Hi Everyone. So the lockdown days in Ireland continue and so does my virtual tour of the Emerald Isle. I hope you’re all managing to get through these days which at times seem endless. It has been so lovely to receive your kind comments on the weekly tour. It really does mean so much to hear from you. This week we arrive in County Cork, Ireland’s largest county with a vibrant city and a stunning coastline. There certainly is an embarrassment of riches here when it comes to culture and scenery! Here’s just a few of it’s many hidden gems.
County Cork’s Hidden Gems
1. Inchydoney Beach
So let’s start at the beach and what a beach! Inchydoney beach is situated just a few miles from the town of Clonaklity, just over an hour away from Cork City. Rolling countryside and tall sand dunes form the backdrop to one of most beautiful beaches in County Cork. I’m longing to go back there for a long walk-hopefully soon!
2. Macroom Castle
I’m sure many of you will be familiar with Blarney Castle in County Cork, home of the much kissed Blarney Stone so I thought we would take a visit to the lesser known but very impressive Macroom Castle. The castle dates back to the 12th century and was probably built by the O’Flynn clan. During the War of Independence (1916-1922), the castle was burnt for the fourth time and the then owner, Lady Ardilaun granted the remains to the people of Ireland.
3. Gougane Barra Church
We’re staying in the Macroom area and heading west to Gougane Barra church in Kenmare Bay. St. Finbar’s Oratory dates back to the early 1700s and it’s remote location made it the perfect place to hold secret Catholic masses during the times of the Penal Laws. This is such a place of peace and tranquility, sitting on an island on Gougane Barra Lake with the Caha Mountains providing a stunning backdrop.
4. The English Market
Ok so I know this is definitely not a hidden gem but it is certainly a jewel in the crown of Cork City and one of my favorite markets in the country. Oh to go shopping in a market again! The present building dates back to 1786 and in normal times there’s always a wonderful bustling atmosphere here. When I’m in Cork I just love visiting this place and soaking it all up. See you soon I hope!
5. Garnish Island Gardens
We’ve come to the end of this week’s tour and again, I’m going to finish in a garden as I know that those of us who are lucky enough to have an outside space are finding much peace and comfort there. This is one of Ireland’s finest and most enchanting.
Garnish Island Gardens were designed by Harold Peto for Annan Bryce and his wife Violet who bought Garnish Island in 1910. Many exotic plants flourish here due to the microclimate in this part of Ireland. Here you’ll find a Martello tower which commands amazing views across the bay as well as a Grecian Temple and an Italian Casita (tea house).
As always, thanks so much for joining me on the virtual road. See you next week for a trip to the Kingdom of Kerry!
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Slán go fóill!