We were staying with a friend, Lorraine, in Mallow, a town just north of Cork. Lorraine helped us out at I Knit Day and Gerard met her at Dartington college in Devon back in his student days. Lorraine is one of G's longest-serving friends and I have no idea why we haven't visited her before. It's shameful really. She is brilliant. Gerard lived in Cork for a short time, but I've never been to Ireland before, but it lived up to what I expected, although we didn't see a single leprechaun and fiddle-dee-dee music was in short supply.
We'd originally intended to spent two weeks in Ireland, driving over, taking the ferry and then touring the country ending up in Belfast, hopping back on the ferry and over the Liverpool for Friday illumination festival. In actual fact, we have been invited to go to Baltimore next week for Stitches East so we had to curtail the trip and use Ryanair instead. Gerard was very clear that it would be raining, so when we arrived to glorious sunshine it was a good start (it didn't last, but by the time the gale force winds and rain came we were ensconced in Lorraine's house with the coal fire and the woolly socks).
I liked it. Lots. Ireland is almost like the adverts (we didn't see horses running around council estates, but we did see auld fellows drinking Guinness and Murphy's, live fiddle playing in the pub and more statues of the Virgin Mary than I've had hot dinners). Mallow is now what you'd call a commuter-town, but it has a bit of charm about it, including someone who has styled their back garden into 'a representation of the life and death of Jesus Christ' (no, really). We seemed to spend most of our nights at the Albert Lynch pub, but Gerard made a couple of trips at breakfast to the Hibernian Hotel to avail himself of their wi-fi. Now, this may come as a shocker - Lorraine doesn't have internet access. Yes, there are still places in the world where you can't check your Facebook! You know what, it was bloody lovely. I almost went a whole week without it and I think I preferred it (this is partly the reason why we haven't blogged).
So, what else did we do? Friday night in Cork (and one night is all we seem to be able to cope with these days); Gerard's mobile phone was left in a taxi and sent him into surprisingly apoplexy; Blarney Woollen Mills (not much wool); Kinsale; Garretstown beach; Cork gin; Limerick...
Limerick was our last little day trip. Above is Mary Smith's Aran Handknits shop which has seen baetter days. We spent quite a bit of time at the Hunt Museum, which is a personal collection of all sorts of nick-nacks. If you're interested in the evolution of handicraft and the art of superb workmanship you should definitely visit - everything from Egyptian glass bottles and da Vinci sculptures, to Picasso sketches and gold-plated pisspots. It's all here! They have my permission to take that and use it in their publicity. Honestly, though, I am a bit of buff when it comes to museums (good ones) and this was fascinating. I think the idea that this was a collection of artefacts put together because the Hunt's liked them, rather than trying to amass any kind of chronology or 'complete set' makes it much more interesting. We followed this with a visit to King John's castle which was less impressive - some waxwork re-enactments and a bit of amdram. I think we were too old and not their target audience.
Gerard took this photo of me on the bus at Victoria Station, happy to be back in London. If you're interested in seeing lots of photos of us, drunk, we've put them onto our Flickr pages
. I could've written so much more but time marches on...