suggestions for who may have kissed the Blarney Stone?

Hackets pub Schull West Cork

Ireland – Cobh Harbour and Cathedral

Cobh Waterfront Ireland

“I went to Cork, Ireland, and stood on the dock some of my ancestors had left from.  I felt their ghosts gather round me, and I cried to imagine what it must have felt like – leaving that beautiful land and those beloved people, knowing it was forever” – Luanne Rice

After a lunch of sea food chowder and Guinness the sun was shining as we returned to the streets of Cobh and took a walk along the charming waterfront.  With brightly coloured houses and  working boats with  barnacle encrusted hulls resting in the harbour we walked among fishing nets and lobster pots drying in the sun and it reminded me of the coastal villages of Cantabria and Asturias in northern Spain.

Close to the Heritage Centre there was a statue of Annie Moore and her brothers. Annie Moore?  Well,  Annie Moore was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the new immigration centre at Ellis Island in New York on 1st  January 1892.

Annie Moore Cobh

From 1848 and for the next one hundred years, over six million people emigrated from Ireland and over two and a half million departed from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration in the country.

This mass exodus from Ireland was largely down to poverty, crop failures, the land system and a lack of opportunity.  For many people Queenstown (Cobh) was the last sight they had of Ireland and for some it was the last land that they ever saw because this was the last port of call for RMS Titanic before it began its fateful journey in April 1912 and an unfortunate and terminal encounter with an unforgiving iceberg somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another tragically notable ship to be associated with the town was the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania which was sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale while on route from the USA to Liverpool on 7th May 1915. One thousand, two hundred passengers died and seven hundred were rescued. The survivors and the dead alike were brought to Cobh, and the bodies of over one hundred who perished in the disaster lie buried in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town.

Cobh Cathedral

After the harbour we made our way to the Cathedral and stopped briefly to chat to a coach driver who was killing time waiting for his tour group to return.  He enquired about our plans and itinerary and warned us not to be fooled by this afternoon’s pleasant sunshine because, in his words “the next three days are going to be absolutely shite…”.  That was nice of him, if it was me I would have said something encouraging even if it wasn’t true!

It was a tough climb to the Cathedral up a set of steep steps set into the hillside.  St Colman’s Cathedral is the second highest in Ireland, a few metres shorter than St John’s Cathedral in Limerick, and its elevated position makes it seem even taller as it looks out over the town, the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

It is a fairly modern Cathedral, less than two hundred years old, built in the Gothic style and its interior is impressive indeed, soaring columns, stained glass windows and opulent decoration, we visited the Cathedral and all of the side chapels and towers and when we were satisfied that we had seen all there was to see we left and took the steep climb down back to the harbour.

RMS Titanic Postcard

Finally we were going to visit the Titanic experience, a small museum housed in the old White Star Line booking office and embarkation jetty.  We were keen to do this because in the previous year we had visited the Titanic museum and exhibition in Belfast and we were interested to see how this compared.

It is much smaller of course and instead of rides and reconstructions this is a virtual reality tour which was easily worth the cost of admission but couldn’t possibly compare with Belfast.

More about the Titanic next time…

By late afternoon we were ready to return to Cork so made our way back to the train station and the journey back where we were faced with another stiff climb from sea level to the top of the town (about ten minutes or so) and the Montenotte Hotel.

Kim, Richard and Pauline went directly back but I stopped off in a pub to watch the European Championship football match between Ireland and Sweden.  The place was crammed full, standing room only and the roof nearly blew off when Ireland scored the opening goal and there was a collective roar that could be heard probably in Stockholm.  Later Sweden equalised and I imagine there was a roar in Stockholm that could be heard in Cork and that poured cold water over the gathering but I had a good time and a complimentary portion of sausage and chips.

Later we dined at the hotel and whilst the others had a full meal but after my unexpected sausage and chips I could only manage a small bowl of chowder.

Cork Harbour Wall Mural