So on Tuesday, Donnie went golfing at the Cork Golf Course while Cheryl and I met Liam who took us on a short tour around Cork before dropping us off on Oliver Plunkett Street, a primary shopping area. I was on the hunt for a new camera strap since mine broke. In addition, Oliver Plunkett Street is right next door to the English Market, which we were going to visit.
Once Cheryl and I found the camera store and I had secured a replacement strap (which the lovely gentleman put on my camera) we set off down the street to the English Market. The English Market is a municipal food market in the center of Cork. The term English Market was first used in the mid 19th Century to distinguish the market from St. Peter’s Market, which was known as the Irish Market. A market has occupied the present site since 1788, but the existing building was constructed in the mid-19th century.
The English Market was actually much smaller than I expected. There were the standard fish mongers (and the fish looked spectacular), vendors for fresh produce, bakers (with beautiful baked goods), a handful of people selling spices and a few folks selling made to order sandwiches and sausages. AS Cheryl and I wandered around looking at all the wonderful stands full of food, Cheryl found some Peri Peri spice she bought in hopes of recreating the rotisserie chicken that she and Donnie ate at Ashford Castle.
Now my favourite part of the English Market was the architecture. The building had wonderful high arched ceilings with amazing wood and iron ornamental designs throughout. It was really, really pretty. Apparently the English Market has become very popular because of recent highly publicized visits by Queen Elizabeth in 2011 and Prince Charles and Camilla in 2018.
After the English Market, we contacted Donnie who was already finished his round of golf. Donnie said the course as beautiful, had golfed on his own for the front nine, but was joined by the assistant pro for the back nine. And oh yea, he shot a 79. By the time we spoke to Donnie, Liam had already swung by the course to pick up Donnie and was on the way back to pick us up. By 11:30, we were on the road and headed to Cobh (pronounced Cove), the site of the Titanic’s last port of call.
The drive up the Irish coast to Cobh took about 30 minutes. We found a parking spot and walked over to a statue of Annie Moore and her brothers. Annie Moore was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the new immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York on 1 January 1892.
Liam then pointed across the water to Ireland’s Naval Port where there were three small frigates in the harbor. Because Ireland is a neutral country, the Navy is simply charged with patrolling Ireland’s coastline and assisting in the rescue of immigrant boats crossing the Mediterranean from Africa.
We then wandered around the waterfront and saw a pavilion dedicated to Queen Victoria, who visited the town in 1849, as well as the pier where the unlucky 100 plus people boarded tenders to take them to the doomed Titantic in 1912. The pier was outside a small Titantic exhibit dedicated to the first and only visit by the Titanic.
Liam then took us through the little town where we saw a memorial to the RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast near Cobh on May 7, 1915. While 700 people were rescued, 1,198 passengers died. The survivors and the dead were brought to Cobh, and over 100 who perished in the sinking lie buried in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town.
We then we hiked uphill a couple blocks past the memorial to St. Colman’s Cathedral, a Catholic cathedral that sits high on the hill overlooking the Cobh harbor. Construction began on the cathedral in 1867 and took almost 50 years to complete due to changes in the design and increased costs. Much of the construction costs was funded by Irish immigrants to America who passed though Cobh on their way to America.
Now Liam had praised the cathedral as his favourite in Ireland and after entering the cathedral, I could see why. Three sides of the cathedral were ringed with magnificent stained glass windows on the upper and lower levels of the cathedral. However, the coup de grace was a massive rose shaped stained glass window that covered the entire upper middle back wall of the cathedral. And while I took a myriad of pictures, none of the pictures I took could capture the brilliant hues of the glass and the intricate pattern that had been created. It was simple, but absolutely gorgeous.
We finally left the cathedral and walked back to the vehicle for the hour plus drive to County Watford and the coastal village of Dungarven (on the Celtic Sea). We had opted to bypass Waterford (the home of the famous crystal) as most of the Waterford crystal is now machine made in China.
So Dungarvan is situated at the mouth of the Colligan River, which divides the town in two. The city is connected in three places by a causeway and single-span bridge built by the Dukes of Devonshire starting in 1801. Our plan was to have lunch at The Moorings, Liam’s favourite local restaurant, and then bike the relatively new Waterford Greenway.
So first up was our fabulous lunch at The Moorings. Liam and I each order a crab sandwich on ciabatta, Cheryl had the seafood chowder and Donnie ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread (there is simply no accounting for taste). The food arrived very quickly and was really, really good. Unfortunately, the dessert special, sticky toffee pudding was sold out. My sweet tooth was crushed. If you have never had sticky toffee pudding I first have to wonder what the heck is the matter with you and second, Google it and order it at your next opportunity. I once had three helpings of the dessert on a British Airways flight to London when I was flying first class on mileage. It is my absolute favourite dessert, apart from Bananas Foster, and so I was completely bummed when I found out it was sold out.
Anyway, after the wonderful lunch, but letdown about the sticky toffee pudding, we did a short walk around the pretty little town before jumping in the van to drive 10 Km to Shanacool, where we met Garvan from whom we were renting bicycles. Once we picked out our bicycles and helmets, we were provided the “rules of the path”, including a reminder that we were to bike on the same side of the road as they drive. In other words, we stick to the left unless passing. And although we have been in Ireland for 12 days and been riding with Liam who was driving on the “opposite” side of the road, it still seemed weird to ride a bicycle on the opposite side of the road from what we are accustomed to in the U.S. and Canada.
So once the rules were done, Garvan explained that the Waterford Greenway was completed and opened in 2017 and extends 46 km from Dungarvan to Waterford along the old Waterford & Suir railway route. The route travels across eleven bridges, three impressive viaducts and through a 400m long tunnel. (Pictures were provided.) The Greenway includes wonderful views of the Comeragh Mountains and Dungarvan Bay/Celtic Sea. We were not going to cycle the entire 46 km, but were going to do the 10 km (approximately 7 miles) from Shanacool back to Dungarvan.
We began our bike ride by cycling with Garvan and Liam in the opposite direction from Dungaran to the Durrow Viaduct, an impressive stone viaduct, about 3 km away. Now the reason Garvan accompanied us to this site was to show us the amazing viaduct, and to provide us with some further history about the route.
After viewing some old pictures of the viaduct and learning a bit about the viaduct, we reversed directions and began to cycle towards Dungarvan. We only covered a few hundred meters, passing an old manor house that housed the man responsible for lowering the railroad arms, and an old corrugated roof shed that was once a Dance Hall, before we stopped again. This time our stop was to learn a bit about ruins of the Durrow and Stradbally Railway Station, which had been a incredibly busy in its heydey. All that remained now were ruins of the station, but with the help of old pictures Garvan showed us we could visualize the station in its prime.
We then passed back by Shanacool and continued on towards the 400 meter tunnel, but not before stopping one more time to learn about a now demolished manor house. (Garvan was VERY much into the history of the Greenway.)
Anyway, after the manor stop, we continue on to the tunnel. As we approached the tunnel we passed a number of little shrines to “fairies” put there by children in the area. Once we reached the entrance of the tunnel, we had to climb off of our bicycles in order to walk our bicycles through the tunnel. Because the tunnel is so dark, the rules of the path require folks to dismount and walk as opposed to ride their bicycles through the tunnel.
After we exited the tunnel, we road through some heavily forested areas. We then crossed Ballyvoile Viaduct that has been embedded with panels telling the history of the viaduct. Apparently, the viaduct was blown up in 1922 during the Irish Civil War and a train was intentionally sent crashing into the valley only a few months later. The copper coloured panels telling the history of the viaduct could only be seen if you road close to the panels and in the direction of Dungarvan. It was an incredibly cool design.
Once we crossed the viaduct, the Celtic Sea eventually coming in to view and the winds picked up making the ride a little chilly. At this point, Garvan and Liam left us and returned to Shancool to pick up the van to meet us in Dungarvan. In the mean time, Cheryl, Donnie and I continued on towards Dungarvan.
As we biked along the waterfront, we crossed the Barnawee Causeway and cycled through Abbyside all the while staring at the amazing water views and periodically passing a pasture full of cows. Every now and then, we would hear a bell behind us as someone passed us on the right side. The path was pretty flat, but there was the occasional little hill that required us to shift gears to gain a little more oomf to take us up the incline.
As we came closer to Dungarvan, we passed through some beautiful parks and periodically had to slow down toe weave around these large red steel “slow down” barriers that were built at each road crossing. Before we knew it, we were back in Dungarvan proper and biking to the Park Hotel to meet Liam and Garvan. Of course, as we were crossing the road towards the hotel, Liam passed us and taunted us that he was going to beat us to the hotel.
By 5:45, about 2 hours and 15 minutes since we set out from Shanacoool, we arrived at the Park Hotel. We had made numerous stops along the way with Garvan, but covered the last 6 km in pretty good time.
All in all, it had been a lovely bike ride and really good day, but now it was time to head back to Cork for our final night before our drive to Dublin tomorrow. We had already done so much, but our last full day in Ireland would also be chocked full of tours. In the mean time, it was time for some drinks and a bit of food after a very active day.