Wanted to stay for one night, stayed for four…
This Easter I travelled with Ithamar Adema, to Ireland. I, as so often before, travelled with Ryanair. Ithamar flew with Air France through Paris. As we both live and work in the capitals of the countries we live in, we didn’t want to spend to much time in Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) during Easter, as we expected it to be crowded with tourists. We therefor decided to only stay there the first and last night. If you expected to read about our trip to the Guinness Storehouse, you are terrible mistaken! Don’t get me wrong, I love Guinness, but there are plenty of other good stouts and lagers brewed in Ireland.
The first night we slept at The Harcourt Hotel. An affordable and nice hotel next to the beautiful St. Stephen’s Green in the centre of Dublin. The following morning we walked down to the central bus station in Dublin. We had decided that destiny would decide if we were to go to the south or to the west! We had not been able to decide ourselves … . Well, to make it short, the bus to Cork was to leave in 5 minutes and the first bus to Limerick in 1,5 hours. So the trip went to Cork, and then to Kinsale, where we were to stay the second night in Ireland before moving on.
The bus trip to Cork took 4,5 hours through beautiful landscapes and was quite so affordable, 21 euros for the two of us one way.
We walked down one of the main shopping streets and found the small, excellent restaurant Nash 19, where we ate a great tasting vegetarian tart. I’ve learned that owner Claire Nash had chosen to only use regional products, and that a myriad of local suppliers delivered on a daily basis and that fish, meat and poultry were supplied by the English Market near by. We should have also gone for one of the delicious homemade desserts such as rhubarb and blackberry crumble!
After having eaten, we visited St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Willliam Burges was appointed as architect for the cathedral in 1862, after having competed with 62 other. Among the requirements of the competition was that the cost of the building should not exceed £15,000 and Burges was criticised by other architects because the cost of the towers, spires and carving was not included in his estimate. In the end some £100,000 was spent on the building. In 1865 the foundation stone was laid by Bishop John Gregg and on St. Andrew’s Day,1870, the building was consecrated. The towers and spires were not completed until 1879. The cathedral is built of Cork limestone and the interior of Bath stone and the walls are lined with red Cork marble. The cathedral is in a neo-gothic style. Entrance costed 3 euros per person.
After the small roundabout in Cork, we headed back to the central bus station and took bus no. 249 down to Kinsale.
Kinsale (Cionn tSáile)
If you don’t come with a car, then the only way to get to Kinsale is with bus. The bus trip is about 27 kms (17 miles) and costs 6 euros.
Kinsale, County Cork, is a popular tourist destination offering an excellent range of bed and breakfast (B&B), guesthouse and hotel accommodation for the holiday visitors on vacation in Ireland. We chose to stay at the family driven B&B Pier House, located in Pier Road. We paid 40 euros per person for a twin bedroom, including breakfast. Ann Hearty was a great a host, giving us nice tips on what to see, and her B&B was one of the main reasons for us staying in Kinsale for four nights instead of the one we planned. Three of the rooms have a balcony with sea view. The B&B has a hot tub and a sauna, and a garden that I really enjoyed! A few words must also be said about the breakfast that I enjoyed, you could choose between 6-7 breakfasts, that then were freshly made. I guess I can recommend all of them, but only ate the Irish breakfast, Crêpes with fresh fruits and Omlet with Irish bacon.
Kinsale is a pretty seaside town, located on the estuary of the Bandon river. The first evening we had a walk a long this river, where we went through Scilly and ended up out in Summercove, at the Bulman Bar & Restaurant. The bar had a great hospitable atmosphere, and I guess that was the reason why we went back again to listen to some traditional Irish folk music two days later. Bulman also has a restaurant that specialises in seafood, much of it locally caught.
The following morning we rented bikes to see the nearby areas of Kinsale. The first stop was the star-shaped Charles Fort (Dún Chathail). The fortress was built by Charles II in the 1670s and 1680s. It remained in use as British Army barracks until the end of British rule in southern Ireland, and as the British Army retreated in the Irish Civil War in 1922, it was set on fire. The museum guard could tell us that it was burning for three days. Charles II built the fortress to protect England from a backdoor attack by the Dutch fleat. But the only time the fortress was attacked was in 1690, when Williamite forces attacked both Charles Fort and James’s Fort on the other side of Bandon river. Quite special, as it was English soldiers attacking English soliders. Yes, you read correctly. The war has been called the the Williamite War, and is a very important part of the Irish history.
From Charles Fort the trip continued to James’s Fort (Dún Rí Shéamuis). The fortress was built in 1602 (some years before Charles Fort), and named after James I of England and VI of Scotland. The construction started immediately after the Siege of Kinsale, on the ruins of a Spanish fortress, called Castle Ny-Parke.
After having seen both fortresses, we had a quick stop at the pub Dock Bar for a rest in the sun and something to drink, before we continued biking to Ardkilly next to a long narrow fjord. A stunning, beautiful area.
From Ardkilly the trip continued to Old Head of Kinsale. We wanted to see the lighthouse, but had in advance been told that, that could be indeed difficult. When we reached there, we were met by a gorilla firmly denying us access to the premises. The area could only be accessed by golfers and invited guests, others are kept out by high fences and video cameras! I guess that is why I hate golf, a sport that has no purpose other then keeping nature loving people out from beautiful landscape. Appearently we were not the only ones that had been denied access. Others have organised themselves in the Free the Old Head of Kinsale Campaign. Old Head is also known for being where RMS Lusitania got hit by a German submarine with one of it’s torpedos during the First World War, something that might have provoked United States to later enter the war. RMS Lusitania carried 1,256 passengers on her last voyage, heading for the port of Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. The ship sank in 18 minutes and 1.198 people died.
From Old Head of Kinsale we biked to the beaches of Garrettstown, where we did a longer break. The weather was beautiful and we had a rest in the nice sunshine, before heading back to Kinsale through Ballinspittle. In the evening we got recommended a trip to the Spaniard Inn, where there was live traditional Irish music. The music was nice, but sadly I didn’t like the place. The place was overcrowded with perhaps 30 people, there was no place to sit and the place was rather hot. But perhaps that was only me…
The next day we decided to do another bike trip, and this time to the picturesque rolling countryside along the Bandon river to Innishannon. After a few miles of biking we found a perfect view over the river and the countryside.
Innishannon is a small village, located on the highway between Bandon and Cork (N71). The village is a dormitory village for the city workers. We only had a short stop in front of the church, getting our breaths back. We recommend that you don’t follow the highway further to Bandon, as the speed limit outside Innishannon was 100 km/h and the roads were not wide enough for both bikers and cars.
Just after having crossed the Bandon river we found the old way to Bandon. Quite different from the highway, hardly a car past us and we got to see some nice landscape. We also found two nice pieces of Angus beefs. I was almost drewling…
We didn’t enter Bandon town, but continued biking down those miles in the direction of Kilbrittain. The trip was 6 miles (9.7km) and started with a long climb. The last part was mainly downhill. Sadly we didn’t know of Kilbrittain castle, the oldest habited castle in Ireland. Coolmain Castle is the European Base of Roy Disney (Walt Disneys Nephew). I guess we have to go back to the village and get another couple of pictures. After a short break and a coke, we continued in the direction of the sea and Glanavaud. Perhaps through one of the most beautiful areas we saw during our stay.
From Glanavaud we continued back to the beaches of Garrettstown, where we stayed for more or less an hour enjoying the ice cold water and the sun. It was probably the hottest day during our holiday. The trip back to Kinsale after having laid in the sun was rather painful. It started with perhaps the longest hill that I have ever tried to get up. Of course we have had to step down and walk on a few occations. We were more or less pumped for energy. But the last part down to Ardkilly was downhill and then pretty flat to Kinsale.
Eating out in Kinsale
The last day was dedicated to the town. It is highly recommended. It will only take you 2-3 hours, but you will find several nice, small shops selling Irish crafts, lead cut crystal, linen, foods and other locally produced items. Take some breaks during your walks for a cup a coffee and a cake, and perhaps a lunch? Make sure to also visit the tourist office for information about local activities and interests. Tourism is today it’s largest industry, though a broad range of light manufacturing and agriculture based businesses flourish there.
First a picture of the local brewery, and guess what! I only drank Kinsale Ale during my stay:
One of the reasons why I marked out Kinsale as a place I wanted to visit, was the simple fact that I love food. But also to prove for myself that my traveling books were wrong when it came to dining in Ireland. Both the books I bought in advance, wrote that it was hard to find great tasting Irish food, as most great restaurants had a continental menu. The books continued with that most places sold fastfood-like Irish food, with a high amount of fat. If that is the case, Kinsale is quite different, as it is a well-known gourmet centre – it even has a gourmet festival which is generally held during the first and second week in October and has numerous good restaurants. We ate at three restaurants during our stay, Dino’s Restaurant, Fishy Fishy Cafe and Jim Edwards.
The first night we went to Dino’s Restaurant. A nice family friendly cafe where I had Fish & Chips.
At the Fishy Fishy Cafe, I had three oysters as a starter and mussels as the main dish.
At Jim Edwards we both had Salmon “En Croute”, which is fresh Kinsale Salmon wrapped in Puffy Pastry, served with a fennel butter sauce, steamed vegetables, potatoes and french fries. The restaurant is highly recommendable, and is a must visit if you are in Kinsale.
We travelled back to Dublin the last day to get out to the airport the following morning. As we got up to Dublin in the afternoon, we had time to walk around in the centre of the city. We, of course, visited the Temple Bar area, which was over crowded with tourists. A girl, that I used to work with, had recommended that I should visit Elephant and Castle. I can understand why, it had a nice menu, but I chose to eat at O’Neills in Suffolk Street instead, where I chose Roast Rib of Irish Beef and Horseradish Sauce.