Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cobh and Blarney

I fell asleep quickly at Midleton Park Hotel, exhausted by travel and jet lag. I slept soundly until about 6:00 AM local time. I tried to go back to sleep when I saw that I had another hour before my alarm, but couldn't. I peeked out the window of our hotel room, where I spied a cute chubby calico cat perched on the doorstep of a charming row house across the street. With my extra time that morning, I decided to take a leisurely approach to doing hair and makeup, and getting my suitcase packed up for the next destination.

Our tour group kept a brisk pace with a loaded itinerary. Our second full day with the group started with a drive to Cobh (pronounced "cove" according to our coach driver, Conor from Donegal.) I loved Cobh with its colorful buildings, charming main street, idyllic seaside views, and impressive giant church atop a hill. The harbor town currently known as Cobh, was originally called Cove. In 1849 Queen Victoria set foot on Irish soil for the first time at Cove. To honor the event, the name was changed from Cove to Queenstown. After the formation of the Irish Free State, the town again returned to the name Cove, but in Irish language form: Cobh. 

statue of Holy Mary at Cobh

cute pub near harbor

hilltop view toward Cobh harbor

St. Colman's Cathedral dominating the hilltop

cute colors in Cobh

Scots Church in Cobh

Chad and I chose to visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, rather than Titanic Experience Cobh, because our coach was parked right next to CBC. (Location, location, location!) I'm happy we experienced Cobh Heritage Centre, because it featured lots of good exhibits and information about many waves of Irish emigration, rather than just the Titanic ship story. I found the far-flung places of the Irish diaspora fascinating: Australia, Jamaica, Bermuda, Barbados, Argentina, Brazil, and many more places you might not expect!

After not quite enough time in Cobh, we hit the road to Blarney Castle and Gardens. Chad and I chose to forgo the ninety minute line to kiss the Blarney Stone, especially during these germy times. Instead we explored the gorgeous gardens and grounds surrounding the Blarney estate. The Blarney grounds are huge with over 60 acres! I loved the beautifully bewitching Poison Garden growing Wolfsbane, Mandrake, and Cat Mint. I also loved the Fern Garden complete with a waterfall and ferns cultivated to look tall like palm trees. I wish we had a little more time at Blarney. Chad and I definitely rushed through the lake walk trail to meet our tour coach on time.

Blarney Castle

After Blarney, our group checked in to the next hotel on our itinerary, the Rose Hotel in Tralee. We had about an hour to freshen up (or for a "wash up and brush up," as tour leader Richard says) before loading into the coach to go to dinner at a different hotel in Killarney. At dinner, we sat at a big table with a new group of people from our tour: three retired British teachers who were friends for many years plus one of their husbands, and two sweet elderly British widowed men who travel together each summer. Collectively this bunch of fellow tour group members were delightful dinner company with thoughtful and kind conversation about different social media platforms, movies, television shows, modern phone etiquette, and education. 

After dinner our group went to a Celtic Steps Show. I acknowledge the heritage of Irish dance, as well as the skill and discipline involved. True confession time though, I do not enjoy watching traditional Irish dance or Irish step shows. To my very untrained eye, it's repetitive and stiff and monotonous. The ladies' dance outfits especially look scratchy and constrictive. If you love traditional Irish dance and traditional Irish music, please continue to enjoy it. 

By the way, I turned off comments on this blog a few years ago. Just whisper your comments down your kitchen sink drain if you need to get any strong opinions out of your system. If you have any scammy business links you wanted to post in the comments, take those over to Instagram. Thanks!

I slept beautifully at the very comfortable Rose Hotel in Tralee. Would recommend. We stayed two nights there. I admittedly didn't love packing up and moving hotels so often on this trip, but I acknowledge the need to be in close proximity to each day's attractions versus spending hours in the coach each day. 

Come back to this blog in about a week for more Irish travelogue adventures. Nobody is paying me for these posts, so I'm not committing to a schedule. I have dishes to wash, laundry to handle, walls to paint, and cats who need about an hour of brushing and playing each day. Responsibilities! Plus my (totally imaginary) housekeeper went missing during the worst of pandemic stay at home times.