Sunday, 4 March 2012

Coastal Cork - A Scenic Drive to Rival the Best

We had an hour or so this morning to take a look around the town of Kinsale.   Attractive marinas, brightly coloured shops & house fronts & flowers in pots & baskets adorn this pretty place.   This beautiful town is a "must to visit & stay" on the itinerary if anyone venturing down Co. Cork way.

Kinsale, Co. Cork

Kinsale Marina, Co. Cork

Mother Hubbard's Cafe, Kinsale

Kinsale Crystal Shop, Co. Cork

Kinsale Crystal

The Market Garden Grocer, Kinsale, Co, Cork

Old Market Street, Kinsale

Our concerns about the rain have so far been unfounded.  With sunshine every day since we arrived in Ireland albeit, that some days we were given only glimpses of the sun, our days drive around the West Cork Coastal Scenic Route was an absolute cracker.!  
This beautiful coastal route absolutely sparkled, with seaside villages popping up as if out of nowhere.  

Back on the road with our wee mascots

Abandoned Mansion between Kinsale, & Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork

Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork

Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork
Courtmacksherry, West Cork Coastal Road

From Kinsale, we took the R600 over the Bandon River, following the signs to Clonakilty.  This route took us through the quaint wee  villages of Timoleague & Courtmacsherry [left off the R600 at Timoleague].   Back onto the R600 till it meets with the N71, we drove on through Clonakilty then into Roscarbery where 'Aiofe our Sat  Nav' instructed us to take a left onto the  R597.    Like lambs, we did as we were told & followed her direction.  Again, Aiofe knew best, because just 4km along this road we came across our most exciting find of the day - the Drombeg Stone Circle.  Driving around narrow roads, we almost missed it.  I caught a glimpse of a sign pointing to the historic site out the corner of my eye and fortunately decided to do a U-turn and go back to take a look.  We were both well pleased we did for this was one of the best stone circles you’ll see in Ireland.   This Stone Circle had completely gone under our radar, so to happen upon it was an exciting surprise.
Drombeg Stone Circle - Altar Stone

The lying stone [above] probably had the function of a sacrificial table or altar.  It is presumed that the Dromberg Stone Circle was used for ritual acts.

Drombeg Stone Circle also known at the 'Druid's Altar'

Following the R597 via the picturesque seaside town of Glandore we turned left onto the N71 & continued on to Bantry, a colourful  fishing village at the head of Bantry Bay.   Passing along the way, fields of green & brown with sheep & cattle grazing.

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co. Cork
While it is a common misconception to think that Stone Circles probably belonged to the Stone Age era, they are in fact mostly associated to the Bronze Age. The Drombeg Stone Circle at Drombeg actually dates to the start of the Iron Age, around 153BC to 120AD. Mind-boggling when you think about it & to be standing in the middle of it over 2000 years later!

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co Cork

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co. Cork

Glandore, Co. Cork

Bantry, Co. Cork
Bantry, Co. Cork

Colourful Houses, Bantry, Co. Cork
Bantry Town, Co. Cork

A beautiful day in Bantry Bay, Co. Cork

Blackfaced Mountain Sheep, Co. Cork

We stopped around 2pm in Glencarriff for a bite to eat before finishing our journey in Kenmare, Co. Kerry for the night . On the way between Glencarriff & Kenmare, we passed Molly Gallivan's Cottage.  Unfortunately, not open on a Sunday, this cottage now 200 years old, was owned by Molly who was widowed with 7 children to raise.  While selling her farm produce provided her with a meagre income, it was her illicit home brewed poitin that she sold in her illegal pub, that she became most famous for.
Molly Gallivan's Cottage, Bonane, Co. Kerry

Our accommodation for tonight was with the lovely Mary Brennan, owner of the Ashfield House B&B on Killowen Road, Kenmare.  Again the welcome was so warm & genuine.  A nice hot drink and a freshly made scone was provided  as we settled in, after which we headed out to see two historic sites within the town

Ashfield House B&B, Kenmare, Co. Kerry
 The first of these was Cromwell’s bridge, supposedly misnamed as Oliver Cromwell never came to Kerry during his Irish campaign. The name is thought to be a corruption of croimeal the Irish word for moustache which describes the shape. Local lore believes Augustinian Monks built the bridge around the 11th century while others believe it was built in the 17th century by the English settlers of the town.  It was intended as a footbridge, although it's steep arch makes one wonder how anyone could traverse it.

Cromwell's Bridge, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

The second historic site on our list was a stone circle,  apparently the largest circle in Ireland & while not quite as impressive as Drombeg in Co. Cork which we saw this morning, this is still well worth visiting.  Any stone circle is impressive in my book, just for the sheer age of them. 

Stone Circle, Kenmare
Stone Circles were apparently built during the Bronze Age for ritual and ceremonial purposes.  Some studies have indicated that they were orientated on certain solar and lunar events, such as the position of the sun on the horizon on a solstice.  In the centre of the circle is a type of burial monument known as the Boulder Burial, rarely found outside of the south west of Ireland.

Kenmare Village, Co. Kerry
While my travelling buddy Donna returned to the village to shop, I settled into the lounge at the B&B to watch the live TV coverage of the Ireland vs France Rugby match.  A close encounter with hopes pinned on the Irish boys winning, but in the end a draw, 17 – 17.  I’m no expert [clearly], but I think they should have brought Ronan O’Gara on earlier than they did

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