After a day stuck in the car in torrential rain in West Cork with my brother, his wife and their two young children who are visiting from the States we decided to play it safe and stick to Cork city today.
We popped into the tourist office on Grand Parade and after a really friendly and helpful chat with one of the team there, we grabbed some brochures and opted for the South Parish walk, one of four excellent walks mapped out around the city centre. This walk had particular significance as it is the area where my mother grew up.
The walk is really interesting and easy to follow from Daunt Square, past Bishop Lucey Park and up to Saint Fin Barres Cathedral with excellent signposting and information on each of the main sign boards. The literature provided gives even more information about each of the places and the route.
After Saint Fin Barres we headed to Elizabeth Fort, which has recently been fully opened to the public. This free to visit fort provides incredible views right over the city and the friendly volunteers on duty gave us a great welcome. Just outside the fort is the oldest bar in Cork, The Gateway bar, which is nestled alongside some of Cork’s oldest houses (late sixteen hundreds).
From here we crossed Barrack Street in search of the house where my grandmother grew up. A friendly taxi driver who noticed we were searching for somewhere gave us directions to 77 St. Kevin’s Square.
We ambled up the narrow old Cork city streets and came upon the square. A man who was walking alongside us overheard us chatting about number 77. “Are ye alright there” he asked with a tiny hint of suspicion. “That’s my house” he said.
I explained that this used to be the house where my grandmother grew up. He was confused “It’s been in my family since the fifties“. It looked like his family, The Coleman’s moved in after the McCarthy’s!
Very quickly suspicion changed to a hearty welcome “Come on in and I’ll show you around“. Tim Coleman, an absolute gentleman opened up his home to us and showed us how it would have changed since when my grandmother would have lived there. He offered to take a photo of us all outside his home and off we went.
Our Cork adventure continued to Nano Nagle’s grave at South Pres, which will soon be ‘Nano Nagle Place‘ after the redevelopment work on the site is completed. A huge sense of peace descends on you when you enter this sacred little graveyard where Nano Nagle and the many Presentation sisters are buried.
Our journey finished with a visit to Coughlan’s Bar towards the end of Douglas Street. The barman there was a credit to Cork and his profession – he was kind and gentle to my brothers two kids offering them wooden puzzles and a bag of crisps to keep them occupied! This would have been one of the watering holes that my granddad who lived at 55 High Street would have drunk in many moons ago.
We had a great day in our fantastic little city and as usual the Cork people played a starring role.
Well done Cork, you did me proud!