Sun, July 7
What a fantastic day we had today in Cobh (pron. Cove)! The whole town came out with a special, warm welcome for us. The population is 2,500 so we doubled it today with the arrival of 2,200 passengers plus crew!
We started off the day with a Titanic Walking Tour around the harbour where we visited the very same pier from where passengers tragically set sail on the Titanic. It was interesting to find out that the Titanic did not actually come into port, but stayed at the mouth of the harbour. To save time, the passengers were taken from the pier by paddle steamer to the ship. We also saw the old office buildings of the White Star and Cunard Lines and the ornately detailed neo-Gothic St Coleman’s Cathedral. It has 49 bells, which play every 15 minutes and today they played (all 3 verses) of Advance Australia Fair.
Our walking tour ended with an Irish Coffee in a traditional pub. When we arrived the door was locked as it wasn’t quite opening time, but luckily our guide knew the “special knock”!!!
The rest of the day was spent exploring this very lovely town. There was a wealth of interesting information at the Cobh Heritage Centre, covering the Irish famine, emigration and two famous oceanliners, the Titanic and the Lusitania. Australian flags were out, there was a market set up, toy kangaroos in shop windows and a brass band entertained us, as well as some Irish dancers. I was lucky to catch a demonstration of etching on some world renowned Waterford crystal by a master craftsman which unfortunately is a dying art. Some people who went to the Waterford Crystal factory said it is all being done by machine now.
Down at the pier at the end of the day, the whole town assembled to wave us off, with the band playing a selection of Australian songs, and many shouts of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! We were so impressed and enjoyed our day very much.
Mon, July 8
Once again we bought perfect weather with us for our visit to Dublin. The temperature only reached around 25oC but to the Irish it was a very warm day and after work everyone was out taking advantage of the sun, cycling, running or walking. Lots of people in summer clothes eating ice creams or sitting on their balconies. It was quite amusing to see so many sunbaking on any available bit of grass!
Anyway, back to our tour… we took the coach out of town to visit Powerscourt Gardens. The photos do not do justice to this beautiful mansion and estate in the mountains of County Wicklow. Built in the 18th century, it stands on what was once a 13th century medieval castle. I would highly recommend googling this one!
There were so many different themes in the gardens and they were all unique and special. I loved the walled garden with its profusion of roses but a place where I had to spend some extra time was the Pet’s Cemetery because of my love of animals. It is the resting place of the much loved pets of the Wingfield family dating from 1911 to the 1980’s of the current owners, the Slazenger family.
On our return to Dublin, we were given free time so we had a late lunch at an Irish pub – a ‘”shamrock”” pie and mash, washed down with some local Irish beer – so good! After a bit of shopping, we were collected and continued our tour around town. Dublin is a big, busy city but does have its little gems, especially the famous Georgian terrace houses with all the different coloured front doors. I also liked how they have retained their green spaces. The areas around Temple Bar looked old and interesting. It was a pity we did not have time to explore this part of town.
We finally arrived back at the ship in time to sail with the tide at 8.30pm.