Midleton, Cobh & Cork

Ballycotton Harbour

 

Fishing nets after a morning’s work in Ballycotton

We slept the sleep of innocents in a gigantic cocoon of duvets in our luxurious king size bed in our Georgian master bedroom. One could get used to this!! We actually over slept – the back up alarm woke us! The breakfast spread was once more back on track (after the average efforts at Butler House), with plenty of cereals, numerous homebaked goodies including breads, scones, gingerloaf, followed by some porridge with whiskey soaked raisins, and finally scrambled eggs with smoked salmon folded through (as well as a neat little slice curled invitingly on top), sautéed mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. To top all of this off, Mary threw together some sort of peach and melon juice or frappe, most yummy indeed!

More boat prettiness in Ballycotton

Snake ropes!

We set off not so bright and early with a fairly full and lengthy day planned. We drove back to Ballycotton because the sun was out and John was armed and ready with the camera for some spectacular shots. Angela Lansbury has a house somewhere there, but we didn’t want to become weirdo stalkers, so we didn’t try to find out which one was her’s.

The lighthouse at Ballycotton

Ballycotton Lighthouse

From there we went to Midleton to take the Jameson Distillery Tour. Very informative, and Nic realised that a light whiskey, like the Jameson 5 year, is very light and easy to drink. And John volunteered to be trained as “an official whiskey taster” – got a certificate ‘n’ everything (surely this is a very prestigious and exclusive qualification!). We had a pleasant and knowledgeable young guide who was very excited to have just graduated from uni, and enjoyed chatting to us between moments – you know, those bits where you wait for the stragglers to catch up, and eager, suck butt, top of the class, Nic was right on her heels!

The old truck at Jameson’s Distillery

 

Memory may be wrong, but we think this is the biggest copper still in the world (definitely the largest in Ireland!)

The difference in the colour and evaporation of the whiskey over years in the barrel

The gardens of Fota House…before the rains set in!

An enticing bench – if only the rains would stay away!

 

Street archway in Cobh

We attempted to visit Fota house, built in the 1740s as a hunting lodge, but was renovated in the 19thcentury in the Neoclassical style, so it’s quite grand. When we arrived, we had just missed a tour, and the next one was not for another 50 minutes or so. We decided to check out the garden to help us make our decision about whether or not to stay for the tour, but the heavens opened and made the decision for us. We bolted down the very long drive way back to the carpark while it literally hailed down upon us! Took quite some time of driving with the heaters on to even begin to dry out! The hail (and we’ve seen quite a lot of it now) is a bit tiny, really – none of the golf ball sized efforts that take out Sydney rooves! Was not impressed by the carpark exit fee of €3 (especially when it costs to get into both the house and the neighbouring zoo).

Entrance to the cathedral in Cobh

View from the base of the Cobh Cathedral

Dropped into Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’), which was the last port of call for the Titanic on her ill-fated voyage. Rain impeded our progress here a bit, but it was a lovely town, very colourful and picturesque with a nice walk along the promenade. During one shower burst, we popped into the tourist info centre where they had an excellent exhibition of photos from the 1920s – family shots before people emigrated – quite moving, really.

Cobh Harbour

Boats at Cobh

When the rain got too heavy, we moved into Kelly’s pub for a pint and some crisps and some chat with the locals until it passed. From there, we walked up the hill to the French Gothic St Colman’s Cathedral, and the excellent views of the port.

To sun oneself in Ireland is such a rare thing!

We drove through the next onslaught of rain to Cork. Would love to visit again in better weather, but we kept on (as did the rain) and occasionally took refuge in bookstores and homewares shops. Enjoyed the English Market that, even at 5pm, had plenty to see and buy. A lot of the fish may have been gone for the day, but we still managed to sight a butt-ugly, gigantic thing with teeth that was more than a tad scary! As is only right, we found the chocolate seller, and made an excellent selection to accompany our duty free cognac that we are lugging with us.

The English Market, Cork

Probably the ugliest fish known to humankind (but am still sad it’s dead!)

In Cork, we had a dinner reservation at Café Paradiso – probably the finest vegetarian restaurant we have been to anywhere, really. We did our usual sharing with this array of loveliness: warm salad of sprouting broccoli, honey roasted aubergine, knockalara sheep’s cheese, chillies, pomegranate, citrus dressing; tartlet of caramelised beetroot and bluebell falls fresh goat’s cheese, salsa verde and olive crushed potato; feta, pistachio and couscous cake with sweet and hot pepper jam, wilted greens, spiced chickpeas and coriander yoghurt; pan fried oyster mushrooms in cider butter on a braised cabbage timbale of roast celeriac, fennel, red onion and pecans with parsnip chips. I challenge even the most die-hard carnivore NOT to like these dishes!! Go to Cafe Paradiso

We made our way back to our digs and stayed up chatting to Jeremy and Mary again (not quite till 1am this time!), and had another blissful sleep.

Cork, River Lee

About bontaks

Nic is the the ‘Bon’ part of ‘Bontaks.’ Together we are Nic and John – two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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