I was dog tired after 2 nights without sleep, one in Dublin Airport and the other on the night bus from Donegal to Dublin and then the express train Dublin Heuston to Cork. I walked out of the station in Cork and went to the first bed & breakfast I could see, not 50 paces away.
"How much for a room?", I asked the owner, a cheerful old chap called Derry "That will be 45 Euros with Irish breakfast. WELL, if you don't mind the top floor it's only 35 Euros. How many nights will you be here" I had only hand luggage, so I told him it's fine, 4th floor, and 2 nights please". "Oh, in that case it's only 30 Euros a night." GREAT DEAL !!
I had heard about the English Market off St. Patrick Street and I love great markets with character. I wasn't disapponted and it proved to be one of my favourites. It was jam packed on a Saturday as I toured the sights and smells of the stalls. I love Irish soda bread and started writing down the names of many of the varieties, chollah, spelt soda, panecia, omega 3, oates & honey, olive ciabella, organic spelt, cherry croissants, ducks & skulls, bloomers, italian olive, multi grains, feccucia, sundroed tomato. hazelnut loaf, light whole meal, buttermilk soda, wild garlic.....and what turned out to be the owner of the ABC Alernative Bread Company, Sheila Fitzpatrick, greeted me. She had left Liverpool 12 years ago with 5 young kids and started baking bread. "Everyone said I was crazy to try and sell Cork residents these strange varieties, but we have been a success, and the influx of foreigners in recent years has helped".
She gave me some samples and then a delicious fruit muffin which I really enjoyed. I finished off at an ice cream stall with 3 scoops of real vanilla bean, rum and raisin and summer fruits, as I wandered back into the sunlight.
Twenty minutes by train from Cork is COBH, pronounced COVE, and home to Cobh Ramblers, the first club of a certain Roy Keane, before he went on to fame and fortune with Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Ireland. He hails from Mayfield in North Cork City. First of all to the Queenstown Heritage Museum next to Cobh station, where thousands of Irish men, women and childred sailed for a new life in America, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Some sailed in the infamous 'Coffin Ships' for only £2 to North America, under atrocious unhealthy conditions, and some ships never made it. There is a statue on the harbour of Annie Moore, a 14 year old girl and her two younger brothers who were the very first to pass through the immigartion control at Ellis Island and she was given a $10 dollar gold coin. It was also the last port of call for the TITANIC, after Le Havre and Southampton and took on about 160 passengers who went in a small cutter to the great ship on its maiden voyage, parked in deeper water.
Cobh, had it's name changed to QUEENSTOWN after a visit from Queen Victoria but back to Cobh when Ireland declared its independence in 1922. Also the survivors of the Lusitania, torpedoed in 1917 by a German submarine, where brought here. I visited the old offices of The White Star Line, owners of the Titanic, and now a real estate office.
Outside the historic Commodore Hotel on the promenade I chatted with Kevin and Liam who were with a bunch of St. Patricks supporters down from South Dublin to support their team who led the League and had scored 8 goals in their last 2 matches. " We have supported St.Pats all or lives and are making a weekend of it, staying at the hotel. Its a REALLY LONG, STEEP walk up hundreds of steps and until you reach the top of a hill to where Cobh Ramblers stadium, St. Colmans Park is located.
I was welcomed by Secretary Ernest O'Keefe and chairman John Walsh. I also endured the climb with Andrew Shaw, a Director of the Blue Square Premier League in England and of Altringham. He and 14 year old son Eliot 'ground hop' and they had been to UCD in Dublin the night before, and Andrew was off to The Faroe Islands to watch Manchester City next week.
Guests at the watch were a couple of dozen youngsters fron Belorus, as part of the Chernobyl Childrens project and were staying with local families. Along came about 6-7 Kenyans with drums, and other noise makers, which they let the kids play. The kids tried to chant Cobh Ramblers in unison to help the local team. Well, the team who are part-timers and only train 3 times a week, did very well in defence until the 65th minute when Derek O'Brien scored past goalie James McCarthy. I told some St.Pats fans who were watching with me and the Cobh chairman from behind the goal, that their team had 4 of the tallest Irishmen I had ever seen. "Well, the No 16 is actually from Northern Ireland", they said. There was only one goal and St. Patricks are now 4 points clear at the top of The Eircom League Premier division www.eircomloi.ie
the premier Division will 'down size' at the end of the season from 14 to 10 clubs, and Cobh, Galway, Finn Harps are in BIG TROUBLE. On 28th July Cobh play host to Sunderland under Roy Keane and have sold 6,500 tickets for 50 Euros each, and were already selling the 'official programme'. "That will bring in some well needed funds into the coffers" secretary Ernest told me. We just built the main stand with 950 seats a year ago and have plans for 2 of the other sides after that". Another 'skin head' referee from Dublin was in charge, Mr. Paul Tuite, who had a smile and a great disposition. One of the many sponsors signs was for Gilmore's Bar, Cobh's best SUP-PORTER. I'll drink to that..