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.
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:
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.
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.