Corn on the Cobh. I will provide the corn, Ireland will take care of the Cobh.
Cobh is our next port of call. It is a delightful small port about 20 miles south of Cork, in Southern Ireland. The perfect picture postcard.
The sun is out and it is a beautiful day enhanced by the colourful houses marching up the steep hills
Ireland has had the longest winter anyone can remember and the wettest March on record. They feel as though they haven’t seen the sun for 8 months. Yesterday the sun finally broke through and today it has vanquished the last of the clouds and is bringing huge smiles to thousands of upturned faces finally basking in its warmth. It is Saturday and it seems the entire population is out wearing their shorts or summer frocks that have been wrapped in moth balls since September last year.
We have rented a car and drive to The Old Head of Kinsale, a spectacular coastal area that is strangely ignored by most tourists. It is a two mile promontory of wild cliffs rising out of the ocean, home to thousands upon thousands of sea birds
and incongruously lined with spring flowers, seemingly arranged like a National Trust house garden.
The very tip of the promontory is guarded by a pair of large iron gates, and walled off by the ruins of an old stone look-out post dating back to the 13th century, and a gate-keeper not quite as old but just as formidable.
The other side of the gates is home to one of the most prestigious and expensive golf courses in the world. It is a particular favorite of the Japanese who fly into Dublin and then make the journey to the Head of Kinsale by helicopter. A tourist in shorts and T-shirt driving a rented Volkswagen Golf stands no chance of getting past the gatekeeper no matter how much charm I attempt. Even a rather witty joke about the name of the car does nothing to thaw his demeanour.
We turn round and explore the coast to the east. Here we find wild and lovely beaches miles from the nearest town. The Irish, overexcited by the first appearance of the sun in months and perhaps fortified by the odd glass of Guinness are unbelievably frolicking in the surf. It is mid May, the temperature is only 60 and there is a cold wind coming off the Atlantic but the locals feel like celebrating the arrival of summer! For those that find swimming a little too bracing, there are other activities available on the beach
Of course not everyone has two horses and a trotting carriage available.
But nearly everyone has a bucket and spade
We drive on, going nowhere in particular but enjoying the back roads of the Irish countryside. We stumble on the little village of Timoleague. The village is nothing much to write a blog about, and in fact it is hard to find a mention of it in the guide books. But it is home to some wonderful historical attractions.
The most significant is a Franciscan Priory founded in 1300 but burned down by Cromwell’s soldiers in 1642. Today, its walls covered in a yellow-green lichen, it is home to a cemetery with the graves scattered around the ruins
Next to the Abbey there is the stone bridge built in 1800
At the back of town a small Anglican church sits behind a cemetery partially hidden by trees. As we wander past, a middle aged man dressed casually in corduroy trousers and sweater with wellington boots on his feet emerges from the church and smiles.
“Did you want to take a look” he asks. “You might like it”
“”OK” we say
“I’ve just finished washing the floors” he says, “but you are welcome to go in, just pull the door to when you leave.”
Welcome to the Irish countryside!
There is nothing anywhere to tell us what to expect when we step inside, but when we do it is breathtaking. Every wall is covered in the most intricate mosaic work.
We spend a long time taking it all in. Those of you who have followed my blogs may have realised that I am not a fan of the brazen and dazzling displays of wealth that so many important churches feature. But this, to me anyway, is perfect. It is awe inspiring and my immediate reaction is to smile. It lifts my spirits, and if it doesn’t lift yours then I fear nothing will.
There is one more highlight this unheralded village has to offer, and that is the most appealing food truck which features fresh fish (hence the name) cooked to order on a grill. The Fabulosity Meter which has been purring nicely since we arrived in Timoleague takes it up another notch when we have a basket of their famous (so the menu claims) crispy fried potatoes.
It has been a wonderful day, but there is so much more to share with you. There is the unbelievably beautiful countryside
and as always, there are the friends we make along the way
And that’s no bull!
I told you I would provide the corn.