The Old Fogies go to Cobh in Ireland

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh is located on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour and offers a dramatic and picturesque scene when coming into the town from the water. The houses are built up the hillside and dominating the town is St Colman’s cathedral which is perched on top of the hill.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

People have inhabited this area for over centuries, however it was the 18th century when the port was developed with a fort being built. The port was known by various names before the 18th century before it was renamed “Cove” (“The Cove of Cork”),
It was renamed by the British as “Queenstown” in 1849 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and changed back to Cobh in the 1920s by the Irish Free State, Cobh is the Gaelic word for cove. Although to English speakers, it looks like ‘cob’ it is actually pronounced ‘cove’.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh really came to prominence in the 19th century when the natural protection of its harbour made it a valuable naval military base. It still is an important base for the Irish Naval Service, their headquarters are on Haulbowline Island facing Cobh.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh was used an embarkation port for men, women and children who were deported to penal colonies such as Australia. However it gained international recognition as a major transatlantic Irish port, the town was the departure point for 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. This period of the town is marked by a statue on the quayside of Annie Moore and her brothers. Annie Moore was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York in 1892. We both stood looking at the statue and remembered our visit to Ellis Island a couple of years ago.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh was also a port from which the large transatlantic liners would depart from, the most famous of these liners was the ill fated RMS Titanic that visited the port in 1912 before sailing into the Atlantic and its tragic fate. Of the 123 passengers who boarded at the port with only 44 surviving the sinking. The former office building of the White Star Line now houses a Titanic museum.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Unfortuntely this was not the only maritime disaster related to the port, a few years later, the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania, was sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. 1,198 passengers died, while 700 were rescued. The survivors and the dead alike were brought to Cobh, and over 100 of those who perished in the disaster where buried in the Old Church Cemetery in the town. The Lusitania Peace Memorial is located in Casement Square marks this tragedy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh is still a popular port for large cruise liners, over 100,000 cruise liner passengers visit the town each year. The ships berth right in the centre of the town at Ireland’s only dedicated cruise terminal.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

For such a small town, there are a large number of memorials and as you wander around there are reminders of its maritime and emigration past.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Next to the railway is the Cobh Heritage Centre which includes ‘the Queenstown Story’, you can wander around the centre which has a café and gift shop but need to buy a ticket to see the exhibition that includes The Immigration Story, Building the Titanic and Cobh as Queenstown.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

With limited time and rain threating, we decided to begin to explore the town, a good starting place was the promenade with its bandstand and small memorial park dedicated to American president John F Kennedy. There are also a memorial to Antarctic explorer Robert Forde.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Near Casement square is statues to local heroes, athlete Sonia O’Sullivan and boxer Jack Doyle.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The town centre is full of bars, cafes and restaurants with a few gifts shops to explore, but we wanted to see a little more of the less tourist side of the town. So we decided to walk up the West Beach past the old Town Hall where there were a number of traditional Irish shops geared to the local community not just visitors.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Walking up hill, we reached Harbour Row and looked out over the harbour to Spike Island and Haulbowline Island. The threatened rain finally appeared and we gave up on our plan to walk to the Titanic Memorial Gardens and made our way back to the ship.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Cobh certainly plays on its maritime history especially being the last port of call of the Titanic and offers visitors a wide range of attractions in a generally small area. If you are not attracted to the Titanic story, it is worth wandering the streets above the harbour and explore this attractive and unusual town. In many ways it has changed very little in the last 100 years and is still a bustling little port in a picturesque setting.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

The Old Fogies go to Cork in Ireland

The next part of our journey took us to Ireland and a traveller’s dilemma, we were due to dock in Cobh which is a very small resort but was relatively near to the city of Cork. The question was do we spend all our time looking around Cobh or attempt to see both Cobh and Cork.

The fact that the train station was directly next to where the ship docked was a deciding factor and we headed to the platform for the next train to Cork.

We just missed one train but they ran quite frequently and the train station had a small attraction full of models boats of some of the ships that had visited Cobh in the past. This passed the time quite nicely till the next train and the friendly person behind the counter handed out maps for Cork and answered a few questions about the area. The short train ride from Cobh takes around half an hour. The train ride is quite scenic taking you around Lough Mahon and Cork harbour which were full of wading birds.

Cork City is quite spread out with the River Lee dividing the city centre into islands until they reconverge at the quays and docks along the river banks leading outwards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour which is one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

Cork had its origins as a monastic settlement founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century, however it was when the Vikings arrived between 915 and 922 that the site developed as a trading port. The new and old settlements grew over time and defences were built, with a wall around the city, some wall sections and gates still exist.

The city was badly damaged in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War in the early 20th century. Cork is often referred to as the “the rebel city” and has a ‘friendly’ rivalry with Dublin.

Although the city is quite compact, the train station is a little way out from the city centre and the map certainly came in useful. We made our way across St Patrick’s Bridge to St. Patrick’s Street, one of the  main streets of the city which is a main shopping thoroughfare.

At the top of St. Patrick’s Street is a statue to Father Mathew, Father Theobald Mathew to give him his full name was born in 1790 and became known as the Apostle of Temperance. Father Mathew was ordained a Capuchin priest in 1814 and served most of his life in Cork. He became an important character in the first half of the nineteenth century with his work during the temperance crusades of the late 1830s and 1840s. He was also known for his efforts to help people during the cholera epidemic of 1832 and the Great Famine from 1845 to 1850.

The number of pubs and bars in this area suggest that the local population might not be quite as temperate than they may have been in the 19th century.

St. Patrick’s Street, Oliver Plunkett St and Grand Parade are the main shopping areas in Cork and provide an attractive mix of old and new. Penneys, Dunnes Stores and the former Roches Stores are old traditional stores but the area does have a sprinkling of upmarket global brands.

In the Grand Parade is the English Market, the market sells locally produced foods, including fresh fish, meats, fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses and breads in very pleasant surroundings. There has been a market on this site since at least the 17th century.

Near the market is an unusual early Irish Gothic national monument commemorating the various rebellions, unveiled in 1906.

Another interesting statue is The Echo Boy, Cork is home to one of Ireland’s main national newspapers, the Irish Examiner, It also prints The Echo (formerly the Evening Echo), which for decades has been connected to the “Echo boys”, who were poor and often homeless children who sold the newspaper.

Unfortunately, the dark clouds were gathering and we decided on a quick trip to St Fin Barre’s Cathedral which had a small maze or labyrinth in the churchyard, it is there to aid prayer and calmness.

Mrs Nice seemed not too calm as I sent her around the puzzle. Nearby is the Elizabeth Fort, the remnants of a 17th century fort which is open to the public.

This part of Cork is popular with students and there are a large number of cafes, bars and clubs. Some of the bars had intriguing and humorous names like Fred Zepplins and Sober Lane.

As we started back to the station, the rain began to start and we quickly made our way through the streets. We felt that we had only scratched the surface of the city of Cork and another visit would allow us not only to fully explore the city but also to travel around the area which has lots of various attractions like Blarney Castle, Kinsale and Youghal.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

The Old Fogies go to Dublin

Dublin has been on our travel radar for years, but for one reason or another has remained on the must do list. To rectify this oversight, we finally decided to bite the bullet and spend a few days in the Emerald Isle.

With a flight of just over a hour from London and a short coach ride from Dublin Airport to the centre of Dublin, the relatively stress free travelling experience meant we arrived in Dublin in good spirits.

We stayed near O’ Connell Street which is one of the main hubs of the city and the perfect place to begin our exploration of the city.

First impressions were that the city was small and compact which was easily traversed by foot.

North of the Liffey has plenty of shopping options with a number of shopping centres and the outside market in Moore Street. Places of interest include the General Post Office which played a pivotal part in the Easter Rising, The Dublin Writers Museum, The Hugh Lane Art Gallery, the Parnell, O’ Connell and James Joyce statues and the strange Monument of Light or Spire which is a stainless steel 393ft monument .

Also north of the river near the old dock area is the new Docklands area with the Custom House, a reminder of Dublin’s maritime past. The relatively new Sean O’Casey Bridge and Samuel Beckett Bridge connect the new developments.

It is safe to say that it is on the south side of the Liffey that will interest most visitors to Dublin, Trinity College is a popular attraction especially the library where you can find The Book of Kells.

Behind the college is the main Georgian buildings and squares which are location of many of the museums and art galleries. This is also the location of Irish Government buildings and relaxing parks.

One of the delights of visiting Dublin is to walk around this area enjoying the cultural organisations, the many small eateries and finding some of the hidden treasures.

Grafton Street is a major shopping and entertainment thoroughfare that leads in the north to Temple Bar which is full of shops, pubs and bars. A pleasant area to walk around in the day, in the evening it gets a bit more exciting with plenty of drink flowing and Irish music coming out of many of the establishments.

Religion plays an important part in Irish society and many of the main cathedrals have fascinating histories and are well worth a visit.

The Irish are often associated with drink and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery are on most people’s to do list, however due to time limits, we decided to pass on these attractions.

Dublin is one of those small European capitals which may lack many wow factors but is an enjoyable place with many diverse attractions. What really makes Dublin different is the Dubliners themselves, their legendary ability in enjoying themselves translates into a relaxing and good natured atmosphere with a genuine friendliness that is found almost everywhere.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Story of The Ha’penny Bridge

 It might not be the most spectacular bridge in the world, but the The Ha’penny Bridge or Liffey Bridge is one of the iconic landmarks in Dublin. The story of the pedestrian bridge is a fascinating one. It was built in 1816 over the River Liffey , the bridge is made of cast iron and was cast at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. The manufacturer, the Coalbrookdale Company cast the bridge in 18 sections then shipped it to Dublin.

The structure was originally called the Wellington Bridge before it was changed to the Liffey Bridge. However, Dubliners called it the Ha’penny Bridge due to the toll charged for crossing the bridge.

Before the bridge, a certain William Walsh operated a series of leaky ferries across the Liffey, Dubliners complained and the local authority told him to fix the ferries or build a bridge. Walsh being a canny businessman decided to build a bridge with the right to charge a ha’penny toll from anyone crossing it for 100 years. Remarkably the toll remained until 1919.

In the early years, Dubliners tried to take their horses across the bridge for free, arguing that they were not pedestrians, so could not be charged. Turnstiles were put in place to stop this practice. It was also said that during the Easter Rising in 1916, two men with bombs were refused entry to the bridge because they did not have the toll money. Only hundreds would cross the bridge when there was a toll, but know it is estimated that 30,000 cross it daily.

A plaque for leprechauns perhaps 

This addition traffic has put a strain on the bridge and it was closed for repair and renovation in 2001. More recently the habit of leaving love locks on the bridge has been frowned upon and they are removed.

The short trip over the 141 feet long bridge is perhaps not the most exciting, but the bridge remains one of Dublin’s iconic landmarks loved by Dubliners and visitors.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

An Irish History Lesson in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

 St Stephen’s Green is one of the most popular public parks in Dublin and is a favourite with many Dubliners and visitors. Situated near Grafton Street which is one of Dublin’s main shopping streets, the park is one of the largest parks in Dublin’s main Georgian area.

As well as enjoying the pleasant surroundings, the park has a series of statues and monuments that provide some intriguing insights into Irish History.

Until the mid 17th century, St Stephen’s Green was a common on the edge of Dublin, used for grazing. Dublin Corporation decided to enclose some of the common and to sell land. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Green and surroundings was favoured by the wealthy of Dublin.

Access to the Green was restricted to local residents, until 1877, when Parliament passed an Act to open St Stephen’s Green to the public. The initiative of Lord Ardilaun and his generous funding of a new layout of the Green provided a greatly needed green space in the middle of Dublin. In a response to his generosity, the local corporation commissioned a statue of him, which still faces the College of Surgeons.

Working around the park provides an opportunity to discover other Irish heroes, there are statues and monuments to Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Theobald Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1798 rebellion and Robert Emmet, the Irish nationalist and Republican.

One of Ireland greatest writers, James Joyce is celebrated with a bust and garden. One of the more unusual statues is the Three Fates. The statue was designed by Joseph Wackerle in bronze in 1956. The statue was a gift from the German people in thanks for Irish help to refugee children following World War II.

The peace and quiet of the park was shattered during the Easter Rising of 1916, when a group of 200 to 250 members of the Irish Citizen Army established a position in St Stephen’s Green. They established road blocks but were soon under fire from Army positions and withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons. The full drama of this incident is told on a large number of boards around the park, one of our favourites was that in the heat of the battle, fire was temporarily halted to allow the park’s groundsman to feed the local ducks.

Thankfully, now you can sit and feed the ducks in peace whilst admiring this most attractive park.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Dead Zoo and the Dublin Museum Quarter

When visiting anywhere on a limited time period, decisions have to be made about where to go and what to do. Dublin is no exception but fortunately for those who like museums, many are in a short walking distance from each other. Sandwiched between Trinity College and St Stephen’s Green and flanking the Irish Houses of Parliament are the Natural History Museum, the National Museum of Ireland, the National Library and the National Gallery of Ireland.

The National History Museum which is nicknamed the ‘Dead Zoo’ by locals is quite a shock with old glass cases full of stuffed animals. It really is a step back in time and has changed little since it was opened in 1857.

It offers quite a surreal experience as you wander between the old glass cases with the only noise being the creaking floorboards. The quietness was only broken by the arrival of a school party who were told very strictly not to make any noise.

We smiled to the teacher as we passed and she apologised if we were being disturbed. If we were disturbed it was not the children but rather the eyes of hundreds of dead animals watching us moving to the exit.

The National Museum of Ireland was a more conventional museum with attractive displays of archaeological treasures that provides plenty of insights into Irish ancient past and cultures. Major highlights are the prehistoric gold ornaments, artefacts from Ireland’s early Christian Monasteries, displays about Viking Ireland and the slightly gruesome Ice Age bog body.

Part of the National Gallery of Ireland was closed but we had a very pleasant coffee in the airy and bright café and had a quick walk around the masterpiece section which included works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and Vermeer. More of a surprise was a portrait of talk show host and celebrity Graham Norton looking very serious and quite rugged.

An entertaining couple of hours were completed by a short trip to the National Library and a wander around their Yeats exhibition.

Whilst the museums and galleries had a limited amount of exhibits and works, this is to their credit. The small spaces in very attractive buildings allows the visitor to really get some idea of the establishment before culture fatigue set in. Another plus was that they  all had free admission which is great if you are on a tight budget.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

Searching for Molly Malone in Dublin’s Fair City

Many are familiar with the famous song of Molly Malone with following catchy lyrics

In Dublin’s fair city
where the girls are so pretty
I once met a girl named sweet Molly Malone
and she wheeled her wheel barrow
through the streets broad and narrow
singing cockles and mussels alive alive oh

Walking through the city’s historic Georgian Quarter, many visitors make their way to find the Molly Malone statue unveiled during the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations. We decided to pay a visit to the famous statue and after consulting our map we set off for the bottom of Grafton Street.

Grafton Street is one of the most popular streets in Dublin, full of shops, bars and eateries, we gradually reach the bottom of the street to marvel at the statue when we are surrounded by road works and no sign of the statue. Double checking our maps, we scratch our heads and look bemused and wander around the corner to Suffolk Street where to our surprise, there stands our heroine immortalised in bronze.

Apparently the statue was originally erected at the bottom of Grafton Street, however in 2014 it was temporarily moved to Suffolk Street to make way for the extension of the Luas tram system. The map makers of Dublin have obviously decided that it is not worth the trouble of changing its location.

The statue by Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart features a rather buxom Molly in a traditional and rather revealing 17th century dress next to a cart of full of seafood including ‘Cockles and Mussels’. In typical Irish humour the statue has acquired the nickname of the ‘Tart with the Cart’.

For such a famous heroine, she is quite enigmatic with her origins often the source of some debate. It is suggested that the song which was originally published in the USA in 1883 and attributed to the Scottish composer James Yorkston was based on an old Irish folk ballad. Even more confusing was the discovery of a Molly Malone song in an 18th-century book called Apollo’s Medley printed in England in 1790 which has our heroine plying her wares in Howth, which was a North Dublin fishing village.

Desperate to provide a real life Molly Malone, many historians have trawled the records to find a Molly Malone from the 17th century, whilst some ‘Molly Malone’s’ have been found, no evidence of a connection with our fictional character have been made.

Whilst most people are familiar with the first verse of the song, the final verse tell us about our heroine’s tragic end.

She died of a fever
and no one could save her
and that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
now her ghost wheels her barrow through the streets broad and narrow
singing cockles and mussels alive alive oh

In many ways, her ghost does permeate the Dublin streets with the interest in her still as strong as ever.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.