Today we were chasing a bit of personal history as well as Irish history. I'd just finished writing the previous 2 days stories and was about to take a few minutes kip when Therese awoke and was reminded it was Sunday and we were off to Mass at the church where her Great Great were married before they emigrated to Australia. That almost worked except they were married in 1846 and the church was built in 1986. A bit more looking revealed that the spire/bell tower at the front of the church was dated 1847 so we still didn't quite make it but closer, just that the current church retained the previous church landmark and was at least the third in that particular spot. Just behind the church site was Mulberry Road where the Great Great Grandparents lived so we took a drive along that but had no idea the exact house location.
Back to our hotel for the development of a process to apply our detailed route into the GPS. Looks like we can make it work OK, will just mean we have to find a bit more time at night or morning when it was previously a five minute data upload.
On the road for a run to Cork and we are on a major highway 120kph instead of our usual country roads. Less than five minutes later, the car temperature is heading for the red zone just like yesterday. First thoughts, check gear, that's OK, next thought, maybe I should have checked the radiator fluid level. Off into the emergency shoulder for a while and the temperature falls to near normal. I'd previously been fiddling with the dashboard display and found an engine oil temperature display. Watching this and the radiator temperature convinced me that it wasn't a sensor issue. Stopped, checked the radiator catch tank, correct level. By the time we got underway, all temperatures were back to normal and never moved the rest of the day. Either some weird problem or the car dislikes going at 120kph though the day before it was quite happy there after the initial overheat.
Into Cork and the now expected heavy traffic and slow movement. Plotted a more detailed plan for the local highlights and toured the town. On the coast and a big shipping port as we drove along the river. Very narrow and winding and tight streets, barely two car wide in places, obviously the result of development from the horse and cart days. For many sights it was stop grab a photo and move on as there was no where to park. We went looking for a landmark, "The Red Abbey". Three circuits of the area, one to find it, next one to drop Therese off to get to it up a very narrow street and the third time to pick Therese up.
Then it a beautiful drive down a tree-lined road alongside the river to Blackrock Castle. The castle has been refurbished over the centuries and recently made into an observatory. Beautiful building on the bank of the river.
Then, off to Blarney to see the castle with Therese keen to kiss the Blarney Stone. The castle was built in 1446 to replace a wooden structure built 1210. Only the walls and tower of the main castle and a tower from the wall remain. One of the higher castle house towers at five stories and at the top level is the fabled Blarney Stone, a kiss of which is supposed to give you wonderful eloquence of speech. Of course, everyone wants that and the queue stretching from outside the castle entrance to the top of the battlements was over an hour long and also the only way way to see the interior of the castle, to kiss the Blarney Stone or not. To kiss the stone you lie on your back and while being held, lean backwards down off the battlements. Therese has the photo to prove she did it. After 20 minutes in the queue and moving about 20 metres, I had bailed and went for coffee, Therese arrived back at cafe about an hour later.
An interesting feature in the gardens is where two rivers cross. The River Martin flows its original course but to drain a swamp, the River Blarney was redirected and using a tunnel, actually now passes under the River Martin.
From Blarney it was a 1 1/4 hour drive to the Drombeg Stone Circle at Glandore. The stone circle, complete with altar ai believed to date back to ancient times and Druid worship. Led a merry dance by the GPS we drive a combination of main roads and even highway but mainly narrow country roads. At one point we ended up in a long procession of tractors, a common sight on roads here. It appeared that there had been some sort of parade to raise funds for a sufferer of what we assumed was cancer and these tractors were now on their way home. We were, as usual, pushed for time, and now on a good but narrow and winding 100kph road. The problem was there was a line of tractors limited to 40kph in front and very limited opportunities to overtake. We eventually reached the Stones, taking the signed route rather the the GPS location. Not sure where we would have ended up with that. Well worth the drive, situated on farm land, on rolling green hills in sight of the ocean. Very serene and relaxing. You can imagine it was at least one reason the sight was chosen.
From here we then drove to Skibbereen for an overnight stop and a visit to the Horse and Hounds Hotel where Therese's Great Grandmother worked as a young woman. The hotel has changed a bit since then and has had a few different owners but she struck up a conversation with the current owner, Ger, and learnt a lot of the history of the business.
That's about it for the day. Late again I know but by the time I started to do this I could barely stay awake after the 4:30am start to the day so it's now another early start to Monday to get this done.