NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD PEOPLE TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY!
CORK COUNTY, IRELAND, IS FORTUNATELY A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE ON EARTH AND RAISE A FAMILY!
IT HAS BEEN SUCH A LONG AND DIFFICULT WEEK, I THINK, FOR ALL OF US, HASN'T IT?
THIS WEEK'S STATIC OR HARSH NOISE HAS BEEN PERVASIVE: ED MC MAHON SUCCUMBING TO A LONG ILLNESS, FARAH FAWCETT DYING IN BED OF CANCER, AND MICHAEL JACKSON NOT MOVING AND BEING CUT INTO TINY LITTLE PIECES BY AN ELECTRIC SAW IN AN AUTOPSY BY THE COLD AND HEARTLESS LOS ANGELES COUNTY CORONER'S OFFICE.
Where is our solace from all of this deep pain?
WHERE IS THE HOMEOSTASIS, THE BALANCE OF ALL THINGS GOOD AND EVIL?
IS THERE A COMMUNAL CONSENSUS FOR HARMONY AND PEACE AND SPIRITUAL SANITY?
When can we feel whole again and warm and loved?
NOT THIS WEEK...MAYBE NEXT WEEK?
Wayne Dennis Kurtz.
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By MICHAEL McDERMOTT
Published: June 28, 2009
WHILE Cork may officially be Ireland’s second city, don’t suggest that to one of its proud residents. The melodious reply — most likely delivered in a rich brogue sprinkled with gammin (Cork slang for Cork slang) — may contain playful swipes at that larger town over on the Irish Sea. But it’s this spark and warmth of Cork, a remnant of the city’s enduring rebel history, that captivate the visitor and — along with its picturesque setting along the River Lee and its dedication to the arts and good food and drink — make it a convincing rival to Dublin. On long summer days, Cork’s compact size makes it a perfect city to tour on foot, providing you’ve packed walking shoes and a bit of ambition for a few hilly climbs.
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A Weekend in Cork, IrelandSlide Show
A Weekend in Cork, Ireland
1) RING BELLS ON ARRIVAL
For an introduction to the city, ascend the hill north of city center into the district of Shandon to the Church of St. Anne, built in 1722 of sandstone and limestone, a red and white color combination so popular among residents that they designed the city’s flag to match. For the best view of the city, wind your way up the tower’s stone stairs (6 euros, about $8.50 at $1.41 to the euro), alerting the city to your arrival by ringing the eight bells you’ll find along the way up. Handy music sheets demonstrate how to play appropriate classics such as “The Bells of Shandon,” or more unlikely tunes like Meat Loaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”
2) A DRINK FROM THE WELL
Keeping with the sacred spirit, make your next stop the Franciscan Well Brewery (14b North Mall; 353-21-421-0130; www.franciscanwellbrewery.com), a microbrewery (still a rarity in Ireland) and pub (less so), built on the site of a Franciscan monastery where legend has it that the well water was a miraculous curative. These days, the water may come from the city pipes, but the beer pours freely and in lavish variety by Irish standards. The crisp, clean Friar Weisse wheat and the robust Rebel Red are excellent house choices (about 4.50 euros a pint). Or pick from a handful of other drafts and a range of import bottles, certainly plenty to get you langerated, magalorim or mombolised (Corkonian ways to describe getting loaded).
3) TAPAS, IRISH STYLE
Boqueria (6 Bridge Street; 353-21-455-9049; www.boqueria.ie) serves up Spanish tapas, with a nod toward classically Irish ingredients, in a converted pub. The charcuterie plate (15.50 euros) offers smoky chorizo and salami from the local Gubbeen Farmhouse, along with rich chicken liver pâté, spicy serrano ham and strips of creamy Manchego cheese topped with tangy quince jelly. For a decadent vegetarian option, try the piquillos, sweet red peppers stuffed with locally renowned Ardsallagh goat cheese blended with crushed almonds. A lengthy list of Spanish wines provides welcome liquid accompaniment.
4) THE PIPES ARE CALLING
Traditional music is alive and well at Sin E (pronounced shin-AY, Irish Gaelic for That’s It; 8 Coburg Street; 353-21-450-2266), a pub that could easily be an East Village transplant if not for the occasional barber chair (formerly, one could get a trim and a pint simultaneously). A mishmash of rock concert posters, snapshots and postcards dangles from the walls and ceiling, framing musical sessions where outsiders and regulars are equally welcome. A mix of young and old play fiddles, banjos and flutes into the night even when the house music is switched back on.
5) RASHERS AND BROWSERS
Fill a beer-worn belly with a baat, an Irish breakfast sandwich (7.50 euros) — rasher, sausage and blood pudding held together on buttered nutty whole grain bread — at the Farmgate Café (English Market; 353-21-427-8134). Ingredients are fresh from the surrounding English Market (City Center, entrances on Grand Parade, Princes Street and Patrick Street), in operation for more than 400 years and clearly visible from your second-story perch in the cafe. Watch locals shop for fresh meats, fish, cheeses and breads, or go out to browse the stalls yourself, satisfying your cravings for sheep’s cheese or smoked meats at On the Pig’s Back (353-21-427-0232; www.onthepigsback.ie) or reviewing various raw materials for the local specialty of tripe and drisheen (a blood sausage).
6) BETTER BELIEVE IT’S BUTTER
For a surprisingly engaging and multi-faceted view of history, visit the Cork Butter Museum (O’Connell Square; 353-21-430-0600; www.corkbutter.museum; adult admission, 4 euros). Subjects include everything from the medieval legacy of cattle raids and children’s baptism in milk to the economic growth spurt of the dairy industry. When ready to trade savory for sweet, stop at nearby Linehan Hand Made Sweets (37A John Redmond Street; 353-21-450-7791) where the Linehans have been cooking up old-fashioned boiled candies like clove rocks, butter nuggets and apple drops for four generations (1.50 euros a bag).
7) FOOD AND ART UNITE
Feeling flahed out (wasted) from walking the hills? Stop in at the Crawford Art Gallery and Café (Emmet Place; 353-21-490-7855; www.crawfordartgallery.ie). The airy former Custom House, built in 1724, defies the overpriced and govvy (snobby) reputation of museum restaurants. An ever-changing menu offers selections like a rich, creamy cucumber, lettuce and mint soup (5.20 euros) and a Spanish tortilla accompanied by a zinger of a country relish (10.50 euros). Fawn Allen, the restaurant’s manager, hails from the family that founded the world-renowned Ballymaloe House farm and restaurant in County Cork. Have a sconce (quick look) at the museum’s collection of modern and classical works, and don’t miss the watercolors by the Irish stained-glass artist Harry Clarke. Admission is free.
8) RETAIL PILGRIMAGE
Join the locals along St. Patrick’s Street and the surrounding alleyways, where you might find buskers playing fiddle or tambourine alongside an odd mechanical troupe of doll performers. In this shopping hub, one can find a Bunbury cutting board that can be tracked via serial number to its Irish tree source as well as pottery by Irish artists at the Meadows & Byrne Home Store (Academy Street; 353-21-427-2324; www.meadowsandbyrne.com). At Samui (17 Drawbridge Street; 353-21-427-8080; samuifashions.com), check out high-end women’s threads by Irish designers like Lainey Keogh and Roisin Linnane.
9) WORTH THE CLIMB
Find your way to a side door mounted with a winged bust of armor overhead and ascend to the Ivory Tower (35 Princes Street; 353-21-427-4665; www.seamusoconnell.com), a creation of Seamus O’Connell, an American-born chef. During a late-spring visit, the unusual menu (four-course menu for 60 euros a person or a seven-course starter menu for 75 euros) included inventive dishes like tongue with ladyfingers and gentleman’s relish, carpaccio of wood pigeon with beetroots and rocket, and magret of duck with blackberry balsamic jus and braised endives.
10) ESCAPE THE FIDDLES
For a night out without the plucking and pipes, head over to the Pavilion (Carey’s Lane; 353-21-427-6230; www.pavilioncork.com), a hot spot of recent prominence as both a mellow lounge with good beats downstairs and the choice venue for live acts and club nights upstairs. Saturday night’s Go Deep sessions present both up-and-coming and veteran Irish and international D.J.’s, some joined by live performers. The lofty barrel-vaulted ceilings of the club space serve as a stylish reminder of the building’s original incarnation as one of the first cinemas in Cork, opened in 1921. (Admission is 14 euros upstairs; free downstairs).
11) TAKE YE TO THE RIVER
While the River Lee may seem inescapable in the central city, for more alluring views and a better chance to appreciate the water, head to Fitzgerald Park, west of the city center along Mardyke Walk. Grab a scone (1.50 euros) at the Riverview Café (back of Cork City Museum in the park; 353-21-427-9573) and stroll among the gnarly trees, splashing fountains and well-manicured gardens where children’s laughter and their parents’ mellifluous replies merge with the lazy flow of the river.
Several carriers, including Aer Lingus and Ryan Air, fly to Cork via Dublin, Shannon or London. A recent online search found round-trip flights from John F. Kennedy Airport connecting to Cork in July starting around $600. Taxis from Cork Airport to the city center cost about 12 euros (about $17 at $1.41 to the euro), while convenient CityLink buses cost 5 euros (8 euros for round trip).
The individually designed luxury rooms at the Imperial Hotel (South Mall; 353-21-427-4040; www.flynnhotels.com/Imperial_Hotel/; rooms from 79 euros) have seen some upgrading since the national hero Michael Collins spent his last night there in 1922 before being assassinated the next day. Multiple restaurants and the Escape salon and spa offer further hospitality to the weary traveler.
Hotel Isaacs (48 MacCurtain Street; 353-21-450-0011; www.isaacs.ie; rooms from 69 euros) offers guest rooms as well as holiday apartments in a carefully restored Victorian building.
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