Our last day and night in Ireland found us in the picturesque seaport town of Cobh,
Cobh (pronounced Cove and also once known as Queenstown and Cove) is a picturesque town full of colourful shops and restaurants but it is well known as the departing port for 2.5 million of the 6 million Irish emigrants who left for North America between 1848 and 1950. It also has connections with the Titanic and Lusitania.
Our primary reason for visiting Cobh was to visit the famine heritage centre and explore the last port of so many Irish emigrants. We easily found the centre and, after paying admission and listening to the intro, we browsed the exhibits. It’s a small place with only a handful or two of exhibits but if you’re interested in the emigration during the famine period it’s worth a visit.
There is a genealogist (by appointment only) on site who can aid you with your family search. A Canadian family arrived for their appointment while I was at the exhibit next to the genealogist’s desk. So I hung out at the exhibit a little longer than necessary hoping to catch a few clues! Eventually it became obvious what I was doing and I felt the need to move on. One exhibit was too heavy and emotional to stay in. From the corner of my eye I saw Mom hurry out of it and thought “that’s weird”. So I went into the room to see what it was all about. The scenes around me were of a busy pier. Through the speaker you could hear the sounds of that same busy pier – workers calling out to each other, the clank, clank, clank of sail riggings whipping against a pole and the heart wrenching, soul crushing plea of a small child screaming “don’t take my mother!” My breath was sucked out of me as I felt the weight of despair in my stomach. I quickly exited the room, looking for a reprieve and fresh air. I quickly found Mom and whispered – I’m ready to get out of here – to which she readily agreed and we left.
The fresh air was great and after a few moments we felt better and started our search for second breakfast. We found a cute café – The Yellow Door Cafe – that was bright and sunny and enjoyed a mini Irish breakfast with tea and coffee. After breakfast, on our way back to the car, we decided to pop in to a convenience store and see if they had any Bailey’s for sale. I reached for my purse to get my cash and realized I didn’t have my purse!!! Oh, No! Where did I have it last? I must have left it at the café. I hurried back to the café which was about a kilometer away, praying the entire time. I opened the door and the three guests and two employees all turned towards me. One of the guests said – It’s the purse lady! to which the employee held up my purse with a look of relief on her face. “We were just going through it to find a phone number or someway to contact you.” I was so relieved and thanked them!
Back to the car I went, smiling the entire time and giving thanks! Mom met me at the car, Bailey’s safely ensconced in the back seat and off we went, heading towards Co. Tipperary and the Rock of Cashel.
Earlier this year I created a vision board and one of the photos I put on it was a beautiful image of a castle, on a hill, with sheep grazing in the forefront. The grass was so green and the sky stormy. It was a mysterious and ancient looking and I loved it. Later, while researching places to visit in Ireland, did I discover this place is the Rock of Cashel.
Although a busy tourist spot, even in October, I was still in awe of the place. A calming sacred energy and a peaceful spot. I walked around the interior, marveling at the structure then found myself in the yard amongst tombstones. The grass was so green and soft that I found myself drawn to sitting down and resting beside a tombstone that had an amazing view of the countryside. Mom joined me and we sat to watch the cows grazing in the field below and watched the birds fly by and marvel at the speed of the clouds racing by, their shadows on the field running over the cows. Even with the people milling about behind us and the tour guide answering questions (How can I be buried here? Answer: First you need to die…) it was a peaceful lovely spot and once again I found myself wanting to stay here forever, in this moment, just soaking in the energy and the atmosphere of this ancient place.
But we had a car to return and luggage to pack and reality waiting for us at the airport so with a heavy heart we were on our way to Dublin. Several times along the route we scanned alternative routes and site seeing options, calculating the time it would take to get there, how long we could visit before we needed to leave for Dublin and if we could do it and still arrive at our hotel at a reasonable hour. We looked at Glendalough (it would close 15 minutes after we arrived) and Wicklow Mountains National Park (just not enough time). We gave up and decided to just suck it up and head to our hotel, check-in, drop off our luggage, clean the car and return it to Dooley’s at the airport and get to bed early for a change.
The closer to Dublin we got, the heavier the traffic was and then Google Maps informed us there was a delay on the highway and it recommended a detour. We declined and a 3 minute delay turned into an hour delay. An hour of just sitting there, not moving… Thankfully I still had cellular data and managed to pass the time on social media and uploading photos.
We made it safely to our hotel, had a lovely meal in the hotel restaurant, finished our bottle of Bailey’s and spent the evening tying up loose ends (paying for toll charges; filling in VAT return forms; checking in for our flight…) and packing. Funny thing but either my suitcase shrunk or my clothes grew… must be the Irish air! Thankfully, Mom thought ahead and brought a small bag that transforms into a large duffle bag so we could pack a bunch of clothes in it to make room for souvenirs in our suitcases. Although we didn’t check any luggage on our flight here, we had one bag to check on our trip back to Canada and it was totally worth it!