Thursday, 7 April 2016

Cork & Dublin

Access to free wifi has been rather patchy hence the gap in the blog posts, for which I apologise.  I’ve turned east reaching Blarney Castle outside Cork.  The castle is famous for its ‘Blarney Stone’ which is located at the highest level of the castle battlements. Legend has it that those who kiss the Blarney Stone will receive the gift of eloquence.  So if you notice an improvement in the quality of blog posts from this point onwards then perhaps it works.  However my understanding is eloquence is related to speech and you way have to wait for an opinion from Jan.  I was amused to read that for a period Victorian visitors were kissing the wrong stone incorrectly believing it was in the corner of the tower and easily accessible.

Before attempting this I happened to read a local news article stating that the kissing of the Blarney Stone was to cease on health & safety grounds effective the end of the month (30 April 2016).  The article also mentioned so locals were reputedly urinating on the stone at night.  I did lick my lips afterwards and can confirm there was no taste of fizz or salt.  Smile  I found the castle ruins even more interesting than the stone.    

This is the view of the keep as you approach the castle from the visitor entrance.  The arrows in the above photo point to the garderobe outlets.  The visible portion is a vertically angled stone slab and is a sewage outlet.  The small stone enclosed balcony is in the Earl’s bed chamber.  It appears he was entitled to an en-suite.  The base of the balcony had a ‘His & Hers’ hole which had been filled with concrete.  All the sewage was discharged to the base of the Keep which just happened to be the location of the dungeon and the guard post.  I did wonder whether this is the origin of the expressions “In the ****!”  and “A ****** job”.  some of the interior chambers are completely made of stone along the with outer walls.  However the majority of the interior is now exposed to the elements as the timber roof and floors have gone.  Effectively the Keep is a hollow shell.

As you can see in the above photo, there is a gap in the floor of the battlement which would have enabled the defenders to dump hot sand or boiling oil/water onto any attackers attempting to scale the walls or breach the door.
The castle has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside
Looking down at the watchtower on the main approach.  Eight kilometres later I was in Cork and I have to say there wasn’t much in Cork I found of interest.  The city had a “tired” look about it and as a result I didn’t stay long electing to continue on to what I initially assumed was the “Port of Cork“ only to subsequently discover I was in Ballynoe or Cobh.  Actually, up until 1920 it was known as Queenstown.  I guess Ireland’s independence put pay to that name!
Cobh is an attractive town with a maritime history and an association with the Titanic.  Yet another Titanic museum can be found here!
This is the Titanic museum with the words “White Star Line” above the second floor windows.  The town also has an association with the RMS Lusitania. which was sunk off the coast during WW1 by a German U-boat.
The most dominate feature in the town is the cathedral.  St Colman’s is one of the largest cathedral in the republic and is also relatively modern being completed in 1915.

 There was time for a brief walk around the waterfront before heading north.
The original market hall
Dublin was very much like any other major modern city.  Although I did get my canal “fix” identifying the entrance to the Royal Canal from the River Liffey.
The counterbalanced lift bridge at the river lock
The canal was starting to look rather “seedy” beyond the left bridge.
The booked accommodation was on the outskirt of the city and rather than attempt to drive into the city I elected to take the light rail.
Which at one point ran adjacent to the canal.  This part of the canal looked in good condition and I was surprised there were no boats.
I spent the afternoon and evening wandering around the city looking for interesting sights.
I think the tall building is the trade union headquarters.  It had large vinyl posters on all four sides commemorating the 100 anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising.
The statue of Daniel O’Connell (1775 –1847) an Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th century. He campaigned for Catholic emancipation—including the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament.  The statue is on O’Connell St in the centre of the city.  It’s yet another location renamed after independence. Previously it was named Sackville Street', named after Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset.
The main Dublin Post Office.  My Irish history is a little rusty but I believe it was occupied by the Irish volunteers during the 1916 Easter Uprising.  After carefully examining the columns and frontage I believe I could see the marks of bullet strikes.
The old Customs House
This is the memorial to the great potato famine which occurred during the 1880’s.  The famine forced tens of thousands to emigrate around the world and was a major contributing factor to the Irish diaspora.

Two modern swing bridges across the river.  The first is pedestrian and the second for vehicles
I knew the bridges had to move as the sailing ship ‘Jenny Johnson” was moored upstream
And so my visit came to an end


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