Tag Archives: Cork

Postcards from Bere Island, County Cork

A few weeks ago I was able to go back to Bere Island on a day trip. Bere Island is in Bantry Bay just a short distance offshore from the County Cork town of Castletownbere, and overlooks the deep water harbour of Berehaven.

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A Pontoon seagull gazes across to Bere Island with its Martello Tower.

 

We caught Murphy’s Ferry at Pontoon that crosses  to the village of Rerrin. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and is very pleasant on a calm day such as this.

 

The Bere Islanders, who number about 200, are very friendly and welcome visitors to enjoy the beautiful scenery, to cycle, to walk, to fish, to watch birds and whales, to enjoy the beautiful wildflowers. The  wildflowers were pas their best as we headed into autumn, but I can assure you that you will never see anything like the fabulous linear wildflower meadows that line the roads here throughout the summer.

imageThere is a very rich archaeological heritage on the island, which is well signed.

Around the harbour at Rerrin there is safe anchorage here for some very attractive yachts.

On arrival, the tide was out. How about this as an example of excellence in recycling!

The purpose of the visit was to attend a talk in the Lecture Theatre on the very important role of Bere Island in various times of conflict from the Napoleonic Wars to World War 2 .

These delightful women had travelled over to the island from Durrus to hear the talk and took time to have a picnic lunch in the lovely sunshine.

While inside, the World War 1 building and former chapel, the speaker was having a chat with the early birds.

imageAfterwards there was time for a whistle-stop tour of the island, but only after some delicious chowder in the Lookout restaurant. I loved the very unusual barometer that was hanging on the wall.

At the end of the high season the roads are particularly quiet and attractive for walkers.

It’s not all plain sailing though as we discovered when we met some stubborn locals!

The island scenery is good for the soul!

And so back to Rerrin to catch the ferry back to the mainland

The tide had filled while we were away and the harbour looked totally different.

 

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, Fish are jumpin’ …..

Such a beautiful evening, with water lapping softly

No roll-on, roll-off ferries here –  it’s a question of trusting in the guy directing as you reverse on….

It had been a couple of years since my last visit  and I have been blessed with great weather on each occasion. It makes you want to go back for sure, to this island sitting in the splendour of Bantry Bay.

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Filed under Ireland, Irish Countryside, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Living in Ireland, My Travels

To Australia,with love – February 2012

It was foggy. It was wet. It was cold. It was a February afternoon in Cork Ireland, the starting point for my great excursion across the world. Soon, at a height of 31,000 feet above Wales, we broke free of the grey cloud and rain and cruised over a tapestry of snow-covered fields lit by the evening sun. From east of the Bristol Channel all the way over to London Heathrow, England, the countryside was iced in snow, making a beautiful ground pattern far below. This was  the first leg of what was to be a long journey.

Snow covered approach to London Heathrow on an Aer Lingus Flight from Cork, Ireland on a misty cold winter evening.

Departure on the second leg  was delayed  for about 10 minutes as the pilot asked us not to be alarmed to see the wings of the plane being sprayed for de-icing purposes! A further delay ensued as the plane ahead of us became ‘stuck’ and we were  re- routed to another runway. Finally, almost an hour behind schedule, the great Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 with capacity for 850 passengers, lifted effortlessly and smoothly into  the night  sky. Below, London’s countless millions of lights sparkled and stretched for miles as we climbed higher and higher. 7,067 miles to go to our destination, Singapore!

Out over Biggin Hill, best  known for its role in the Battle of Britain in the second World War, we head  south towards  Dover to cross the English Channel into Europe and onwards across  Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Czech Republic. South of  Bielsko-Biała in Poland we turn southwards into Slovakia, across Hungary and into Romania. We then head over the Black  Sea – once a blue blob on my geography school atlas, now a vast expanse of water  – indeed a ‘sea’,  miles below. Here, some 1,500 miles into our flight, we met the salmon- pink light of dawn of the following day, as the sun relentlessly made its way to Cork, Ireland where I had come from, some eleven hours earlier.

On the far shore of the Black Sea we fly over Georgia, with its capital Tbilisi, and on south of  the Caucasus Mountains to Armenia. We are now 6 miles high  in the sky over the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia as we leave Azerbaijan and cross the south-western part of the Caspian  Sea. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – almost unknown to many when they were part of the USSR – now all too familiar as  they appear on our news bulletins from time to time. Iran, also so often on our TV screens, is below, and soon we are above Afghanistan, another of the world’s  troubled places. We fly on over neighbouring  Pakistan, and on into  India. I wonder if I might even catch a glimpse of the mighty Himalayas in the distant north!

Leaving India by the east coast, we reach the Bay of Bengal – the first major stretch of water we cross (a great relief to those of us who wondered about the usefulness of life vests in the event of falling out of the sky over dry land!) The next land we see is the Andaman Islands, of which I was vaguely aware prior to 2004, but since the devastating tsunami on December 26th the name is all too familiar.  Phucket in Thailand – familiar for the same reason- is now to our north as we head along the coast of Thailand  to Malaysia. With 600 odd miles to go I am conscious of clouds outside the windows –  clouds 6 miles high??!  Now in the tropics, we have a good ‘shaking’ as we meet  severe turbulence to remind us that nature rules!  Keeping west of Kuala Lumpur we head for Singapore on the southernmost tip of the peninsula. Dropping down, it is surprising to see so many cargo ships  – dozens and dozens  in rows – lying at anchor in the bay and it is easy to understand that Singapore is one of the top  three busiest seaports in the world! The passenger in the seat next to me wonders if Singapore, being ‘such a small place, will have steps of the proper height’  to allow us to disembark from our plane –  I smile knowing that a surprise awaits her! So, 13 hours after leaving London, we touch down safely at Singapore Changi, in exotic south-east Asia. The airport has a fabulous butterfly garden, flowing water features with exotic orchids everywhere and terrific  facilities for transit passengers.

Refreshed and soon on the way again, we climb into the sky out over the South China Sea  on the final 2,386 miles of the journey to Perth, Western Australia.  We cross the equator into the southern hemisphere as we  head towards Jakarta and across the Indian Ocean.  Some four hours  into the flight,to the  east high above  the west coast of Australia a misty reddish hue appears on the horizon, gradually spreading into turquoise , yellows, oranges and reddish golds. I have met my first  Australian dawn!

At about 4 30 am the sun begins to show on the horizon

Reflections from my aircraft seat as the sun rises over Western Australia

As we get closer to Perth WA, clouds sit above the golden new day.

In another hour, 33 hours after my journey began, I will step out into the Australian heat to meet my family – three generations of them – who have left Ireland for a new life in Australia. For generations, Australia has been a destination for the Irish diaspora-  many forcibly transported to penal colonies there, many emigrating by choice and many, as now , in the midst of an Irish economic depression emigrating through economic necessity in the hope of carving out a better future. Like many another parent, grandparent, brother or sister in Ireland today I have had to say goodbye to 3 of the 4 members of my direct family as they made that great migration across continents, across seas to far- away Australia. I am very fortunate that I have been able to make that long journey of 10,000 miles to visit them, and for  the next while their nearness will be thoroughly enjoyed and the vast distance that separates us will be forgotten!

Yet – in the still of the night, it is still hard to forget that  Australia is just too far away for those of us who have been left behind.

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Older Generation, Social Change