Let’s continue our journey, shall we?
After two full days at sea, we arrived in County Cork, Ireland! It has always been a dream of mine to see Ireland…..I came close to being sent to one of our sister facilities in Ireland to provide some training when I was still a member of the workforce, but it never happened! Bummer! But, now, I’ve spent real quality time there – more than I would have on a work trip! We docked in two different ports and spent two days in the Cork area of Ireland. And, it was all so very wonderful! This area of Ireland is exactly what you picture in your head when you think of Ireland……lots of lush green country side and quaint little villages and castles – lots of castles!
Due to some changes in our itinerary and other ship traffic, we had to first dock at Ringaskiddy Port in County Cork. It was a temporary stop till we could get into the port of Cobh (pronounced Cove – in the traditional Irish language, when you see a “bh” together, it sounds like a “v”, so Cobh is Cove!). So, anyway……we docked in Ringaskiddy about sunrise and buses met us to take us on our booked shore excursions and for those who wanted to spend time on their own in the city of Cork. We had to be back by 6:00 pm in time for the ship to move to Cobh or find our own transportation to the next port (which is only a mile away by water, but quite a ride by taxi).
Pulling into Ringaskiddy — this is a very industrial port
Surprise – what do I see out my veranda when we finish docking? A Pfizer plant!!! So – I got to see one of our sister plants in Ireland, after all — albeit from a distance, but I saw it!!! LOL
Some of the SEVERAL buses waiting to take us on our adventures of the day!
My daily veranda selfie in Ringaskiddy – with the Pfizer plant over my shoulder!
Exploring Tipperary Shore Excursion
This was one of the BEST shore excursions I’ve ever been on…….the sites we saw were incredible……the tour guide and driver were awesome…….together it was UNBELIEVABLE!!! There was a LOT of walking, stairs, inclines, and standing……my knee, back, legs….well, actually every bone and muscle in my body…..was screaming at me by the time we were done, but it was soooooo worth it!!! I WAS IN IRELAND!!!
This tour was a last minute change for me. I had originally booked the Best of Ireland Tour that went to several points around the Cork area. But, I found out that the tour I booked on the second day was pretty much the same thing in a shorter tour and was all the touristy stuff. The Shore Excursion Director put together 2 or 3 smaller more intimate groups and this one caught my eye — I got all excited when I saw we were going to Tipperary and seeing two castles (actually ended up being three, cause we got to see one from the outside at a rest stop we made mid morning). The other one only went to Blarney Castle and I was going to see it, again, the next day! So, I cancelled the one I had booked and got in on the other one — it had a limit of 20 people and actually ended up with only about 12……so, we got a lot of personalized attention from the tour guides and it was a lot easier to hear and see things with a smaller group! It ended up only costing me about $20 more than the original excursion and was something like 2 more hours and lots more amazing things!
Waiting in the theater for my group # to be called to head out to the buses…….so very excited!!!
I’M IN IRELAND!!!!
The Irish Country Side – County Cork and Tipperary Areas
It was very common to see sheep wandering on hillsides and even in the middle of the road. Farmers allow their sheep to run free and mingle with other farmer’s sheep — to distinguish ownership, the farmers paint their “color” on the sheep’s wool – these have the color blue painted on the,. It was so cool to see fields full of sheep with all different colors painted on their backs! 🙂
Farm property borders are generally defined by planting hawthorn, blackthorn, and these gorse bushes – a yellow bush with very strong, sharp spikes.
Also – rhododendrons grow wild on the hillsides — they weren’t in season, yet, but from the looks of the size of the bushes and the leaves, I can imagine it is STUNNING when they are all in bloom!!!
Lismore Castle – next to where we had a short rest stop break
Rock of Cashel – castle built in the early 1200’s was originally a castle of the King’s of Munster. It was later gifted to the church in an effort to protect it from being taken over during war time and became a cathedral. It is also known as St. Patrick’s Rock. Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel. They are St. Patrick whom according to legend, arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler. The second was Brian Boru, he was crowned High King here in 990. He is the only king who was able to unite all of Ireland under one ruler for any significant period of time and is known as the Lion of Ireland.
We got off the bus a ways before this photo was taken – it is a LONG, very steep incline up and around to the front of the castle — I wasn’t the only one who was out of breath and thought I was going to have a heart attack by the time I got up there! But, I was glad I pushed myself……later on, after I got back to my room – after this and another difficult castle to maneuver around, I had my doubts it was worth it, but looked over the photos and reminded myself it most definitely WAS!!!
We asked if this section was rebuilt or built much later — the guide said, no – it had recently gone through an extensive cleaning and re-pointing effort to repair decay and now is back to the original coloring. The rest of the building may go through a similar process at some point.
Whoever set this stone must have had a bit too much of the Guinness or Jameson while on the job! hehehe
They are still allowing limited burials there — but, likely not much longer.
We, then, walked back down the hill (here is the view of the castle from the bottom of the hill) where we had lunch at a wonderful little local restaurant.
I met, Lucy — she is here with her owner and she is a true lover of all people — such a sweetheart!!!
Our lunch included a 1/2 pint of Guinness or a glass of wine……of course, I had to have the Guinness! We were told that the Guinness in Ireland is so much better than what is served elsewhere in the world because it doesn’t travel well – if you don’t typically like Guinness, try it there and you likely will —– that is so true —- I usually find Guinness to be heavy and bitter and this had an amazing flavor and went down really easy! 🙂
This is a thick puree’d veggie soup —- it was soooooo good! I wish I could have had a second bowl!
Main course was Voloauvents – a puff pastry filled with chicken and mushrooms with a chicken and mushroom gravy over the top and roasted potatoes with veggies. Delicious!
And, it was topped off with a slice of apple pie!
Cahir Castle – Built in 1142, it was believed to be impenetrable until it fell under an intense attack – but it remains one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles and is located on an island of lime stone in the River Suir predominantly situated in the middle of town. The most interesting part of the tour described how the occupants (the Butler family) defended themselves from attempts to gain access to the fortress by their enemies…….first, they would first they would pour vats of boiling oil on the intruders from the roof landings above the giant doors – the boiling oil would seep into the cracks of the armor worn by the attackers and they couldn’t escape the burning of their skin……then, if they made it through that door, they were trapped in a small circular room where they were sitting ducks for guns and arrows with nowhere to take cover. There was a lot more about the castle, the inhabitants, and how they lived, but it would take way too much time to tell you……and some of it is pretty gross!!! LOL
Port of Cobh and Blarney Village – when we returned to the ship, it moved one mile to the docking spot that came available for us later that evening. Cobh was a lovely port — much nicer than the industrial port of Ringaskiddy. I wanted to get off and wander around, but I was so sore and exhausted from the day’s exploration of Tipperary that I decided to wait till the next day. We were in Cobh that night and the next day until after dinner.
Cobh is the last port of the Titanic before it began its journey across the ocean to America. There is a wonderful museum and tribute to the Titanic and its passengers at the dock – I didn’t get a chance to go through it – I hope to return someday and will be sure to do that!
My veranda selfie in Cobh
The view of the Port of Cobh was beautiful!
At the end of the pier is a memorial to Annie Moore — she was just 15 when she got on a ship in Cobh to America with her two younger brothers in 1892 and became the very first person to be processed through Ellis Island!
What a brave young lady she was……
Here she is with the Celebrity Reflection (our ship) docked where the ship she boarded all those years ago was docked…….what a different experience crossing the Atlantic she must have had and what she would have thought of today’s cruise ships!
Blarney Village was a quaint little village — very touristy!!! I found out when I got there that there wasn’t a way from where I was to view Blarney Castle without paying to get inside for the tour and I didn’t want to do that. I had no interest in climbing to the top up the extremely narrow, winding staircase to stand in line and then be held while lying backwards practically upside down to kiss the filthy stone —- the legend is that kissing the Blarney Stone will grant you the gift of eloquence —- I think I’m eloquent enough!!! LOL So, I took the tour so I could see Blarney Castle and didn’t see it……but, all was not lost — it was a beautiful day and wandering around the quaint Blarney Village was a very pleasant experience! I got a hand made wool scarf that I love, a stuff lamb for Megan, and some other trinkets. I also sat and had tea and a scone that was quite delightful!
This is a wild rhododendron arch that must be incredible when in bloom!
My scone, jam, and clotted cream
It was a BIG scone
I made friends with a curious raven and some of his friends and I shared some of my huge scone with him!
He was very appreciative!
These photos were NOT zoomed in (well, just a tiny bit, but not much at all) — he was sitting on the back of the chair across from me at a small bistro table —- he was quite bold and fearless
More of the Irish Country Side
And, scenes as we pulled away to leave Cobh…..
the pilot guiding us out of the harbor
So…..goodbye to Cobh, Tipperary, and County Cork……but, not goodbye to Ireland – I will be returning to Ireland later in the cruise……but, first, we head to Liverpool, England – the absolute highlight of the cruise! I can’t wait to share that port with you all…..perhaps tomorrow!