Tag Archives: County Cork

Postcards from Midleton Farmers Market, Co Cork


The Market Green sculpture. 5 life-size sheep surround a central pillar.

The Farmers Market in Midleton County Cork was one of the first of its kind in Ireland and ranks as one of Ireland’s best. Back  in 2000, cook of international renown Darina Allen of nearby Ballymaloe Cookery School, had the idea to showcase local good food, and so the market came about.

All stall holders produce their food locally, most of it is organic. It is always fresh and looks very tempting! Artisan bread, cakes, jams, chutney, goats cheese, mushrooms, fresh fish, vegetables of every kind, pickles, fruit, smoked fish, chocolate, coffee, milk, pork, eggs. All first-rate products and worlds apart from supermarket fare. Open on a Saturday morning up to 1 pm, it is usually very busy and there is a great atmosphere here with friends chatting, background music and playing children.

This morning was particularly blustery with a promise of a downpour any minute, so crowds had not yet arrived when I was there.

It is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area, and quite different to many other markets in Ireland. It’s a very unique experience and a must for anyone interested in good fresh local food. 



Filed under Ireland, Living in Ireland

Postcards from..

Some of the most popular and viewed posts I put on this site are in the series ”POSTCARDS FROM…”where I post snaps from places I happen to visit or pass through. These are mostly places in Ireland where I live. Many of them are a little off the beaten track, almost in a hidden Ireland but all are ‘Real’ Ireland.

I have created a new page on my site where I will place links to the posts in the series. The list will be added to from time to time. I hope you will enjoy!

The link to the page is HERE , but below is a list of all the places so far!

Places in Ireland 

Newcastle West, Co Limerick August 2013
Moneygall, Co. Offaly, ancestral home of Barack Obama. August 2013
Dublin September 2013.
Kells Co Meath January 2014
Bunratty, Co Clare, May 2014
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin August 2014
Rathkeale, Co. Limerick September 2014
Dingle, Co Kerry on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way July 2015
Shanagolden, Co Limerick August 2015
Bere Island, Co Cork September 2015.

Places outside Ireland

Serpentine National Park, Western Australia January 2015


Filed under Ireland

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.


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.


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

April 13 1912: Titanic sails in calm waters

On this night 101 years ago, the RMS Titanic is sailing through calm waters. Just over 48 hours earlier she had departed Queenstown, County Cork. Passengers on board expect  to dock in New York on April 17, four days from now.

Among them are wealthy Americans who, having completed their tour of Europe are returning home in the most luxurious and fastest liner on the Atlantic route. Here too are hundreds of emigrants who have bidden farewell to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends all across Europe, and are now looking forward to a new life in a new land.


Members of the Orchestra on board Titanic. Image Wikimedia.Commons

As they steam towards their meeting with destiny in just 24 hours from now, many 1st class passengers may be enjoying and dancing to the music of the on-board orchestra, while many others begin to settle down for the night. The calm conditions  make for a comfortable night’s sleep. The 128 children on board are probably already settled. For many of them –  for most of them – this is to be their last night alive.




Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Irish Diaspora, Irish History, Mayo Emigrants, Titanic

Serendipity on the Beara Peninsula

On Monday August 6th, I left the memorable Bere Island, County Cork to make the three and half hour drive home back to Limerick. The cloudy day was clearing up nicely and I decided to take the ‘scenic’ route home along the beautiful Beara Peninsula. And what a great decision that was! I spent many hours discovering beautiful places, enjoying fantastic scenery, and happening on wonderful surprises. Serendipity at its best!

Bantry Bay

I headed west from Castletownbearhaven, County Cork, and began the ascent of the Slieve Miskish Mountains I took a last look back at the deep natural harbour of Bantry Bay. The tip of Bere Island is in the middle distance to the right, and the cloud-capped mountain to the left is Hungry Hill, highest of the Caha Mountains. (The novelist Daphne Du Maurier borrowed the name, Hungry Hill, for one of her very successful novels, later a film, set in this area). Travelling on, astonishing views tempted but as the road was narrow and twisting  it was not safe to stop the car to capture a scene. A fabulous Martello Tower appeared and then disappeared on the twists and turns of the road. Likewise, a beautiful arrangement of flowers outside a stone cottage, swept past – as did many fabulous seascapes. This is no place for a lone driver with a camera taking snaps!

Allihies Village lies above Ballydonegan Bay

This is Ballydonegan Bay with Allihies tucked in under the Slieve Miskish Mountains behind. Allihies is reputedly the furthest village in Ireland from Ireland’s capital city, Dublin.

The mountains of the Ring of Kerry in the far distance on the approach to Allihies.

A Kerry Cow (living in Cork!)

The Beara Peninsula lies south of the magnificent and world famous Ring of Kerry and all along the route there are magnificent views of the peaks of the Kerry Mountains. At a welcome stopping and viewing area I met a black Kerry cow, grazing peacefully in the field below the road. Kerry cows are a native Irish breed, now relatively rare and probably the oldest breed of cattle in Europe.

Dropping down into Allihies

The road winds down into Allihies. The coffee shop in the Allihies Museum is not to be missed! It is housed in an old Methodist Church, erected to accommodate the Cornish miners who came to live in this area in the 19th Century. These people had traveled from Cornwall in the south-west of England to bring their mining ability to the Copper mines of Allihies between 1812 and 1844. At one time over 1,500 people worked in this area. Following the closure of the mines, many emigrated to the USA, most notably to Butte, Montana, an area also noted for mining. The poached salmon wrap and deep apple tart pie from the coffee shop are highly recommended and when enjoyed from a window seat overlooking Ballydonegan Bay, are just priceless!

The area surrounding Allihies is rich in industrial heritage and ideal for walking. Climbing away from the village, the old Engine House, used I understand for pumping water away from the mining area underground, stands in testimony to times gone by and as a memorial to those who lost their lives during that mining period.

An old Engine House stands sentinel over the abandoned mining area

From here the drive becomes literally breathtaking – steep climbs, sharp bends, stone walls around every corner, at the brow of every hill is a wonderful view of sheltered cottages, of geology in all its glory, of vast seascapes, of sheltered coves.

The road drops towards the edge of the sea

The road winds down towards the edge of the land, as in this case. It is not always clear where the road actually goes!   However, this road winds between the pink house and the white–washed wall and it really is difficult to keep the eyes off the wonderful scenery!

The pink house marks the turn in the road

Hugging the coast now, the blue-ness of the sea is astonishing. Colourfully marked sheep  are more interested in their lush grass than in the spectacular views!

Colourful sheep may safely graze

The deep blue sea between Beara and the Ring of Kerry is spectacular indeed!

The deep blue sea

The sea here is the deepest blue I have seen in a long time, reflecting the blue skies above! Further along, I get a chance to stop and look back from whence I had come – at the carefully nurtured green fields surrounding  the pink house and the white-washed wall of earlier pictures. Ancient stone walls edge the roadway as another vehicle approaches.

Looking back along the road

The rocky hills behind and the lovely clumps of purple heather in the foreground, behind the dry stone wall make a lovely scene. The vehicle in this picture was to be the last vehicle I would see driving on the road for the next three-quarters of an hour!

I wind my way on into the picturesque village of Eyeries, with its brightly coloured street  and  take a few minutes to stroll along the street. The local shop looks welcoming and I get a postcard to send to Australia. Such a friendly welcome in the local shop , so I enjoy the added luxury of an ice cream while I write my postcard and mail it from the local post office!

The Pink House

I think this house may once have been pink, or perhaps it is owned by the Pink family?

Keeping to the coast road, I came upon what was surely the most memorable place for me along the entire route of the Beara Peninsula on that day. Sun blazing from the blue sky, I notice a small ruined church perched on a corner, bounded by lovely old stone walls.

A sign entices me to the churchyard

Here on the bend of the road, overlooking Ardgroom harbour and bounded by a magnificent stone wall, is the ruined Kilcatherine church or abbey,possibly dating to the 7th Century. The surrounding graveyard was having its midsummer grass trim and I was fortunate in being able to see some of the detail in the graveyard where the grass had already been cut.

Looking out from the inside of the ruin

A beautiful glimpse of the sea through the openings of the building and outside, the spectacular final resting place of the people of this area.


This lonely and beautiful  graveyard has a particular poignancy for me because of the large number of small grave markers intermingled with the larger headstones.

A peaceful graveyard overlooking the sea

It typifies the social history of dying in Ireland – well-marked graves among the anonymous ones, or indeed no markers at all. These  may be anonymous graves, but at least they are marked graves, albeit of unknown people.

Grave markers of unknown dozens

This expanse of  grave markers is particularly poignant and probably represents the most memorable image of my trip around Beara.  I fancy that for every marker there are many other people laid to rest without any such marker. There is much emphasis today on cataloguing named gravestones, but many of us –  perhaps the majority of us-   are descended from people who did not merit or could not afford to have their burial-place marked with their names. In my family, the graves of my paternal great grandparents are unmarked and unknown as are the graves of my maternal great grandparents. Many of us are descended from victims of the Famine and the majority of those millions are also in unmarked graves.

At Kilcatherine, among the long still uncut grass,  there are even more such grave markers.  I have only once before seen these markers in a graveyard, and that was at Ardmore Cathedral, in County Waterford, but they may be common in Ireland.

A cow gazes over the wall at the long grass still concealing many more gravemarkers in this graveyard

This place then to me, beautifully located in a coastal location, is a great symbol of all those who died and  whose last resting place in unknown. May they all rest in peace.

A peaceful setting for generations that have gone before

The Kilcatherine ruins and graveyard are enclosed by beautiful stone walls that follow the contour of the road.  Dry stone walls  are a fascinating part of the heritage of Ireland, and are a particular passion of this writer .. meriting a post all by themselves soon!

And so onward, where the  road less travelled  gets even narrower as this  picture shows.

Onward on the Ring of Beara

The views continue to amaze and the landscape begins to change to one of country lanes with no traffic at all.

Cattle enjoying the view!

The road is twisty and very narrow now, but with great views of Kenmare Bay at every turn.

The views are still stunning on this very narrow part of the Ring

I am almost at the end, and in a little while I am surrounded by the fabulous Fuchsia  hedging that flourishes along the Atlantic seaboard but especially in this part of Ireland.  The red blossoms are full of nectar and the bees hum noisily among the beautiful flowers.

Beautiful Fuchsia hedging lines the lane ways of the Beara Peninsula

A truly lovely image to  end my serendipitous tour of the Beara Peninsula.  Béidh mé arais arís!

I hope you enjoy looking at my ‘snaps’ and that they may entice you to visit this remote but wonderful gem in the south-west of Ireland!

Further reading

Beara Tourism

Allihies Copper Mine Museum – from  The Irish Times


Filed under Ireland, Irish Culture, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Irish Traditions, Living in Ireland

Discovering Bere Island

The Admiral’s House! It was to this very prestigious address that I had been invited for a long weekend on Bere Island, County Cork, Ireland. Mindful of the fate of the Titanic, I averted my gaze  on leaving the mainland  and refused to contemplate how the semi submerged remains of what may well have been the ferries of yesteryear ended up on the bottom of the harbour

Above, birds enjoying the remains of a boat at Pontoon ferry departure point, Castletownbere where another once-proud vessel lies abandoned(below)

I committed myself and my vehicle to the capable hands of Murphy’s Ferries to make the short crossing to Bere Island. I cautiously looked around for the lifeboats. None! OK. if my time is up, it is up and I will sink into beautiful Bantry Bay, the deepest natural harbour in Europe!There was a brief  heart-stopping moment when, about 2/3rd of the way across, I saw  what appeared to be a mast and a funnel poking out of the water.  Could this have been a ferry?  No –too big! A bigger REAL ship perhaps?  It turned out to be the wreck of  the  M.V Bardini Reefer, a Panamanian Factory Fishing Vessel, that on 15 December 1982 caught fire and sank!

However, our trusty ferry arrived safe and sound, as it always does, and soon I was enjoying negotiating the narrow, high hedged roads and laneways of Bere Island. The Admiral’s House did not disappoint with its imposing views of Bantry bay and the mainland.

An image of the Admiral’s House from The Admiral’s House webpage!

And so  began a few days of  discovery – spectacular views; gorgeous lanes edged by beautiful linear meadows and hedgerows;  loud silence in marked contrast to military emplacements that once guarded the entrance to Bantry Bay.

Bere is a place for walkers. Suitably clad to deal with changes in temperature and sudden heavy short-lived showers, we headed off on the Rerrin Loop.  Rerrin, the small village is at the eastern end of the island, where the Irish Army still has a presence.

At the eastern end of the island stands an impressive gun emplacement, guarded by a deep moat and kept mown by a herd of goats who share this place with a couple of colonies of bats. It is hoped that eventually this spot can be developed  into a unique tourist attraction.

Goats guard gun emplacements at Lonehort Battery (above). The hedgerows of Bere island are beautiful, untouched by pollution and with many species growing alongside one another.

Fuchsia, gorse, heather, digitalis, honeysuckle, meadow-sweet among others, mingle together. 

Another noticeable feature of the island is the number of ruined and abandoned stone cottages . Abandoned  perhaps because of migration, death or for an upgrade to more modern conditions. Whatever the reason, they leave an indelible mark on the landscape of places that perhaps once resounded with the sounds of children playing  and laughing, but are now in deep silence.

Once a home. Some cottages have signs of once having had gardens and flowers surrounding them.

This hydrangea is now almost as high as the cottage itself and stands in enduring tribute to the person who planted it many years ago.

This cottage, on the roadside has an intriguing stone set into the wall engraved with the date June 1854 – it would be fascinating to discover the significance of this date to the people who lived here once upon a time.

Bere Island has a rich heritage. Vikings, French and British have landed here and the island  monuments reflect this varied history.  Among the older monuments is the Standing Stone (below) dating from at least a millennium BC . This impressive stone stands at the very centre of the island.

Martello Towers,  relics of the early 19th century are on prominent positions on the island and are accessible to walkers who can enjoy the stunning views.(below)

For the less energetic, there are  other fascinating and beautiful walks all over the island with the wonders of nature all around.

Bere is a place of extraordinary beauty, a place of great peace  – far from the hustle, bustle and humdrum of every day life.

As I departed on my ferry after a few days, I earnestly wish to pay a return visit to discover even more of this place that is truly a place apart.

Murphy’s Ferry leaving Bere Island  (Image from D Shiels)

Further reading:

Information on  Martello Towers can be seen here

Information on Bere Island here



Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Living in Ireland, Social Change