Friday, October 9, 2015

The One with Kinsale, Ireland

Lots and lots and lots of travel posts lately while I work on lots and lots and lots of new scrapbooking content!

I think the city I was most excited to see in Ireland was Kinsale because of this street (and yes, this is my own photo! We found it!):
The roads getting to Kinsale were cray cray. Well, almost all the roads in Ireland were. They were incredibly skinny and bumpy and not nearly wide enough to accommodate two directions of traffic. But, we survived!
While nearby Cork is the biggest town in southern Ireland, Kinsale is actually more historic and certainly cuter. It's delightful to visit. Thanks to the naturally sheltered bay barbed by a massive 17th century star fort, you can submerge yourself in maritime history from the Spanish Armada to the Lusitania. Apart from all the history, Kinsale has a laid back feel full of charm.

St. Multose church dates from Norman times. There were marks on the door frame from back when worshippers would sharpen their swords on the doorway of the church.
My camera was on its last leg of battery, so I switched to my phone for a few pics:
Darling cafe. The windy main street of town traces the original coastline.
Colorful doors galore. Jane even begrudgingly posed in front of one.
We wandered up and down all over the town looking for the spot I had seen from my google images research.
And then... we found it! THE street I was most excited to see in all of Ireland!
Our family in Kinsale, Ireland on Saturday September 19th 2015.
  So cool. 

We went into one of the cafes here to get a yummy nutella crepe and to enjoy the colorful ambiance.
The history of the town was due to its protected harbor. But, eventually silt made it too shallow for the larger, newer ships so the shipping activity moved to Cork's deepwater port.

The shipping business may have dried up, but the charm remained.
It was a great town to just get lost in and explore. Not too big that if you got lost you couldn't find your way again.
This is how we do. We got that double stroller on lock, rollin' deep.

The harbor front, now home to private sailboats. 
As we were walking we spied a charming little fish'n'chips store which wasn't quite open so we let the kids play with the local wee ones at the nearby playground until it was lunch time. Since neither Chris nor I are fish people, we went for the battered sausages and chips and the kids got chicken nuggets. It was delish! I mean, what could be better than deep-fried sausages? At the next table over from us, two locals were going back and forth about how delicious the fries... I mean "chips"... were. "These chips is pretty good, innit?" "Best chips I've eva had." lol. They were excellent, especially with the vinegar and salt added.
Next up: Killarney, Ireland.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The One with Cobh, Ireland

Our final destination on Friday September 18th was Cobh, Ireland in County Cork. Our airbnb apartment was in the yellow house with the purple flowers below. Such a primoespot! Right in the heart of the action and right on the water. 
County Cork, on Ireland's south coast, is fringed with historic port towns and scenic peninsulas. If your ancestry is Irish, there's a good chance that this was the last Irish soil your ancestors had under their feet. Cobh, pronounced "cove," was the major port of Irish emigration in the 19th century. Of the six million Irish who have emigrated to America, Canada, and Australia since 1815, nearly half left from Cobh. 

The first steam-powered ship to make a transatlantic crossing departed from Cobh in 1838 - cutting the journey from 50 days to 18. When Queen Victoria came to Ireland for the first time in 1849, Cobh was the first Irish ground she set foot on. Giddy, the town renamed itself "Queenstown" in her honor. It was still going by that name in 1912 when the Titanic, yup, the one and only, made its final stop here before heading out on its maiden voyage. To celebrate their new independence from British royalty in 1922, locals changed the town's name back to its original Irish moniker, Cobh.
Colorful Cobh.
Ireland is not afraid to use color and lots of it. I loved it.

Cobh sits on a large island in Cork harbor. The town's inviting waterfront is colorful, yet salty, with a fun promenade.
Colorful storefront after colorful storefront.
Doors galore.
In the heart of town is a memorial to the Lusitania, the British ocean liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German u-boat in 1915, resulting in the death of nearly 2,000 passengers and crew.
We walked out onto the port and enjoyed the view of the waterfront stores and the towering Neo-Gothic St. Colman's Cathedral above.
Curving colors.
Pearse Square with the Lusitania memorial.
While walking around Cobh I googled the town to see what there was to see and I saw a view we had to find. Only problem, it was up a suuuuuper steep and long hill. Thankfully I have Chris who trudged up it pushing both kids in the stroller. He's a keeper.
Loved these houses and their original colors as we passed them.
This street reminds me of the famous Painted Ladies in San Francisco (which I haven't actually seen in real life!)
After a little exploring and then Chris climbing up onto a huge rock wall, we found it! Be still my heart! Cobh in all its glory.
Looking down into the harbor from up on the hill.
When we were done enjoying the viewpoint we walked over to see the church. St. Colman's Cathedral dates from the mid 19th century.
The interior is a lovely, intricate Neo-Gothic. 

It was an easy walk back down into town, especially after the huffing and puffing getting up the hill. The kids found a nice little black cat and said, "hi." I'm glad they're animal lovers like me. For dinner, Cobh had a Supermac's with their delicious Papa Johns. Mmmmmmm.
Our family in Cobh, Ireland on Friday September 18th 2015. 
We didn't get to tour the Titanic Experience museum. I guess we'll have to make a trip back!
Next stop: the most colorful town of them all, Kinsale!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The One with the Rock of Cashel, Ireland

After a lovely morning at Powerscourt Estate & Gardens, we made our way to the Rock of Cashel. We stopped in Cashel to eat some grub at McDonald's (which reminds me, and totally off topic, there is a town not 5 minutes from here called Grub. I wanna eat some grub in Grub :)

After lunch at the world's busiest McDonald's, we made our way to the Rock. Partially covered in scaffolding, but hey, we're used to that by now.
Looking down into town as we made our way up the hill.
Rising high above the fertile plain of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's most historic and evocative sights. Seat of the ancient kings of Munster, this is where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in about A.D. 450. Strategically located and perfect for fortification, the Rock was fought over by local clans for hundreds of years. Finally, in 1101, clever Murtagh O'Brien gave the Rock to the Church. His seemingly benevolent donation increased his influence with the church while preventing his rivals, the powerful McCarthy clan, from regaining possession of the Rock. As Cashel evolved into an ecclesiastical center, Iron Age ring forts and thatch dwellings gave way to the majestic stone church buildings enjoyed by visitors today. Queen Elizabeth II's history-making visit to Ireland in 2011 included a visit here.

On this 200 foot high outcrop of limestone, the first building we encountered was the 15th century Hall of the Vicars Choral, which housed the ticket desk and the intact former dormitory. This is the youngest building on the Rock, dating from the early 1400s. It was home to minor clerics and vicars who lived quite comfortably here with a large fireplace and white, lime-washed walls.
Passing through the Vicars dormitory, we got our first full glimpse of the Cathedral.
Looking back at the Hall of Vicars Choral.
Birds were making their nests all up in these holes.
We ventured into Cormac's Chapel. As the wild Celtic Christian church was reined in and reorganized by Rome 850 years ago, new architectural influences from continental Europe began to emerge on the remote Irish landscape. This small chapel is Ireland's first and finest Romanesque church. It was consecrated by King Cormac MacCarthy in 1134.
Tradition says that the chapel's sandstone was quarried 12 miles away and the blocks were passed from hand to hand back to the Rock. But, it's unlikely they had the manpower to form a conga line that long.
This small group was admiring the empty stone sarcophagus in the interior of the chapel. No one knows for sure whose body once lay there.
Back outside. Man, is that Ireland or what! Just what I pictured.
Looking out toward Hore Abbey through the defensive walls surrounding the Rock.
A better shot of Hore Abbey, named for the Christian monks who wore simple grey robes, roughly the same color as hoar-frost.
Down by the wall looking up to the Cathedral.
Lovely views over the Plain of Tipperary. Called the "Golden Vale," its rich soil makes it Ireland's most prosperous farmland. In St. Patrick's time it was covered with oak forests.
The tall round tower on the left was the first stone structure built on the Rock after the Church took over in 1101. The shape of these towers is unique to Ireland. Towers like this were primarily used as bell towers and lookout posts. This one stands 92 feet tall with walls over 3 feet thick. The tower's stability is impressive when you consider its age, the winds it has endured, and the shallowness of its foundation (only five feet under present ground level!).
The graveyard on the Rock of Cashel still takes in the deceased, but only those put on a waiting list by their ancestors in 1930. A handful of those chosen few are still alive and once they've passed, the graveyard will be considered full.

The graveyard, round tower, and cathedral on the Rock of Cashel.
The large cathedral that now dominates the site was built largely between 1230 and 1290. The church's pointed arches and high narrow windows proclaim the Gothic style of the period.

Remnants of 15th century frescoes remain. These were rediscovered during renovations in 2005. They're as patchy and hard to make out (and just as rare for Ireland) as the century-older Frescoes in the chapel.
Back outside, we admired this huge chunk of castle wall debris. This end of the cathedral was converted into an archbishop's castle in the 1400s. In 1848, a massive storm known as the "Night of the Big Wind" in Irish lore, flung the huge chunk down from the ruins above. Hopefully no one was standing there.
Cool coat of arms. | The original St. Patrick's Cross.

Outside is a replica of St. Patrick's Cross. The 12th century cross, a stub of its former glory, was carved to celebrate the handing over of the Rock of Cashel to the church 650 years after St. Patrick visited the area and baptized King Aengus at the Rock. Typical Irish crosses use a ring around the cross' head to support its arms and to symbolize the sun (making Christianity more appealing to sun worshipping Celts). But, instead, this cross uses the Latin design: the weight of the arms is supported by two vertical beams on each side of the main shaft, representing the two criminals who were crucified beside Christ. Today, only one of those supports remains.
Our family at the Rock of Cashel on Friday September 18th 2015.
 After walking around the picturesque ruins of the Rock of Cashel, we headed to the next city where we'd spend the night: Cobh. We hopped on a ferry to cut off an hour or two of driving. It was jam-packed :)
Next recap is of the colorful city of Cobh!