Good morning - well it is as I start this, although given my rudimentary typing skills it’ll probably be evening for I finish and get it sent. We have moved again - further west to O’Donoghues White Villa Farm campsite on the outskirts of Killarney, Co. Kerry. The Ring of Kerry beckons. Poor bugger!
Right, here we go again. Friday. Blog day. I swore and cursed as the laptop kept moving the letters around the keyboard but eventually got there. With said blog, published, emailed and even printed for those without a computer we stoked up Rosie and pointed her in the direction of Tipperary.
No, it wasn’t a long way and as we approached a garage on the outskirts I noted that the diesel was about the cheapest we’d seen and with Rosie's reserves dwindling decided it was time to fill up. Any smugness about saving money soon evaporated however as within a mile or so we passed another garage that was 2c cheaper. Typical.
It was a pleasant enough place and there was plenty of people about, but nothing that warranted a photo, particularly as the rain, with us since early morning, continued.
Back at The Apple Farm, the owner; Con came over to see us. We had a good chat and it was nice to put a face to the man who had made this great site what it is. On his advice we headed into Cashel later on for a bite to eat and had a fabulous meal at Kearneys Castle Hotel. It’s a little harder getting ‘pub grub’ here. There are no shortage of pubs - in fact they are everywhere in Ireland it seems unlike parts of Britain these days, but often they don’t do food and those that do, often don't in the evenings. Hotels are a good bet though and in our experience, not too expensive. An interesting thing though - lots of pubs seem to be located next to funeral directors - or vice versa - and bear the same name above the respective fronts. A bit like the chicken and the egg - which came first I wonder!
Saturday and with some reasonable weather promised we headed south, first to Waterford. Certainly the arrival was impressive, over the wide river and along the waterfront but having got parked up and had a look around it was a place that didn’t particularly grab either of us. It seemed fairly busy in the centre but it was Saturday and there was evidence that the recession had hit, perhaps more here than anywhere we’ve been so far.
Conscious that the weather was liable to turn we didn’t loiter long as we wanted to get down to the coast and Tramore bay. We had the briefest of looks at the seaside town of Tramore itself then drove around to the headland at Westown to pause for coffee. To one side is Guillamene Cove, an area that was once designated men only. Hmm. A sign remains but it is now very much mixed and there was a steady stream of bodies of all shapes, sizes and sexes going down to dive off in to the sea. To our right was a pretty little cove more favoured by families. A grassy plateau behind the beach was a popular picnic spot. In the distance on the photo you can see two of the three ‘Metal Men’ erected by Lloyds of London to warn shipping of the dangerous waters around the bay.
Moving on the road headed inland but happened upon the coast again at Annestown and there were some cracking views to be had along the way. Our next stop was at Boatstrand Beach & harbour, approached by a very narrow and steep road that you certainly wouldn't want to be towing down. It was a lovely spot but almost deserted as renovation works we being carried out to the harbour area. We got talking to a woman who had brought her lad down here with a friend and the subject of school holidays come up. It seems, in Ireland that kids at senior or secondary school get twelve whole weeks off for the summer holidays. Imagine trying to entertain kids for twelve weeks without going insane - or bankrupt. Parents of Ireland - you have my deepest sympathies!
Further along the coast more lens clicking opportunities presented themselves but it was at Clonea Beach that we parked up again, for a healthy lunch of er, crisps and coffee. There is a campsite here that overlooks the bay and is well worth checking out if you are in the area.
Final port of call was Dungarvan. We had vague notions grabbing a meal here but decided instead to head back to base. All that sightseeing had worked up a first so we called into one of Cahirs many pubs for a pint where we got an introduction to the game of hurling as a game was being shown on the telly. We got chatting to a woman who was supporting one of the teams and got a vague explanation of the rules.
Sunday, was housework day - or ‘van work if you like. While there’s obviously lots less to clean, everything seems to get dirtier and dustier quicker. The car got a hoover out too.
Late afternoon saw us head up the road towards Clonmel for a meal and a pint. Good value again, and fears that Ireland has become very expensive seem to have been just that, although the pound increasing against the Euro has certainly helped too.
Monday, and County Cork was to be host to the Nonsense! duo. The city of Cork was up first and not wanting to waste time or walk we jumped on the Hop on/Hop off tour bus for an over view of the city. The commentary was informative, some of the views were stunning and the sun stayed out some of the time. There are some steep hills in Cork but you are rewarded with some great views.
We DID spend a little while walking around after the tour, not least to procure some lunch to be consumed on the way to our next destination which was to be Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’ apparently) harbour.
I’d recently downloaded a new sat nav app to my phone. The previous one - which was great - hadn’t worked since they’d updated the software a couple of month previously. Yes, it’s a Windows Phone, and no, I’ll never learn but this new app successfully navigated us out of the city and on to the right road. It missed the turn to Cobh but we decided to stick with it in case there was another way. At the next roundabout it turned us arse about face and back onto the road we’d just left in the opposite direction, then indicating the Cobh turn off!. A minute later it was switched off and I haven’t tried it since.
Photo’s in various guide books had given us a taste of what to expect and Cobh is an extraordinarily pretty place and extremely photogenic, with St Colman's Cathedral rising above the town. Cobh was the last of home that many Irish saw as they departed here for the new world. Outside the Heritage Centre is a statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers. Annie was the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island in New York. - on the 1st January 1892. She was just 15.
Time was getting on but rather head back via Cork and the fast but dull M8 motorway, we went cross country. On the way was Lismore whose beautiful fairy tale like castle perched above the River Blackwater really steals the show. The castle is closed to visitors but the gardens aren’t.
Our road back to Cahir took us through the Knockmealdown mountains and what a stunning drive it is too. The weather did it best to spoil things at times but it was no less wonderful, and I would strongly suggest you do it if you’re in this area. Given the climbs and hairpins best, perhaps best not to be towing though!
A meal and a couple of pints in yet another of Cahir’s many watering holes was a welcome end to a great days sightseeing.
Very little to report on Tuesday - we managed to get the awning down in-between the showers and had a brief visit into Cahir for some shopping and picked up some fresh fruit and jam from the farm shop back at the site. I the evening we listened to Germany’s demolition of Brazil in the World Cup. Knowing that England wouldn't be going far, early on I quite fancied Germany to do well, and contemplated a bet. Wish I’d had a few quid on them now!
Wednesday we were back on the road with Patsy and heading west but needed to stop at some point to replenish the wallet. One things that Irish campsite seems to have in common - apart from being friendly and welcoming - is their love of cash. The confirmation email from our next site had indicated a 7 nights for 6 discount if I paid on arrival. In cash. I couldn’t coax any folding out of either of the machines in Cahir the previous day and none of the towns we passed through had cashpoints but we eventually found a shop that offered cash back. While Trev waited with the ‘van I scurried round the shop only to discover at the checkout that cash back is not available on foreign cards! We pressed on.
The road was certainly not the best we’ve been on. Parts of it were silky smooth and at other times you felt like you’re on a roller-coaster. Rosie is a 4 x 4 - sort of, so she took each pitch and roll in her stride but at the rear poor old Patsy was bouncing around like Zebedee on acid.
Nevertheless we arrived in once piece soon after 1.30pm and my concerns about having enough cash were unfounded - the owner was happy for us to pay up later - and after a brief foray into Killarney - which looks really nice by the way, we did just that.
The site itself is compact and pretty too. Just 24 caravan pitches and room for tents, some with water and waste hook up as well as the usual electricity.
Something else this site has in common with the other two we’ve done in Ireland. Rules - or lack of them. You are not told to ‘Report to Reception’ on arrival. Neither are you presented with a list of Do’s and Don’ts at every opportunity, or in the case of one site we visited last year, actually having to sign a document to say we’d abide by the rules. People are expected to use common sense and they do, and a far more relaxed atmosphere prevails. It’s lovely. It is my sad duty to report though that we’re back to Caravan Club grade loo roll. Oh well!
Look out for part 4 soon, with more on the site and hopefully some great photo’s from the Ring of Kerry too.