Dropping into a county or two in Ireland.

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The Autumn Colours are Beginning to Arrive 

7th September - 17th September

Inner City Marina proved to be a great base for our week in Cork. Literally just two blocks from the city centre it was a great location to stroll the streets, whilst Katherine was secure behind a locked gate and we literally on most days had the pontoon to ourselves. 

The first highlight for us in Cork was to have Jen and Adam Gollow from Darwin arrive to spend two nights with us onboard. Jen and Adam had been touring Europe and decided to detour for a short stay. Hilarious that we have not been able to catch up in Darwin but here we were sharing time together on the other side of the world. 

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Hiring a car we headed out to join the tourist flock on the drive around the Ring Of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 181km circular drive around the Iveragh Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Our first night was in the township of Kenmare renown for its lace work. Given that Sue is an avid crafts person in lace and patchwork it was obvious that this had to be one of our stops. The lace work skill was introduced to the women of Kenmore back in the 1860’s along with skills in leatherwork, woodcarving and embroidery by the nuns of The Poor Clare in an effort to bring skills to a community that was suffering from severe poverty following the Great Famine. Over time the quality of the lace work improved to such a level that by the late 1800’s it was being purchased by royalty and was bringing much needed income to many families of the area. 

Under local advise we set off from Kenmare to complete the Ring Of Kerry in the opposite direction to the bus route. Apparently people who are not use to driving on the left hand side of the road are advised to follow the bus route direction - they must have seen a hint of the rally driver in Andrew and advised we would be best to go against the flow to ensure the best enjoyment of the drive. It worked well. 

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From Kenmare we headed west passing through the small township of Sneem where we had been informed was to be found “The Best Black Pudding” made by a local butcher - having had it for breakfast with our eggs we could contest it was pretty good. We walked the pretty beach near Derrynane House and checked out the pier at Ballinskelligs from where boats leave to Little Skellig and Skellig Michael with severe sign warnings about how dangerous disembarking on the island can be. It made one wonder why anyone would take the tour when the sign advises “Death can occur”. Unfortunately due to the cloud we could not see Micheal Skellig from the road but our disappointment was easily appeased by stopping at the Skellig Chocolate factory and indulging in chocolate tasting. The final leg of the Ring took us through pretty towns like Portmagee before a quick glimpse of the Killarney lakes. Then it was off to our second nights accommodation Longueville House. 

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Longueville House, a Georgian Mansion built around 1720 is situated near the town of Mallow overlooking the Blackwater Valley. The land on which it stands belonged for as far back as historical records can record to the O’Callaghan clan (Clann Us Cleallachain) who lost the land to a solider of Cromwell after the collapse of the 1641 Rebellion. The story of the house and land could make for a modern day drama series. After O’Callaghan forfeited the land it fell into the hands of a the first Longfield, a tax collector, under whose family ownership it remained until 1938 when the present owner’s grandfather brought the property, returning it after almost 300 years back to the original clan. 

It was special to stay in such an accommodation where the staff were so attentive and proud of the place in which they worked and the history of the property. From our bedroom window we looked out over the valley complete with horses and the ruins of Dromineen Castle, one of three main castles of the O’Callahan Clan. Prior to dinner we walked the gardens from which a lot of the fresh produce for the evening meal was collected.  Sitting by the fireplace at night sipping red wine and enjoying a cheese board was a special way to enjoy this part of Ireland. In the morning before we hit the road again we were kindly shown around the house including the now historically listed Victorian Conservatory the cellar and old staff quarters. It could have just been a nights accommodation along our way but Longuevlille house was much more, it was an experience to be enjoyed. 

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Next stop Waterford was on the east coast of Ireland - Irelands oldest city having been founded by the Vikings in 914 and home to Waterford Crystal. We undertook the tour of the Waterford Factory that was founded in 1738 but has twice during its history been closed or placed in receivership.  The current manufacturing facility and retail outlet was opened in June 2010 and today up to 45000 pieces are produced each year onsite. The tour gave a clear guide to the steps involved in making each piece and a real appreciation for the skill and patience that must be required to achieve the status of a master craftsman. 

Back onboard Katherine our quiet pontoon became the base for over 50 yachts from the Royal Cork Yacht Club for the weekend. It was great to be surrounded literally by boats all enjoying what was officially for them the last calendar event on the water for the season. 

So ended our time in Cork, motoring back down the river we headed for Kinsale to wait for the right weather to cross back to the Scilly Isles. Well the weather gods decided it was prudent we stay a little longer in Ireland with forecasts of up to 40knots and 8meter seas we decided we would not disagree and hired a car for another days journey.

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This time we did a day trip back towards the Ring of Kerry to visit Muckross House within the Killarney National Park. Muckross House a 65 bedroom Victorian Mansion was built in 1843 by Henry Herbert and further upgraded in 1861 to accommodate a visit by Queen Victoria. Unfortunately the royal visitors only stayed two days so the upgrade was most likely not as appreciated as the Herbert's had hoped and lead them into financial hardship forcing them to sell the property shortly afterwards. Two owners followed the last bequeathing the land to the state establishing a large proportion of Killarney National Park. We were fortunate to have sun  shining as we wondered the beautiful gardens and took in the vista of the Killarney lakes with jaunting carts passing by. 

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On our way back to Cork we took the back road to take in one last scenic run along a section of the Great Atlantic Way. In Timoleague we happened upon the ruins of a Franciscan Friary established in the late 1300’s. Nearly every inch of the grounds seemed to be covered with gravestones, but impressively many features of the friary were still in tact and able to be appreciated. 

Over the last few weeks on our drives through the different counties of which there are a few it has become very obvious that there is a definite county pride particularly with the Gaelic Football and Hurling Competitions currently on. It is always easy to pick where you are by the flags flying. Literally from windows, chimney stacks fences any thing that can fly a flag - if it can fly a flag it will be holding one. 

So after a few more enjoyable days in the pretty port town of Kinsale it was time to move. Friday 18th sadly saw the end of our time in Ireland - well for this time. Four weeks since arriving into Sheeps Haven in the North we had achieved our goal of sailing down the West Coast. We have met some great people, seen some fantastic scenery both from the sea and on land and eaten some seriously good food. 

We also farewelled Pete and Sue here as they continue their trip by land. It has been great to have them onboard and share our journey. 

So England here we come. 

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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain