Thomas and I took one overnight trip away from Kenmare, a drive through the south of County Cork, and the seaside towns of Clonakilty and Kinsale. These are two places that our Irish friends go when they’re on holiday, so we thought we’d try them as well.
We traveled south east from Kenmare, through the same area we had been already, past Bonane and over the pass to Cork.
From Kerry Countryside
We had lunch at Bantry, sitting in this square. Bantry is the site of the unfortunate an event in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, an uprising inspired by the successful US revolution (“revolution:” the winners alternative to “rebellion”). It was at Bantry in 1796 that England got lucky with the weather. Again.
There is a large and famous house to see in Bantry, but we chose not to see it. We wanted to get out into the countryside, for sites like this open beach with people and dogs on it. We stopped here and ate apples.
We drove through towns like Skibbereen, Glandore, Drombeg, Rosscarbery, until we finally arrived at Clonakilty. Clon is mainly known for its beach, but it was too wet and cold to go down there, and anyway, being from a beach town, I wasn’t all that keen on visiting a cold wet beach. It’s also known for the Michael Collins Centre, because Collins was born here. The Centre includes a reconstruction of his fatal ambush, which would be too heartbreaking for me to visit.
So Thomas enjoyed the hotel’s spa, and I walked to downtown Clonakilty and wandered around, looking for something to do and eat later that night.
Before I write about that tho, I want to share this sign with you.
Both Thomas and I found that the signs in Ireland appeal to a much more educated and responsible public than American signage. Here’s one he found in a toilet.
I amused myself in one bookstore after another, dodged an crowds of Irish families and their strollers, and had a Bulmer’s at De Barra’s. I didn’t realize at the time it was so famous. While I was there with the Bulmer’s, I read a trashy Irish magazine that seemed to be half People and half Enquirer. Both were deliciously Irish.
I didn’t take any photos of the town, and I have no idea why. It was really, really cute, and much bigger than Kenmare. This tourist site has some typical sights, although of course when I was there it was grey and sort of damp. Not that I minded.
I walked back to the hotel around 6. Thomas was refreshed from his time at the spa, and instead of dinner, we decided to eat popcorn and watch Mama Mia at the adjoining cinema. I liked the movie much more than I expected I would, mostly because of Streep. This was the first movie we watched with Irish people, and were surprised that they waited in their seats unit the credits were over before leaving. We began to stand up as soon as they started rolling like rude Americans do, but quickly sat down, not to be bold. (In Irish, to be “bold” is to misbehave).
After the movie, I suggested we try De Barra for a pint, which we did. We sat in the front room for a while, and when Thomas went back to the jacks he discovered that the music was going on back there. I’m old enough now that the oldies by CSNY are old standards that all the musicians now around the world and all the old people sing along. We talked with a Physics student from Cork who was wondering if he should go to study in Milan or Los Alamos. I encouraged him to try Los Alamos, his specialty being particle physics. We also chatted with two girls from Amsterdam, who helped Thomas learn where the best gay cruisey places are there, since that is his next destination. Like everyone else we met, they will talk about politics once they know you’re for Obama and against the war. They so want Obama to win.
We were having such a great time with the two girls from Amsterdam, I thought about asking them to come back to our room, since they were camping at the beach and said it was quite cold. The conviviality, the music, the Bulmers, all were having an effect on me. I may have mentioned that when I got to Dublin, I asked my cab driver from the airport what I should make sure I do in Ireland on my first trip. He said “get drunk,” but I said I could get drunk anywhere. He said that it is different to be drunk in Ireland, and I think now that that may be true. The thing about Bulmers is, one is good with a meal, two is good for an evening out, three is probably too many, and four is what I had in Clonakilty.
I told Thomas that it was time for us to leave, and the two beautiful dutch girls hugged us and said they’d be hoping the best for us on election day. We walked back arm-in-arm to the hotel, and slept under those lovely Irish comforters until 9 the next day, when we left for Kinsale.