Apr 2 945 am
One thing that continually reminds me I’m in Ireland (besides the bevy of fun accents) is the street signs. All street signs here are done in both English and Irish, which has been cool in that I’m recognizing places by their real, Irish names as well as the English name. Of course most of them I probably shouldn’t try to pronounce, lol. Although I have learned a couple! Take Cork for instance. The Irish name is ‘Corcaigh’, pronounced ‘Cork-uh’. I think it adds a little more oomph to the name, you know? Dublin is ‘Ath Cliath’–NOT pronounced like it looks, lol.
My entire day in both Cahir and Cashel yesterday, there was another girl I kept running into. Finally we were both waiting on the bus to leave Cashel and I struck up a conversation with her. She’s from New Zealand and working on a visa in Dublin. She gets four days off a week, so each week she takes a different trip to somewhere else in Ireland. She was nice, I didn’t catch her name, but we talked all the way back to Cahir, where she caught a connecting bus to Wexford, where she was staying.
Riding the bus in Ireland is an exercise in the everyday life of the Irish people. Just on one ride yesterday, I saw many instances of life happening. Three young boys in their handsome school uniform were acting silly on a giant trampoline in the front yard of their home, just as we passed by. At least five different pairs of Moms pushing their strollers down the street (Moms with strollers here always travel in pairs, lol.) I like seeing the lambs and sheep bent down on their front knees with their butts in the air while they eat, lazy things. I saw two cows rubbing heads in a field, and that was just adorable.
It was extremely foggy on the ride home yesterday afternoon. There are large hills (or mini mountains, you pick) all along the highway. You could see nothing of them but their hulking silhouettes behind a veil of white. It looked unreal, like a Hollywood movie set.
Seeing smoke rise from the chimneys of the homes along the roads makes my imagination run wild. I think of frazzled Irish mothers with wild red hair, slaving over the stove and making sure she has dinner on the table for when her farmer husband comes in from a long day of work. I imagine her kids prancing in, clad in their school uniforms, excitedly talking over one another in their cute little accents, trying to tell mum about their day.
Everybody knows everyone else in the small towns. Out the bus windows you can see their faces light up as they run into each other. The Irish in small towns are never in a hurry. If they see a friend, they stop and chat for a bit, time not an issue. That’s how we should all live.
Every body of water, no matter how big or how small, has life preservers hanging in little boxes alongside. Small ponds usually have one, while the rivers have one every block. They’re bright orange (you can’t miss them) and on each is written ‘A stolen buoy is a stolen life’. I guess people were taking them, lol.
Besides the dark maroon heather covering much of the country side, there is another similar plant that covers everything else. It’s called Gorse, it’s a bright yellow color close to goldenrod. They are bushes, some sparsely yellow, where it looks like someone took a paintbrush and dipped it in pollen to spread it across the tops. Others look like they’ve been dipped in a vat of paint, bright splashes of color on the roadside. My tour guide in Wicklow said it originates in Ireland, and in the past the leaders of Australia asked to be shipped some to plant there. Therefore it’s all over that country as well.
Someone answer me why cows lie with their backs to one another. Don’t tell me it’s for warmth, because they make huge circles, never touching and never looking at each other. It looks like siblings in a fight. My only theory is for defense, a look out kind of thing. Baby cows remind me of awkward teenagers, all gangly legs and knobby knees. They’re starting to dot the country side as well.
I love the bright colors of the homes (I might have said this before). They just look like happy places to live. You don’t see such a wonderful array of colors like this back home. Yellow, blue, coral, green, it’s all fantastic. Every time I see one for sale, I’m tempted to buy it, lol. Especially since the Irish have a love for bright light and windows, just like I do.
Bus drivers are fucking nuts, by the way. They drive like newly licensed teenage boys in flashy sports cars. The road to Kinsale (a small port town on the Atlantic where I’ve just eaten breakfast) is awful. Lots of bumps and potholes, very narrow, and very winding. My bus driver was taking curves like he was racing for the Nascar win. At one point in big letters across the road it said ‘SLOW’. Apparently he didn’t know how to read, that’s my only guess, because we flew through there.
A sweet little old lady hopped on at a back country road. As we pulled away, she had to grip the handlebar to not be flung from the seat. When she could let go, she made the sign of the cross. I saw it out of the corner of my eye (she was sitting next to me) and I had to bite my lip to not burst out laughing. I’m not the only one who fears for my life on those buses!
There are tractors driving the roads and holding up traffic here just like back home. Every time I see one passing us the other way, followed by a long line of cars, I just start singing Craig Morgan’s ‘International Harvester’ in my head. Makes me smile.
Kinsale (what I’ve seen so far, I haven’t made it to the water yet) is lovely, the epitomal Irish town. The bar I’m in is fancy, but my french toast is fairly priced and delicious. (At this point I have a two page rant on everything wrong with the fish tank in this bar, but I’m not going to subject you guys to reading it lol.)
Apr 2 100pm
There are no words strong enough for Kinsale. It is by far the most beautiful town I’ve seen so far. I love the ocean. I love the boats. I love the massive amount of birds flailing and screaming above me. It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day with just enough breeze, and warm enough to finally go without my coat. It’s the best kind of weather to be on the water, so all the speed boats and sail boats in the water have been meandering around since I got here.
Kinsale is built into the hillsides, offering great views of the harbor to virtually every house. From where I sit across the harbor, it rises in colorful levels of Irish architecture, bright and happy.
I’m currently sitting high, high, high above the ocean upon the parapets of Charles Fort. The fort is the typical star shaped fort popularized by the Dutch and Spanish. It has fallen into disrepair, the barracks crumbling, being consumed by nature once more. Flocks upon flocks of birds settle themselves here. When someone walks beneath their perches, there’s a huge ruckus of flight and cackles as the let everyone with a mile know just how pissed they are at being disturbed.
Charles Fort sits right on the water, a sheer drop down to the waves below. While it no longer protects the port harbour of Kinsale, it’s a reminder of the many, many years it did just that. It’s still standing strong and proud, sentry to the ghosts of the people who once inhabited the town.
I can almost see how it might have looked. I can almost see the sentry who would have walked the very parapet upon which I sit, a watchful eye out for danger by land or sea. The barracks, armories, and storehouses are nothing but stone rooms missing floors, ceilings, and roofs, slowly being reclaimed by nature. Some of them are four floors high on the outside, and nothing but one big room open to the sky on the inside. Yet I can imagine how full the armories would have been, cannonballs and weapons enough for an army. The storehouses would have held bags and boxes of food, blankets, and military uniforms. I can imagine fires roaring in the long unused fireplaces, groups of soldiers gathered around crude, wooden tables eating bread and drinking milk or ale, playing games and telling stories of battles past, or homes not forgotten.
This place is haunted with memories and there’s no one alive to remember them.
Apr 2 600pm
After walking back from the fort (about two miles) I ate a snack and had a Coke in a local pub before catching the bus back into Cork. I nodded off a few times on the ride, I’m just so exhausted all the time here, lol. I’m going to take a walk and find something to keep me awake for another couple of hours. I leave for Killarney really early in the morning, and I can not wait. Once again I’m ready to move on.