Bittersweet

Port rail station at Cobh

Our hotels have been nice all along the way, but the one in Kilkenny was truly beautiful.  Our rooms were large and decorated in a modern mix of wood, glass and tile.  On the other hand, the bathroom fixtures were different each place we went and sometimes a challenge for arthritic hands.  The most difficult for us all was a demand water heater in Killarney that had two dials and a button in the shower and required two switches outside the bathroom just to get water – and no instructions.

Annie Moore

As noted in previous posts, the food has been great everywhere.  I have particularly enjoyed the fresh breads and the fact that tea and coffee are served in pots and a pitcher of water is usually brought to the table.

We are a bit sad as our stay in Ireland is coming to an end.  But how privileged we are to do such travel just as tourists.  We live better than the lords and ladies in their castles.  As I write this, I am sitting by a “turf” fire created not to take the chill off my hut but just to add to the ambiance.

Kilkenny Castle

Cove was the name of the port in Cork.  It was changed to Queenstown after a visit by the queen and then to the original Irish name Cobh after Ireland became independent.  The 19th century was a time of many famines, the worst in 1845.  Millions of Irish sailed out of Cobh to Australia, Canada and the United States on convict ships, leaking sailing ships and finally great liners.  The Titanic left the port on its final journey and the survivors of the Lusitania were brought there.

The population declined from 8 million in 1841 to 4 million in 1901.  Annie Moore celebrated her 15thbirthday 1 January 1892 as the first immigrant processed through Ellis Island.  Her statue is at both Cobh and Ellis Island.  We think young Patrick Cargan sailed out of Cobh in 1896 or 1898.  He would have found third-class steerage an improvement in living conditions over the farm back home.

We arrived with the bride; the crowd cheered us when we went into the hotel.

From Cobh, we went to see Kilkenny Castle, home of the Butler family for over 600 years and given to the nation in 1969.  It was at the other end of the social strata from the Cargans.  Unlike the other castles we saw, it had been lived in and improved on since the 12th century.  It was huge and well-furnished, but I rather preferred the others that even in ruin, were more fixed pictures in time.

Our final day, we went to Hollywood and then over the Wicklow Gap.  Hollywood had a sign on the hill, but that was all that was the same as the California version.  On the other side of the mountain, we saw

10th to 13th century cathedral

Glendalough, a monastic community started in the sixth century when St. Kevin went to the area to be a hermit.  He wasn’t very successful as a hermit as people kept following him to be close to him, but the community he founded lasted into the 17th century.

We also saw the beautiful 19thcentury gardens at Powerscourt. We have had a lot of rain, but we are told the unusually warm weather has kept the flowers out much longer than normal.

There had been a castle at the location since 1316, and the first Viscount Powerscourt received his title in 1618.  Knowing there were these huge estates and lavish expenditures at a time when one-third of the population was literally starving to death may explain why so many European nations moved to socialism in the 20th century.

But the highlight of the day was when Jim took us first to his daughter’s house to see his great dane now living there and then to his own home to have lunch with his wife and daughter.  His 20-year old daughter is a policewoman on the night shift in a nearby community.

Louisa, Joanna & Jim Swan

What a wonderful trip: wonderful things to see; good food to eat; and wonderful people.   

 

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About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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