Category Archives: Cork

More on Cork City

We are back in Oregon and mostly settled back in to our old lives.

Looking through the Ireland blog, I realized we talked a lot about the places we traveled but not so much about Cork City where we lived. We really liked Cork City and I wanted to post a few pictures from there.

St. Fin Barre’s cathedral was directly across the street from where we lived and every day when I left the house I was in awe of this spectacular building.



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One of our favourite places was the English Market. It is essentially a farmers market with a much larger emphasis on red meat, poultry, and fish than the farmers markets in the US. They also do have lots of local and not so local fruits and veggies. It might not be as great as it once was, but it is a place where you can still interact with your local butcher, talk to a local farmer, and chat with a local fishmonger.




The food in Cork city was pretty good and we had a lot of spots we really liked. Electric, Fenns Quay, and Market Lane to name a few. However, I am slightly embarrassed to say that our favorite restaurant in town was probably a Mexican place called Cafe Mexicana. I think it was a combination of the margaritas:
and the mascot:
that made it our goto date night. The food was OK, but the service was great and we liked the ambiance of the place.

And finally breakfast. Pretty much anywhere in Ireland you can get a variation of the full Irish which is bound to be pretty good. Most of the best full Irish breakfasts we had were in B&B’s. My personal favorite in Cork City was at a place named Clancy’s. They definitely didn’t have the best service or ambiance but they had the most comprehensive and enjoyable full Irish breakfast in Cork.

Well, that is all from me from this blog. Stay tuned for our Cork pub review which Emily should post soon. Thanks to all of you that have been following along our adventure. All the great feedback we got helped inspire us to keep it going. Our plan is to archive the Ireland blog and start a fresh, probably with a lot of puppy pictures. The url should stay the same so if you are following along you shouldn’t need to do anything. Thanks again for following and hope to talk to you all soon.

Ballymaloe, The Old Head of Kinsale and a visit from the O’Hanlons

Back in Cork after our wonderful trip to Scotland, we had more fun things planned.  First up, a trip to the shore southeast of Cork city and to Ballymaloe House for a very special dinner.

After Bret got home from work, we drove to Ballycotton to catch the ocean view.  We had a nice walk through the small town and got to see the Irish lifeboat volunteers (Irish all volunteer staffed coast guard) heading out for a drill.


From there we went to Ballymaloe, an Irish manor house that has been converted into a restaurant, hotel, cooking school, and sculpture garden. We arrived ahead of our reservation so that we could explore some of the 400 acres of beautiful countryside. DSC_0408 DSC_0449

We especially liked the sculpture garden and hay field.  Bret was inspired to take an artsy self portrait.


Emily was more inclined to take a selfie posing like the art.


We didn’t get a picture of Bret’s favorite sculpture, but Emily liked the jacks in the haystack.


Dinner was incredible! We had a five course meal that included mostly locally sourced produce, fish, and meats (they still raise their own pigs!).  We are so thankful to Bret’s Mom and Stepdad for finding this place. As a wedding gift, they scoped it out for us and gave us money to eat there.  It was an extra bonus to be able to share such a special experience with Emily’s folks as well.  We liked the food so much that we went to the oldest bookstore in Cork to buy their cookbook which was another gift from Bret’s Mom and Stepdad.  Thanks!!!

We sent Bret off to work again the next morning, and Emily and her folks headed down to Kinsale for the day.  We had a nice morning exploring Charles Fort and the old town area…   there may have been some shopping involved as well.  Kinsale is the sister city of Emily’s hometown, Newport, RI.


Bret took the afternoon off though and joined us for the main event of the day, golfing at the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Old Head of Kinsale is a relatively new golf course and it did not make the top 100, but it sure is beautiful.  DSC_0525 DSC_0464 DSC_0481 DSC_0485 DSC_0507 DSC_0430 DSC_0437 DSC_0444

We were the last group of the day and it felt like we had the whole course to ourselves.  We finished up just as the sun was setting.  It was a whole lot of fun, although we all had some ups and downs in our game.  Emily had to get in another pose with a dog statue.


We had another fantastic meal in the clubhouse before heading back to Cork.  Thanks again to Emily’s Mom and Dad for another great day golfing.

The next day we were joined in our adventures by Emily’s cousin, Cinda and her family.  We spent the first evening at a hurling match, which we all enjoyed.  Cinda’s sons, Moe and Q, even got some hurleys afterwards so they can practice back in Geneva.  The following day, we said goodbye to Emily’s parents after brunch.  While Bret rested up, Emily and the O’Hanlons explored Cork a bit.  We went to the Gaol (Jail) and a children’s science museum.  Then we had a feast prepared by Cinda’s husband, Danny, back at home and celebrated Cinda and Danny’s wedding anniversary.


Emily and the O’Hanlons went to Kinsale the next day.  The fort was especially fun with the energy of young boys!

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We also went for a harbor boat tour.  It was fun to see the town and the fort from the sea for the first time!

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That evening, we celebrated Cinda’s birthday at one of our favorite spots in Cork, Electric.

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Monday morning, we left Bret to tend to work (and a significantly quieter house) and Emily joined the O’Hanlons for a few days of their family vacation to Kenmare, Ireland.  We stayed at the home of a family friend of Cinda’s and it was spectacular.  The view from the back porch:

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Rainbows abounded.  While in Kenmare, we had many adventures including some hiking, some archery, kayaking, and swimming in the bay.  It was a ton of fun!

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It was such a great way to wrap up three solid weeks of non-stop adventure!   Now we are home, recovering and resting up for the last visitors of the summer season. Our good friends Tracy and Ramona arrive in just a few days and more adventures are on the horizon!  We’ll be heading to the northwest corner of Ireland and exploring Donegal.

Cork Harbour Pub Crawl

On Saturday, several people from work got together for a tour of Cork Harbour and some of its finer establishments.  Cork harbour is one of several that lay claim to the worlds second largest natural harbour by navigational area.


Here is a look at the boat we chartered, the C-Breeze.


We had 4 stops in total and had some great views of the harbor.


We stopped at “The Oar” Crosshaven, which obviously has connection with “The Oar” on Block Island, Rhode Island which I have also been to.  Unfortunately, I didn’t try the mudslide, their specialty.

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In between stops we played around in the wake of the ferry and massive cruise ship.

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Fun was had by all.  Thanks to Michael for organizing!


Here is a time lapse I made at one of our stops


The worst pub in Cork

Yesterday was a tough day.  My 20 year old cat, Clawdia, has been on steep downward slide for the last week.  We went to the vet yesterday afternoon and decided it was time to let her go.  Here is a picture of her owning the couch back in Corvallis.


Clawdia was named by parents because of her ninja-like ability to claw through even tough materials, like leather, with a single swat…  although that same ability also led to her transformation to de-clawdia.  She has been with me for the past 17 years.  She moved with me eight times! So we criss-crossed the US a few times and she recently made it all the way to Ireland at 19.5 years old.  She has been a wonderful companion (to me, she didn’t really like many other people until she was too old to care).  Here are some pictures from the life and times of the Queen Bee:

Old school…  back in the days before wayne.


Just after her giant mass, affectionately named Patricia, was removed.


hanging with Bret.


Practicing yoga.


Her ritual, window-mediated chat with our chicken, Steve Holt.


Helping me finish the edits to my dissertation.


Pretending she doesn’t like chubchub.


I’ve been going through all my pictures looking for this one picture that I know I have of her.  It was taken early in the morning in my dining room in Corvallis.  The light coming through the window was rosy and perfect and she is totally relaxed taking in the sunshine on the white carpet.  I can almost hear her broken purr motor going just thinking about the picture.  It is just the way I like to think of her… but I can’t find the picture anywhere.  The same thing happened to me shortly after Wayno died.  I took this stupid online quiz about what kind of animal my soul mate was.  I got ” a dog wearing sunglasses.”  I remembered I had a picture of Wayne looking ridiculous with sunglasses on. I searched high and low for this picture,  but I only just found it today.


I am sure the picture of Clawdia will come back to me just when I need it.  Maybe people who read this can send a good thought her way today.  She probably doesn’t deserve it from many of you, but do it for me anyway.  Thanks.

So….   Long story short, I was in a tough place last night when we left the vet at 6:30.  We were walking home and we decided to stop at a pub for a pint.  As it so happens (actually all the time), there was a pub right in front of us, the Harp.  Bret had previously spotted the Harp because it is right on his daily commute.  At some point we googled it and found a review that described it as “the worst pub in Cork,” so that is actually how we have referred to it every time it has come up on the radar as a possible destination for the last five months.  On a night like last night, the worst pub in Cork sounded like a fine destination.


At first The Harp seemed a little lack-luster.  Two big rooms, a lounge and a bar with a pool table.  Lots of TVs, nothing special.  Bret got us a round of Beamish and we sat at a table.  Then, we made a new friend, Terry.  He must have pegged us as newcomers, so he introduced himself.  He asked us our name several times and got a serious hoot out of the fact we were trying to visit 52 pubs while in Cork.  He tried to entice Bret into a game of pool, but realized he had to leave.  It took him several attempts to actually leave.  He came back once to deliver us a round of fruity, rum drinks in beer mugs that he had purchased for us.  Yeah, I know… totally random.  Maybe he thought we needed drinks that matched the pink of my bloodshot eyes.


Then he came back to let us know that it was a beautiful night and we should go to the back of the pub where we could smoke fags (first time we’d heard that expression here) and enjoy the outdoors.  I thought maybe there was an outdoor “garden” which lots of pubs have.  They are generally just outdoor smoking areas with tables and sometimes some shelter from the rain.  Although, I came to the conclusion that Terry was really just talking about a parking lot. He gave up on the idea though when we told him we didn’t smoke.  Then he came back and shook our hands one more time and asked us our names.  Then he really left.  It actually isn’t the worst pub in Cork.  Every pub has its place.


Drone tour of Cork City

Bret found this drone tour of Cork city.

Around 6:43 there is a great shot of our neighborhood. the Marguerita Villa.


If you look hard, you may be able to see me taking my garbage to the curb.  I came inside and told Bret I had just seen a UFO flying around St. Finbarr’s Cathedral and he thought I was crazy.

Bret doesn’t endorse this behavior (nor do a bunch of the commenters).  It seems the guys who taped it may be in big trouble, so who knows how long the video will be up.


Two day research Cruise

The last two days I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a training on a research vessel called the Celtic Voyager.  The Celtic Voyager is 103ft long and has wet and dry chemical laboratories.  It was commissioned in 1997 and can support 6-8 scientists with a maximum endurance of 14 days.


It was an intensive two day course on how to collect data for characterizing the Cork Harbor, the second largest natural harbor in the world.  For example, this data might be used in an environmental impact assessment, for a project involving laying an electrical cable or pipe in the harbor.  It didn’t have any direct connection to my research but it is great to learn about this aspect of the industry and to get out on a boat for a couple of days! Here is the area we were working.

We had some pretty good weather and some spectacular views going in and out of the harbor

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This guy in a kayak was racing us for a while.
The city of Cobh looks quite nice from the harbor.
There are also quite a few factories and industrial buildings along the harbor.

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We learned several different ways to collect sediment samples and do preliminary analysis on them.DSC_0363 DSC_0364

We deployed a CTD which collects samples and measures salinity and temperature at different locations in the water column.

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We deployed a remotely operated underwater vehicle. (ROV)


and a side sonar instrument to get high resolution data for mapping the sea floor.


Overall it was a great learning experience and fun as well.


Then Emily and I went to our second Cork City Football game.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wow.  What a fun weekend.  Here’s the short story:

  • Bike ride, Irish win in the six nations rugby tournament, and celebration of first day of our St. Patrick’s long weekend at Cafe Mexicana on Saturday.
  • Bus tour of the West Cork coast on Sunday, including catching Heavy Billy and Chicken George at the West Cork Rally.
  • St. Patrick’s Day parade in Cork City on Monday.

I have to say, by Monday afternoon we were quite beat.

St. Patrick was a christian missionary who is largely credited with bring Catholicism to Ireland (and, of course ridding Ireland of snakes).  He originally came to Ireland (most likely from England) as a slave when he was in his teens.  It is said that he was not quite so pious prior to his time in slavery and found God during the long days and nights working in solitude as sheep tender.  He was able to escape slavery and returned to his home where he went on to become a christian priest. He considered it his calling to convert the Irish to Christianity and was sent back to Ireland eventually by Pope Celestine.  While, clearly, his calling was largely fulfilled, there were Christians in Ireland prior to St. Patrick’s arrival and there are other missionaries that were also important in the establishment of the Irish Catholic church.

St. Patrick’s day celebrations seemed pretty widespread.  There were parades in most of the nearby towns (including Cork) and there seemed to be a lot of revelry going on all weekend.  Lots of flags, shamrocks, and leprechaun costumes.  It reminded me of the 4th of July in the US as generally a patriotic kind of celebration.

In addition to the excitement of a holiday weekend, Saturday was (by far) the loveliest day we have yet experienced in Ireland.  Not a cloud in the sky from the moment we woke and warm temperatures.  Couldn’t ask for a better day for a bike ride.  Bret posted pictures of the ride here (and most of the following pics are his). Nevermind the small boot-shaped detour in the southern half of the loop (I swear Bret didn’t take us down the wrong turn).  Bandon was a nice little town that I will look forward to going back and exploring again sometime. Although this sort of summarizes how I was feeling after our first long bike ride in a while:


We got home from our ride just in time to watch Ireland eek out a victory over France in the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament.  Bret and I started following this almost by accident (we happen to be in a pub at the time of the first Ireland match vs. Scotland).  We became loyal fans pretty quickly, although Rugby is both a brutal and a complicated sport.  We feel like we learned a little more each game.  The finale of the tournament pit France versus Ireland.  Ireland, France, and England all had the same record going into their last game.  England beat Italy resoundingly earlier in the day.  As things stood, if Ireland won, they would win the tournament (they had a larger goal differential than England).  If Ireland lost, England would win (unless France could outscore Ireland by more than 72 points), but France would hold on to second (they ended up fourth).  It was by far the most brutal game of the tournament (at least that we watched).  Ireland and France both left a fair amount of blood on the field and fought to the end for a score of 22-20 Ireland.  We celebrated the win with dinner and margaritas at our favorite Irish Mexican restaurant.

Sunday morning we got up early to a less than perfect day (clouds were back, but it was not raining).  We took the first bus to Skibbereen, a small town in West Cork near the coast. We have noticed that things rarely get going in Ireland before noon or 1pm and Sunday mornings are especially quiet.  We wandered around Skibbereen after finding some breakfast.DSC_0049

We found a Gaelic Football scrimmage to watch for a bit…  super crazy game, sort of a cross between rugby, basketball, and soccer played with a giant volleyball.  I am not actually sire there are any rules.



After wandering, we had a pint at the local pub before jumping on a bus to our next destination: Clonakilty.

Clonakilty did not disappoint us.  As soon as we got off the bus we wandered in the direction of the closed off street and the loud banjo.  We quickly found this:


yes, Heavy Billy on his VW microbus tour. We listened for a bit then took a jaunt around town:

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We ended up drawn back to Heavy Billy though, so we found a couple seats with a good view at the wine bar next door.  He was soon joined by Chicken George, the dancer.



Turned out, they were the entertainment for some sort of auto race rally, so there were also men and women in auto racing outfits spraying champagne from the top of a double-decker bus.  We watched until the festivities started winding down and after dinner, we jumped on the last bus back to Cork.

Monday, the gray skies were pretty solid and we slept in.  We roused in time to catch the St. Patrick’s Day parade, although with 100,000 people lined up, we couldn’t find a great place to view it.

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We did find some delicious brats and a cup of coffee.

After a long weekend of adventures, we were pretty worn out by the big day, so we had an early night (I know, so anti-climatic.  We felt lame, but it was a school night for Bret).

back to reality…. This was the rainfall radar when Bret left to walk to work this morning.



Our first Cork City FC game and a visit to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

We made it to the first home game for the Cork City FC at Turner’s cross stadium last Friday evening.  Friday day was, without a doubt, the nicest weather we have yet in Cork.  It was warm and sunny.  No wind at all.  Poor Bret had to work all day, but I had a fabulous walk along the the River Lee to the next town over and back.  It definitely got cold by game time, but the people were out and about with the hint of better weather and spring ahead.  5,000 strong at the stadium!  Ticketmaster warned us when we bought our tickets not to wear the opposing team’s color.  After some research, I determined that our colors are green and white… but the used to be red and white.  St. Patrick’s Athletic Club (the opposing team) is blue and red.  No wool hats for either Bret or I (Bret’s was doubly offensive being red and blue. I sneaked mine in because it is only red).  We got to the game a few minutes early and were lucky to find an couple of empty rows near the front section, away from the cheering section (they were already quite rowdy).


Cork City FC is in the premier division of the SSE Airtricity league, so the competition is pretty fierce.



It was a hard fought draw and the yellow cards abounded, but it was fun to watch and cheer for the home team.  Apparently there is a no swearing section (family section), but despite being surrounded by kids, we apparently were not in that section.  St. Pat’s (the opposing team) had a small section of loyal fans at the opposite end of the field who were completely surrounded by security guards.  We were thinking this was a bit overkill for a city league game before we realized that the rowdy section of home team fans were also surround by a score of security guards.  When the game was over, the announcer even asked that all the away team fans remain in their seats for 10 minutes while the home team fans exit to the east side (away fans are on the west).  Some serious crowd control measures…  Good times, we will for sure head back for more Cork City FC action.  Fans for life.

The next morning, we woke up to another gray day.  Rather than going for a bike ride in the rain, we opted to go to the church service at our neighborhood cathedral (It’s got a 3.5/5 star rating on yelp (for real)).  I was thinking it was Roman Catholic (we are in Ireland), but it turned out to be Anglican (turns out it switched sides during the reformation)… either way a 1.5 hour service.  The singing and organ playing that dominated the service were really lovely, as was the church.  The lighting and the sound were serene and meditative.  I was a little amazed at how few people were there, probably less than 50 (on the first Sunday of Lent!).  It was mostly elderly people, which I expected, but I was surprised that there were only about 4 young people (<18ish, including two infants) outside of another 4 or 5 in the choir.  Growing up, I went to my share of catholic and episcopal masses and it seemed like almost a social outlet for tweeners (I generally only went with my friends +/- their parents- so always a social outing for me).  Not looking good for the long term health of the congregation.  We enjoyed the service.  Not sure we’ll do that one again, but it was fun and the Cathedral is a fantastic neighbor.

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The Sportsmans Arms


I was a little skeptical of this pub, but Bret wanted to try it out, so we went to watch the Monday night football game (Man City vs Chelsea) and have a pint.  It is a pretty sizable pub, so we walked in fairly unnoticed and grabbed a corner seat with a good view of the game.  The crowd here is still a bit older than us, but fairly young.  There was a large crowd in the back of the bar playing cards.  The first half of the game was fairly uneventful… but some new folks arrived for the second half that spiced things up.  They clearly had some from another pub and were very interested in the game.  There was a lot of swearing, a lot of yelling at the guys who was swearing (telling him to stop swearing), and a lot of apologizing for the swearing (not from the guy who was swearing).  Apparently, I have innocent ears.  Bret and I just grinned and nodded and kept watching the game.

I would have given the Sportsman’s Arms a fairly low review for being a bit boring if we had left after the first half, but I thoroughly enjoyed the people watching (and hearing, I guess) in the second half.  I would definitely go back to this one for big games…  although I would want to get there early to get a good seat.




I love this pub.  Bret and I had it on our list of places to go to from our first stroll around the neighborhood of Marguerita Villas (the street we live on).  We first popped in on a rainy evening hoping that they served some food.  It was a bit intimidating because all seven or eight of the bar patrons turned around and stared at us like we were aliens.  I had a feeling maybe ladies were not super welcome, but as soon as we asked the bartender about food, they all got real friendly.  Sadly, they do not serve food, but they all had suggestion about where we might go instead.  Bret was keen to stay and have a pint anyway.  I was, however, on the verge of the hangries, so for the sake of everyone involved, I insisted we go eat some food instead (ended up with take-away fish and chips).

We finally made it back there a few weeks later…  I know it sounds like a long time, but there are sooooooo many pubs to try out (including at least 6 between our house and Moks).  Again, walking through the door was a bit intimidating, but we found a nice corner, next to the fire place where we could drink a pint of Beamish and watch some football (Man City vs Tottenham?).

The pub had an amazingly large adorable old man: Emily ratio.  Although they seemed to be rooting for Man City, they didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the game.  Just arguing a bit about bad or good calls and cheering at goals.  There were a couple of younger guys there that seemed quite a bit more interested in the game and left as soon as it was over.  Eventually, a couple of adorable old ladies joined us near the fire with half pints.

We loved this place.  It is definitely a good place to go on a rainy, cool night for a quiet pint near the fire or to watch some football in relative peace.  Although, Bret is sure it will be a zoo for any big game (like a Six Nations Rugby game).  I am sure we’ll be back.