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  • Day14

    Day 14 - Just a Sniffter or Two

    August 14, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I was first up yet again & set about my daily chores, well my blog. Whilst everyone else was getting themselves ready & faffing, I had my breakfast, showered & took myself down to the river bank.

    The water level was much lower than our previous fishing excursions. I set about casting out & spinning in, catching nothing more than weeds & reeds. Eventually my spinner got stuck for good in some reeds or on a rock. I tugged & tugged until the the line could take it no more & snapped. I expertly tied on a new hook using the fancy knot I had been shown by the master, but still I failed to catch anything edible.

    At 11.00am, I returned to the cottage & we set off for Midleton. We were a bit ahead of schedule so Chris took us on a detour that brought us out at the very pretty seaside resort town of Youghal, sitting on the estuary of the River Blackwater.

    Youghal has an interesting history & has several properties of note including the Clock Gate Tower, which was used as a Prison during the 1798 Rebellion as well being a place of torture & the public gallows; the Benedictine Priory, where Oliver Cromwell resided in 1649 & Myrtle Grove, where Sir Walter Raleigh lived & grew his potatoes when he was mayor of Youghal for 2 years. Walter reputedly brought potatoes to Ireland in 1585. Of these, we only caught a glimpse of the Clock Gate Tower.

    In addition to this on the harbour front we saw the Moby Dick’s Pub. It was renamed after John Huston filmed all the outside scenes of his 1954 movie Moby Dick in Youghal that purported to be New Bedford in Massachusetts.

    After I had jumped out, to take a couple of photos & jumped back in again, we were on our way to Midleton, home of the Jameson Distillery........oh & Nellie Cashman (more about her later). It was 12.30pm, when we parked up & walked to the Distillery for our 1.00pm tour.

    On the side of the driveway were several item of interest including a very old looking train. I jumped over a fence on to the grass, ignoring the ‘Stay Off’ signs, to get a better photo. I had only just returned to the path, when some old man came rushing towards me. I was fully expecting to get a bollocking, but he said “Can I tell you an interesting fact. That train is a replica & doesn’t actually work, but you can watch a very amusing video on the internet of it in action called Jameson’s Iron Horse Ad”. I thanked him & the anorak walked off chuckling to himself.

    To be fair, I did later watch the ad on YouTube & I remember it from years back. I’m not sure if I would have described it as ‘very amusing’.

    We went in to the main foyer & shop of the distillery. I collected our tour tickets, the girls looked around the shop & then we all caught Chris, our driver, furtively knocking back a glass of Jameson Black Barrel at 60% proof & just the €100 a bottle!

    At 1.00pm our tour commenced, which Jameson have boldly labelled as the ‘Welcome to the World’s Leading Distillery Tour’. It started with a short video presentation of the history of Jameson Whiskey, then Brian our guide in his yellow fluorescent vest led us round the old distillery explaining all the different processes to how they made their whiskey. Jameson now have a huge modern distillery next door creating thousands of litres of whiskey daily.

    I won’t list all the processes, but during the one hour tour we saw a pair of platform shoes from the 19th century & the world’s largest copper Still Pot. Whiskey only becomes whiskey once it has been in a barrel for at least 3 years. It is possible to buy a barrel of 6 year old whiskey, but the starting price is €80,000.

    After the tour of the distilling process, we were taken to a tasting room, where we had three small glasses of whiskey each to sample. The first was the Irish Jameson Whiskey, which was smooth & slipped down well. The second was an unidentified Scottish Whisky, that was very smoky, so much so that Angela couldn’t neck hers! Third was an unidentified American Whiskey, that was perfumed & slightly sickly. No doubt, Jameson had got the most unpalatable Scottish & American Whisk(e)y they could find. Scandalously, there were hundreds of undrunk whiskeys left in the tasting room, but we are too classy to minesweep!

    That ended the tour, well nearly, we each had a voucher to redeem a whiskey drink from the bar. Chris & I had a whiskey, ginger ale & lime & the girls had whiskey on the rocks AND another as Jackie had found someone else’s voucher on the floor & had the barefaced cheek to redeem that as well.

    We then left before we got thrown out & went to a little cafe, Ferrit & Lee, down the road for lunch & to sober Chris up! The lunch was very good, between us we had soup & pitta, chicken salad, fish cakes & I, the pate, with wine & beer.

    Before leaving Midleton, we sought out the Nellie Cashman Monument at the other end of town. It was a random blob of rock with Nellie’s face etched into it & not overly pleasing on the eye. Nellie lived not in, but near Midleton & emigrated to America & took part in the Klondike Gold Rush In 1874. She became famous for helping the poor & establishing churches & hospitals, which got her the title ‘The Angel of the Cassiar Mountains’.

    It is fair to say that the Nellie Cashman Monument received mixed reviews from “The best experience of my life” by Meghan McDowell, although I suspect that she was supposed to be reviewing something else; to “Ugly and the woman had nothing to do with the town” by Gerald Colan-O’Leary & my my particular favourite “what even is this thing?” by ryan o mahony.

    We returned home, had the usual cup of tea, then Chris & I went fishing. After a few casts, I handed the rod over to Chris, to watch the master at work. It would probably be our last fishing excursion together, so possibly I might pick up some final tips from an expert. It was all going so well, but on the 3rd or 4th cast, Chris launched the line into a willow tree...........on our side of the river bank. After 5 minutes of savage tree surgery, Chris climbed back out of the remainder of the tree with the hook still on the line.

    Presumably, Chris felt that a change of location might bring him more luck, because instead of using the firm concrete slope, he chose to edge his way out on to a very muddy & wet part of the river bank. I was full of admiration for his persistence, clearly he had seen an opportunity that I hadn’t.

    Two or three casts later, Chris let out a yelp as he fell & rolled around in the mud. Apparently the Earth had moved for him, a clump of sod under his foot had given way OR maybe he was still drunk? Did I rush to help Chris, no, I whipped my camera out & took photos as he floundered in the mud.

    Not much later & without further incident, we returned to the Cottage, where Angela saw the funny side of Chris’ jeans being covered in mud..............eventually!

    At 6.30pm, we headed out back into Lismore to Foleys on the Mall Bar & Restaurant for a pork belly extravaganza. I ordered pork belly as a starter & the others all had the pork belly main course. The others did also have starters. For the main, I had Rebel Steak & Kidney pie & mash, which I’d considered apt & I had been banging on about wanting to have a steak & kidney pie before we left Ireland. It was all washed down with a couple of nice bottles of red.

    We returned to the house to quaff more alcohol & play a final of Logo. Angela flukily won.

    Song of the Day - Tubthumping by Chumbawamba.

    Bonus Song of the Day :-

    Whisky in the Jar by Thin Lizzy.
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    Emma Annals

    Love the comment about the left overs at the Tasting. We went gin tasting yesterday and whilst we finished all of ours and then headed to bar for more, we were horrified the amount of gin our fellow tasters left behind. The chances of minesweeping increased with every sip of our cocktails but thankfully temptation was finally cleared away! Emma xx

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    Emma, it’s absolute sacrilege going on a tasting tour & not drinking the free samples. Hope you’re all having a great holiday & the weather is holding up. Love Simon & Jackie xx

  • Day13

    Day 13 - Titanic Over Reaction

    August 13, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    I was awoken just after 6.00am by a load of bullocks............mooing outside our cottage. I got up & finished the blog. We were all up & ready & increadibly out of the door by 10am sharp & heading to Cork.

    We took a convoluted country route, which was all to later become apparent. We paid a €1.90 toll charge & joined the M8 southbound towards Cork. Just north of Cork, I could sense Chris getting gradually more excitable. He kept fiddling with his knobs!

    We continued at a roundabout, joining the N40 & almost immediately entered the Jack Lynch Tunnel which went under the River Lee into Cork. This was the source of Chris’ excitement. The Jack Lynch Tunnel is an immersed tube tunnel, 610 metres long, costing 70 million Irish pounds in 1999 & was modelled on the Medway Tunnel in Kent. The Medway Tunnel was built by Chris’ company & was the 1st of it’s kind in the UK. Some might say he is an anorak.

    We arrived at our destination, Convent Avenue in Cork, but there was no trace of Cork Gaol, or Cork Goal as Jackie referred to it. We were about 6 miles away from the ‘other’ Convent Avenue. It then took us about 30 minutes to negotiate through the hideous traffic to get to Cork Gaol, crossing the River Lee only several times!

    Having parked up, we paid our €12 each admission fee for a guided audio tour of Cork Gaol. The tour took us through the procedure for prisoners when they first arrived at the Gaol. It told us stories of various inmates & the conditions they had to endure.

    Cork Gaol was built in 1818, but was closed due to it’s deteriorated conditions in 1923. The Gaol housed mainly female prisoners, but male prisoners were incarcerated there during certain periods in that time. During the Great Famine, many people committed crimes so that they could be sent to prison, where they would be fed & have a roof over their heads, hence a better quality of life.

    It was a captivating experience. After, we handed our headsets in & visited the Radio Museum in the upper floors of the Gaol. There was an audio visual display of a mock of trial projected on to the walls, which was excellent. We all thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, believing that they got the amount of information relayed to us about right.

    We returned to the car & headed south to Cobh, pronounced as ‘Cove’ (the Cove of Cork), but was also named Queenstown in 1849. It was another half hour drive from Cork to Cobh & we parked up outside the Cobh Heritage Centre. Cobh is renowned for being the last port of call for the Titanic in 1912 before it sank.

    As a result, both the Cobh Heritage Center & the Titanic Experience Memorial had exhibits relating to the Titanic. Both exhibitions seemed rather on the small side, but still wanted a €10 entrance fee. We decided that we wouldn’t go in to either, particularly as Chris & Angela already knew the Titanic story, in fact so much so that they didn’t watch the film of that name!

    The only other maritime thing of worthy of mention was a statue of Annie Moore & her two brothers on the dockside. Annie Moore embarked from Cobh on the SS Nevada & was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America 🇺🇸 through their new Immigration Center at Ellis Island, New York on 1st January 1892. A statue to celebrate this event has been erected on both sides of the Atlantic. Interestingly, there was a photo of Mary in her later years & she clearly had ingratiated herself into the American fast food culture. She was huge.

    Talking of food, we looked around for somewhere to eat, even in the imposing St. Coleman’s Cathedral that was celebrating it’s centenary. Jackie lit 2 candles, one for her Mum & the other for Paul Drakett. However she should have then gone straight to confession, because she lit the candles from other already lit candles, which was strictly forbidden!

    We failed in our mission to find a suitable eating establishment, so we returned to the car & got out of Cobh, quicker than it’s most famous daughter, International Athlete Sonia O’Sullivan. Our views on Cobh were that it was a bit underwhelming & relied too heavily on it’s connection to the Titanic, but it clearly appealed to the American tourists.

    Leaving Cobh, we drove past Belvelly Castle, which is a 14th/15th Century Stone tower house that has been wonderfully restored & is now a private residence. We continued to the town of Midleton, famous for it’s Jameson Distillery. We parked up & walked up & down the High Street.

    After several enquires & studying of menus, we settled on Finin’s Restaurant & Bar. The girls ordered fish & chips, Chris ordered leg of lamb & I, the Irish Stew...........when in Rome! Half an hour later, there were 4 empty plates & 4 empty glasses.

    We returned to the Cottage & after a cup of tea, Chris & I went fishing again to catch another haul of trout. After an hour of toil, we had failed. Maybe it had just been beginners luck yesterday!

    We returned to the cottage & all nattered in the comfy chairs with wine & beer until late in to the evening. We did however have a pre-bed game of Logo, where I have discovered I am now be targeted & picked on, probably because I win every game we play. Just for the record, I won the Logo game!

    Song of the Day - Titanic (My Over) Reaction by 999
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  • Day3

    Day 3 - Driving Rain

    August 3, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Woke up at silly ‘o’ clock to write the blog for yesterday at my section house table & chair. Luckily I was able to nip along the corridor for complimentary coffee.

    After deciding we would skip the €5 continental breakfast, we hit the road around 8.30pm. The plan was for me to ride solo to Cork, where Jackie would then ride pillion with me to our final destination.
    We headed up the N25 towards Wexford, then started to bear left around it when it started to drizzle. Good start to the day!

    A short while later, I followed Chris up an overgrown road & parked up in a tiny little car park at Browne Clayton Monument. We walked up the 100 metre track to the foot of the monument only to discover that there was a locked gate across the entrance barring entry to the internal staircase. Looking through the gate, I was glad, the spiral staircase was tiny as it would have been a tight squeeze, particularly in my motorcycle attire.

    General Robert Browne Clayton commissioned the monument in memory of Sir Ralph Abercrombie, his commanding officer who died in 1801 at the Battle of Alexandria during the Napoleonic Wars. Surely it should be called the ‘Ralph Abercrombie Monument’! The granite Column is 94ft 4in tall and is the only Corinthian Column in the world with an internal staircase.

    After the usual photographs, we returned to the car park & I donned my waterproof trousers for the impending inclement weather. I was glad I did as we travelled through rain & drizzle pretty much for the entire next two hours. We continued along the N25 passing the towns of New Ross, Glenmore & Slieveroe before arriving in Waterford. We took a detour through Waterford town centre mainly to avoid the toll bridge.

    Our detour took us over the River Suir and in doing so we we left County Kilkenny & entered County Waterford. Eventually we negotiated our way back to the N25 & continued west towards Cork. Chris & I (the workers) stopped at a little garage to refuel our machines & our bodies by sharing a pack of 5 sausage rolls!

    Onwards through ‘heavy’ rain, passing the towns of Dungarvan, Youghal & Midleton, home of the Jameson Distillery. A hot toddy wouldn’t have gone amiss! Maybe another day.

    Around 1.00pm we rolled into the City of Cork, which was celebrating ‘Pride’ weekend. There wasn’t much evidence of it apart from some rain sodden stripy flags. We mooched around the damp shopping centre & settled on an Internet cafe, WEBWORKHOUSE.COM for a spot of lunch. The girls & I had a roll, whilst Chris had an enormous pizza.

    The Internet cafe was a bit of an eye opener. It was full of geeks & potential (no,definite) perverts. We fitted in well! Some were playing video games, but a couple of saddos in tracksuit trousers were looking at photos of fat black women in underwear, whilst ‘rummaging’ around in their laps. It doesn’t bear thinking about!

    Due to the weather we didn’t hang around in Cork, but instead headed south on the R600 in driving rain passing Riverstick & Belgooly to the apparently pretty harbour town Kinsale. I’d like to confirm that but the rain ☔️ prevented clear vision.

    Despite the rain we parked up & explored the harbour, where an RNLI raft race was in full swing. The participants, looked cold & miserable, probably just like me. We watched them for a few minutes. We then strolled around the brightly painted shops in the town centre, then hurried back to our vehicles to complete the final leg of our journey.

    The R600, which doubled up as the Wild Atlantic Way, took us along narrow country & coastal roads through the villages of Ballinspittle & Timoleague to Clonakilty where we got stuck in a traffic jam!! Possibly a horse & cart had crashed up ahead. Out of Clonakilty, we picked up the N71 & raced through the towns of Rosscarbery & Leap, before arriving at Skibbereen, the nearest town to our cottage.

    We stopped at the Euro Spar & bought a few essential provisions, minced beef for a chilli con-carne & beer, wine & non alcohol Nosecco. Luckily we realised before we drove off & changed Nosecco for a couple of bottles of Prosecco! We also bought some ‘Scratch my Pork’ snacks!

    Around 5.00pm, we drove into Meadow Cottage, our home for the next 7 nights. It is a very attractive looking Cottage looking out over Roaringwater Bay. We can also see a castle owned by Jeremy Irons. The lounge area has a random spiral staircase in the middle of the room taking you up to a very small mezzanine with a single chaise longue.

    We had our dinner outside in the setting sunlight & had a couple of drinks before calling it a night around 10.30pm.

    Song of the Day - Driving Rain by The Memphis Strange

    Bonus Song of the Day :-

    The Staircase (Mystery) by Siouxsie & the Banshees.
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  • Day8

    Day 8 - Island Hopping

    August 8, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Overslept & woke up in a panic at 9.00am. Jackie & I had volunteered to go down to Skibbereen on the motorcycle to get some more provisions for a picnic.

    It wasn’t until 10.15am that Jackie had finally done her make-up............and washed some clothes & put them out to dry. We scooted down to Skibbereen and abandoned the motorcycle outside a pub. In Field’s Supermarket we rushed around & picked up 5 bottles of wine, 10 large bread rolls, ham, sausage rolls, another kilo of mussels & some fruit. We stuffed it all into the panniers & headed back.

    It was about 11.10am when we returned to the cottage & made our picnic up, a selection of ham, egg & cheese rolls. The picnic & coats were stuffed into rucksacks & we set of in Chris’ car to Cunnamore

    At midday we boarded the Thresher, the Cunnamore to Heir Island, that only departed every two hours. Luckily we weren’t the last to arrive at the harbour because the last 2 people had to be left behind as the ferry could only carry 12 passengers.

    Four minutes later we disembarked the ferry at Heir Island. The ferry captain collected our money of €3 each and gave us a map of the Island. A single road ran from one end to the other and just one other road ran off it down to the main beach. Before we left the harbour, Chris contacted a telephone number on a poster to establish the ferry times over to Sherkin Island.

    That sorted, we walked for about half a mile to the main beach, which was a small but clean & sandy beach. We sat on a wall & ate half of our picnic basking the faint sun. I even dipped my toes in the water & was surprised that it actually wasn’t that cold. Half an hour later, we were heading back to the harbour to catch our next ferry. Chris & I stopped & spoke to a man who was from Cork, but was doing a grand job of rebuilding an old family home. He warned us that the rain was due to come in around 4.00pm.

    At 1.40pm, we boarded the M.V. Boy Colm, the Cunnamore, Heir Island & Sherkin Island ferry. The captain resembled the Ronnie Barker character in their famous Fork Handles sketch. This journey was much longer, about 20 minutes, and we passed 2 seals. Our 1st decent wildlife spot of the trip. This ferry trip cost us €5 each, much better value!

    Upon docking at Sherkin Island, which was directly opposite Baltimore, the wind started to get up and the temperature dropped. We arranged for ‘Ronnie’ to collect us at 3.00pm, hopefully to stay ahead of the rain. We walked up the hill, passing the ruins of Sherkin Friary, which was built by the O’Driscoll clan in 1449. However, in 1537, the residents of Waterford burned the Friary down in retaliation for acts of piracy committed by the O’Driscolls.

    We only had an hour, so we marched up to The Jolly Roger Pub, voted Best Costal Ireland Pub, somehow! The barmaid was not a very welcoming sole. Chat was not her thing & the only thing on the menu was chips. They had sold out of everything else.

    We bought a pint each & took them outside to finish off our picnic in the blustery wind. From our elevated position, we saw ‘Ronnie’ returning to pick us up, having refuelled at Baltimore. We drank up & returned to the harbour for our return journey back to Cunnamore. We did have a chat with ‘Ronnie’ as we disembarked, but we couldn’t understand a word he said. I think it was something about fishing, but he could have been just insulting us!

    We took a couple of minor diversions to Turks Head & to Killeen Beach, but nothing to report. We returned to the cottage & I went to bed & slept for 2 hours. The others also had varying amounts of sleep.

    I woke up at 6.45pm & half heartedly started todays blog. Jackie cooked up 2 kilos of mussels in a white wine & tarragon sauce. I had a bread roll! At 9.35pm we headed out to our local pub. Angela chose to drive as the weather was so awful.

    We arrived at Minihane’s Bar around 10pm & ordered 2 and a half Guinness’s & a wine for Jackie. The barmaid, Teresa (Tess) & her sister, the landlady Josephine (Josie) were very welcoming. Almost as soon as our drinks arrived an old boy sat in a chair burst into song with a sea shanty, followed by a tune on his squeezebox. After a few minutes of silence, an old woman next to him started singing with a lovely haunting voice.

    This was repeated a couple of times until 2 large families turned up. Three youngsters, who were French & from one of the families got their musical instruments (2 fiddles & another squeezebox) out & joined in with them. A young lad sang a solo song & an old guy at the bar also did his bit.

    It was a great atmosphere, made all the more so by thunder & lightening rumbling & flashing outside.

    At midnight, we made it known that it was Jackie’s Birthday, which prompted the landlady Josie to bring out a Mars Bar with a candle in it & we sang Happy Birthday to her. Josie then ordered some young lad to sing a song, which he did in front of all of his mates. Josie then sang a song at our table.

    Angela, who had nursed just two half’s of Guinness all night, then bravely sang several verses of Hallelujah on behalf of us English contingent. Thank you Angela.

    The final song of the night was by Tess, which was a treat, because apparently she rarely sings!

    It was the perfect end to a fantastic evening.

    Song of the Day - Don’t Pay the Ferryman by Chris de Burgh
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    Craig Boswell

    Nice to see Simon helping with the mooring ropes.

    Simon and Jackie Annals

    I couldn’t resist in helping out after learning the ropes from you!

    David Byng

    Diddly music.

  • Day10

    Day 10 - Blown Round the Ring of Kerry

    August 10, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    The alarm went off at 8.00am, too early if you had had a dreadful night sleep. I struggled out of bed & made Jackie a cup of tea. The wind was blowing a hooley, I later looked it up & discovered that it was gusting at 30mph, perfect for motorcycling!

    We got ourselves ready & packed our rucksacks & loaded them in the car. We were all moving out of Mr Hegarty’s Meadow Cottage to pastures new. Around 9.30am, we said goodbye to Chris & Angela & climbed aboard the motorcycle. We were heading to the Ring of Kerry, Chris & Angela were heading to our new cottage for the forthcoming week.

    Jackie & I headed west on the N71, then headed north just before reaching Ballydehob. The windy was gusty to say the least & we took it easy particularly because the roads were also damp. When we arrived at Bantry Bay, we stopped & got off to look at the monument to all those that lost their lives in the Bay, which stood in front of the Cemetery. When we returned to the motorcycle, we found Jackie’s helmet in the entrance to the Cemetery, several metres from the bike. It would appear she hadn’t attached it the bike securely & it had fallen off & rolled down the road.

    We drove through Bantry to Ballylickey, where we filled up with petrol. We then continued through Glengarriff & on to Kenmare, where we parked up to get some sustenance. After walking around the very busy town, we stopped at Cafe Mocha, where we ordered a Full Irish Breakfast & a Mini Breakfast. I won’t say who had which!

    Pleased with our breakfast selection, we continued onwards & upwards to Molls Gap. Unfortunately we shouldn’t have been there, I had missed the Ring of Kerry turning, so we did a U turn & drove the 10kms back down the mountain to Kenmare. Luckily it was only raining & blowing a gale!

    We picked up the Ring of Kerry road (N70 & Wild Atlantic Way) & rode through Templenoe, Blackwater Bridge, Derreenamacken, Tahilla & Parknasilla to Sneem. At times it was damn frightening as every so often we were sideswiped by a vicious gust of wind.

    Sneem, a small village, was heaving with tourist coaches. In addition to this a wedding was taking place at the local church & a stag party was in full swing with the groom to be dressed in a leprechaun outfit. (We saw them at another pub along the Ring of Kerry).

    We stopped & had a mooch around. It was nice but way too busy. We got back on the bike & continued clockwise around the RoK. The most bizarre sight of the day was seeing as erected tent on an island just metres off the mainland, with 2 people sat in deckchairs in front of it as if it was the perfect summer’s day.

    We continued to Waterville, where it has capitalised on the fact that Charlie Chaplin & his family holidayed there for many years in the 1950s. Apparently he first visited the town upon the recommendation of his friend, Walt Disney. As a result of this connection, there is a Charlie Chaplin bronze statue, a Charlie Chaplin Walk & a Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival, which later this year is going to attempt the World Record for the largest gathering of Charlie Chaplin Lookalikes!

    We had a stroll along the seafront (or Charlie Chaplin Walk) & I used the Ladies Public Toilets, as the Gents were out of action. The weather looked to be getting worse, so we continued on to Kells, our home for the night. We stopped at Cahersiveen for a bottle of red , the drove on to Kells House & Gardens, arriving just as the heavens opened.

    Kells House & Gardens are owned by Billy & Penn, his Thai wife. Penn greeted us (although she hardly speaks English) at reception & took us up to our room. Kells House & Gardens are open to the public & for €8 you can visit the house, but of more interest take the walk around Billy’s world class fern garden.

    Our hotel room is wonderful, spacious & posh. Thank you Chris for getting such a superb discount for us. We stripped out of our damp clothes & watched Final Score. Jackie had a brown bath which looked wrong, but was the soil in the water. It is harmless, but not drinkable.

    At 7.00pm we went down to dinner in their Thai restaurant, Sala. We had a very nice, albeit a little expensive, meal of crispy Aromatic Duck, red Thai curry & Pad Thai.

    By 9.00pm we were back in our room giving me time to catch up on my blog & Jackie to watch Casualty.

    Song of the Day - Charlie Chaplin by Perry Blake

    Day 10 Part Two - the Michael Collins Experience

    After we had said our farewells to Simon and Jackie we set off to our second cottage in Tallow, Waterford County. Our first stop was Clonakilty where we stopped for a stroll around the pretty town and for a coffee and cake, coffee cake for me, lemon and poppyseed for Chris. We came across a Seasalt, Cornwall shop and Angela couldn’t resist a bit of retail therapy!
    Our next stop was the Michael Collins Centre in Castleview on the outskirts of Clonakilty. We paid our 5 euros each and went in. The museum is owned and run by Timothy Crowley who is a distant cousin of Michael. Michael Collins was an Irish military and political leader, fondly known as the ‘Big Fella’ who came to prominence during the Irish Revolutionary Period 1916 to 1922. He moved to London in 1906 to become a clerk for the post office savings bank. He became a member of the London GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He returned to Ireland in 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. He was imprisoned in Frongoch, Wales as a prisoner of war and was released in December 1916. Timothy Crowley’s grandfather was a prisoner of war at the same time as Collins.
    Collins rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein and became a Teachta Dala for South Cork in 1918. He gained fame as a guerilla warfare strategist, planning and directing many successful attacks on British forces and assassinations of British intelligence agents. After the ceasefire in July 1921 Collins went to London to negotiate peace terms, the Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in 1922, this was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War in which Collins was Commander in Chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-treaty forces on 22nd August 1922.
    The museum had an excellent presentation, several exhibits and a mock up of the ambush scene. There was also an assassination area which had a pole you could stand against and have a replica gun pointed at you - nobody fancied doing that! We made a stop at the Diamond Bar where the tip off came that Collins was on his way through and to Beal na Bla which was the ambush site, there is a memorial there.
    We than made our way to Bride Valley Fruit Farm and our second cottage. We were greeted by Willie McDonnell who lived in the farmhouse as a child. He now runs the farm with his son Paul. They have sheep, suckling cows and grow apples which they sell to Bulmers. Once we figured out how to work the oven Angela roasted a chicken which we had with a salad and some red wine.

    Song of the day - Michael Collins by The Wolfe Tones
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  • Day9

    Day 9 - Is it Someone's Birthday?

    August 9, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    It is Jackie’s 53rd Birthday, which came as a bit of a surprise, because she hadn’t mentioned it.

    It was a miserable day outside, so after opening her cards & a present from Angela & Chris, Jackie cancelled the pony trekking that she was supposed to be doing with Angela. We had another leisurely start to the day & we didn’t venture out until pretty much midday.

    We didn’t have any other particular plans, so we drove into Skibbereen, then decided to visit Drombeg Stone Circle which was just east of the village of Leap. Drombeg Stone Circle, also known as the Druid’s Altar, are 17 tightly packed stones in a circle just 29ft in diameter.

    It was pouring with rain as we walked the 100 odd metres to the Stone Circle from the car park. The Stones were more impressive than any of us had expected and there was a steady stream of visitors. The site is thousands of years old & is believed to be a place of worship & possibly sacrifice. In the middle of the Circle was a stone upon which people had left a donation or an offering. In the mist it was very atmospheric, almost eerie.

    At the site there were also the remains of a Fulacht Fiadh, which was an ancient cooking place that would have been inside a stone hut. The Fulacht Fiadh was an ingenious way to cook food. Recent tests show that it was able to bring 70 gallons of water to the boil in just 18 minutes simply by dropping red hot rocks into it. The water would then stay hot for several hours.

    We drove back through the coastal village of Glandore back to Leap. We stopped to see its ‘Historic’ Waterfall, if there could be such a thing. It turned out to be a nothing to shout about waterfall, with a number of tacky ornaments with a fairy theme scattered around it. Thank god it was free to see it.

    After a couple of false starts we plumped on the Leap Inn Bar & Restaurant for lunch. We all chose the sausage & mash dinner, probably because the sausages were Guinness & Leek. It was a lovely, but massive dinner, with a big bowl of vegetables & a bowl of chips. I was happy because I was buying dinner that evening, so the more everyone ate at lunch, the less they’d want for dinner or so I hoped!

    Having finished our dinner, we went back out into the rain & decided there was nothing else for it but to go back to the cottage & play cribbage. We ventured into the realms of playing Cribbage in pairs, but it started to verge on it all getting a bit too competitive. Jackie & I won by the way!

    At 6.30pm, we set off back into Skibbereen. We parked up & as we had 10 minutes to spare, we popped into a dive bar, called Fairfield House. It was basic to put it politely, there were 4 scruffy oiks sat at the bar. We had a quick half of Guinness each, the girls had a large wine.

    At 7.00pm we walked into the Church Restaurant & were allocated a nice little table by a stained glass window. We ordered a varied selection off the menu ranging from fish soup, Brie, black pudding, monkfish, pork, lamb & chicken stir fry, plus wine & a couple of Murphys. The food was very good, however the young waitress failed to give us some bread which was slightly unsatisfactory.

    We were back home by 9.00pm for a nightcap & a quick game of Logo, before calling it a night. We had an early start in the morning.

    Song of the Day - Atmosphere by Joy Division
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  • Day16

    Day 16 - Kissing the Blarney Stone

    August 16, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Jackie slept in until 9.30am, three hours after me, but I didn’t blame her it had been raining hard all morning. It wasn’t until 11.30am that there was a little break in the rain, so we threw our motorcycle gear on & set out for the day.

    No sooner were we on our way when the heavens opened up again. We started on the N72, but my SatNav had other ideas & took me off down country roads to pick up the R628. We were progressing at a decent pace, when an oncoming van started flashing me. I slowed down as I went round the next corner & came face to face with the Fire Brigade controlling the traffic. When we were let through, we saw that a car was smashed in at the front, which was a sobering reminder to stay vigilant.

    We continued to the M8 motorway, where we paid our €1 toll fee, then rode down towards Cork, whilst being battered by heavy rain & high winds. Before reaching Cork City centre, we came off & passed through Glanmire & the scruffy suburbs of Cork. We next joined the N20 that took us to Blarney & it’s Castle.

    We rode into the official Blarney Castle car park after taking a ticket to raise the barrier. I then had a heart attack when I realised we may have to pay. What a schoolboy error!

    Upon parking up, it had eventually stopped raining & the sun had come out. We stripped of the motorcycle togs, put them in the panniers, then headed to the entrance. We paid our €18 admission fee & I asked the cashier if motorcyclists had to pay for the car park. We wasn’t initially sure where I was going with this question, but once he realised we were motorcyclists, my guinea pig hair probably gave it away, he said that officially we had to pay, but if we drove around the barrier no-one would chase after us. That brightened up my day!

    We celebrated with a cup of coffee & half an egg sandwich each. We then headed straight to the castle & joined the queue to kiss the Blarney Stone. At the end of the queue was a sign that told us that it would take approximately 30 minutes to reach the Blarney Stone, which was less time than we expected.

    The queue started just outside the castle, then went in to the castle, up a wooden staircase for two flights, then we ascended a narrow steep spiral stone staircase. Before reaching the spiral staircase there were plaques on the walls providing information about the castle & the Blarney Stone.

    The current Blarney Castle was built in 1446, but earlier fortifications were built on the site. At the top of the now ruins of Blarney Castle is the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. It is said that those ‘brave enough’ to hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, will receive the gift of eloquence.

    Queen Elizabeth l is credited with introducing the word ‘Blarney’ to the English language. Whilst frustrated with the then owner of the Castle, MacCarthy, refusing to accept the authority of the English throne, she exclaimed, “This is all Blarney. What he says he never means”. And a new word was born.

    The actual process was a bit of an undignified affair, well certainly for me. Jackie went first, lay down, leant back & kissed the Blarney Stone, which was all captured by me on video. It was then my turn & I did the same thing, well nearly, I’m not quite so flexible, so as I struggled to get to crane my neck back for the kiss, my T-shirt flew up exposing my 6-pack to the world. I did kiss the Blarney Stone, but I shouldn’t have worn such a baggy T-shirt having lost so much weight on this trip!

    It was interesting to note that a lot of people queued & got all the way to the top, then either failed to kiss the Blarney Stone or just refused to attempt it.

    We then proceeded to negotiate the much more treacherous steps down, stopping to look at Murder Hole. We didn’t however stop to look at the official photos of our kisses. Jackie was keen to, but I wouldn’t let her. Nothing to see there!

    After, we strolled around the various gardens, including the Poison Garden, Himalayan Garden, Rock Garden amongst others & we took the lake walk, well part of it. The whole afternoon had been in sunshine which made for a very pleasant experience & all in all probably worth the money. On the way out we passed through the gift shop & Jackie bought herself a Pandora shamrock ☘️ charm for her bracelet with the birthday money she had been given.

    It was 4.00pm, when we saddled up, then sped around the car park ticket barrier, thus evading the €2 parking fee! My plan was to stop along the coast, back at Youghal, to the explore the town’s rich history further. Unfortunately, what I had not taken into account was that it was Friday afternoon rush-hour & everyone was coming out of Cork, completely choking up all the roads.

    Despite conducting a few sneaky manoeuvres, it was still gone 5.00pm & Youghal was in total gridlock. We decided it just wasn’t worth the pain of stopping, so apart from passing under the Clock Gate Tower at about 1mph, we didn’t see anything else.

    Instead we decided to go back to Lismore & pick up a Chinese Takeaway. I’m not sure why, but instead of putting Lismore into the SatNav, I entered Tallow. As a result we avoided the quick direct route to Lismore, but took a ridiculously long winded way to get there, funnily enough via Tallow.

    We arrived in Lismore about 6.15pm, with a sore & not so happy Jackie on the back, particularly as she had pointed out the quick road to Lismore, but I ignored her for the more ‘scenic’ route!

    We got off & walked to the Chopsticks Takeaway & ordered our favourite dishes, then decided we needed a drink, so arranged to collect it at 7.00pm. We went over the road to The Classroom Bar ordered a pint each & sat outside in the dying sun. The landlord was very welcoming, albeit slightly pissed, and his customers as they went in & out of the pub to bookmakers next door were all very friendly & said “Hello” to us. It reinforced our view that Lismore was a very lovely town & definitely worth going out of your way to visit.

    The happiness, serenity & peace was soon to be shattered by Hoisin Sauce Gate!

    At 7.00pm, we collected our takeaway & returned to the bike. I put the bulging carrier into a side pannier & did my best to secure it safely. I was just about to get a jacket to pack out the pannier & so hold everything firmly in place, when Jackie bellowed “Hurry up, it’s going to get cold”. There then was a ‘minor’ disagreement, resulting in me closing the pannier without said jacket to pack it tight.

    We then proceeded home without incident, parked up & when I opened the pannier, lo & behold the now lidless Hoisin sauce pot had tipped up & was empty. There was Hoisin sauce running over all the other dishes in the bag & worse still, Hoisin Sauce has nicely coated the inside of my pannier & formed a pool at the bottom.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t best pleased & our very dry Aromatic Duck Pancakes were eaten in stony silence. As it happens the meal turned out to be generally very nice.

    We played another game of Cribbage with a bottle of red & had an early night.

    Song of the Day - Kiss by Prince.
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  • Oct10

    West Cork, South coast of Ireland

    October 10, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    A long day of driving through narrow winding roads. Great scenery of lush green paddocks with stone walls and hedges with lots of fat cattle and sheep. It wasn't much fun for the Bruce and Matt who were driving and trying to avoid hedges on one side and oncoming trafic with very little space for passing on the other. We received a very warm welcome by Amanda and the twins waving frantically from the bay window as we arrived. Its 25 years since I have seen Amanda Sullivan (beforeshe married Lar McCarthy and had the twins, Zach and Farah.) The twins loved 'the boy' Sam and Livy. Spent a lovely evening with them and wished we ould have stayed longer but we had a ferry to catch early the next morning.Read more

  • Oct11

    Blarney Castle and Gardens

    October 11, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We spent a couple of hours at Blarney Castle The Blarney stone is 123 steps up into a tower via a narrow spiral passageway. There are views through the bars to the garden below for those who care to look down!
    The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab. Yes Bruce and Sam kissed it!
    The gardens were amazing with streams separating the various areas. I could have spent hours there but we needed to get to Rosslare to catch the ferry back to Wales the next morning
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  • Day9


    February 10, 2020 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    We arrived in Ballyvourney for the celebration of Saint Gobnait’s feast day.
    We attended church services and met with new cousins discovered through DNA matches.Both new cousins Neilie and Maira live nearby and have done extensive family history so it was an inspiration to meet them and confirm many hunches about our family.
    We had great visits with friends Eileen and Peader and Suzanne at our little cozy nook at the Mills Inn.
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    Kathy Zavala

    How are you doing with the storm?


You might also know this place by the following names:

County Cork, Cork, Corcaigh