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After three whirlwind months on the European continent and a fast week in London, we came “home” to Ireland.  Ancient, bucolic, hip, friendly, stunningly beautiful Ireland.

We love this country.  This was my third visit and Sarah’s 15th!  This time we wanted to linger in some familiar places and to visit others we’d never seen.  We were considering Ireland as a place to spend our retirement years.  The plan: Spend a few days visiting friends in Cappoquin, County Waterford; then move on to four weeks in the South (Kinsale/Cork), four weeks in the West (Westport/Connemara/Donegal), and four weeks in the East (Dublin).

We flew from London to Dublin, where we picked up a rental car.  Here, we must pass along a bit of hard-won travel wisdom:  Don’t be deceived by the low car rental rates advertised for Ireland.  This country (along with Israel and a few others) does not honor the insurance coverage provided by credit cards.  Visitors are required to buy the rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW), which more than tripled the cost of the car we had booked.  If you plan to drive in Ireland for at least four weeks, look into leasing rather than renting.  At the Dublin airport, we held our noses and picked up the suddenly expensive rental car, just to get on our way.  We turned it in early and leased a car for the rest of our stay, which saved us quite a bit of money.

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Cappoquin

Cappoquin, County Waterford, is a little village on the Blackwater River in southeastern Ireland. Like most of Ireland, it has a rich history.

Cappoquin, County Waterford, is a little village on the Blackwater River in southeastern Ireland. Like most of Ireland, it has a rich history.

The first brick for Cappoquin's Avonmore Bridge was laid in 1847, as a public works project during the great famine. Formerly callled "Victoria Bridge," nationalists chisled the new name into the stone in the early 20th century. The bridge was partially destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1922 and was subsequently rebuilt.

The first brick for Cappoquin’s Avonmore Bridge was laid in 1847, as a public works project during the great famine. Formerly callled “Victoria Bridge,” nationalists chisled the new name into the stone in the early 20th century. The bridge was partially destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1922 and was subsequently rebuilt.

Cappoquin's most famous historical figure is Michael Cavanaugh, "Young Irelander, Fenian Poet and Historian, and Above All Else a Resolute and Uncompromising Patriot" who fought for Irish independence here and then as an expat in New York City.

Cappoquin’s most famous historical figure is Michael Cavanaugh, “Young Irelander, Fenian Poet and Historian, and Above All Else a Resolute and Uncompromising Patriot” who fought for Irish independence here and then as an expat in New York City.

Cappoquin's Dromana Gate is a Hindu-Gothic structure built in the early 1800s. It was on the Dromana Estate that Katherine, wife of the 16th Earl of Desmond, is reputed to have lived to the great age of 160 (!) and to have died as a result of a fall from a cherry tree.

Cappoquin’s Dromana Gate is a Hindu-Gothic structure built in the early 1800s. It was on the Dromana Estate that Katherine, wife of the 16th Earl of Desmond, is reputed to have lived to the great age of 160 (!) and to have died as a result of a fall from a cherry tree.

This mural testifies to the importance of pork processing in the town's history.

Cappoquin’s agrarian roots can be seen in this mural touting a bacon factory that closed in 1980. Cappoquin Chickens eventually took its place in the economy, but it too is now closed.

As in just about all Irish villages, there are several thriving pubs. The empty kegs outside the back door of Fawlty's testify to the popularity of the place.

As in just about all Irish villages, there are several thriving pubs. The empty kegs outside the back door of Fawlty’s testify to the popularity of the place.

Our adopted family in Cappoquin includes retired travel writer Susan Poole McGraw. She is shown here with her granddaughter Dee (left), her great granddaughter Ashley (right), and her great great grandson Daniel (in Susan's arms).

Our adopted family in Cappoquin includes retired travel writer Susan Poole McGraw. She is shown here with her granddaughter Dee (left), her great granddaughter Ashley (right), and her great great grandson Daniel (in Susan’s arms).

Flynn's Riverview Bed and Breakfast, our favorite place to stay in Cappoquin, is a former orphanage. This plaque is in the sidewalk in front of the place.

Flynn’s Riverview Bed and Breakfast, our favorite place to stay in Cappoquin, is a former orphanage. This plaque is in the sidewalk in front of the place.

One nun remains on the grounds of the former orphanage. I took this picture of her in the garden on a trip here in 2011.

One nun remains on the grounds of the former orphanage. I took this picture of her in the garden on a trip here in 2011.

Here we are in the dining room during our 2011 trip.

Here we are in the dining room during our 2011 trip.

Sarah with her friend Evelyn Flynn, who, along with her daughter Sandra, owns and runs Flynn's Riverview Bed and Breakfast.

Sarah with her friend Evelyn Flynn, who, along with her daughter Sandra, owns and runs Flynn’s Riverview Bed and Breakfast.

While staying in Cappoquin we took a side trip to the Irish Sea.

While staying in Cappoquin we took a side trip to the Irish Sea.

The sea is never very far away in this island nation.

The sea is never very far away in this island nation.

These rescue stations dot the coastline everywhere in Ireland. It reads,

These rescue stations dot the coastline everywhere in Ireland. It reads, “A Stolen Ringbuoy — A Stolen Life.”

After a few days in Cappoquin, we drove west to Kinsale in County Cork.  This harbor town would be our base for the next four weeks.  See you there next post!

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