Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cork City

Cork City is certainly a place that rewards getting lost in. It still has a load of "real shops" not just the mass produced chain variety so there is plenty of character to the shopfronts even when you are not shopping!

For most of the day I have finally been in the "misty rain" I was expecting in Ireland but have been miraculously free of up until now. The hostel I am in is up the hill in Shandon, and from down in the central city this morning I looked up to see misty rain on the hills where I am staying. Added a certain Celtic mystery to the scene and explained the emerald green of the grass I have seen in the countryside.

From the hostel window last night you could see several buildings below that I have now been inside. I found out that the building with beautiful green domes was the Franciscan church and I popped in twice this morning. Both times it was busy, first with Mass and then with the rosary and lots of people were in there both times. The dome above the altar has some beautiful mosaics.

I walked to the Cork museum in the rain and was glad I had bothered. There were quite a few objects from people connected with fighting for Irish independence, and in the Irish Civil War. I had not realised some of the complexities of Irish history. There was also quite an extensive collection of neolithic objects and metal made in the area. Upstairs there was an exhibition about some of the designs in the St Fin Barre's Cathedral. I hadn't been intending to go there as all the Church of Ireland churches seem to have an entry fee that puts them on my budgeting list and they don't usually make the 'cut' seeing as I have seen so many European churches. However, seeing the maquettes for some of the sculpture, and cartoons for some of the stained glass, I was inspired to go there. The architect, William Burges, was certainly inspired. He won a competition to design the cathedral apparently, that had strict budgetary constraints. Once engaged he threw away his original plans and did something far more elaborate in Victorian Gothic style, using all he knew about European churches. The cathedral really is beautiful inside.

I finally had a pub lunch about 2pm. I get involved in looking at places and forget to eat until it is nearly too late sometimes! Pub lunches seem to be the cheapest way to eat here and you can get generous servings of vegetables which I sometimes lack in my travels.

There is a small protest in town about what Israel is currently doing in the Middle East. Awareness of this is far higher in Ireland than you usually find it at home in New Zealand.

Rain has stopped, sun is shining and it has warmed up. Time to get out there again! Just over six weeks now until I get home. Time for the terrible winter weather there to come to an end for me. You hear now?!

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