Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ireland/Iceland Trip, day 5: Southern Irish coast (Baltimore to Kinsale)

In late July, Lauren and I went for a short sailboat ride to celebrate our 2-year anniversary.  By chance, our skipper was a young Irish student who hailed from Baltimore, a small town near the southwestern tip of Ireland.  He was our hostage for two hours of unrelenting questions about Ireland, his hometown, etc. [It was a small boat].  He painted a picture of a small, quaint fishing and sailing village, and he sang the praises of Bushe's Bar, formerly his grandfather's, now his uncle's, and in his admittedly biased opinion, the best pub in Ireland. :)

After our chance encounter just a few weeks ago, we were excited to see that Baltimore was a reasonable drive from where we were staying in Cork.  We decided to spend the day traveling along the southern coastline of Ireland, starting from Baltimore and working our way back to Kinsale, just south of home-base in Cork.

We started with a quick breakfast at the Coffee Station, just at the base of the hill below our hotel in Cork.  To walk there, we skirted the edge of the picturesque University College Cork, and over a beautiful bridge.

Girded for the day, we headed for Baltimore, and reached it just a bit before lunchtime.  The village was lovely...

...the pub as described (though I'm not qualified to opine on "best pub in Ireland")...

...but the highlight was definitely our unplanned hike up to Baltimore Beacon, built hundreds of years ago.  Hooray for wrong turns!

From Baltimore, we drove to the Drombeg stone circle, which is supposed to be the finest example of a prehistoric stone circle in southern Ireland.  Much philosophizing about the nature of time and history naturally ensued.

Our next stop was the Timoleague Friary in Timoleague.  Like Glendalough, this is a Catholic holy site  that burned down and ceased its day-to-day functioning hundreds of years ago, but has since become a striking site for graves and memorials.  The thing that struck me most was the quiet of these places.  There's plenty of time to stand alone with the wind and with your thoughts.

We then took a short stroll along the water in the coastal town of Courtmacsherry

...before ending the day in Kinsale for a truly excellent dinner at the Man Friday restaurant.

We had hoped to stop in at a pub in Cork before returning to our hotel, but the rain finally arrived in force toward the end of dinner, so instead we toasted our big day with a pint at the hotel bar and turned in for the night.