An October 2002 trip
to County Cork by Carmen
Quote: In our five-day driving tour of Ireland, County Cork was our first day trip, and our first impression of Ireland. It turned out to be a good impression and a good welcome to the Emerald Isle.
Also, I was really happy that we took time out to drive 20 minutes south on the N27 to the port town of Kinsale, with a short stint on R600. According to a cost of driving calculator I found, it only cost us 1.46 euros to make the drive, and the return was way more than that! Eating in the gourmet capital of Ireland did indeed provide us with one of the highlight meals of our trip. My friend's lunch of grilled Haddock (a local fish) was even topped with a shamrock garnish.
And there was one more highlight, not one that we could plan -- I guess we were just lucky. It was one of those days where the rain and the sun were duking it out for seniority, and we came accross 3 - yes 3 different rainbows. We even drove through the end of one of them. Sadly, no literal pot of gold, but a fun day in County Cork to show for it.
I'm not much on organized tours because I like to go at my own pace. So I recommend driving there. Plus, I wasn't aware of any tour buses that made the trip, as Cork is their main stop in this area of Ireland.
Kinsale is famous for its seafood, being on the coast of Ireland and all, so my friend ordered grilled haddock (local fish) that was delivered to our table with a shamrock garnish (how Irish!), chips (fries) and a salad for about 11 euros. I had traditional Irish shepards pie, garlic bread and hot chocolate for about 10 euros. Both of us raved the entire trip about that one meal, and told everyone about it when we got home.
The ambiance was wonderful, part pub / part restaurant, with the Irish sun shining through the windows. We didn't need a reseravation, as it was a weekday and it was lunchtime, however, we found out from others that a reservation could come in handy on busy weekends and evenings.
On a scale of 1-10, I'd rate the White House as a strong 9, if for no other reason than the food. (It truly IS the gourmet capital of Ireland.) The service was great, as was the atmosphere.
Check out their site and read about their chef. The White House
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2002
I found this on the Blarney Castle website Blarney Castle, and thought it captured the essence of why anyone would travel to County Cork, Ireland. The reason is to kiss the Blarney Stone, of course! Ah, but it's not that easy. First, you have to pay the entrance fee (which if I remember was about 6 euros)and then you have to tear yourself away from staring at the imposing castle set before you.
Then, when you find the sign that says "to the stone" you're faced with a set of winding stone stairs -- wide enough for only one at a time -- with only a rope to hold on to as you ascend the endless stairs. Once you reach the top, you're bombarded with breathtaking views of the castle grounds -- but don't be discouraged. You're on a mission! There it is in front of you -- the Blarney Stone. First, and very important, tip the nice gentleman standing there. He'll be holding your legs as you lean backwards into space to kiss the stone and get your gift of gab. This guy is pretty entertaining, and worth the tip on his own. "Just kiss it! You're not asking it for a date." he told me. I gave the stone a big "smack" and the photographer captured it as proof for me. I sat up and told the man "Best date I've had in a while." Made him laugh.
Now is time to enjoy the rest of the castle, and the grounds. Kodak moments abound as you look around at the greenery. We went in the fall, so much of the ivy had changed to a firey red. As the Irish say, it was really quite "lovely."
Attraction | "Rock Close at Blarney Castle"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 26, 2002
Blarney Castle/Blarney Stone
Blarney Village Near the River Martin
+353 21 438 5252
We had just finished our jaunt up to the top of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone so we were feeling very Irish. We'd recieved a map with our travel documents that was published in conjunction with Blarney Woolen Mills, and had a coupon on the map, so we decided to go look for some souvenirs. Hey, it was right accross the street from where we parked to visit the Castle, so why not?
I was very disappointed in what I found. Don't get me wrong, if it's an Irish souvenir you want, Blarney Woolen Mills will likely have it. This is as close as they come in Ireland, it seems, to a strip mall. Blarney Woolen Mills is a chain, found in Cork, County Clare and Dublin. I found it to be more of a tourist trap than anything else, as I prefered to buy my Irish souvenirs from authentic Irish stores, more like the small, mom and pops of Ireland. But if you're looking for a gift to bring home, you'll find it here. Or, wait until you get to the airport, it's basically the same experience. The only good thing I can think of to say about it was that your purchases were duty-free, and that there was, indeed, a lot to pick from.
I was on a specific mission to find a Claddaugh ring -- one that wasn't like the millions you see throughout Ireland (see my entry for Galway) -- and Blarney Woolen Mills certainly had their fair share of them. But not what I was looking for. So we made our rounds through the store (which was huge) and back out again to patronize the Irish mom and pop stores.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 26, 2002
Kinsale has a long and varied history, serving as the location of a battle in 1601 that was key to Ireland's history, as well as a wine port for the British Navy (before it was the British Navy) back into the early 1400s.
But you don't come to Kinsale for the history, you come for the food. Kinsale is the undisputed gourmet capital of Ireland, and is world-renowned for its fish and seafood. There is a Fine Food Festival in early October (which we unfortunately missed by a few days) that I hear is a must-attend.
The diner is never strapped for choices, from lobster and oysters to exotic food like zebra! The restaurants are all part of a "food circle" and work hard to maintain Kinsale's "tasty" reputation. That doesn't mean they don't compete with each other to bring in your business. The good news is that you dont' have to empty your wallet to tickle your taste buds.
When we arrived in Kinsale, it was a bit too early for lunch, so we strolled the narrow streets, admired the brightly colored buildings, stopped in to shop at a few stores and visit with the locals, took photos of the harbor, and went into the visitors' center and bought some trinkets for the folks back home. Then, it was off for a fabulous meal. (See entry for The White House) While my travelling friend partook of the seafood, I had another traditional Irish dish - Shepard's Pie. (ground beef, veggies, sauce, mashed potato on top)Possibly the best Irish meal I had the whole trip!
Cary, North Carolina