Wednesday, 31 March 2010

THE BALTIMORE BEACON








THE BEACON (BALTIMORE)
Been in Baltimore quite often but never made it out as far as the famous beacon until last Saturday. Built as part of a series after the 1798 rebellion, the landmark is also known as Lot’s Wife.
It wasn't there when the village was sacked by Algerian pirates in 1631 but over the centuries has been a welcome sight to home-coming seafarers. It is visible from the village and once you exit to the east is easily found.
You park in a small cul-de-sac or even on the road before you come to it. The climb up is quite steep but, if you start further back, you will find an easier route to walk to the Beacon.
Once up by the white-painted pointed pillar, you have views all around you, most notably to Sherkin Island across to the right and then the coastal cliffs on your left. Worth the short detour if you do call to Baltimore (which is the ferry port for the many islands on that beautiful stretch of coast).





LOUGH HYNE and KNOCKOMAGH WOOD









LOUGH HYNE
Revisited Lough Hyne, after a gap of quite a few years, during a recent trip to the Skibbereen area.

The lake, south west of the town, is Ireland's first Marine Nature reserve. It is an essentially a sea lake, fed through a narrow channel from the nearby sea, and they say that makes it unique in Northern Europe.

It is a pleasant place to walk around, there are some ruins to view and sea kayaking also takes place on the lake.

Essentially though this is a place for the scientists. It is a marine biologist’s paradise and its varied fauna and flora provide ongoing study for university researchers. 
For the amateur, your best bet is to start with a visit to the Skibbereen heritage centre (in the town) which has a 15 minute explanatory video (very interesting) and an information display on the lake.

KNOCKOMAGH WOOD

Knockomagh means crooked hill and there is certainly a crooked path to the top. When you get there you are rewarded with a view of Lough Hyne and an even better one of the West Cork coast.

It is a stiff enough walk up and a walking stick won't go astray. We went up the zig-zag path at the weekend. Total length is about 2 km but there is an opportunity to shorten the walk and avoid some of the steepest climbing by taking the northern loop. The Skibbereen heritage centre has a booklet on the trail and I would recommend that you get your hands on it before you go.

There are Sessile Oaks, the ruins of a cottage, a bluebell glade (in season), the fallen beech (growing again) and other sights to see as you progress. There are also a couple of stops that give good views over Lough Hyne but to get the best view of all you have to get to the top. Well worth it.

Your walking is helped by series of stone and timber steps but you will, depending on the prevailing weather, come across some muddy patches and you can always shorten your walk by taking the northern loop down.

Don’t want to make it sound too tough. After all, it is only 197 metres high. Neither of us found it that difficult. We were expecting it might be harder on the way down but the steps made it quite easy and we had no problems at all.

Still, young or old, you have to be careful here as there are some steep drops. If you are reasonably fit, have the right shoes, a walking stick and a bottle of water, you’ll have no problem at all. And the views are really worth it.

Photos, from the top: Lough Hyne, channel to sea in middle of frame; View of coast from the top of hill; the fallen beech, rooted again via one branch; and then three views of the pathway.

BLACKROCK CASTLE

BLACKROCK CASTLE
Blackrock Castle is one of Cork’s iconic sites. The current building, completed in 1829, is the third castle to stand on the site.

It was used by the City Corporation during the 19th century and was also the setting for the Admiralty Courts (the Lord Mayor being the Admiral of the Port). After decades in private ownership, the castle is back in Corporation hands. In partnership with the local Institute of Technology (CIT) and a private supporter, an observatory has been built there and local schoolchildren who visit can join in space age activities, star parties for budding astronomers and more besides.

Adults too are welcome here to join in the space age fun. It is a pleasant place to visit and one of the attractions is the Castle Bar and Trattoria. Serving Irish and Italian food, it is open everyday until 5.00pm and until 9.00pm on Thursday through Sunday and it also does weddings and parties.

If you want a nice walk, before or after the meal, then you have the Estuary Walk at the bottom of road by the castle.

ROSSCARBERY PITCH & PUTT



ROSSCARBERY PITCH & PUTT COURSE
Rosscarbery Pitch and Putt Course must be one of the most scenic in Ireland, situated as it is on the sand dunes of the beach, known as the Warren Strand, though sign posted as Rosscarbery Beach. Great views out to sea and not so bad either as you look inland back towards the Celtic Ross Hotel.

Pitch and Putt is played throughout Ireland. It is an off shoot of golf and commonly known as Par Three golf. And like golf, the course is run mainly for the benefit of members. But you can avail of green fees and those at Rosscarbery range from six to eight euro per adult. Just remember that, while you may have a very fine view on the course, you may well also face a very strong wind from the sea!

Monday, 29 March 2010

SKIBBEREEN HERITAGE CENTRE



The Skibbereen Heritage Centre is situated on the site of the old Gasworks Building in Upper Bridge Street and is well worth a visit. It has three strings to its bow: a Great Famine Exhibition, a Lough Hyne Visitor Centre and a Genealogy Information service.

We were primarily interested in the Famine Exhibition, believing that Irish children should always be educated in the details of that terrible period in our history. Skibbereen was one of the worst areas hit as evidenced by the mass graves of Abbeystrewey where 8,000 to 10,000 victims are buried.

There is much detail here and the centre uses the latest technology to bring the period to life. Quite
impressive but I wonder would the kids need a bit more – by way, for example, of interactive video or lifelike models – to keep them interested.

Lough Hyne is a salt water inland lake near to Skibb and the explanatory exhibition here is really light entertainment after the sombre famine display. It is nonetheless a fascinating insight into Ireland's first marine centre, just five miles or so from the town.

The Genealogy Information centre covers Skibbereen and district.

The Heritage Centre also features an archaeology trail, gift shop, hot/cold drinks, full wheelchair access – and a great welcome from a very friendly and helpful staff. Well worth a call.

Check out my review and map etc of Skibbereen Heritage Centre - I am cork - on Qype

Information panels on exterior wall (left) and the middle photo above shows an old building (on the left) which was used as a soup kitchen in famine times.

SKIBBEREEN AREA MAR 2010

GLANDORE UNION HALL SKIBBEREEN CASTLETOWNSEND LOUGH HYNE KNOCKOMAGH WOOD BALTIMORE BALLYDEHOB
For photos from this  weekend trip, see
http://www.flickr.com/photos/corkbilly/sets/72157623726829032/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/corkbilly/sets/72157623726758010/

For Hotel and restaurants see http://corkfood.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 28 March 2010

TWO TREES MAKE A ROUNDABOUT

THE TWO TREES




There are two well known trees in the West Cork seaside village of Castletownsend.



Unusually, they form a roundabout in the middle of the main street. The current pair was planted by the community in 1987 to replace the two that formed the original landmark and which were planted, it is believed, in 1810.



Didn’t know previously about these trees and was wondering where to drive as I came close to them today. Interesting to say the least and a good reason to visit this cul de sac West Cork town. Mary Ann’s restaurant is apparently another but that was closed in mid-morning.



Check out my review of Two Trees - I am cork - on Qype





Wednesday, 24 March 2010

CORK ESTUARY WALK

CORK ESTUARY WALK
Great day today to sample the estuary walk that starts near Blackrock Castle, where there are two car parks, and ends near the Rochestown Inn. Or vice versa, of course.

It is a pleasant walk by the harbour where you can see the ships coming and going and the birds feeding (if the tide is out). It was in this morning and that made the scenic side of it all the more attractive.

It is not the most scenic walk in the city but it is very popular and that should make it safer if you are on your own. It is also a very clean walk as a solid pathway is laid out for your convenience.

Perhaps the high point comes as you return towards the castle and take in the fine view of one of Cork’s most famous buildings.


Check out my review of Cork Estuary Walk - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, 18 March 2010

TOWN WALLS of YOUGHAL

TOWN WALLS of YOUGHAL

Had a walk around the Town Walls of Youghal during a recent visit; amazingly, had never done it before. Again, I don't think they, like most of the attractions in the town, are well enough publicised, though the local bodies do their bit.

The walls date from the 13th century – confirmed by a charter of King Edward 1. The walls once surrounded the town on the shoreline as well as inland.


Despite a partial collapse in recent years, much of the inland portion remains and you can walk along part of it and enter one of the watch towers, the walk providing good views over the town and out into the bay.





OCEAN TO CITY - AN RAS MOR



The Ocean to City is a 15 nautical miles rowing race. It begins in Crosshaven, then out to the mouth of Cork Harbour, Roches Point, (boats that are suited to Ocean rowing will be going to Roches Point this year if weather conditions are favourable) back into the Harbour and down the long straight to Cobh, passing in front of the quays.
It continues on past Monkstown and on to Passage West before entering Lough Mahon (where the wheat is separated from the chaff). This wide expanse of water is the toughest stage, as there is nearly always a strong cross wind.
Once completed the sheltered home stretch down the "Marina" beckons. This is the most exciting part as the real race for positioning occurs here as the crews spurred on by the crowds and the approaching finishing line battle it out.
This year we are going to finish the race at Lapps Quay in Cork City Centre providing more of a spectacle and festival atmosphere for participants and the public alike.
Date: June 10th (SAT), start 12 noon (provisional)
021 4847673 www.oceantocity.com


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

ST MARY’S COLLEGIATE CHURCH (YOUGHAL)


ST MARY’S COLLEGIATE CHURCH
 in Youghal

 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church, hardly a stone’s throw from the main street, was one of the highlights of a recent short stay in Youghal. It is one of the gems of the country and should be much better known.

It is one of the few parish churches of the period still in use in Ireland. The earliest entry in the vestry book of Youghal is a statement of parish accounts for the year 1201. The list of clergy can be traced back to this date.

Names associated with the church over the centuries included the Earls of Desmond (the 7th enhanced it, the 15th damaged it), Sir Walter Raleigh, Oliver Cromwell, George Berkley and Richard Boyle.

In recent years the Collegiate Church has been declared a National Monument of Ireland. It is almost unknown for a church building that is in regular use to receive this status from the government.

Cork took some time out the weekend before last to blow its own trumpet at the City Hall and, in fairness, Youghal were there in force. And rightly so. The seaside town and its ancient buildings should be promoted as a national treasure, not merely a local one.

http://www.youghal.cork.anglican.org/
(024) 91014

List of interesting Youghal sights: Watergate, Clock gate, Main Street shopfronts, St John’s Priory, The Red House, Tyntes Castle, The Alms House, Shalom House, Myrtle Grove, and St Mary’s Collegiate Church and the Town Walls.

Check out my review of St Mary's Collegiate Church - I am cork - on Qype

Monday, 15 March 2010

CLOCK GATE in YOUGHAL

THE CLOCK GATE
Nearly two hundred and thirty five years old and still the vehicles and people flow under it. Talking about the Clock Gate that straddles the North Main Street in Youghal, the one landmark in the East Cork seaside town that you cannot help but see.

It was built in 1777 as part of the town’s fortifications and also separated the town proper from the base town.

It also served as a jail and some prisoners had their last view of the town before they were hanged from the windows.

It is a much friendlier place nowadays though one councillor noted that the time displayed is not necessarily always correct. Cllr Liam Burke spoke at a 2009 October meeting and said that the Clock Gate clock is “giving out false information” by chiming out of sync with the real time.

Check out my review of Clock Gate - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, 14 March 2010

1798 PARK IN YOUGHAL

The Park at dusk
1798 PARK YOUGHAL
The green area in Youghal most familiar to those of us passing through is undoubtedly the 1798 Memorial Park between the well known Walter Raleigh Hotel and the waterfront. It commemorates four local men killed in the ’98 rebellion.

It is seen at its best in the Spring and Summer when the flowers are blooming and when families stroll around and the kids play. On the eastern “rampart”, the fishermen patiently wait for their catch, really busy only when the mackerel shoals roll in, willing takers of the bait on offer.


Check out my review of 1798 Park - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, 13 March 2010

BALLYCOTTON PIER







BALLYCOTTON PIER
Ballycotton is regularly included in leisure drives from nearby Cork City. Many park in the village and walk down to the pier to see the activity of the fishermen, both those on the trawlers and those standing and trying their luck from the pier.

It is a peaceful, less hectic part of the world and has opportunities for a wide variety of fish: rays, sole, plaice flounder, pollack, bass and, of course, mackerel. Noted in Europe as a deep-sea angling centre since early in the last century, Ballycotton holds many Irish specimen fishing records.

I called there yesterday and just strolled down to take a few photographs and see the action: there was one trawler on its way out and I watched it clear the island on which the lighthouse stands and there were a couple of fellows fishing off the pier wall.
The lifeboat was bobbing behind the harbour walls with its yellow painted “house” behind.


Check out my review of Ballycotton Pier - I am cork - on Qype

THE BALLYCOTTON CLIFF WALK
Strode out of Ballycotton village yesterday afternoon and walked out a good part of the cliff walk. It was windy in the village down by the pier but amazingly much calmer as we walked along the cliff top path.

The walk is part of the East Cork Bird trail and, near to the start, you will see a notice-board giving details of what birds you may expect to see: choughs, ravens, rock doves, auks, terns, gulls and skuas.

You do have a broad vista ahead of you and behind. The main sight of course is the Ballycotton lighthouse (1851) on the island of the same name. 





A memorial to 2006 victim skipper Glenn Cott is a more recent reminder of the dangers out there on the now calm sea.

To find out more about the Cliff walk and Ballycotton itself, go to http://ballycotton.com/


Check out my review of Ballycotton Cliff Walk - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, 12 March 2010