It wasn’t long ago that Pete and I stared at our small foreign car, with the driver’s seat on the
wrong other side of, and nervously bit our fingernails at the prospect of actually figuring out how to drive it.
Never mind changing gears with the left hand, shoulder checking over the right, and making left turns into the closest lane – the task of driving here is made infinitely more difficult by the fact that the roads are insanely narrow, some completely unmarked, and with horrible signage. For our first few outings we crawled along at a snail’s pace, sweating at every turn and cursing every unfamiliar traffic circle (of which there are plenty).
But now, after one overnight roadtrip south to Ireland’s second biggest city of Cork, we’ve got it all figured out. And let me tell you…
We OWN this country.
Bring it, Ireland. Direct us onto your unmarked roads, hide your signs, even throw a dozen tractors in front of us blocking the view. We can take it. And tolls? We ain’t payin’ no stinkin’ tolls. With Pete behind the wheel, and his eagle-eyed navigator behind the map, we’ll just whip around the available side roads to avoid shelling out the few euros. So what if some of the roads are only slightly bigger than a bike path? Any car coming from the other direction had better move out of our way.
Also, nice try Cork. What, with your twisty canals and one-way streets, you thought you could stop us from getting around, didn’t you? We own you, too.
There-and-back in one piece, this road trip gave us oodles more confidence in our abilities to explore this country. Oh, and we happily saw some cool stuff while we were there too!
The Bells of Shandon
I feel sorry for anyone who lives near the St Anne Church in central Cork. For a small fee, annoying tourists (like us) can climb to the top and ring the church bells for all to hear. Despite our best efforts, we ain’t musical folk, and also it didn’t help that the “Fa” note on the bells was out of order. But that didn’t stop us from trying. Our apologies, Corkonians.
St Anne’s Church
Pete taking his turn. He played “Amazing Grace” and “This Land Is My Land”. Kind of.
I played “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”. Without the “Fa” (#5), it sounded nothing like it.
After playing the bells, we climbed to the top of the church and had wonderful views of Cork.
Just a short distance east of Cork is an important seaport town that has played a big part in Irish, and world, history. It served as the port of departure for the Titanic (the famed ship was actually built in Northern Ireland), and was also where many Irish boarded ships bound for North America, fleeing from famine and disease. Of the 6 million people who emigrated, 2.5 million of them came from Cobh. While it was once a place to flee from, now it is a gorgeous little town to visit. (See these photos of Cobh to inspire you!)
This statue of Annie Moore sits outside the Cobh Heritage Center. She was the first person processed at New York’s Ellis Island when it opened in 1892.
Cobh is a beautiful town with colorful buildings built up the hillside.
This popular market is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe, having served on its current site since 1788 surviving wars, famine, revolutions and economic turmoil.
Oh man, I so want to hear “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” on church bells!
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Needs the “Fa” though!!!
great entry. i enjoyed” its” content even if “it’s” not 100% grammatically perfect.
Enjoyed reading about conquering Cork! Looks like a wonderful place to visit. I love markets like English market. Yum those olives look great.
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In all honesty, I’ve seen much more impressive markets, but we still enjoyed our time there. They had a really great cafe and we picked up some delicious food for a picnic lunch as well!
Are you still nearby? I don’t know how I missed that you were passing through, but now I’m sad! Drop me a line if you’re still around. Tea and scones on me!
Katrina! I don’t know why I didn’t put it all together either! We are in County Meath until the end of August. We must arrange a meet-up!
Oh! My husband’s from Co. Meath. Let me know if you need some recs!
Also I applaud you for driving in Ireland. I’ve been 6 times and have NEVER attempted to drive.
Your Cork experience sounds fun. I was only there for a weekend so I saw Ireland play soccer in a pub, went to Blarney, and went to Mass. I need to go back.
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We have a wonderful neighbor who has taken it upon herself to ensure that we see everything in Meath! Yesterday we went to Fore and Lochcrew, which we probably never would have heard of before! But, if he has any recs, we’d love to have them!
I love the pics. It sounds you have a great comfort zone there. I’d be reluctant to drive there for sure, until I got used to being on the wrong side of the road.
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We took a few quick trips just around the area before committing to a longer road trip. It is an experience, for sure!
Lovely! Cobh looks really pretty. My dad went to Ireland and he loved Cork, too. Good job surviving the driving!
It is a real team effort to drive around here, I’m not sure how people do it on their own! Cobh was really gorgeous, and the very sad part is that we didn’t come upon that pretty part of town until we were on our way out! We almost missed it entirely!
I do a lot of sighing when I read your posts…
Thanks. Now I’ve got “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” in my head. 🙂
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We’re on to Cork next and John was just saying Cobh today so this is topical! Though now we’re not looking forward to those one-way streets…
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You will do fine on the one ways, they’re not that bad 🙂 Advice when on your way to Cobh – at the fork in the road it says you can go both ways (it’s a big loop), go left. Much nicer ride into town. We went the other way and almost missed the best part of town.
Sounds like you’re having a total laugh. A *mansion*? And now bell-ringing? Brilliant stuff.
Woot, that’s where my ancestors are from! Haha. So awesome.
These pics are beautiful! We considered trying to move to Cork with out previous employer… I think the weather scared us away.
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Thanks Erica! We’ve been shocked with how nice the weather has been (including when we were in Cork). Our neighbor says that we have been a good luck charm with the weather we’ve been having. It’s been mainly sunny with only a couple shit days of rain.
On to a 2 month trip of Ireland ,Wales,Scotland and England ,self drive.What are the good hints that would be helpful.
Hi Mary & Lloyd, I can give you some ideas as far as Ireland goes, but we have yet to visit the UK yet. When are you going? You can send me an email if you like (see our contact page), and we can try to help!
What we are having a problem with is finding a car rental that we can pick up in Dublin and drop off after 4 weeks travel at Belfast. Any ideas?
Hi guys, that might be a tough one as you are crossing country lines (Republic of Ireland to the UK). Dublin is only 2 hours from Belfast, so my recommendation would be to return the car there and then maybe train/bus/fly back to Belfast.
Just a thought. Good luck!
Cobh looks amazing!
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The Irish countryside sound very interesting. I have Irish ancestry so I should put it on my bucket list. Your pics of cork and the produce are really great and the city itself. How much time did you spend there and how costly was it to travel around.
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We spent two months in the country, and our favorite times were in the countryside as opposed to the cities. We were housesitting so managed to keep our costs down for our stay, but when we did go to other places, hostels and B&Bs often ran up to 60 E for the both of us. We were there in summer so it is most expensive then,
We spent two months in central Ireland at a housesitting job! We toured around a lot, and found that we really loved the countryside as opposed to the cities. When we did move around and stay in hostels,/B&Bs, we spent about 60 Euros a night total. It was in summer, so quite expensive!
Oh I can imagine those living near St Anne Church desperately tearing her hair out for having to listen to all the tourists playing the bells.. But it sounds like a lot of fun though 🙂