Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mizen Magic

Mizen: One of the Ireland's top sites!

What an Experience!

It has been five years since I last visited the spectacular Mizen Head, Ireland’s furthest south westerly point. In the meantime, many improvements have been made for visitors. The highlight for me is not the award winning new bridge but the elevated platform that gives visitors a fantastic close-up of the rugged cliffs that bite into Dunlough Bay. A thing of great natural beauty, a gem of the Irish coastline, though the drug smugglers than ran into trouble here a few years back will hardly agree.

And the trip in from Skibbereen is also a joy as you pass through Schull, Ballydehob, Goleen, Barleycove, with an easy detour to Crookhaven also on offer, either going or coming. On arrival in Mizen, park in the large car park at the Head and get your ticket (six euro for an adult, well worth it!).

There are various exhibitions in the main building and also at the lighthouse itself. Check them out here

We were anxious though to explore the new pathways that were constructed with the bridge in 2010. And they are all rewarding. The first one on the right on the way down is a very short walk indeed to a point that overlooks the new bridge.

Back then to the main path and you cross that very bridge with great views to the sea on your left, the tangle of massive rocks to your right. At the end of the bridge take the long path to your right. With the aid of the steps and well placed rails, you’ll soon see that magnificent view of Dunlough Bay

I must say I thought it was fantastic, better even than the Cliffs of Moher in the sense that the viewing platform takes you so close. It was a brilliant day weather-wise when we visited but I’d love to go back when the gales are blowing!

Dunlough Bay

Take your time here before going back down the steps and then turning right towards the Signal Station itself. After seeing the various exhibits, including a former lightkeeper (model) enjoying his full Irish, you can get right out to the edge with views all around. Brilliant, if breezy!

When we arrived at the Signal Station area, the guide there told us that we had just missed a whale surfacing. He was expecting the giant of the seas to breech again in five minutes. We waited. And waited. But the whale didn’t oblige! Why should it? Still, I’d have loved to have seen the action.

We lingered awhile and then headed back. As we neared the entrance, we saw a signed path down to our right, a long one, right down to the edge where you have a smashing view of a sea arch. Enjoyed that and then slowly – a lot of stiff walking had been done – we headed back up, getting another view of the bridge and the lighthouse as we climbed.

Mizen is on the jet trail.

After all that, a rest was called for and so we headed into the onsite Mizen Cafe. This is quite a good cafe serving Soups, Chowders, Sandwiches, BLTs, Toasties, Wraps, Paninis, Fish of the Day, Bantry Bay Mussels, and lots of specials, plus a children’s menu.

We had dinner booked that evening so just a cuppa and a slice of apple tart sufficed, €10.50 for the two of us. And yes that Apple Tart was homemade, real apple and real pastry unlike the awful Rhubarb tart concoction we got in a cafe at a Cork City tourist village earlier in the week. Very enjoyable this time.

Suitably refreshed, we headed back towards Skibbereen and Liss Ard making all the stops and all the detours without a care about time and with no wish to waste the afternoon sunshine watching Heineken Cup rugby which was obviously drawing the punters to various pubs along the way. C’est la vie. Free country. One way for you, another for me.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Stunning West Cork in yesterday's sunshine

Dunlough Bay (from Mizen Head viewpoint)

Sea Arch (Mizen)


Gull Fight. Guy on left took off with the tasty bit!


Wedge Tomb


At the end of the day, one must eat!
Skibbereen Tapa: Pig's cheek served up by Riverside's Galician chef
See also Liss Ard Estate

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ring of Cork Festival on May 18th

Lily Higgins, chef and author, woodturner Paudie Manning, From Our Family Tree, William O'Halloran, Will and Away Outdoor Adventures, and Billy Mulqueen of Ring of Cork pictured at the launch of the new Ring of Cork Festival to celebrate and showcase all that is on offer in the South and East Cork region.  

Ring of Cork Festival Promises Adventure, Crafts, Culture, Cookery, Craic and Ceoil

What better way to celebrate all that the Ring of Cork has to offer, than a super festival in the year of the Gathering. The Ring of Cork Festival will be held on Saturday May 18th in Midleton, Co. Cork and all are welcome from near and far to join in an impressive and truly unique line-up of activities, fairs and fun on the day.

Drawing from the Region’s specialities, there will be 5 key festival rings – food, craft, family fun, adventure, culture and heritage, inviting visitors to join in the fun and get involved in all sorts of interactive activities from tastings to bushcraft, pottery making to surfing and learning about the history of the South and East Cork Area.

Funded and organised by South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD), this project is also supported by South and East Cork Tourism, the body responsible for promoting the South and East Cork area to tourists and visitors.

“We wanted to create a truly unique event that would showcase the South and East Cork area, which as well as its beauty and people, has so much to offer tourists, whether they are from Ireland or international travellers”, said Ryan Howard, SECAD. “The artisan crafts and food producers and chefs from this area are world renowned, and our heritage from Cobh’s maritime history including Titanic and the Lusitania to the Jameson Experience at the Midleton Distillery, and family entertainment from Fota Wildlife to Trabolgan and Leahy’s Open Farm, all provide so much variety to visitors coming to the Ring of Cork area, that we have to celebrate our Region with this unique festival”.

Comprising of 5 themed areas, each with a unique yet fun flavour, festival goers and visitors on the day won’t be disappointed. There will be live cookery demonstrations by renowned Cork chefs including food writer and cook, Lilly Higgins. Artisan food producers and stalls from all over the South and East Cork area will showcase the finest delicacies and delights on offer in the Region. Tastings and market stalls will ensure that visitors really get a taste for the Ring of Cork. Demonstrations on bushcraft and survival skills as well as lessons and tips on outdoor adventures from kayaking and surfing to mountain climbing will also be on offer in the Adventure ring. For kids and families, there will be face painting and an animal petting area along with lots of fun and games.

Tourism Marketing Manager with the Ring of Cork, Billy Mulqueen said “We are very excited about the Ring of Cork festival and we have received fantastic support and interest to date. One of the key objectives for this festival is to make it as interactive as possible and with the plethora of food demonstrations and lessons available we would encourage all foodie, craft, heritage and culture vultures to sample the delights of South & East Cork”.

In 2012, the Ring of Cork brand was launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. on behalf of South and East Cork Tourism to attract people to the many scenic areas in South and East Cork.

“The Ring of Cork is particularly important as it encourages visitors to explore this ring of Cork from wonderful sites of cultural importance, marine activities, scenic trips, festivals and family activities, to great food and fun. Attracting visitors to this Region in the Year of the Gathering is a priority for the South and East Cork region”, said Billy Mulqueen, Tourism and Marketing Manager, Ring of Cork.

The Ring of Cork includes the towns of Cobh, Midleton, Youghal, Carrigaline, and Ballincollig and their surrounding areas, and is supported by the South and East Cork Area Development organisation (SECAD) as well as the town councils of Cobh, Midleton and Youghal.

For further festival details, visit www.ringofcork.ie or www.Facebook.com/ringofcork or follow us on Twitter @RingofCork or contact Liam Fitzgerald at SECAD, 0n 021-4613432 or email lfitzgerald@secad.ie for further information.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Titanic Artefacts Returned To Cobh

Historic Titanic Artefacts Returned To Cobh For Anniversary
Odell Family Artefacts unveiled at Titanic Experience Cobh
Tommy Barker, grandson of photographer Thomas Barker who took photos on board the Titanic at Cobh, with historian Vincent McMahon (right) at today's launch of the Odell family artifacts from their journey on board RMS Titanic.

Cork, 11 April 2013:  On the day and time that RMS Titanic dropped anchor in Cork Harbour over 101 years ago (Thursday 11 April 1912), a poignant collection of a number of passengers and survivors of the luxury liner’s maiden voyage was unveiled at the Titanic Experience, the permanent visitor attraction in Cobh, Co. Cork.

Among the items that will be on permanent display at the Titanic Experience Cobh is a beautiful 20th century blue leather suitcase, purchased at Harrods for the journey on board Titanic. The suitcase was the personal property of Mrs. Lily Odell, a first class passenger on board the ill-fated ship.  Lily Odell travelled with some members of her family, including her son, Jack and sister in law, Kate and her two brothers, Richard and Stanley May. The Odell family party disembarked the Titanic at Queenstown, now Cobh, and collected a hire car from Johnson & Perrott Motors to travel around the south of Ireland.  To see the Odell family album from the Titantic, click here (includes their car hired from Johnson and Perrott!).
At the launch:
Managing Director of the 
Titanic Experience Cobh Gillen Joyce

Managing Director of the Titanic Experience Cobh, which is located in the original White Star Line building, Gillen Joyce said, “We endeavour to make the Titanic Experience as authentic as possible in providing information about Titanic, and depicting the story of the passengers on board.  With this in mind, we felt that it was vital to include artefacts from the liner to ensure a true visitor experience here in the original White Star Line building in Cobh. We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and it is an honour for us to have the Odell Collection exhibited here at the Titanic Experience”.

On hand to formally open the exhibition was Tommy Barker, property editor of the Irish Examiner and grandson and namesake of Thomas Barker, the Cork Examiner photographer who captured some of the best known images of RMS Titanic and her Irish passengers while in Cobh. 

There are a number of photographs in the Odell collection, including the original photo postcard showing Titanic survivors, Millvina Dean as a baby, with her brother Bertram in a pram and their mother, Eva. Another photograph shows young Jack Odell, in a Star Laudaulette automobile hired from Johnson and Perrott with Mr May (Lily Odell’s brother) and their luggage.

A hand painted and signed French silk lace and mother of pearl fan in its original silk covered box used on board the Titanic is also on loan to the collection by Titanic Experience Historian, Vincent McMahon. 

Titanic Experience Historian, Vincent McMahon gave a short talk at the unveiling of the Odell collection, which took place at 1.30 pm to coincide with ‘Titanic’ weighing anchor on this day on Thursday, 11th April 1912, 101 years ago.  McMahon described the journey of the Odell family who travelled on board ‘Titanic’ on the 10th and 11th April 1912.  

“The loss of Titanic with so many lives has always been a very sad story. Today we recall the passengers on board.  It is a privilege to exhibit items carried on board Titanic on that voyage from Southampton via Cherbourg to Queenstown. The Titanic Experience Cobh looks forward to keeping their memory alive through this Odell collection going on display today.” added McMahon.

About Titanic Experience:
Titanic Experience Cobh is a new permanent visitor attraction in Cobh, Co. Cork Ireland.  Situated in the original offices of the White Star Line, the location marks the departure point for the last 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic on its fateful maiden voyage to America. Titanic Experience tells the unique story of Titanic through the eyes of the Queenstown passengers and discovers the strong Irish links to Titanic.

About Project Cobh
Following the worldwide commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic last year, the Project Cobh initiative will embrace the connection between Cobh and the Titanic.  A number of events and activities have been scheduled from 8 to 14 April including ceilí nights, themed food tastings, lectures and a laying of the wreath at the Titanic Anchorage near Roches Point. 

‘A Night With Rory Golden’ promises to be a special evening, as Golden was the first diver to see the Titanic from a Russian MIR submersible in 2000 and again in 2005 at a depth of 3,875 metres.  Golden will tell his unique story of the search, discovery and dive to the world's most famous shipwreck on Saturday, 13 April at the Commodore Hotel in Cobh.  Tickets will cost €5 and will be available at the entrance to the lecture on 13 April 2013.  

Friday, 5 April 2013

Cork International Choral Festival

This May, Cork International Choral Festival, one of Europe's premier choral festivals, is set to revive Cork City’s senses with some of the finest vocal music around. Read all about it here.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Ballycotton Cliff Walk April 2013

Ballycotton Cliff Walk
April 2013

On the path, with lighthouse and island in the distance

The harbour and lifeboat

Ploughed field, blue sky and jet


On the path, ploughed fields to the west

Weathered concrete post and cloud

Island and lighthouse, from the pier

Tools of the trade

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Warm (almost). Sheltered. Colourful. Visit Fota Gardens.

Fota House and Arboretum
Looking for some place sheltered and warm (well, almost) to visit these cold days. Then, why not try Fota House Gardens and Arboretum. Fantastic sheltered walks here and quite a lot of colour too despite the delayed Spring. The Gardens and Arboretum are managed by the OPW and admission is free (though there is a three euro parking fee). Fota House is now open to the public and tours (charge) are available from 11.00am each day. The cafe is open for Spring / Summer: Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm; Sunday: 11am - 5pm.
More details on the house and gardens here.