We Stand and Watch the World Sail By.

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My friend and I went for a Sunday stroll not too far from home, and on the way we passed an old ruin of a church, it’s called Templebreedy Church, or the Church of Bridget.   This church was built about 1779, and was used for about 150 years, and there had been a church on this site previously, for maybe another 100 years!

This was the view looking out one of the windows, sadly now without glass or window frame, and slowly returning to the earth.    In the foreground of the view is an old Celtic cross gravestone, probably at least 100 years old, and across the mouth of the harbour you can see Roches Point Lighthouse.   This lighthouse stands at the entrance to Cork Harbour, and a lighthouse was first established in this spot almost 200 years ago.

Just imagine, the people looking out this window would have seen many ships sailing to and from the Port of Cork and from Queenstown, later called Cobh.   Cobh was the last stop on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in 1912, before she set sail for New York, and was also the place where the survivors of the Lusitania were brought to in May 1915, when the ship was sunk by a German torpedo not far from here during the First World War.

Let’s hope there were happier times too for the watchers at the window, like the little boats below that were out for a sailing lesson in the shelter of the harbour this morning!

Learning to sail in the calm waters

Learning to sail in the calm waters

 

 

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The Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse

Yesterday we were very fortunate to be able to visit The Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse, fortunate because as this is a fully operational lighthouse, it is only open to the public one weekend a year, to raise funds for the restoration of the nearby Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Memorial Garden.

The black and white lighthouse

The black and white lighthouse

The road leading to the lighthouse is part of the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links, a private golf club, and is usually not open to the public, for obvious reasons like dangerous cliffs and flying golfballs! This course is built almost on an island, jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, with the lighthouse at the end.   With the swirling winds and sheer cliffs at each side, you would have to be a very experienced golfer to play here! Have a look at the link above to see the ‘interesting’ cliff top greens.

Golf club house

Golf club house

Golf, but not for beginners.

Golf, but not for beginners!

There has been a lighthouse at the Old Head since 1665.  The first was a cottage type building with an open coal fire in a brazier on the roof, which was replaced in 1804 by a lantern with twelve oil lamps and reflectors.  Eventually in 1853 the present lighthouse was built, and is fully automated, so there are no lighthouse keepers any more, but that is the case almost everywhere, and such is the price of progress.

It was just off this coast in 1915 that a German U boat torpedoed and sank the RMS Lusitania, with the loss of over 1100 passengers, and the wreckage still lies under the waves close by.

Commemoration stamp for the sinking of the RMS     Lusitania

Commemoration stamp for the sinking of the RMS Lusitania

 

 

 

The Old Head of Kinsale

We had a pleasant, long, rain-free, walk from Ballinspittle to the Old Head of Kinsale, and back again on Sunday, a round trip of about 14 km, and boy were  my feet feeling the pain at the end!    We walked from Ballinspittle, mainly on road, and it was a welcome relief to come to Garrettstown and White Strand beaches, and walk along the sand and see the windsurfers having a great time with the strong winds.

After leaving the beach we walked as far as the old Signal Tower at the Old Head.   Unfortunately we could not go in to view the lighthouse, as all the land surrounding it is owned by the Old Head Golf Club, and walkers are not encouraged  allowed to go beyond the gates.    There are only a few days a year when access to this area is allowed for us normal folk who are not members of this private elite golf club!

The history of light keeping at the Old Head goes back to the 1600′s and the current lighthouse was built in 1846, it stands 30 metre’s tall and roughly 76 metre’s above the water. The lighthouse became automated on the 1st of April 1987.

It also witnessed the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, and of the 1900 people on board, more than 1200 people were drowned, including over 100 Americans.    This action is said to have encouraged America to enter World War 1, as the Lusitania was mainly used for ferrying goods and people between England and America, and was not involved in the war.

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