Today, we left Killarney early in the morning and congratulated the taxi driver on his lovely town. He responded by saying, “Aye, and if only it had a roof on it.” We didn’t think the rain was that bad, ourselves.
Our next stop was Cork, where we have spent the late morning taking a walking tour and generally seeing the sights. This is another city built on an island, in the River Lee, once encircled by a medieval wall to keep out the bad guys and to collect a toll from everyone else. This was not a plantation city, but the Anglo-Normans, who just happened to be Protestant, were the ones who could afford to live within the walls and to build something as grand as St. Fin Barre’s Anglican Cathedral.
While many of the views from its old fort are not particularly striking, the street scenes are vibrant and energetic. There is a sense of affluence here that we haven’t seen before, and the logos of every major consulting and accounting firm tell you this is a real business center. Even the Queen has come to shop at The English Market, which has been around for about 250 years.
Yes, one hears the stories once again of 800 years of occupation, but it does look like Cork has managed to survive them well.
Don’s Food Corner
Today we went back to Modern Irish. Jo had a carrot and ginger soup, heavily spiced with curry, and a chicken and avocado sandwich on ciabatta. Avocado in Ireland? Imported from some other EU country. no doubt. And ciabatta instead of brown bread? Are we really in Ireland?
I went with something that sounded more traditionally Irish — a hot meat sandwich. The “hot meat” changes from day to day for this sandwich. Today, it was Irish sausage. The sandwich, which was also served on ciabatta, had little sausages in some type of brown sauce along with caramelized onions and some lettuce leaves. However, to add some real traditional local ingredient to my meal, I had the local Irish stout, Beamish, lighter than the better-known Guinness. The brewery was recently taken over by Heineken, but our guide assured us that the formula has not changed.
We are told that Cork is the cuisine capital of Ireland. While we weren’t dining at any of Cork’s top restaurants, the offerings here certainly suggested a nod to a competitive sense of innovation. It was fun.