The final, and one of my favourite, stops of our South Western Ireland trip was the beautiful Garnish Island- reached by a short ferry trip from the village of Glengarriff, overlooking the waters of Bantry Bay and set against the back drop of the Caha Mountains.
Garnish island extends to 37 acres and is renowned for its gardens which flourish in the mild humid micro climate of Glengarriff harbour assisted by a pine shelter belt.
A damp visit that in no way took away the beauty of the island- I was entranced. On the way over we passed Seal Island. The ferryman drew in close, allowing us to say hello and take some photos.
It was an enchanting and enriching afternoon and a lovely conclusion to our road trip.
First port of call on the penultimate day of our tour was Bantry House, a private estate and the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry- still lived in by the family. Set in magnificent Italian gardens , inspired by the travels of the second Earl, this was a highlight of the trip for me.
Visit, have afternoon tea, stay a night or two, or get married. Whatever you do, you cannot fail to be moved by this beautiful, slightly ramshackle house and gardens. I was instantly smitten with the experience, enhanced by the knowledgeable and charming guide that took us around.
The departure town for over three million Irish Emigrants and final port of call for the RMS Titanic. We visited the Cobh Heritage Cente, which tells the story of Irish emigration through to the 1950s and traces the history of Cobh over the centuries. Starting with the indentured servants who were transported to the colonies to work on the plantations in the 17th century, to Annie Moore, who with her two brothers were the first emigrants to be processed on the newly opened Ellis Island in New York in 1891.
Today Cork was one of the stops on our tour of Western Ireland.
Cork is one of the oldest cities in Ireland. This medieval city extends from South Gate Bridge to North Gate Bridge and is divided by a long Main Street- the North and South Street. The medieval Main Street would have been narrower, messier and smellier, than its current form, but still followed the same route. Many of the lanes and alleyways that led off the Main Street still exist today. The city centre is an island positioned between two channels of the River Lee, which meet downstream at the eastern end of the city centre.
It was and still is, plainly a merchant’s city…
As a librarian I had to pay a passing glance at the city library. Loved the window display:
Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs. It takes place annually 10–12 August in Killorglin, County Kerry.
Held in Killorgan, Co Kerry each year, a wild mountain goat is crowned king of the town by the Queen of Puck, who is traditionally a young local schoolgirl. There is a coronation parade and King Puck rules the town until his dethronement on the festival’s final day.
The first day of Puck is known as “the gathering”. On this day the Puck goat is enthroned on a stand in the town square and the horse fair is held. The second day of Puck is known as the “Fair day”. On this day a general cattle fair is held. The third and last day of Puck is known as the “scattering” day and on this day the goat is removed from his stand and his reign as king Puck ends and he is returned to the wild Kerry
Travelling around Ireland in October, we missed the Puck Fair, but I loved the legend.
Located on the Ring of Kerry, the village gives a fascinating insight into how people lived and worked in Ireland in the late 19th Century.
So what is Bog? Undrained bog is 95% water and 5% solid material. The solid part is made up of partially decayed vegetation i.e. trees, grass, roots, moss etc. Bogs were a major source of fuel for Irish homes.
A key member of an Irish Bog village would be the Irish Wolf Hound.
An ancient breed of Irish dog these were used for hunting.
The Kerry bog ponies are a native breed to Ireland and were used for transport and farm work, such as bringing home turf from the bog, seaweed from the beach and milk from the creamery.
Spent an interesting hour wandering around this true to life reconstruction. Life was certainly harsh.
A Road trip of Road trips today. The stunning Ring of Kerry. Starting in Kenmare, this is a 110 mile circular route around the Iveragh Peninsular covering stunning views, charming towns, rugged forests, gushing waterfalls, all edged by the rolling, crashing waves of The Atlantic Ocean. It was a sublime journey, covering breathtaking land and seascapes. Key stages of the journey included the Coomakista Pass, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Molls Gap, Skellig Micheal in the Atlantic, Waterville village and Cahersiveen.
‘And some time make the time to drive out west … along the Flaggy Shore, In September or October, when the wind And the light are working off each other So that the ocean on one side is wild With foam and glitter…’
Day one of my Western Irish tour started in Clonakilty, birthplace of Micheal Collins (1890-1922), Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century struggle for Irish independence.
Next stop was Timoleague, a small village where the ruins of a thirteenth century Franciscan abbey stands picturesquely at the waters edge.
Kinsale, a harbour town with a maze of narrow streets and an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops was the next stop.
It was raining hard during my visit here, but it’s Western Ireland and it’s October… It took nothing away from the beauty of the location.
Last stop of the day was Charles Fort, just outside of Kinsale. A star-shaped military fortress that has stood firm for centuries. It was raining even harder by now, but the fort was totally worth getting drenched for.
Despite being partially ruined, you could imagine the soldiers and their families living in this fortress.