Blarney Castle

A prison and a castle

We spent a week travelling around Cork, focusing on the Kinsale to Kenmare coastal route which is now part of the Wild Atlantic Way.

We started off our trip in Cork city and spent two nights here over St Patrick’s. We stayed at Gabriel’s Guest house, which is a large old period house which looks like it might have been used as a convent in the past. The guest house is situated on a hill on Summerhill North street, we had a room with a view, looking down on Kent train station and the harbour.  The room was really modern and the location was great, I would stay here again.

Cork City Gaol
Cork City Gaol

 

On St Patrick’s day, we headed to Cork city Gaol, which was my favourite place to visit on the trip.  Cork city Gaol opened in 1824 and housed men, women and even children for a time, it finally closed in 1923.  The old jail which is now open to the public as a museum, takes you through the Victorian wing of the old prison.  There are waxwork models of prisoners in their cells and prison guards watching over them.

 

 

Old jail museum Cork city
Old jail museum in Cork

 

We did the audio tour, which I recommend to do and walked around the prison and into different cells where the story of former prisoners are told.  We really enjoyed our visit to the prison, it was really interesting from a social history perspective, most of the prisoners were imprisoned for charges related to poverty, vagrancy and theft of food.  We also saw the cells where Republican prisoners were imprisoned during the War of Independence and Civil War, Countess Markievicz was also imprisoned here.

Old Cork prison
The Victorian wing of Cork city Gaol

 

Here is a short video we made of our visit.

 

You can find out more about visiting Cork city Gaol on their website here.

After visiting the prison, we walked back into town in time to catch some of the parade, then we headed off and drove to Blarney Castle, located about 8 kilometers from Cork city, in the village of Blarney. We were going to skip Blarney but I’m glad we didn’t as the gardens are worth the visit and climbing up the steep narrow steps to the top of the castle for the view is worth it.  We didn’t actually kiss the blarney stone but the view was worth the climb up alone.  That night we went back to Cork city and went for drinks in the Old Oak pub and An Bodhran pub.

Top of Blarney castle
Blarney stone

 

On Friday morning, feeling a bit worse for wear, we strolled around Cork city to get some fresh air and browsed around the English Market.  We left Cork city and drove to Fota Island resort and treated ourselves to lunch in the Amber restaurant and then we headed over to the Fota Island Wildlife Safari park.  If you have kids and or like zoos you’ll enjoy this, the weather was the best of our trip on this day and it was ideal for walking around and seeing the animals. There is also the Fota regency period house, you can visit, but this was closed until after Easter.

View of Blarney from Blarney Castle
View of Blarney from Blarney Castle

 

All in all, our first two days in Cork, were jam packed and we saw lots of interesting places and it was only the start of our Cork trip.