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A Tour of South Cork - Part 1

All information regarding these tours has been used with permission, M. O'Callaghan.

Part 2 - Route: (Bandon to Union Hall)
Part 3 - Route: (Skibbereen to The Mizen)
Part 4 - Route: (Bantry & the Beara Peninsula)

Part 1 - Route:

Cork Harbour - Monkstown - Passage West - Carrigaline - Crosshaven - Fort Camden - Kinsale - Minane Bridge - Nohoval - Oysterhaven - Old Head of Kinsale - Summer Cove & Charlesfort - Innishannon

Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour is one of the world's great natural sheltered harbours, capable of receiving the largest ships afloat in perfect safety. In the great days of the Atlantic liners, the great ships used the port regularly. Cork Harbour is home of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, which received its Charter in 1720. The Harbour is occupied by a series of large & small islands, the largest of which is Great Island on which the town of Cobh together with Fota Estate and East Ferry are situated. Haulbowline Island houses the Irish Naval Base as well as the Irish Steel Works. Spike Island, a former military station, continues in use as an island prison for adolescent offenders. Rocky Island was an old munition store.

Monkstown / Passage West / Ringaskidy
11km (7 mls) SE of Cork city the twin harbour suburbs of Passage West and Monkstown stretch along the harbour coastline. They are on an attractive alternative route to / from the Ringaskiddy Ferry terminal. Passage West (or Passage) was the birthplace of Captain Richard Roberts, who sailed first steamship the Sirius across the Atlantic in 1838. A memorial near Glenbrook recalls this historic crossing, while The Sirius Centre across the harbour at Cove documents voyage and its times. Monkstown Castle or Castle Mahon (now the Clubhouse for Monkstown Golf Club) was built in 1636 by Anastasia Gould (Arch deacon) as a surprise for her husband. She stipulated that the workmen must buy all their food from her, and when the budget was balanced it is said the building cost her one penny. It is one of the best preserved examples of a 17th c. great gabled house. Nearby is Monkstown Yacht Club where sailing events are organised throughout the season.

Carrigaline is located 13km (8mls) south of Cork City at the head of the Owenabue River. This is the nearest centre to the Ringaskiddy Car Ferry terminal which links Cork with Swansea, Roscoff and Le Harve. Nearby the extensive Curabinny Wood is worth visiting for its fine coastal & forest walks, its views of the harbour area, the Giant's Grave on the hill summit, and its summer-house or gazebo where the original owners took leisurely afternoon tea. Between Carrigaline and Crosshaven is a bend or recess in the river known as Drake's Pool where Sir Francis Drake and five ships took refuge in 1587 when they were being pursued by the powerful Spanish fleet.

Five miles (8km) east of Carrigaline and 12 miles from Cork is the beautiful scenic village of Crosshaven, located where the wooded Owenabue river estuary meets Cork Harbour. The first impression the visitor receives is `a memorable panorama of yachts at anchor on a blue sea'.
Crosshaven is a major international sailing centre and a favourite summer resort for Cork residents since Victorian times, offering all the popular entertainments of a seaside resort. Still, this picturesque coastal resort is wonderfully undeveloped and un-commercialised, and you can relax easily in its friendly, unsophisticated atmosphere.
From Crosshaven a network of roads and lanes lead to a series of small and delightful bays and resorts with bathing nooks and beautiful coastal scenery - Church Bay, Weaver's Point, Myrtleville, Fennell's Bay & Fountainstown. These routes make delightful summer walks. The end of the Point Road in particular affords excellent views of the Cork Inner Harbour.

Crosshaven House (1759) was the home of the Hayes family until recent years. This fine example of Georgian architecture now serves as a community centre and clubhouse for the neighbouring pitch & putt course, which is set in sloping wooded terrain. Crosshaven is the headquarters of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, possessing the charter of the oldest yacht club in the World, dating from 1720. Visiting boats are welcome to stay at the yacht marina. Vessels range from small dinghies to fine ocean and cruising yachts. From Crosshaven Boatyard Tim Severin departed on his epic and historic voyage to America in 1976, in a hide-covered open boat, the St. Brendan, reenacting the ancient legends of the 8th c. Irish seafaring monk, Saint Brendan. Here also was constructed the yacht `Gypsy Moth IV', which Sir Francis Chichester Clark sailed single-handed around the world. Walk about the pier, by the boatyards or by the marina and flavour the sights and smells of life by the sea! Walk to Fort Camden and absorb the panoramic views of Cork Harbour with Cobh in the distance. . .

Crosshaven is also one of Ireland's leading sea angling centres and anglers from all over the world arrive here to fish the beautiful waters of Cork harbour. Annual events include music, seafood, yawl rowing, and traditional boats. There are three local Pitch & Putt courses. Walking trails to winding bays and through quiet pastures and woodlands provide breathtaking view. Meanwhile the local fairground keeps the children amused.

Fort Camden
The coast may be followed northward round to Fort Meagher or Camden Fort (after the 2nd Earl of Camden, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1795), dramatically situated on a promontory as part of the harbour defences. It was last occupied during WW II, and since then has been partially used by the Irish Navy. Camden Fort replaced several previous fortifications on this site, dating from 1550. The Fort grew with each new threat of invasion - the Williamites, the French, the Spanish and the Germans. Convict labour from Spike Island was used to extend the Fort to its present dimensions in 1875/80. In 1893 Torpedo rails were added. It is currently being transformed into a major maritime and naval history museum.

Tracton, Nohoval, Minane Bridge, Oysterhaven
The rustic villages of Minane Bridge, Tracton and Nohoval here retain their unspoilt rustic character, although only 12-15 miles from Cork city. There is swimming at Robert's Cove and at Rocky Bay Beach. Coastal walks, horse riding and water-sports are all available locally. Enjoy clay pigeon shooting at Nohoval. Kinsale is only 8 miles south-west. At Oysterhaven there is a board-sailing, canoeing and water-sports centre, as well as special tourist accommodation at Cnoc Ard.

Kinsale (from the Irish Ceann tSaile or `Tide's Head') retains its distinctive old world charm and character as well as its fine reputation for fishing, good food, entertainment and nightlife. Its gourmet restaurants are internationally known, and its Gourmet Festival attracts people from every continent. Kinsale's many pubs of character are well worth exploring. Its historical links with Europe will surprise you, and its local and maritime history capture the imagination.
Kinsale is just 13 miles from Cork Airport, and affords easy access to West Cork. Kinsale recently took 1st prize in Ireland's Tidy Town Awards (Irish Tourist Board), and also came 3rd in the Entente Florale European Environment Competition. Kinsale is now one of the leading tourist centres in the South.

Kinsale is an old seaport that traces its origins to the Anglo-Normans. As an outpost of the expanding Norman empire, it received its first Charter in 1334 from Edward III. It was seized by the Spanish in 1601, blockaded by the English, who in turn were blockaded by the Irish under Hugh O'Neill & O'Donnell. The Irish were defeated. There followed the `Flight of the Earls' or the exodus of Irish nobility. In 1689 King James II sailed from Kinsale after his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne, thus ending the Stuarts dynasty.
Bowling Green. John Wesley preached here. His comment that "The poor in Ireland are well behaved. All ill breeding is among the well dressed people" might still apply today! In 1986 the green was landscaped and the fountain was installed. It affords good views of harbour below.
St. Multose Church. The original Norman structure dates back to 1180, and is one of the few Medieval Churches still in use in Ireland today. It contains many secrets, including black letter inscriptions in Norman French, the Easter Sepulchre, carved memorials, flags from the Battle of Waterloo, the medieval town stocks, and reredos from the Galwey Chapel. St. Multose church witnessed many events, including the 1649 proclamation of Charles II as King by Prince Rupert, whose fleet was in the harbour at the time. St. Multose himself lived in Kinsale in the 6th c.and became its patron. He was probably a nephew of St David of Wales. The churchyard contains many ancient and interesting inscriptions.
Church of St John the Baptist is a graceful classical building built in 1829 after catholic emancipation. The statue of the Saint is by neoclassical sculptor John Hogan. Desmond Castle or the `French Prison' on Cork Street was a 15th c. custom house for the Port of Kinsale, when the quayside was along Chairmans Lane. The castle was used as a magazine by the Spanish Commander, Don Juan del Aquila during the Siege of 1601. It is also known as the French Prison, as it was used to accommodate up to 600 French prisoners-of-war during the 18th c. wars. It later became the local gaol until 1846. The Regional Museum & Old Courthouse, located in Market Square houses many items of historic importance relating to Kinsale's maritime, commercial and cultural past, including relics of the `Kinsale giant', Patrick Cotter O'Brien (d. 1806), old town charters, model ships, craft relics, etc. The Inquest on the victims of the Lusitania disaster was held in the courtroom here, which holds many artifacts from the ill-fated ship.

Activities include Sea Angling, Scuba Diving, Yachting, Boardsailing, Canoeing, Orienteering, Golfing and coastal walks. There is Angling for salmon and trout angling in the river Bandon; permits are necessary. The `Scilly Walk' follows line of Kinsale harbour as far as Summercove. At the Cork side of the town turn for Summercove / Charles Fort, and continue as far as the Spaniard Pub (on your left). At The Spaniard take a right turn - the walk commences directly opposite. No cars are allowed, so park near the Spaniard. The Kinsale area offers a variety of opportunities for swimming in the sea - at Charles fort, Summercove, Oysterhaven, Garrettstown and Garrylucas. A Tourist Trail is clearly signposted and may be easily followed, with the aid of a special booklet. There is a Tourist Information Centre here during the summer months for help with information and bookings.

Old Head of Kinsale
On the southern tip of the peninsula between Kinsale Harbour and Courtmacsherry Bay lies the Old Head of Kinsale. It may be reached via the new bridge and Ballinspittle. It rewards your effort with dramatic sea-cliff scenery and teeming birdlife, as well as good views. The seabird colony includes kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills.
In 1917 the passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine 9 miles off the Old Head. In all 1200 lives were lost within sight of land. Today, the 750 foot ship lies in 300 feet of water, a watery monument to the tragedy of war.
Lighthouses have been built here since early Celtic times to warn ships against the treacherous coastline. From early Christian times monks tended the light. After the Reformation, the task was taken up by the merchants of Kinsale. The Spaniards called it Capo de Vel - the Cape of Light. You can still see the ruins of a 17th c. cottage lighthouse which used coal, and a circular 18th c. structure which probably used candles and polished copper to reflect the light. At this time the keeper was paid £12 per annum, a plot of land and a daily supply of rum! The present lighthouse dates from 1853. In 1987 it became fully automatic.
In spite of the lighthouse, the Old Head witnessed many sea tragedies. In 1816, 267 lives were lost after the troop ships Lord Melville and Boadicea sank in a storm while returning troops from the battle of Waterloo. Other notable wrecks include The Albion (1822) and The City of Chicago (1892). The ruins of an old De Courcy castle stand here.

Summercove / Charles Fort
Kinsale Harbour is protected by forts, the most impressive of which is Charles Fort in nearby Summercove. Named after Charles II, the fort was built in 1678 and garrisoned for more than two centuries. Following the defeat and exile of James II after the Battle of the Boyne, Charles Fort was besieged and captured by John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough. It remained in use until it was partially burnt in 1922 by Irish Republican irregulars. It is open to the public in the summer, and there are conducted tours on the hour. Across the channel stand the remains of James Fort (1602).
Charles Fort has a regular pentagonal shape with five bastions. The Gatehouse and Drawbridge were completed in 1611. A smaller stone fort was built inside to make the site defensible when accommodating a smaller garrison. In 1642 the fort was held against the Ormondists, but in 1649 it fell to Cromwell without a struggle. The Block House on the waterfront was added after 1677.
Other buildings of note within the fort include the Guardhouse, the Commanding Officer's House, the Governor's House, Officers' Quarters, Soldiers' Quarters, Master Gunners Quarters, Hospital, the Ramparts and the Parade Ground. The Fire Engine House houses a fire engine of the period.

The picturesque village of Innishannon lies beside a curve on the Bandon River where it turns south for the Atlantic at Kinsale. Innishannon nestles among wooded hills and forest walks.
One of the earliest written references to Innishannon is the Book of Leinster written in the 12th c., in which it is reported that in 837 AD Innishannon was ransacked and plundered by Viking pirates who came up the Estuary of the River Bandon. The importance of Innishannon at these times is highlighted by the fact that in 1291 the village was taxed at a rate of 5 times that of nearby Kinsale. Near Innishannon is are the ruins of Shippool Castle, built by the Roche Clan in 1543.

Text kindly supplied by I.M.S. Publications NEXT

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