Friday, May 27, 2011

Farewell to Kinsale

Four weeks here have gone by very quickly.  Today is "moving day," and we are gathering our things together to pack up for tomorrow.  We will return to Dublin for two evenings, and then take a train to Belfast.  We will stay overnight there, and then take the ferry to Scotland.  We try to avoid situations where we have to get to a place, change modes of transport, and then leave the same day.  Fewer problems that way.

Our sojourn in Kinsale has been just lovely.  Boland House has been a big part of that.  This comfortable, two-bedroom townhouse is right in the center of town.  The supermarket, pubs and restaurants, the post office, and the fitness center at Actons Hotel are all within walking distance.  There are plenty of B&Bs in the surrounding countryside, and I am sure that they offer very pleasant digs.  But I think their remoteness would be a drawback.  Boland House also has a parking space right in front, and so we had no problem with parking the rental car.

Long Quay Road leads into Kinsale from Cork via Belgooly.

Emmet Place in Kinsale.  Boland Townhouse is the yellow building, second from left.

The outlet of Kinsale Inner Harbor.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prices in Ireland

The cost of living in Ireland is higher than in the United States or in Chile.  Here is a reprise of the earlier posting comparing US and Chilean prices, modified to add a few Irish comparisons.

U.S. price will be first, followed by the dollar equivalent price in Santiago, and then the price in Ireland.  Pound of butter $3/$4/$3.80;  half pound of Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese $2.19/$4/$3.67;  pkg of three Romaine lettuce hearts $2.50/$3.00/romaine hearts seem unavailable in Ireland, but a small head of butter lettuce costs $1.12 ;  small can of tomato sauce $0.40/$1.00/$0.40;  center-cut pork chops per pound $4.99/$4.73/??;  big box of corn flakes $4.39/$2.80/$3.57 (this compares Kellogg's vs. the Jumbo store brand).

A bottle of Casillero del Diablo 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon on the supermarket shelf here is around $9, and I seem to recall it being $10 at Trader Joes.  Maybe $11?  In Kinsale, that bottle sells for $14.60.  The least expensive wine in Kinsale sells for $8.50, and that is the sale price.  There is no Two-Buck Chuck in
Ireland.  Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon went for just less than $2, but here that same bottle runs $13.

One gallon of regular unleaded gasoline $3/$5/$8. 

Midleton, Waterford and a Reprise of the South Coast

Our friend, Catherine Middleton, came from Sarasota to visit us in Kinsale.  She wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone, and so we went back to Blarney Castle.  We also visited the Jameson distillery in Midleton, located just east of Cork.  Tony Boland tells us that all Irish whiskey is distilled there, except for Bushmill's.  Midleton whiskey is especially choice, costing 150 euros per bottle at the Supevalu grocery store across the square from us in Kinsale.  As the driver, my only taste was a smidgen to go on my tongue.  No problem, because I have never been much for hard liquor and especially the yellow ones.  It is a good thing that this was not a winery or brewery tour.  But it was still very interesting.

This oven provides the heat to process the barley and the malt.

A classic old truck to haul away barrels of whisky.

Grain storage building.

In this mash tun, the barley and malt are mixed to produce mash.

This is the largest pot still in the world. 
Catherine in front of the distillery's old fire engine.

After the Jameson tour, we drove east to Waterford.  The countryside becomes more lush and fertile as you go father east.  It rained heavily and so we didn't tour much around the city of Waterford itself.  We did take the tour of the Waterford Crystal factory, which I think was a highlight for Catherine of her visit to Ireland.  At this plant, they now make only special pieces and things on commission.  The  bulk of their production takes place in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.  Penny didn't buy anything.  She hates to shop.  She doesn't wear jewelry except on the rarest of occasions, and she is a fantastic money manager.  I am truly blessed!

The glass production facility was quite interesting.  We have been to a couple of those in Mexico, and also to a pottery plant in Quimper, France.  Here are some photos of various stages of the production process:

Complaints About American...(check it yourself)

West Cork Model Railway Village, Clonakilty

Read the above carefully.

Penny has been under the weather for the past couple of days, and so today I went alone to Clonakilty, located on the south coast to the west of Kinsale.  Clonakilty's primary claim to fame is being Michael Collins's birthplace.  They have also created the West Cork Model Railway Village, and I am a sucker for this kind of thing.  There is another great one at Malahyde Castle outside of Dublin.  I have no talent for modelmaking myself, nor do we have the space to put such a thing.  But I do love to visit these, and in general, to see any well done dioramas.

And as for those who can muster no enthusiasm for American hooters, what can I possibly say?

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Are Ya DAFT?" Driving through Killarney, Killorglin, and County Kerry

Jon and Priscilla came to Ireland for their vacation, and came down to Kinsale to spend a week with us.  Priscilla is Penny's sister, and like myself, Jon was in the U.S. Navy.  We had a marvelous time with them.

We took a drive to the southwesternmost areas of Ireland.  County Kerry has a striking countryside.  We took small roads through small towns, and ended up in Killarney where we parked and had lunch.  This area is heavily republican.  There are IRA memorials in several towns, as well as in Killarney itself.  We headed out to drive through the Iveragh Peninsula.  We headed west from Killarney and passed through Killorglin.  We couldn't find the road that we wanted, and so Penny asked passersby for directions.  The first one turned out to be Russian and didn't know where anything was.  The second was a grandmotherly type.  It turned out that she didn't drive at all.  She asked Penny if she was from Dublin.  Really!  When she found out she was from the USA, the lady couldn't stop saying "God Bless America!"  Agreeable sentiments aside, she was of no help.  So we tried again, and found a road heading out of town.

We stopped at a gas station and supermarket complex.  Penny went inside to ask directions and got this from a very helpful woman:  "Are ya daft?"  "Why would ya want to go on that road?"  She then recommended that we take a different road to Bantry and return to Kinsale from there.  By the way, at this point we were about a half mile away from the village of Ballykissane, which is adjacent to Killorglin.  If you have ever seen the television series Ballykissangel, this is the inspiration for the town even though it was filmed in County Wicklow.

Daft though we may be, we followed the woman's advice and headed out again.  I am getting quite used to driving right-hand cars on the left-hand side of the road.  I just have to remember to keep left and to look to the right for priority traffic when entering a roundabout.  So far, so good!


Formerly known as Queenstown, Cobh ("Cove") is a deepwater port.  It used to be a port of call for Trans-Atlantic liners.  Titanic called there before heading west toward New York.  There is a museum about emigration, located in the old railway station.  It was very interesting to visit, and to compare it with Ellis Island and the Pier 21 Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  There are monuments to the famous liners, and memorials for those who perished in the sinkings of Titanic and of Lusitania.

Cobh's waterfront promenade is quite pleasant.

Some pictures from the museum:

Cobh was known as Queenstown after a visit by Queen Victoria.  Queen Elizabeth II is about to visit the Republic of Ireland, and her visit itinerary includes Cork.  We plan to avoid Cork during the royal visit.  One might imagine that some controversies have attached themselves to this visit, and one would be right on target with those imaginations.  Jon and Priscilla told us that in Dublin, they saw the Garda supervising the caulking shut and paint-marking of every manhole around.  The newspapers say that 8000 Garda will be involved in providing security, and that more than 100 armed British plainclothes constables will be present on Irish streets.  Demonstrations protesting Ulster's membership in the United Kingdom have taken place each day.  So the Queen is making quite a splash.  I am not sure why the visit is even taking place.  Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has modified his position to say that perhaps some good will come from it. 
This mailbox has been in use for quite a while.  Note the "VR" on it.  It was probably painted red when it was first established during Queen Victoria's reign.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Arrival in Ireland

Using up those miles, we flew from San Francisco to Dublin, with a long layover in Chicago.  Three hours of that came from a delay for equipment availability.  But we made it safely to Ireland, and all our luggage showed up on the baggage carousel.

If you haven’t been to the Dublin Airport lately, the new terminal is open.  The older one is much smaller, and more like a regional airport than one meant for large numbers of transoceanic flights.  Now it is better organized, but be prepared to walk longer distances.

We got the rental car okay, as our reservation was in their system.  (This has been a problem in other places.)  Getting out of the airport seemed easier than it was the last time, although I had to concentrate on keeping to the left.  The car is a stick shift, and so far I have only once started rolling down the window when I meant to shift gears!  I was tired and so we stopped in Cashel for coffee and shepherd’s pie.  All things went pretty well, and we only made one wrong turn getting down to Kinsale.  The small roads are well signposted, so we just kept following the signs.

Boland House in Kinsale is just great.  Tony and Colette Boland live next door and they are as friendly as can be.  The house is right by the harborfront, and around the corner from the old town square.  There is a Norman church, built 1190, and in its graveyard are a few victims of the RMS Lusitania sinking in 1915.  We have been “chilling out” all week long.  I joined the fitness facility at the Acton Hotel down the street, and it feels good to be back in the exercise mode.  Penny does her power walks, and with the hills surrounding the harbor inlet, that is very good too.  The grocery store, the post office, the pubs around the corner…it is all right here in walking distance and the car hasn’t moved since we got here.  That will change today, because we are going up to Cobh (pronounced “cove”) today for the Lusitania memorial activities.  The sinking took place off Old Kinsale Head 96 years ago.  Most of the victims are buried up in Cobh.

Kinsale seems to have plenty of activities to bring in visitors.  Last weekend was some sort of rugby tournament, and many people came here to watch the action in pubs on televisions.  Rugby fans are quite sharp dressers, as you can see below:

This weekend brought a car rally.  I can't add any words of value to these photos, so...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

West Coast Interlude April 15-29

Penny’s master plan is working.  We just spent two weeks on a West Coast interphase of walkabout.  A couple of trips to the storage unit, an exchange of items, picking up the additional kitchen items such as a cookie sheet, doctors’ appointments, prescription refills to last six months,  pay our taxes, and we are on our way.

We spent a couple of days in Oregon with family, a couple of days in Sacramento with my cousin and his wife, and then to San Francisco where we house-sat for Penny’s cousin and her husband.  We visited Karina and Andreas with their newborn twins, and then Connie and Ketil and their three sons.  Penny was in heaven, with so many little ones around her.  Charlie saw us twice, and he is doing well indeed! 

It felt strange to be living out of a suitcase in our own hometown.   And every minute of the two weeks was full indeed.