September 24-25, 2019 – Southern and Western Ireland
Written by Jim
We are back from our U.K. & Ireland adventure, but still catching up the blog.
On the morning of September 24, we awoke to a fairly steady rain in Killarney, Ireland. This was more like the weather we were expecting when planning our trip, but it landed on a day where we were hoping to see some amazing scenery along the coast. We made the decision to forego our drive around the Ring of Kerry that day, and chose instead to visit the coastal town of Dingle.
We parked our little Scout near the marina. Donning our rain gear, we headed out to see what gems the little town might hold. As we weaved our way through the shops and narrow streets, we spotted a church up on a hill.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church was built between 1862 and 1865. By Irish standards, it’s a fairly new building. What was interesting to note was the new roof that was installed in 1963. A mixture of old and new…something that seemed unique to what we had seen thus far.
After exiting the church, we spotted a convent turned art gallery next door that we toured. As we were leaving, Diana asked if there was a pub in town that the locals frequented. Being married to a Catholic, she knew who to ask. :). The lady there said “either Dick Mack’s or Foxy John’s.” We chose the latter.
Talk about a place with character! Diana remarked how much the bartender looked like her Grandpa O’Morrow. She had a pint of ale and I chose a dram of Slane Irish whiskey. There were mostly locals in the place, besides us and a couple of girls from Ohio. That brought up a mention of the University of Michigan/Ohio State University rivalry. When another couple walked in sporting U of M clothing, I told the girls “Hey Ohio…you’re outnumbered.” 🙂 The other unique thing about Foxy John’s was that it was not only a pub….
…but it was also a hardware store! So THIS must be the place they came up with the drink called a screwdriver!
The next day, we pointed our motorhome towards the Blarney Caravan and Camping Park to meet up with some good friends, Linda and Steven from The Chouters. We first met them in Kentucky when the four of us were working for Amazon. Since then, these fellow full time RVers sold their beloved Travel Supreme motorhome named Scoopy, moved to France and bought a Hymer motorhome they have named Bijou. We caught up with them at the tail end of their two month-plus long adventure through Steven’s homeland of Ireland. After a quick tour of their rolling home, we piled into their rented car and headed off for the town of Cobh. How on earth do you pronounce that one? Steven informed us that the Irish language sounds out a ‘bh’ as a ‘v’, making this tiny port the town of Cove. That’s what it originally was called until it was changed to Queenstown in honor of a visit by Queen Victoria. It was changed to a Gaelic spelling of Cove after Ireland became independent of Great Britain.
Our destination was the White Star Line ticket office. Cobh (Queenstown at the time) was the last port that Titanic stopped at before sailing towards New York. The building is now used to house The Titanic Experience…a simulation of what it was like to board the great ship from there. Before the harbor was dredged, vessels as large as the Titanic had to anchor out in the harbor. Tenders would ferry passengers from this office to the waiting ships. It is interesting to note that the ship in this photo, the average sized Norwegian Spirit, is only four feet shorter in length than the Titanic.
Our tour guide Lynn did an excellent job of explaining the different classes of passengers and what their experiences would’ve been.
We were all issued a ticket from an actual passenger who boarded at Queenstown, which we used at the end of the tour to see if we survived. Most people on the tour didn’t make it.
These are the remains of the dock where the passengers boarded the tenders. Known locally as Heartbreak Pier, over one million Irish emigrated from this spot. Plans are in the works to restore it.
The last photo taken of the Titanic sailing was taken from the mouth of the harbor at Queenstown.
From Cobh, we headed to Midleton to tour the Jameson Distillery. If any of you know Linda and Steven, you are aware that Jameson Irish Whiskey is a favorite of theirs. It was pretty special to accompany them on this tour!
The buildings were quaint, the grounds were beautiful and the entire experience had a magical feel to it.
This huge water wheel, built in 1852, used to power the milling process in the plant. While it doesn’t perform that duty anymore, it does still turn.
This is the largest pot still in the world. At 31,618 gallons, it is too big to get a complete photo of!
And here is a link to my hometown…a Fordson tractor. Manufactured by Henry Ford and Son (that son would be Edsel), these tractors were made both in Michigan and in the U.K. Many people don’t realize that Henry Ford was a farmer before he was an automobile manufacturer. His disdain of manual farm work drove him to look for ways to make agricultural life easier. He was also of Irish descent.
The tour ended with a comparison tasting of Jameson against a Scottish whiskey (Johnnie Walker) and an American whiskey (Jack Daniels). The peat-smokiness of the Johnnie Walker was harsh as compared to the Jameson, but the Jack was pleasurable in it’s uniqueness. The Jameson was my favorite of the three though…I’m sure by their design. 🙂
Cheers to Linda and Steven and their travels throughout Europe! We had a marvelous day with this adventurous pair. 🙂
Next up, we head back through Scotland and into England in search of Diana’s Halstead roots. Along the way, we are treated to a very unique and fun connection to England’s recent past. Be sure to stay tuned for that post. Until then, safe and happy travels to all!