Destinations, Ireland

Day 5 – Blarney Castle and Cobh

The plan for today was to drive to Cobh (pronounced “cove”) which is a small harbor town south of Cork.  Blarney Castle just so happened to be along the way, so it seemed appropriate to make a pit stop there for the obligatory kissing of the Blarney Stone.  As it turned out, Tom and Winnie didn’t really feel obliged to kiss the stone and weren’t really interested in seeing this castle in general.  So they set off to do some walking around the town while Rob and I ventured onto the castle grounds.

Rob had no interest in kissing the stone, but he went along to keep me company.  In fact, he was actually kind of grossed out by the fact that I wanted to kiss the stone.  Everyday, countless tourists plant a wet one on this stone and Rob wasn’t keen on swapping spit with any of these random people.  I can’t say I blame him.  I almost backed out of doing it myself because the thought of that was somewhat disturbing.  But, in the end, this was something that I just felt I had to cross off my bucket list.  So I laid on my back, grabbed the hand rails and then tilted my head back and smooched the Blarney Stone.  This, apparently, is supposed to give me the gift of gab.

And at that point, Rob might as well have kissed the stone too because I was surely going to pass on those cooties to him anyway!  But he held his ground and made me go wash my lips off at the nearest restroom.  Even after that, he was hesitant to give me a kiss.

With my bucket list a little shorter, we finished the drive to Cobh.  Cobh was a really pretty town, but unfortunately, it was a dreary day outside.  The skies were grey and it rained quite a bit.  Unwilling to let the weather deter us, we started to explore the town which has quite a fascinating history.  The town was first called Cobh in 1750 and kept that name for one-hundred years until it was changed to Queenstown to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria.  It kept the name Queenstown until 1922 when the name was changed back to Cobh with the foundation of the Irish Free State.

Cobh is a major transatlantic port and it is where nearly half of the Irish emigrants departed from Ireland on their way to North America.  This statue along the waterfront is of Annie Moore and her brothers.  They emigrated from this port in 1892 and Annie Moore was the first recorded immigrant to process through Ellis Island.

Cobh was also the final port of the Titanic before it set sail to cross the Atlantic.  123 passengers boarded the ship from this port.  They entered through the White Star Line building and then boarded tenders which took them to the ship.  Only 44 of these passengers survived.  The White Star Line building is now home to a Titanic Museum.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Titanic Memorial

Plaques like these can be found outside businesses (and inside souvenir shops) all over Cobh.

Another tragedy, the Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat off the Old Head of Kinsale while en route to Liverpool in 1915. 1,198 passengers died, while 700 were rescued. The survivors and victims were brought to Cobh, and over one hundred lie buried in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town. The Lusitania Peace memorial is located in Casement Square.

St. Colman’s Cathedral sits on a high point in the town and it is one of the tallest buildings in Ireland.  While we were there, we were able to hear the carillon church bells being played.  The music was wonderful and after a short walk up the hill and into the church we were able to watch the woman playing the carillon live via a video screen.  The batons (keys) of the carillon are arranged similar to the keys on a piano.  However, she had to exert far more energy to strike the batons than a pianist would have to, to hit the keys of a piano.  It required the palms of her hands or even fists to press the batons.

After the carillon was doing being played, we left Cobh and headed back to Adare.  Rather than going out to a pub again, we decided to find out what Chinese food tasted like in Ireland.  For some silly reason, I have always gotten a kick out of the fact that they call it “take-away” rather than “take-out.”  So, in order to get the full experience, I wanted to order take-away.  We found a menu online for the Golden Dragon in Adare and then we went to pick up our take-away.  It was pretty similar to Chinese food at home, but I think I like our Chinese take-out a bit more.  Besides, they didn’t give us any fortune cookies; just these weird styrofoam-looking cracker things.  Now that I think about it, we probably should have taken a picture of those.


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