Monday, August 16, 2010

Ireland: Day 5: Kinsale, Fort Charles and the Ghosts of Relatives Past?

The warm sun was gone today and with that the tube tops were blessedly packed away for another year. The women were more sensibly dressed, their skin and virtue back in check. All was right again in Kinsale!

After being talked out of kissing the Blarney Stone, the concierge recommended a historic stroll of the town given by Don & Barry. We had Barry and he was friendly chap (local language again!) who was proud and eager to impart (or make up) the historical nature of Kinsale. Walking tours are always a great way to find out about a town or a city and this one didn't disappoint.

Kinsale is the furthest southern point of Ireland and for that reason, back in the 1500-1600s, it was a major jumping off spot for ships heading out to the Americas or any of the many wars England was involved in. It became a major shipping supply port for salted fish, meats, dry breads and water or 'grog' (water mixed with a little whiskey to preserve it better) and to this day their wooden wine barrels are world renowned mostly for wine.

It was from Kinsale that the ill-fated Alexander Selkirk, a Scotsman,  (a.k.a Robinson Caruso) left Ireland and would not return for 8 years, four of them spent alone on a deserted island off the coast of South America. Author/journalist Daniel Defoe chronicled his story giving him the name of Caruso and making up many other details along the way. Kinsale is also noted for the nearby sinking of the Lusitania in May of 1915. Barry alerted us to an upcoming Discovery Channel piece on the controversy surrounding the sinking and loss of well over 1000 lives.

Barry suggested a trip to Fort Charles, allegedly a 30 minute walk from the town. We opted for the car because it looked like it might rain and discovered that the 30 minute walk was up the side of a cliff! Funny he never mentioned that!

The fort was particularly interesting not only because of it's amazing views of the charming town of Kinsale but because we saw some family names listed as being instrumental in the history of the fort. One, Captain James Archer, was the builder of  Fort Charles. He was from Kilkenny and a Catholic. The Archers are on my mother's side of the family and James is a name that recurs often. Will check that out! We also saw a Col. Fitzpatrick ( Protestant though) who fought bravely in a battle at Fort Charles. Barry mentioned that anyone with the surname Fitzpatrick are almost assuredly descended from the Normans.

On my husband's side of the family, there was an officer (O'Neill) from Tyrone where the McDermotts are from who would have won the Battle of Kinsale if his co-commanding officer had listened to him. He argued for calmness in the face of adversity, a personal trait of my husband that might be inherited from the Tyroneans. We'll see, we visit there next week.

Tomorrow we're off to Waterford. Before our Australian friends in Killarney made off with their bottle of wine, they told us that they loved the Waterford tour and they were able to ship gifts home for a reasonable price.

Aye!  Anyone need a new chandelier??

1 comment:

  1. The trips sounds awesome. Can't wait to see all of the pictures!