Tag Archives: Hackett’s Bar Schull

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.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

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 – Mizen Head and the Fastnet Rock

Ireland Mizzen Head

The Rock Hill House served a first class breakfast in a dining room overlooking the gentle sea and a big blue sky and we lingered for a while before we left and after dining took some time to explore the surrounding wild flower gardens.

Today we were heading west, to Mizen Head, the most south-westerly point in mainland Ireland and the location of a lighthouse station and a rocky cliff top terminus and after only a short drive along a spectacular coast road overlooking sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean we arrived at the visitor centre and bought our entrance tickets.

The walk to the old lighthouse took us up and down steep raking steps and across a bridge where the Atlantic Ocean surged with anger and rage between fiercely jagged rocks  just thirty metres or so below our feet and very soon we were at the most south-westerly point of the peninsula and could go no further and we were staring out at two thousand miles of water and next stop Canada and the USA.

At 10°27’ longitude Dingle, slightly to the north of our position today, claims to the most westerly town (as opposed to city – this is important) in Europe but whilst this may be true there are lots of other ‘most westerly’ claims to take into consideration.

Mizzen Head Ireland 1

The Blasket Islands (10°39’) at the end of the Dingle Peninsula are the most westerly point in the British Isles but these have been uninhabited since 1953, Iceland is the most westerly country in Europe and Reykjavik is the most westerly capital city (21°93’); Lisbon (9°14’) is the most westerly city on mainland Europe and furthest west than anywhere else are the Azores at 31°30.

When someone tells you that something is the biggest or the longest or the highest or the heaviest it is always worth checking up I find.  The most westerly point in Asia is Cape Baba in Turkey and in the United States it is Alaska which is also the most easterly as well because it stretches so far that it crosses right into the eastern hemisphere (a good pub quiz question that).

Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse

Four miles further south we could see the Fastnet Rock a small rocky islet in the Atlantic Ocean and the most southerly point of Ireland. It is the location of a famous lighthouse because these are some of the most dangerous waters around the British Isles.

Due to its location, Fastnet is known as “Ireland’s Teardrop”, because it was the last part of Ireland that nineteenth century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed to North America.  There are sixty-three lighthouses around the coast of Ireland but there are no lighthouse keepers any more because these days they are all automated and controlled from a secret central point somewhere on the mainland.

After an hour or so we left and drove east, stopped for a while for a walk on a magnificent sandy beach and then continued to Crookhaven, the most southerly village in Ireland, which is a leisurely place today which depends on tourism but was once a thriving port because the harbour here was the first and last place for ships to stop before or after crossing the Atlantic to and from America.

Ireland Beach

Lots of people crossed the Ocean from this part of Ireland because it was very seriously affected by the Irish famine of the 1840s and it isn’t difficult around here to find museums and restored cottages dedicated to the memory of the disaster.  Inside the cottages there is generally a recreation of a typical mid-nineteenth century family home and information boards about the famine and the consequences.

It seems that at that time Irish people lived almost entirely on potatoes and that a working man would eat as much as fourteen pounds a day – that is a lot of potatoes, roughly equivalent to two hundred and fifty bags of potato crisps (chips)!

Now, I know potatoes are versatile – boiled, baked, mashed, fried, hash browns, dauphinoise, gnocchi etc. but I imagine this sort of diet can become awfully monotonous!

potatoes

Unfortunately not only did the Irish rely completely on the potato they specialised in just one variety.  The Arran Banner was a reliable heavy cropper but not such a reliable heavy cropper when the  potato blight virus dropped by and a succession of harvest failures in the late 1840s led to starvation, death, farm failure, cruel and vexatious evictions by English absentee landlords and eventually mass emigration to the United States.

Interestingly it is most likely that the virus came from the United States in the first place (just like the phylloxera virus that infected French vine crops at about the same time) but regardless of this they blamed the English and five million Irish (80% of the total population at the time) chose to go there anyway.  Today nearly sixty million people in the USA, almost 20% of the population, claim Irish heritage and twenty-two out of forty-four of US Presidents (including Barack Abama!) have claimed Irish ancestry.

Canal du Midi near Beziers

The U.S.A also stands accused of destroying the iconic Plane trees that line the Canal du Midi.  A fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.  Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected with the virus.

After we left Crookhaven we drove to the next peninsula to the north and drove around the Sheep’s Head Way but I am afraid I am unable to explain the curious name – it doesn’t even look like a sheep’s head!

We finished our drive in the town of Bantry which turned out to be one of those places that sound as though you should visit but when you get there you wonder why?  We walked along the main street, contemplated staying a while for an early evening meal but eventually decided against it and returned directly to Schull where later we dined at a French restaurant and for the second time finished the evening in Hackett’s Bar.

Ireland Dingle

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.

Blarney-Castle1

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