Our first trip in Ireland was to a city called Cork, which is in the south of the country. We had moved to Dublin very recently, just about a month back and were keen to travel as much as possible. We were still getting used to the weather conditions here – having moved from 35 degrees in India to -2 degrees in Ireland and not seen an actual winter for a good few years. Add to that a good amount of rain and lack of proper clothing. But, a traveler needs to do what (s)he needs to do. We had a bank holiday and we had to travel.
It is funny how we ended up deciding Cork as our destination. I had stolen picked up a few tourist guide books from the airport when we first landed in Dublin and kept looking at them to understand what Ireland had to offer and what we can see / do in March. Then Raga saw this photo of colorful houses in a row on google images while searching for Cork and said that he wanted to see these in person. So, it was decided – we were going to Cork just to see those colorful houses. (In our mind, this was supposed to be in cork city. Amateur planning I would say! )
If you ask us, Cork city is just like Dublin. The architecture style is probably a carbon copy. It was much colder as compared to Dublin, maybe because there is no landmass protecting the city and ends with just the ocean. While Dublin has UK on the other side, so comparatively the weather is much better. Also, since it was March it was raining most of the time which kind of added to the cold. The only mistake we made was that we booked an Airbnb in Blarney instead of Cork – which increased our travel time a lot considering the connectivity wasn’t good at all.
Blarney castle is huge and kind of like a ruined structure – just like any other castle tower in Ireland. The view from the top is amazing. At the top of the castle lies the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney stone, you would surely gain the greatest gift of eloquence. We were made to lie on our backs and bend downwards so that we are able to reach and kiss the stone. Now it’s a mystery – even for us – as to how much eloquence we have gained!
The castle is surrounded by a beautiful garden, lake and a steam flowing. On that cold & rainy winter afternoon, we explored the castle ruins and the area around.
Kinsale and Charles Fort
A small colorful, fisherman town called Kinsale is a gateway to the Charles fort. Having arrived recently to Ireland, we were heavily dependent on public transport for our movements. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Kinsale from Cork and the bus journey was comfortable, giving us peaks of scrumptious Irish landscape. Kinsale is a splashy and vivid town, which was an absolute pleasure to walk through. The houses, shops and buildings are painted in the brightest colors possible. The cafes have live music, books and amazing food to offer. On a bright sunny day, it can be one of those experiences that you would remember for a long long time.
We started our day at Kinsale with lunch at a cute little café which offered amazing coffee, very tasty food and loads of second hand books to read/buy. (On a side note: We now plan to start a small café after we are 60years and retire from our day jobs. Keep loads of books, serve some good food and play soft music. Lets see how that goes!)
After filling our tummies, we began our walk/ journey towards the Charles Fort. The walk was a good steep climb and it was pouring on and off with a good amount of wind added to the mix. This was the time when we badly wished we had the luxury of a car and weren’t sure if all the walk and effort would be worth it. But we kept going on, thinking it is too late to turn back now. Throughout the way up to the fort, we were hoping for some sun. To our surprise and luck, by the time we reached Charles Fort, the clouds had disappeared and there was a bright sun shining over us.
Charles Fort is a star fort located at the end of the edge of the water. The entry fees costs 4 euros. These 17th century forts are again very common in Ireland. You can see ruins from British Military at the fort like the old barracks which were originally set up to protect by harbour. The views from the fort are spectacular with the ruins on the fort and then followed by vast ocean till the horizon. We must have spent good 2 hours exploring the place, clicking photos before we felt like heading back to Kinsale. We explored the town a little bit more before heading back to Cork.
Cobh (Pronounced as Cove)
On our last day in Cork, we were sure what to do. We had started our day pretty late, around 10am and didn’t want to spend a lot of time in Cork. Our plan was to check out the colorful houses – without even knowing where to find them. After searching a bit online, we realized that these houses are in a small town called Cobh in county Cork which was about one and half hours away by train. We had to catch our bus back to Dublin the same evening, at 6pm. Basically we didn’t have a lot of time in hand if we wanted to explore Cobh. But crazy as we are, we still went for it.
We reached Cobh around lunch time, so the first step was to have lunch. Immediately afterwards we went on a mission to search those houses. Cobh being a small town, it didn’t take us long to figure out where to go. I must say, after all the effort we took to get to Cobh just for those houses, they weren’t that pretty. The colors were muted and obviously the photos we checked on google were heavily saturated. We roamed around a bit more, ate some ice cream in the cold weather and realized that we won’t have enough time to check out Titanic museum. Cobh was the last port of calling for the Titanic and this town boasts a very nice museum in the memory of the people and ship that the world lost. Some other time and some other place, I say!
We did get back in time to catch our bus to Dublin and the trip – though included a lot of getting wet, was a good one.
Would we recommend Cork over the other places in Ireland? Well, probably not and only if you have loads of time in hand!
PS: Please excuse the quality of photos as we were lazy enough to take plenty on our big camera.