Saturday, 3 March 2012

Bobbing around Cork

We had a full day’s sightseeing in & around Cork our 4th day.  Starting with a visit to the old St Anne’s Shandon church in Cork City, we made the climb up narrow stone steps to where you can actually have a go at ringing the bells.  Music sheets with the bell cord numbers help you ring out a tune or two, to well known songs like Amazing Grace, Frère Jacque, Closer God to Thee & even Waltzing Matilda! ... sadly, there was no 'Pokarekare Ana'   It occurred to me that those living near the church must get sick of hearing the same old songs & enduring the sounds of tourists fumbling their way through the song, making mistakes & pulling the cords so slowly that it really doesn’t sound like a tune at all.  
St Annes Shandon Church, Cork
St Anne's Shandon Church Bell Cords

The Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork 
The rotunda building of the Firkin Crane was opened in 1855 to meet the needs of the Butter Exchange. "Firkin" is a Danish word meaning quarter barrel, which represented 9 gallons or 80Ibs of butter. In former times the tarred firkins or casks were weighed on a balance known as a “Crane”, hence the name.


The Chimes Bar is situated next to Shandon's St Anne's Church, Cork
On the way out of Cork City I took this photo of Atkins Hall as its now known, a Gothic style landmark building built c.1852.  It's the longest building in Ireland (it was originally designed as three separate buildings but these were later joined together).   It used to be called Eglinton Lunatic Asylum (the second asylum built in Ireland) and is rumoured to be quite thoroughly haunted by its previous inhabitants :)

Atkins Hall, Cork - a former Lunatic Asylum built in 1852
Along the way over to the nearby town of Cobh [pronounced ‘Cove’] we stopped at the Blackrock & Belvelly Castles.   I can see a coffee table book of all my Ireland Castles eventuating once I’m back home in NZ. 

Blackrock Castle, Cork
Built between 1828 & 1829, Blackrock Castle is now owned by the Cork City Council.  It's main draw card apart from being a stunning looking castle, is it's astronomical observatory which is housed inside & it's dungeon tours.  It is situated just 3 miles east of Cork City on Castle Road in Blackrock.
Belvelly Castle, nr Cobh, Co. Cork
Belvelly Castle is a 15th century tower house situated next to the small village of Belvelly, next to the only bridge connecting Great Island [on which the town of Cobh is situated] & the mainland.  This castle is not open to the public but you can't miss it on your drive to Cobh as it is right on the roads edge.  I was surprised to learn that Sir Walter Raleigh is believed to have lived here at one time - Fact or Fiction?
Cobh is a seaside port which saw the departure of the last passengers to board the Titanic on it’s ill fated journey across the Atlantic.  At the Titanic Museum, we purchased our boarding passes & joined the walk through ‘Titanic Experience’ which takes you on a short journey back in time on board the ship.  
Titanic Model, Titanic Experience Museum, Cobh
Gate next to the Titanic Experience Museum
A replica of Titanic Poster 1912, Cobh Heritage Centre, Cobh, Co. Cork
The original pier where Titanic was moored prior to its departure, Cobh, Co. Cork
Interestingly, [for us Kiwi's because we have a town of the same name], Cobh was once called Cove, but in 1850, it was renamed Queenstown to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria!  This remained the towns name until 1922 when it was renamed Cobh, the gaelic name for Cove.
Monuments & statues adorn the waterfront of Cobh, many commemorating the sailings of immigrant ships as well as the ill-fated Titanic.    So it's worth strolling down the main waterfront street of Cobh to find them.  Among my favourites & many other's I imagine, is the sculpture of Annie Moore & her younger siblings.  Fifteen year old Annie Moore may have felt lonely when she left Cobh in 1891 but now Annie, or at least her statue in the harbour town, has no shortage of company as the sculpture is one of the most visited and photographed in the country.
The Sculpture of Annie Moore & her brothers, Cobh harbour, Co. Cork

Annie Moore & her two brother's, Cobh, Co. Cork

Annie Moore was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York Harbour.  She departed from Cobh, accompanied by her brothers Phillip & Anthony, aboard the steamship Nevada on January 1, 1892, her fifteenth birthday. 

Titanic Memorial, Westbourne Place, Cobh
The Navigator Sculpture, Cobh, Co. Cork

Cobh, Co. Cork

The town of Cobh with St Colman's cathedral towering above, Co. Cork
Colourful Cobh, Co. Cork

While you're in Cobh., it's worth visiting the Cobh Heritage Centre [right next to Annie Moore's Sculpture].  Here you'll learn about the mass immigration from Ireland, especially during the famine.   From 1848 – 1950 over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland – over 2.5 million departed from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration in Ireland.  As well, there are areas of the museum dedicated to both the The Titanic & Lusitania disasters.

Jameson's, Midleton, Co. Cork

Jameson's Whiskey Distillery, Midleton, Co. Cork

The Jameson Whiskey Distellery, Midleton, Co. Cork

An easy drive from Cobh & we were in Midleton, the town where the original  Jamieson’s Whiskey Distillery stands.  It is here also where Paddy Old Irish Whiskey is brewed, although to my disappointment, there was very few Paddy Whiskey souvenirs to be seen in the Jameson gift shop. 

Paddy Old Irish Whiskey, brewed at the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, Co. Cork
I did however, enquire as to how much it would cost me to ship a bottle of Paddy’s to New Zealand & decided against the 120 Euro price tag.  Running short of time, we decided against doing the Distillery tour, but I am told it is well worth doing.

Last but not least on our day around Cork, we came to Blarney’s Castle, yes that’s right, the one where you bend over backwards to kiss a stone! 
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork
Struggling for the last couple of days with Tonsillitis & a chest infection, I wasn’t sure if I could make it up the steep narrow stone steps within the castle that take you to the very top.  With several stops along the way to catch my breath, I did eventually make it, huffing & puffing like Thomas the Tank on a bad day!

Window taken from inside Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

Looking over the grounds of Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

Looking out from Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

Looking up at where the Blarney stone is situated, Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

It is believed that whoever kisses the Blarney Stone receives the gift of vocal eloquence [gift of the gab as it's commonly referred to] & good luck.  I'm not sure if I need any more of either, but thought I might as well give it a go.

There at the top of the Castle, we found our wee man  who holds on to ya while you suffer the indignity of lying on your back stretched out as far as you can across a small gap which thankfully had bars across it, because I was sure our wee man was actually trying to push me through it!  Lips puckered he yells, ‘go on, kiss it there now’!  .....Ever tried to kiss something that is just a few centimetres out of your lip range?  I looked like a blow fish searching for it’s next meal!
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Of course, standing there watching your shirt ride up over your belly, legs flailing, instinctively trying to find a foot hold to dig into to stop you from falling, are several other tourists & a photographer waiting to catch you as your lips pucker up to the stone, revealing on film forever, your final humiliation.  So it’s fair to say, that any photos I reveal of this momentus occasion are well edited, destroying all evidence of previously mentioned humiliating body bits!

Carved Chair, Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

 While there’s alot of ‘blarney’ around the whole Blarney experience & despite the ungainliness of it all, I have to say, I am glad I did the whole kissing the stone thing just once.  It was a good laugh.... for everyone else watching that is!

Polar Explorers Timothy & Mortimer McCarthy, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Back in Kinsale, we happened upon the sculptures of two Co. Cork men, Timothy & Mortimer McCarthy, both of whom, joined polar expeditions in the Antarctic.  Timothy McCarthy joined Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition on the Endurance & was trapped in pack ice for 15 moths.  Mortimer McCarthy joined Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's expedition on the Aurora & then the ill-fated expedition on the Terra Nova to the South Pole.  Mortimer settled & lived his life in New Zealand.

Before heading back to our B&B, we took in the picturesque seafront just as dusk fell.

Kinsale at Dusk
Kinsale at Dusk, Co. Cork



  1. Nice piece.. I gave it a mention on @KinsaleApp

  2. Thank You for that @KinsaleApp. Loved Kinsale! Check out my next post as well for more pics of Kinsale.