Medieval Cork doesn't hold back! [Rogue Nomads]

This is part 25 of Dee’s grey nomad adventure around Europe. To read her previous instalment, click here


There we were, happily camped in the Blarney Caravan Park, walking distance to the castle. We were told by the locals that it’s not the best castle around though, and that the Blarney Stone was a tourist marketing ploy. On top of that, Greg doesn’t need any more “blarney” and having to bend backwards to kiss the stone doesn’t seem too healthy to us. So we didn’t join the crowds of tourists.

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Instead, we went into Cork and did a self guided walking tour of the city, which was the best thing we could have done. Starting off at Tourist Information, we immediately found the English Market, the origins of which can be traced back to James I in 1670. This is a must for foodies and after buying some sourdough which they put behind the counter for us, we vowed to end our walk there too.

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The self guided walk took us through medieval Cork and some of the oldest streets running alongside, and sometimes over, the old waterway. Then on past the old stables which were part of the Brewery, into Bishops Street, on to the stunning Cathedral – a place, so the guide says, from which the foundations of Cork City grew; a place of worship for fourteen centuries. Can you imagine that?

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On to the Elizabeth Fort, which for years had been unused, and before that it was a centre for the Garda, and prior to that it was army barracks. We were so lucky as after many years of no use, it had been opened to the public for about two days. We met a community policeman also looking at the site, and he then served as our guide to go and see Nano Nagle’s tomb. Without regard for her own safety, she selflessly educated children during the day and visited and nursed the sick by night. As a result, she became known in Cork as the Lady with the Lantern, the symbol of the Sisters of the Presentation worldwide. Today the people of Ireland, especially in Cork, who attribute their freedom to her, revere her.

The Garda told us that Cork is still suffering from the consequences of the GFC. Apparently Cork was becoming very prosperous, and started building projects etc., which are now at a standstill. House prices shot up, and then reduced dramatically.  This is how he explained so many derelict and empty buildings.

After walking through some delightful back streets, we went back to the English Market. Reminded us of Adelaide Central Market. Had an amazing meal upstairs in the balcony, people watching, then did some shopping. Sausages to die for! Fresh vegetables. And I bought some fresh salmon, and some scrumptious salmon fish cakes. If ever you go to Cork, do not miss the English Market experience!Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.24.09 am

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The following day we took a drive to Kinslade, then on along the coast to the Drombeg Circle. Kinslade is another delightful fishing village, tumbling down to the harbour; a very popular holiday venue for the Irish. The harbour was full of pleasure boats and the streets were full of tourists, all having a really good time. On along the coast road, past beaches which made me homesick. They even had surfers in the water.

We arrived at the Drombeg Stone Circle, near Skibbereen, in the late afternoon. It’s probably Ireland’s most famous stone circle; a recumbent circle with the recumbent or altar stone lying to the south-west. The circle consists of seventeen stones. Towards the centre are two stones: male to the left, phallic shaped and the female to the right, lozenge shaped. Before it was excavated the locals called it the Druids Altar. It dates from the 11th Century BC and the excavations revealed signs of human and animal bones. Legend has it that a banshee can be heard there when a local is about to die. There are also signs of a fire pit, and the whole area gives the feeling of rituals having been held there. The last rays of the setting sun on the winter solstice align from the portal to the centre and nearly fit into a conspicuous notch in a hillside a mile away. We had a good long wander around. I loved it.Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.24.53 am

Next……Cahir, Cahir Castle, the Swiss Cottage, and more castles!

Have you visited Cork before? What did you do there? Tell us below!