Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ireland: Day 4, Kinsale, County Cork

As we sadly left the Cahernane Manor House in Kerry this morning on our way to Kinsale in County Cork, we decided to make a stop at the Muckross Mansion and Gardens just a bit south of our hotel but on co-joined property since this was all part of the Herbert Estate (those rich, English folks who used the Irish as their slaves and servants). The mansion,  large and impressive, was strikingly similar to the place where we stayed for three nights and the tour guide gave us some interesting facts on the Herbert family. They made their money in minerals and were so rich that Queen Victoria planned a visit to the estate with her beloved Prince Albert. The Herberts were given six years to prepare and pulled out all the stops redecorating and importing furniture, drapes and crystal from all of Europe. The point was to extravagantly wine and dine the Queen so she would grant them a more impressive title and increase their land holdings. As if they needed more, really! 

Victoria and Albert did come but only stayed for two days. When they returned to England, the Herberts waited to hear from the Queen but as luck (bad luck, that is) would have it, The Prince died about two months after visiting the estate. The Queen went into mourning for an extended period of time and forgot all about the Herberts. They spent so much money and were so overextended that they had to sell the estate and all of their property. An American family from California eventually bought the property as a wedding gift for their daughter who had married an Irishman and they lived there until she died unexpectedly. Her heirs eventually donated the property to the Irish government.

After the tour, Pat the husband, was back on the road and maybe because I'm getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road, the two hour trip to Kinsale resulted in only two major 'eeeekks' from me. He's doing much better and so am I! But Pat the husband, also checked out our new hotel last night and portrayed it as a kind of motel with some bad reviews given by people who had stayed here. Needless to say, my expectations were low but typically when that happens, expectations are exceeded. And they were! The Trident Hotel is not like the's modern, more American-ish...but it's new, clean with a very friendly staff and situated on a beautiful harbor in the seaside town of Kinsale, a very Hamptons-like town with lively restaurants, boutiques and shops of every variety. The weather was warm and sunny today, unusual I suppose, and the Irish ladies were out with their milky white skin wearing tube tops, sitting in the sun, risking cancer! I'm trying not to judge...but tube tops? Really!

We had dinner just a little while ago and set out for live music in one of the pubs. I decided to wear a dress, mostly to see if one of them still fit after scarfing down the scones at the Cahernane. Luckily it did, and we enjoyed a dinner of goat cheese and salmon, fish stew and risotto. Seriously, the food here has been great even in the pubs.

We did have one pub story I'd like to share. On our first night in Killarney, we went to a pub recommended by our daughter and son-in-law called Danny Mann's. The music was great! The next night we went to another closer to our hotel. The music started at 10 p.m. and a lovely couple around our age (er, that'd be youngish)  sitting next to us introduced themselves. They were from Australia, travelling to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England over six weeks.The husband was drinking dark Guiness but my husband and I noticed that the woman had a full bottle of red wine all for herself. When the music started in earnest, they moved to the bar to 'see the musicians better' but I suspected that maybe she didn't want to share her bottle, since I was also drinking red wine and my glass was nearly empty. When my husband went to pay the bill at the bar he reported that she was 'three-sheets' as they say! Not sure if she can keep that up for six weeks...they may end up penniless like the Herberts!

The concierge here talked us out of going to kiss the Blarney Stone which is a nearby attraction so instead tomorrow we're going to a British fort across the harbor and will take a walking tour of the town. After that, on to Waterford!

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