Date of visit: July 2013
Today’s TBT post is the summary of a short 3 day mid-week break that Chris and I took when we visited Cork in Ireland. Having landed at Cork airport at around 11 am we collected the hire car and made our way to the Belvedere Lodge in the city of Cork. Our room was ready and we were allowed to check in early. Leaving our backpacks in the room we set off in the car for the short 5 mile journey to Blarney with me driving and Chris navigating.
We parked in the Blarney Castle car park and as we didn’t have any Euros with us we went off to the village of Blarney in search of an ATM. In doing so we came across the Blarney Castle Hotel where we had a delicious lunch of smoked salmon with home made Irish soda bread and fresh salad garnish served with a tasty dressing.
After lunch we went to visit the 15th century Blarney Castle which is part of the 1000 acre Blarney Castle Estate. The castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster in 1446 and it has been kept in his family ever since.
Blarney Castle is a popular attraction with over 200,000 visitors each year. Along with some of them we climbed up into the turrets of the castle from which we could see extensive views of the surrounding countryside.
It is legendary to kiss the Blarney Stone when you visit the castle. The Blarney Stone is located up 114 steps at the top of the castle and you have to hang backwards, gripping hold of the iron bars over a steep drop below in order to reach the stone to kiss it. Doing this is said to ensure you have the ‘gift of the gab’.
There is much more to Blarney than the castle and it is well worth spending a couple of hours wandering around the estate finding out about the legends of the Blarney Witch and ancient druid settlements!
Walking around the gardens.
We had a lovely afternoon exploring and while the weather was somewhat showery it didn’t spoil our day.
Another legend is the Wishing Steps – if you walk down the wishing steps backwards with your eyes closed thinking of nothing but your wish, that wish will come true within a year! This wish is granted by the Blarney Witch but only if done correctly. (Although this wasn’t something for me to try given how accident prone I can be…)
We drove back to Cork city centre and found a pub where we enjoyed a Guinness, the iconic and traditional Irish stout. Later we had our evening meal in the restaurant of the Silver Springs Moran hotel where the service and food were excellent. I had seafood and king prawn with mashed potato topping with cheese on the top 🙂
Following a lovely traditional Irish breakfast in our hotel we set off in the car towards Kinsale. Unfortunately the weather was completely rubbish and rained for most of the day and this wassomewhat annoying given that the UK had just finished a 3 week heatwave with temperatures of over 30 degrees. (This is similar to the time I went to Donegal in 2018).
Kinsale is famous for its colourful buildings which were vibrant even in pouring rain! Rather than sitting outside in one of the cobbled streets we found an upmarket coffee shop with comfy seats, polished silver and soft classical music playing in the background.
We had a walk around Kinsale (in the rain) and called into a tourist information office to obtain some maps and information.
We returned to the car and drive out of Kinsale continuing on the R600 towards Clonakilty. The road was quiet with hardly any other cars as we drove past the sea through County Cork. We decided to stop next at Timoleague.
Timoleague is a village next to the sea and 10 km to the east of Clonakilty. We visited the extensive ruins of the Franciscan Friary which was established in the late 13th to early 14th century. The Franciscans who lived here had devoted themselves to a simple life of poverty which meant the decoration was quite plain.
We continued our drive towards Clonakilty but the rain was getting heavier so we didn’t spend long there. We had a short walk around in the rain, stopped in a wine bar for a drink and decided to drive back to Cork. I took no photo’s in Clonakilty due to the rain!
Later in the evening we had another meal in the Silver Springs, next door to the Bed & Breakfast where we were staying. Having been driving all day I was able to relax and enjoy a glass of wine as we discussed and planned our route for the following day.
County Cork road tripping
Thankfully our final day in County Cork was sunny! We got up early, had breakfast and checked out of the B & B. By 9:15 am we were on the road and driving towards Bantry on the coast. Today we got through Cork in about 3 minutes as the traffic was clear. We went along the N22, R585 and R584 through small villages.
The countryside and views were lovely with lots of colour and wild flowers lining the road with mountain views in the distance.
Having arrived in Bantry at about 10:40 we had a short walk around before having a drink in one of the many pubs. Bantry is a scenic little town located on the south west coast of Ireland and is a popular base for sailing and water sports as well as walking.
From Bantry we continued along the coast road through Glengariff toward Adrigole. We reached as far as Pulleen Harbour but had to turn back to leave enough time to drive back to Cork airport in time for our flight.
On the way back we stopped in a pub along the R584 and sat in the garden in the warm sun where we had lunch. This time I enjoyed a delicious seafood chowder with Irish soda bread which is a traditional Irish meal.
I managed to get a couple of half decent shots of the County Cork coastline from our early evening flight back to London Stansted.
I really enjoyed our mini road trip taster of southern Ireland and I would love to return and see much more of this gorgeous ‘Emerald Isle’ country. While Cork, Dublin, Kerry and other airports are just a short distance from London and therefore easily doable in a long weekend, I’m keen to spend a couple of weeks at least to properly explore on a lengthy Ireland road trip!
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Thank you 🙂