Wow there are unlimited chances to learn when you’re traveling and some interesting facts may be found right around the neighborhood where you are staying. That is, if you take the time to walk around.
I have been staying in the Kinlay House on the Bob and Joan Walk, near the St. Anne’s Church, and next to the Maldron Hotel that was once a hospital, and Skiddy’s Almshouse is on the other side of Kinlay House.
The walkway called Bob and Joan Walk in Shandon area of Cork, comes from the history of the Green Coat Hospital School that was built in 1716 for poor children to be educated. The statues called Bob and Joan were situated at the gate house of the school, but now they are housed inside the St. Anne’s Church.
The first time I heard the Bells of Shandon, they were ringing out a classical tune and I thought they were so peaceful sounding and wished to hear more. I did. They haven’t stopped. After awhile, I heard “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and then it was ‘Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, Dormez Vous.”
Tourists are welcome to climb clear to the top of the tower and enjoy 360 degree views of the City of Cork. That’s not all; they are allowed to play the bells. They ring out most of the day.
The bells have been honored with a poem by Francis Sylvester Mahony. By the way, the bells first rang out on Dec. 7, 1752.
The Hotel Maldron is a converted hospital and has a grave yard in the backyard with large tombstones. They are so old that most of the names are no longer visible, I observed. But people are free to walk into the graveyard/park and rest on benches.
Skiddy’s Almshouse, came about when the wine merchant, Stephen Skiddy bequeathed in his 1584 will twenty-four pounds to the Mayor of Cork City to build a house for ten of the poorest people over age fifty.
According to what I have read in the website on the history of Cork City, the Almshouse was first erected in 1620.
In 1975 they were transformed into flats by the not-for-profit, Social Housing Development Company, and now have fourteen housing units.
I don’t just walk around on the streets, but I enjoy out-of-the-way streets and alleyways where small doors open to low ceilinged flats. Windows are covered with lacy curtains and trinkets on the window-sills.
I did some walking around this morning after going to St. Anne’s Church and then the Cork Butter Museum that is just a few steps away from the church and near another building called, The Firkin Crane. “What the heck is a firkin crane?” I asked the man who took my money at the museum.
“Firkins are barrels and the building had big cranes that lifted the firkins up to get them ready to transport once they were full of butter,” the man with a large, red and shiny face, said with a big smile.
That building has a leaky roof and there’s no money to fix it he added. Otherwise it would be part of the museum and the history of Ireland’s successful butter business.
Ireland has just recently seen an improvement in the economy, some have said. Although, I have observed many closed-up businesses and empty buildings.
To change the subject, I went to Blarney again on Friday. When I was there the first time I found an old hotel that reminded me of an old Colorado Western hotel and thought it would be fun to take a break from the hostel and spend one night there.
I did what I always do; I walked around the town. The community had a soccer game going on in the park and many people were cheering their favorite team. It turns out that the Blarney Castle Hotel, where I stayed sponsored one of the teams, and they won.
I felt for just a moment that I was part of the community.
“Did you wear your sun screen?” Someone asked as I crossed the street, yesterday.
“Bad weather isn’t it?” Another person said today because it was raining. Weather, even though there is nothing anyone can do about it, is number one topic in Ireland.
They are the most friendly, helpful, sensitive people I have ever met.