Exploring County Cork Ireland

We have been so lucky to experience much of Cork Co. Ireland over the past few days!

After taking the bus to Cork City from the farm, we were met by Steve and Teresa at the bus station. They are the parents of our good friends in England. We are so glad that we have gotten to know their family in past few months- we’ve gotten to live like locals in England and Ireland!

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Shortly after we got picked up at the bus station, we went to Blarney Castle. Of course we kissed the stone! (See below.) Which to be honest, was pretty anti-climactic since it’s a great photo-op for the castle to sell you a professional photograph that they take of you. Anyway, now Jeff and I are now blessed with the gift of ‘eloquence’ that comes from kissing the stone.

Even more impressive than the Blarney Stone, are the castle grounds and gardens. There is an interesting poison garden, teaching visitors about poisonous plants. The grounds are gorgeous, and you could easily spend a few hours walking all of the trails.

We also made a pit stop at Woolen Mills. I think a lot of the tour buses stop there. They have beautiful merchandise, but I think it would have been more exciting if Jeff and I were actually in the market for souvenirs. I would need another backpack for all the things I would want to buy…and then Jeff would make me carry it all by myself...

After the Castle, Steve and Teresa treated us to lunch on the way to Cobh (English = Cove). In Cobh, previously called Queenstown, we visited the Queenstown Heritage Center. This was much more interesting than Blarney Castle. Queenstown was the reverse Ellis Island of Ireland. If you were leaving Ireland, you left on a ship from Cobh. Many Irish immigrated to Australia and the America’s from here. Some left by force in order to serve prison sentence, others to start a new life across the sea. Queenstown was also the final port call for the Titanic before it left for its tragic maiden voyage. The information in the Heritage Center was extensive and extremely well put together. Well worth a visit! Today, Cobh is a cruise ship harbor.

Queenstown Heritage Center- well worth a visit!

Queenstown Heritage Center- well worth a visit!

We went up to the beautiful cathedral that overlooked the town, which was the last part of Ireland that may immigrants ever saw. Coincidentally, we were in time for Saturday mass. The past few Sunday’s we have attended a mass in Ireland, and it sort of feels like a race compared to masses that we are used to. The mass in Cobh set a new record for us- 27 minutes long. I appreciate the Irish, they don’t waste any time! That night we went to the local pub with Steve and Teresa. It was a struggle for us, as we left the house after 10 pm and then stayed up until 2:30 am. Pubs seem to be an integral part of Irish life- something that we highly approve of!

The next day we toured much of Cork County. It was the most beautiful day we have had in Ireland- sunny skies all day and warm temperatures! We went through Kinsale, a quaint little town on the coast and stopped at Charles Fort. We were treated (again) to lunch by Steve and Teresa at the Dunmore House near Inchydoney Beach.

In the few short days we spent in Cork, we learned so much about Irish hospitality. We had met some awesome fellow workers at the farm in Schull and were lucky enough to catch up with one of them in Cork. Katrin escaped Schull and is spending a few weeks at a different farm just outside of Cork City. We went to go visit her at the farm and drink some whiskey. When we showed up to her new farm we were greeted and served lunch! We love getting to know new people on this trip, and it is so heartwarming to know that others want to get to know us too. After being treated like part of the family, Katrin came with us to The Jameson Experience.

We learned about Irish whiskey and distilling. All of the Jameson in the world is produced in Middleton, Ireland. And we were there!!! Katrin and Jeff were pretty serious about the tour, and volunteered to drink more than the rest of us.

Irish whiskey is better than Scotch, but I am still a fan of American whiskey.

We did a quick walk around Cork City the morning before we left on a week long road trip and stopped to eat at the English Market. Delicious!