Phew…..all at sea.

Well, we are on the Ferry to England. There was a tiny hiccup in that our Ferry to England had gone to dry dock and no one had thought to tell us…..oooooops, where was that email? Our host at the B&B help sort it out and we were put onto the Ferry going to Pembroke. Problem number 2…..train tickets on another line from another port. Mr Google to the rescue and new tickets purchased for train. Disaster averted and we will get to London sometime today…..

Our last day in Ireland was touched with sadness as we have enjoyed our time here and catching up with our friends. We took photos at all the places recommended by Colette at the hotel and headed for the harbour to go to Spike Island. Our hotel had once been Napoleon’ doctors house where Napoleon had stayed frequently. It still retains some of its grandeur. Our room+a kitchenette and sitting area!

Spike Island from our room,
“Deck of Card “houses on a very steep street

First immigrants on Ellis Island,USA
Our ferry
Cobh from the wharf

This has been used as a prison or holding place since the 1600’s. Cromwell got rid of his dissenters and any Catholics ,he could by sending them to Barbados as slaves. He wanted to reduce the Irish population. Later governments used the Island as a prison for those awaiting transportation to America or Australia.

A cell in 1700’s block. With lime drips from the moisture hanging down.
To the cells

We did leave

At one point there was 2300 prisoners on the Island. It has also been used by the English and Irish navies as a defence base because of its location to the Cork harbour, a strategic military base for supply in time of war. It’s last use as a prison was in the 1980’s. In 1985 it was a prison for joyriders. Unfortunately they were not impressed at being imprisioned and a riot broke out. Now the guards were outnumbered…..two blocks of the prison were on fire…..the guards locked the doors and left. They removed any boats from around the island. What were those prisoners to do? First destroy their records and then get out. The doors were locked so they went over the top. Down to the jetty……..mmmmmmm …..no boats, police coming. Back they went….mmmm…gate locked. A bulldozer broke the gate and back in they went. They climbed on top of the tallest building. The police simply waited till they got cold and came down. The last one, a local lad, only came down when his mum was summoned and told him “ Get down you idjit “. Only in Ireland would prisoners break into a jail. Spike Island was handed back to Ireland 8 years ago and is now in the process of being restored to show its history. See you in England or back in Australia.

Blarney or Boloney?

Now we have heard of kissing the Blarney Stone and becoming a more eloquent speaker. Today we went to Blarney Castle to check it out and you will have to be the judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the dog house?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

To kiss kiss the Blarney Stone you have to lie on your back and slide back under the rock to kiss the stone. Being a sensible person, I declined this wonderful experience. Mike volunteered. You will have check out if he is more eloquent or if it is baloney!

 

 

 

Blarney Castle has the most amazing gardens and grounds with snowdrops,crocus and daffodil flowers peeping up through the grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original castle was built near ancient Druid grounds and in fact a hermit still lived in a cave there. A rock garden( an amazing place for a game of hide and seek), was built around the Druid area..

 

 

 

 

The Poison Garden……to help or harm.

Enough of Blarney Castle…..there are more pictures, but we also went to Cobh , an historical town for emigrants and the last port before Titanic met its fate. They have a heritage centre that documents Titanic’s visit and the emigrants from Ireland…..some not by choice. Political and Catholics were transported from Ireland as early as the 1600’s to Barbados ,the America, and Argentina. Cromwell managed to dispose of 500,000 Irish people during his time in power. Irish people have been leaving the country either voluntarily or by force and so have influenced the growth of many countries.

Cobh

 

123 woman and children drowned within sight of Australia

 

 

 

 

Farewells
Steerage on the early ships

 

    The Titanic back tail.     

 

Building the scaffolding to build Titanic’s hull.

Exhausted? Tomorrow it is a quiet day…..just a trip to Spike Island then a drive to Rosslare for the ferry to England…..oh and then the train to London.

 

 

Cobh

To Kinsale.

People enjoy discussing weather. In Ireland at this time of year there is much to discuss.

Rain

 

 

3 minutes later,sun
More ,sun

And of course during the day there was periods of sleet,snow more sunshine, and more rain, so it is no wonder people like to discuss the weather.

We drove through farm areas and close to the coast. When we reached Clonakilty we had planned to see the model village but the rain sent us into a cafe to check out local treats………it was worth it.

Guess what, we found a stone circle. As I said before, we have seen signs but they were well away from the road so not easily accessed. Stone circles are believed to be part of religious or burial ceremonies by medieval man.

Old Head of Kinsale has been the site for a lighthouse and Signal station for many years. It has witnessed many shipwrecks including the torpedoed Lusitania. Unfortunately we could only see the lighthouse in the distance and the outside of the Signal station. Travelling in winter has the advantage of no crowds and traffic but lots of sights are closed😕

      Lusitania memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Head with castle ruins in front

Kinsale is a very pretty town with a long history in trade and defence.  It has quaint shops and the ruins of two forts. On top of this it offers swimming,fishing,and sailing……not that I want to do any of these. Well that’s your lot for today…until tomorrow.

Charles Fort

Sheeps Head

Ireland is now showcasing its magnificent and diverse scenery by developing different tourist routes. We are following the Wild Atlantic way which is signposted. This route takes travels around the coast but always allows people interested in hiking and fishing to use it as a base.Consequently , we often see hiker or other quirky signs. I don’t think these were the hikers meant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cable cars are common in many parts of the world. In Ireland there is only one cable car, it goes to Dursey Island. 2012 was the last time livestock were allowed on the cable car….now it is just for the 30 people who live on the island and tourists. The island has been inhabited since the time of the Vikings. They used it as a prison for Irish slaves. Farming and fishing are still the main occupations for the islanders.

From the cable car we ventured through Bantry where there was a little touch of spring. Bantry has had a mixed past of fishing, mining, farming and control by gentry evidenced by the Gatehouse to the main estate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain and high winds today. We travelled along the Sheep Head Peninsula. This has an interesting change of vegetation seen at the top of the peninsula.On one side of the ridge, farms are tiny with animals scrambling over rocky outcrops and the other farms are large with wide green pastures. This is all because of the sea currents and topography.

 

 

 

At the end of Sheeps Head is the Mizen Head Signal Station. It is the most south westerly point in Ireland. A bridge was built to connect the island ,where the Signal station is positioned , to the mainland. The Signal station keeper was quite isolated until the bridge was built in the 1900’s. I went out on the bridge just as a squall hit and the strength and noise wind sent me scurrying across very quickly.  Don’t worry, I took pictures.

From the Signal station,you can just see the Fastnet Lighthouse which is nine miles south,southwest of the station. This is a beautiful lighthouse on an isolated rock shelf. It is the first point you see coming from America by sea.These three blocks make up one keyblock in the base of the lighthouse.

These three make up just one block
A half size of the actual base .

I did walk up the 99 steps as well.
Cork is renowned for its medieval history. Now we have searched for unique signs of this but rain,mud and snow have kept us to the beaten paths but today success! We found the Altar burial site……only a bit of mud to reach it. It is lined up with a distant rock formation and has been used by people in different ages as a sacred place. It’s most recent use was an altar during the period when priests were unable to have mass in church. I was right chuffed to see a genuine really old thing.

The tomb /altar is lined up with the distant triangular peak.

Being winter still , there are few plants around but the mosses and sedges are beautiful in their own way. Yellow gorse is seen beside the road and in undeveloped land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now most castles when derelict are left as they are too expensive to bring up to modern standards. This is Baltimore Castle. We saw pictures of it roofless and with plants sprouting every which away…now it is a family home.
Some folk ,or perhaps a guard dog,to say goodbye for today!

Ring of Kerry and more

Today we are travelling through areas of natural beauty….according to all the guide books. Even though it was raining (often) and the wind was so strong it would knock you over, I would have to say it was very picturesque. You check it out and see what you think.

 

      The Old Barracks

Ireland is known for its ruined castles but we have found it more intriguing imagining who lived in some of the simple cottages you see abandoned and being reclaimed by nature. We thought these might have been workman cottages for the flint and slate quarries in the area. On remote peninsulas you can see the remains of  Watch towers for ancient kings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beara peninsular.

They are getting sun today!

There are houses hidden in nooks in those rocks.

Hidden walks in the garden

Mosses everywhere in the garden.

Fairies

 

 

 

 

Dereen gardens was established during the Victorian period with exotic and local species. Now the Rhododendrons are as tall as oak trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way to Bantry. Now your trip is going to be a little hit and miss. As we go up and down the small byways, Internet is definitely hit and miss……but I am thinking of you and taking lots of photos so you will have a feast and then time to recover .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burtonport-Templemore-Kilkenny

Ireland has beautiful changing landscapes from peat bogs, compact and large farming plots ringed by hedges or walls and then quaint villages. We drove down through all of these and Irish winter weather……sun, rain ,sleet and snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving in Templemore,we received a warm Irish welcome from friends. Time to sit by the fire, catch up,share stories and then visit the local pub.

Now Kilkenny was a time to see some history but since, now I had a co conspirator ,retail therapy . I did find a few things for grandchildren but for you my friends , it will be chocolate ,as I forgot to ask your size ,accidentally of course. Kilkenny is beautiful with its  castle dominating the town and of course the streetscape which is a mixture of very old,not so old and new.

Breakfast in the garden for some

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening was spent in the very best way: dinner, then a quiet time in the warmth of the pub, home for tea/ coffee by the fire and lots of talking and sharing. One of the best ways to experience travel, with friends.

On the wild side in Ireland.

Starting in Dublin, we headed north to join the Coastal route including the Wild Atlantic route . We plan on avoiding the main cities like Belfast and Londonderry and travelling through the smaller villages. Weather is always a point of discussion here in Ireland. It’s cold and windy but before the day is over we experience cloud,rain,sleet,snow,sunshine,more rain, more snow and of course more sunshine……we only missed hail!

Our first port of call was near the Giants Causeway in a hotel built in 1836. A short walk down the cliff from the hotel is the rock formations created thousands of years ago by volcanic action. The soft rocks have worn away leaving the columns and stepping stones that make up the Causeway.

 

Now you can’t have a wonderful natural formation without a legend in this case that Finn McCool wished to conquer Scotland . He built the causeway but the Scottish giant Benandonner came across the causeway looking for Finn. Finn realised he was considerably bigger than he was and pretended,with the help of his wife , to be a giant baby. The Scottish giant ran back across the causeway scattering the rocks and destroying the link between Scotland and Ireland. At the visitor centre you can see history of the many people who have been linked through their stories to the Causeway.

Just down the road is the rope bridge of Carrick -a- Rede. Fisherman would put a rope bridge across from the mainland to a small island. Salmon would pass through a narrow gap between the islands and would be easier to catch. The steepness of the access to the bridge and the crossing must have been quite a feat for the fishermen especially when you consider how difficult it would be to them to get their catch to market. No, howling wind and those behind you jiggling on the bridge, I did not cross the bridge.

Fannad Head Lighthouse was our next point. There has been a lighthouse here since 1817. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world…..closed at 11.00 am today so viewed from afar like Doe castle. This was the site of family and political dramas.

In this area the chief attraction is the spectacular sea scape. Snow covers the mountains and fields and then all of the sudden there is green fields like a patchwork. Peat bogs ,grass, marshes and then sheer cliffs, and the wild ocean. Small villages border the road and are scattered on the hillsides.

Peat farms

Come Join us on our travels!

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