Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Gathering, Ireland 2013: First Stop Cork City

We arrive rather late in Ireland so we spend the night at the airport hotel.  It is my first time in Ireland and I find it is a special year to be here, as it is the year of the Gathering!   The Gathering: Ireland 2013 is a year-long celebration and an open invitation to the world to come and visit for a once in a lifetime experience. 

There will be many events big and small taking place across this island and many people who call Ireland home but emigrated to America, Australia and other far off shores are being invited to come home to visit.  A gathering could be as small as two friends re-uniting or as big as a clan rally attracting hundreds of people in a celebration of their roots.  I read that some of the events planned include:  Irish Redhead Gathering in Cork, the American Baseball Tournament in Dublin or Bowling round the bog in Waterford!

We wake up the next morning and take the bus into Cork City and then another bus to Bishopstown where our University Accommodation is located.  Our first volunteer opportunity has fallen through and we have decided to spend a week in Cork.

It is a pleasant suburb and the weather is quite balmy when we arrive.  A very friendly girl in reception introduces us to our accommodation and the area.  There are 4 ensuite rooms and a shared kitchen and laundry.  It is a comfortable apartment and we feel lucky to be here.  We will virtually have the place to ourselves except for another visitor over the weekend. 

After settling in, we take the bus to Cork City.  Cork is in Southern Ireland and I read that it is a town that grew out of a medieval marsh, where life grew around the river.  It is a pretty town with many street artists and colourful buildings but we start our discovery at the local market. 

The English Market is a bustling place full of incredibly fresh local produce that includes a huge range of cheeses, vegetables, fruit, a variety of meats, poultry, fish and breads.  We are spoilt for choice.  The day has turned out to be beautiful so we buy some roast chicken, bread and cheese and picnic at a little pocket park in the City.  

The Irish are friendly people and everyone seems to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine that the country has been blessed with at the moment.  In fact, it appears we have arrived in the middle of an Irish Heat Wave but the temperatures are only in the mid twenties!  The thermometer would have to tip 40 degrees before we started bandying words like heat wave in Australia, but the averages here are very different.  

We walk around town and stop by the St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. There has been continuous Christian worship here for over a thousand years…now there’s history for you!  A monastic school was originally founded here around 650 and drew scholars from around Europe.  It is an impressive structure and we enjoy visiting. 

As we walk around town we stumble across a rather large poster about the Titanic.  I wonder what the connection might be and ask a local.  It appears that Cobh, the port city of Cork, was the last stop for the legendary ship.  Many left Ireland from these shores, in search of a better life in America.  Sadly, many of those on the Titanic never made it!

We visit the market a second time to do a larger shop for the week and head home.  I think our time in Ireland will be just great!  

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