Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
232Trip End Feb 28, 2007
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SUNDAY, 16th July
We set off for our long trip to Cork and Waterford about 8.30am...very early for us. The drive south was uneventful. I wanted to go to Tipperary. Only because, like so many of these Irish towns, I grew up with the names either in song or myth. Anyway it was not such 'a long way to Tipperary'. Thurles looked nice as we sailed through. We should have stopped there but we could not stop at every town that looked attractive.
The green'ness of Ireland seemed to get even greener as we progressed south. In parts we found ourselves driving through canopies of trees in semi darkness as the forest enveloped us
Houses, we noticed once again, were immaculately maintained. Well designed homes with driveways to the front door, clipped hedges and well cared for gardens. Whitewashed over rendering over brick. Yellow wash, blue wash and even a pink wash. Many have that stone finish mimicking the farmers' cottages of years gone by .We never saw a brick or a weatherboard. We did see some houses under construction and noticed that they used not brick but what we used to call 'breeze block', a large cement brick that no doubt keeps out the cold. On the other side of the coin were the many public housing estates of standard cottages. Rows and rows of little boxes but whereas they had no character they were clean and tidy like the one we were staying in.
I must be getting used to Irish drivers. But I still get a queue of cars up my arse whilst I am doing 90kph in a 100kph zone
Tipperary was very quiet. Deserted in fact. Maybe because it was Sunday. I was actually able to park the car in the main street. We found just the one café and general store where I had a terrible cup of coffee but a nice current bun which came with cream and strawberry jam on the side. I only ordered a bun! Tipperary itself was not much at all. A couple of uninteresting streets and the usual churches. Maybe we were becoming hardened to the delights of the Irish towns. Out of Tipperary the road actually climbed into some hills that looked back over the town and around the corner there was the vista over the valley to Cork.
On to Cork. Now that was long way. We had decided to miss out on the Ring of Kerry. Just too far if we wanted to get half way to Waterford that day. Some excellent navigating got us through Mitchelstown and Fermoy on the river Blackwater and into Cork. Cork was hosting a big football game so the town was full of red shirts and green shirts and no parking spots. [A replay of the final played to a draw the week before between Cork and Kerry in Gaelic football
I bought some boxer shorts in M&S [ See previous note about essential information. ]
I was determined to see the ocean off the south of Ireland and the nearest point seemed to be Kinsale. Now there was a busy place. Those who were not going to the footy must have been down here. It was a fishing village on a harbour with one road in and one road out the other side. We joined a queue of cars rolling in to town and out the other. It reminded me of a Cornish village but without the steep cliffs...just gently rolling hills behind. There were cars parked on every conceivable empty space. I didn't even consider trying to find a place to stop. We crawled through the town and found a deserted road leading to The Old Head. It was a promontory of cliffs thrust out into the ocean and the narrow road we were on just kept going. At the end, above the ocean, there was a golf course and the ruins of a couple of watch towers
We stopped for ten minutes to admire the view. In both directions were miles and miles of coastline. [It seems so inappropriate to describe an ocean view in kilometres.]To the southwest rolling hills, cliffs and a patchwork of fields. Northeast was just an expanse of blue water. Very few boats. No doubt it was not as good a scene as might be seen south west of Killarney but it was good enough for me. I pretended it was as far west as one could go but if I looked more closely at my map I could see that it was not as far anything really...just as far as I wanted to go.
We continued around the cliff road until we were suddenly confronted with cars. Hundreds of cars parked all over the place in an effort for the holiday makers to be close to the beach. We had descended into a popular coastal area and, it being Sunday and one of the hottest days ever, the Corkers, who could not get tickets for the football match or who could not park in Kinsale, were all here. A good day for thieves to break and enter into empty homes in Cork.
The beach itself was sandy and the seas calm. The Corkers were actually very energetic. Active rather than passively lying on their towels in the sun. Swimming, paddling, running, kicking balls and fighting over every square metre of sand...in the nicest possible way. All this we could see in glimpses between the cars which were parked on both sides of the narrow road as we manoeuvred our way through them. We and oncoming vehicles were forced to pull off the road or reverse to let us or them through. Once again, I realised why Europeans fold their wing mirrors in when not required.
It is at this point that I have to inform the reader that on two occasions today Anne was exceptional in her navigational skills countermanding the directions of the driver.
We motored back towards Cork, got caught up in the traffic in Kinsale again. They were still coming in from the north but now (4'oclock in the afternoon!) there was a police man on point duty. I reckon he tended to slow the traffic down rather than the opposite. We hit the busy N25 and headed for Youghal where we thought we might find somewhere to stay the night. It was very surprising place. The town was very old and on the estuary of the river Blackwater. There were hills immediately behind the town which resulted in a the town being built along one long street. Youghal (pronounced YowelI) had also been used as a Sunday get away today with many people sprawled along the river beach at the ocean end and they were starting to go home. It looked like there might be lots of B&B's here and we were right. Problem was trying to stop at one in the main street or missing it up a sidestreet as we drove past in the column of traffic.
Fortunately the main street evolved into a one way system otherwise we would never have got out. We reached the other end of town, missed another B&B at a roundabout but caught the sign for the same one 100 metres down the road with time to turn. The B&B was delightful. Absolutely spotless. I gave it 6 stars and told them so. They were very chatty although all we wanted to do was put our feet up for an hour. I watched an hour of the Irish football. The room was perfect. Even the shower was unblemished. Hunger took over and we drove back into town to find somewhere to eat and do some exploring. We parked at the northern end and followed the 'historical' trail marked on a map that I had acquired. I am glad we did. We found the oldest church in Ireland which unfortunately was closed but we did walk around its college gardens, through a secret door which a local dog walker pointed out to us. The gardens were laid out on the side of a hill and from the top of a grassy knoll we could see the town and the estuary in the distance. Behind us was the old wall of the town, somewhat overgrown, but still in one piece. And we are talking 14th century here. For what it is worth next door was a house in which Sir Walter Raleigh once lived. I have no idea why he lived there.
We continued our cultural tour to the southern entrance to the town over which was a most impressive gateway...and some eating places. Most were closed. It was Sunday night but one very busy café had one table left which we commandeered. I ordered cod and chips but it was off. I took instead the haddock but it was covered in breadcrumbs and had been deep fried. Not very nice at all. Anne's salmon was beautiful she said. Once again I get the raw prawn or the horrible haddock.
We walked slowly back to the car after a pleasing meal looking for dessert. We both pined for a chocolate bar. No luck. Everything was seriously closed now. We drove miserably back to our digs but the craving still would not go. I gave in. Put my clothes back on, grabbed the keys and told Anne to only call the emergency services if I had not returned by midnight. I went in search of Mars bars at 8pm on a Sunday night. Guess what? Just around the corner was an all night servo and I was back in ten minutes. We enjoyed our choc hit. We watched the Poker Face final. I don't know why. The show did not make any sense. Not that the winner of the million pounds cared very much. That's a lot of money for nothing. [ Rules of the game available upon request. ]