Somewhere Sunday #5: IRELAND. Or at least a corner of it.
Today is my last Sunday in Cork. Next Sunday I’ll be living it up in London – Valerie and I have been joking that she’s “introducing me to society” because it turns out I’m actually a total Jane Austen nerd. In honor of the last two months, I found this map and compiled everywhere I’ve been, will be going, and wish I’d gone.
Second, where I wish I’d been, in white:
1. Mizen Head. This is the furthest southwest point in Ireland, but there’s no way to get to it with public transport.
2. Lismore. This town has a pretty spectacular castle, but again, public transport didn’t work out.
3. Dublin. I don’t think I’m the kind of person who would really have fit in in Dublin, but it would have been worth seeing. I wouldn’t have wanted to go on my own, though. Kevin and I will be there for about twenty hours at the end of our trip, but I think the last thing either of us will want to do at that point is try to see Dublin.
4. Galway. I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to explore that area, with the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, because they’re such definitive Irish landmarks. Again, public transport was a challenge and I couldn’t find anyone to go with (but not for lack of trying: I asked 3 people at work!) Plus the hostels were surprisingly expensive, maybe because I was trying to book at the last minute – 25 euro per person.
And the places I’m going soon, in green:
1. Killarney, which has pretty much every type of important ancient building – castle, cathedral, mansions, etc. Plus it’s right on the edge of a national park, in which Ross Castle is located.
2. Bunratty, a little village on the edge of Shannon. It also has a castle, as well as a folk park which was derided by Lonely Planet, but it’s still used by UCC for field trips, so it must be worthwhile.
Yesterday’s adventure to Schull went pretty well. I caught the bus and enjoyed a 2.5-hour ride through some pretty spectacular countryside, set to a soundtrack of Carbon Leaf.
The road passes through several popular West Cork towns, including Clonakilty, Bandon, and Skibbereen. All of them would have been worth a visit, especially Bandon, which had several huge churches. I did notice quite a few empty storefronts, though.
Schull itself isn’t quite on the coast – it’s another harbor town. It has the only planetarium in Ireland (which I never found) and some great walking trails up and around nearby Mount Gabriel (despite being pretty high by Irish standards, the town hid it, and I never found those trails either). But there was a nice park and some simple paved trails along the harbor, and some great crafts and jewelry shops.
The beaches were rocky, not sandy, and I found some great shells. It didn’t take me long to exhaust the shops, though, especially since they were geared toward visitors of a higher income bracket. I was afraid to go back to the pub I’d had lunch, because…well, basically it happened exactly how I’d expected it to. There were two doors into the pub. I went through the one on the left. The first thing I see is an elderly Irishman, glaring at this little girl who just came into his pub. Luckily a door next to me opened, revealing the restaurant part of the pub, and I ducked in there to order my sandwich and eat outside. So I didn’t really want to go back there, and I was afraid to spend any more time in the bookstore, and I’d already bought a few truffles from Gwen’s Chocolates. (That was a great shop, by the way – they have a great array of truffles, even an Earl Grey truffle which is pretty much the most amazing chocolate ever. They also sold handmade marshmallows dyed fun colors, shaped into long, thin rectangles.)
So I found a rock on the beach and sat and read for a while. The bus returned just as it was getting chilly, and I made it back into Cork by 8:30.
I want to thank the readers who have been tagging along and leaving comments and encouraging me and giving me suggestions and everything. Sometimes when I write here I feel like I’m yelling into space, and it’s always nice to hear back from people who have gotten something out of it. Is there anything you want to hear in particular during these last couple weeks? My top 10 lists? Pros and cons? An analysis of my mental state? A detailed writeup of the Lisbon Treaty? (Please don’t choose that one.)