Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cobh & Cork & Clonakilty

The ferry left Swansea at about 8pm last night. Once again, no opportunity to get my passport stamped for leaving the UK or entering Ireland. Bondi was left to his own devices in the back of the car (with a bucket of water) on the vehicle deck, while I took my chances sans-cabin on the deck above. Torn between the Irish Pub-let and the cinema showing Hilarween XIX, I buried myself in the first few pages of Fiendish Sudoku. The ship began to lurch about as we negotiated large swells on the Irish Sea. I spent the night huddled on a lounge, wishing that I had the option of stretching out in my car.

I woke around 6.30, seeing land outside, and discovered we had already entered Cork Harbour. It was a pleasant morning, and the view of Cobh township (above) as we glided towards our dock was most welcoming. About 2.5 million of the 6 million emigrants from Ireland to the US and Australia in the period 1830-1930 left from this port. It's possible my own ancestors left here in 1842, although the gigantic cathedral was not present at that time.

Cobh (pronounced Cove) was known as Queenstown for a period, and it is linked with two great sea tragedies: the Titanic's last stop was here, and the Lusitania was sunk not far off the coast.

I drove into Cork, and was immediately picked out by an elegantly-dressed man who asked if I had relatives in Perth and enough money to buy him a cup of tea. I apologised for my lack of domestic currency (.."do you have English pounds? Australian dollars?" ) and abandoned this garrulous bureau-de-change to find an ATM and some coffee for myself.

Cork is Ireland's 2nd largest city, with a population of around 124,000 - making for a town-centre that you can cover easily in a morning. I'll probably pop back later in the week.

Around noon I took Bondi off to the nearby village of Blarney, but we didn't stay long there. The grounds to Blarney Castle were not dog-friendly and I decided I really didn't want to follow 3000 mostly American tourists that morning to pay 8€ for the privilege of kissing a germ-laden rock.

Lack of sleep was getting to me, so we headed for our accommodation for the next few nights, the seaside town of Clonakilty. Bondi's already gathering a following here : "will you take a look at thart, will you take a look at thart, will you? will you take a look at THART!" "he's feckin' garjus!"

Still, he's got a lot of competion with figures such as Michael Collins (IRA leader), JFK's grandfather and Henry Ford's father all having been born around Clonakilty. There's a picture down the hall from my room, showing Michael Collins talking to crowds on the street outside this hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Ireland is nice...Just drop by at netherlands...lot of nice place like that also in here, but in the flat nice blog