Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Friday, June 14, 2024

Ireland 2024: The Great Southern Tour Part 2

We began the next part of The Great Southern Tour through Vagabond Tours of Ireland in Kinsale. Our first stop was at Old Head, which is the site where the Lusitania sank. This was also the first place we saw some semi-dramatic coastline. It was cold, rainy, and windy, so I jumped out of the van for some pictures and jumped right back in.

The wind blew my hood right off of my head
Next, we went to the Cobh Cultural Center. It was interesting, but I was a little disappointed we didn't actually go into the town. I guess I misunderstood the choices our guide gave us; I would have rather walked through town than spend time in the cultural center. There was a lot of information about the Titanic as well as the coffin ships during the Famine. The best part about Cobh was running into the lady who had the window seat on the plane during the trip over. 

From there, we went to Midleton. Denise, our Vagaguide, took us to a memorial to the Choctaw Native Americans for their donation to Ireland during the Potato Famine. It was absolutely beautiful:
Kindred Spirits is in County Cork, in Midleton. The $170 raised by the Choctaw Nation would have been thousands in today's money. The donation was sent 16 years after the Trail of Tears. The sculpture is made out of stainless steel; no 2 feathers are the same. They are arranged in the shape of a bowl, representing a bowl of food.

After that we went to Jameson Distillery. I visited the one in Dublin, but that one is not where the whiskey is actually made. Denise told us an interesting story about whiskey in Ireland: at one time there were 4 different distillers. During American Prohibition, the distillers were financially in trouble so they decided to combine forces into one. The Jameson name was used; however, there are versions of Jameson that use the other names. 
The first thing we did was order Irish Coffee to warm us up.
This was the coolest's actually a door
The whole process was interesting. At then end we were treated with a drink. Since I've had a "Jamie & Ginger", I went with a Powers Honey & Lemon. I was not disappointed.

I'm not very sure when we attended the Garden of Remembrance. There was an Irish nurse in NYC who lost friends who were firemen. She planted trees in their memory and created a Garden of Remembrance. There is a total of 343 trees within the garden.
Some of the trees had trinkets (such as badges and fire helmets) on them.
Our stop for the night was a new hotel for the tour company. It is located by the sea and is an older hotel. The rooms were enormous...not the typical European hotel room at all.
The view from our room
The bathroom was large and very nice
A view of Ballycotton lighthouse. It is one of only 2 black lighthouses in Ireland and was first lit in 1851.
The "reading room" in the hotel
Day 3 was filled with outdoor activities and the weather finally cooperated. We drove to the Comeragh Mountains to visit Mahon Falls. Just before we reached the car park, we experienced Ireland's most famous "Magic Road". Putting the van in neutral while going up a hill, the van rolled uphill on its own. 
Once at the car park, we hiked a short way to the Falls. I didn't walk all the way down because I was talking and taking pictures of the sheep.
A Fairy Tree. People hang shiny objects as gifts to the fairies.
Scene from the car park looking away from the Falls
Mahon Falls...with sheep
This is what happens when you give Denise your phone to take a picture of you & your sisters in front of the Falls.
2 of my sisters and I in front of Mahon Falls
Next stop: Tankardstown Copper Mine.
The mine was opened in 1853 and closed in 1877. 
The view from across the road from the mine.
Benvoy Beach was next. It was a nice, peaceful walk along a rocky beach.
The dark rocks are Mudstones that date back to 440 million years ago when this beach was close to the South Pole.
Denise had one more stop for us: the Gaulstown Dolmen. 
The Dolmen is a Stone Age Tomb. This Dolmen (or Portal Tomb) is said to be one of the finest examples of a Dolmen in Ireland. We were fortunate enough to hear a pheasant while we were there.
Our stop for this night and the next night was in Waterford. One of my sisters & I went on a walking tour of the "Viking Triangle", but that will have to wait until the next post. The tour is halfway over already and we've seen so many beautiful things, but so much more is yet to come!

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