Ireland – Part 1

Yesterday we got up early as we had a four hour drive to the Fishguard ferry terminal. There was fairly steady rain but the drive was uneventful. We arrived in plenty of time for the ferry so had lunch at a small cafe nearby. The boarding process was interesting – spent about an hour lining up in the car after a pretty half hearted security search. We were the last car in our segment and once we parked, they lifted the entire platform up so they could load cars underneath.  It was pretty weird to drive on to a ship.

The trip over to Ireland was quite unpleasant with gale force winds and large swell for three and a half hours. It turns that that while I can handle the roughest of seas in a tiny little tinny, being on a great big boat makes me sea sick. That was unpleasant but judging by the state of the bathrooms it seemed to be a pretty popular pass-time. Janet pretty much slept the whole way over. Once we were off the boat we drove to Waterford, checked in to the hotel and pretty much went straight to bed.

This morning we got a bonus hour’s sleep thanks to the end of daylight savings and then did the tour of the Waterford crystal factory. It was pretty amazing to see the skills that routinely go into creating the different items. Each employee trains for at least seven years, and the engravers do an extra two years at art college. Once they graduate they only get paid for the work that passes inspection – there’s no base salary at all and they don’t get paid for reject items. Given how many rejects were around the place on the tour I don’t think they have a particularly high success rate. Waterford crystal make a lot of trophies for things like the golf and the Tennis masters cup. When they do they always make three exactly the same, one stays at Waterford for their reference library and to show off on the tour, and the other two go to the actual tournament – the second one “just in case”.

From Waterford we drove on to Cobh (pronounced Cove) which is a lovely little seaside town with a great big gothic cathedral in the middle. It looks quite out of place, but impressive none the less. Our hotel turned out to be a self-contained unit with views looking out at the cathedral and over the harbour so that was a bonus. We had lunch at a seaside bar, and then went in to nearby Cork to explore.  We found the Cork City Gaol and did the audio tour of it. The jail was used to hold a lot of the political prisoners when there was trouble between the Catholics and the Prostestants, but was also a general prison for most of the time.

Finally we went over to Kinsale where we had originally planned to stay but couldn’t find a hotel because they’re having a big jazz festival. We checked out a few of the local pubs that had jazz bands in but it was too crowded and we couldn’t get a seat, so we headed back to Cove to find dinner. Since lunch was so big neither of us were very hungry and we couldn’t find anywhere that we liked so eventually came back to the unit and got take away chinese. Odly enough the hotel is mixed in amongst the chinese restaurant and a hair and beauty salon – we couldn’t find our way in when we first arrived, but at least it made dinner convenient.

We’re going to do a little planning for tomorrow – off to kiss the Blarney stone being the main feature, and get an early night. With a little luck we’ll find internet tomorrow night and be able to post again.

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