INTERESTING THINGS TO DO IN IRELAND: CORK

I’m going to advise some interesting things that you can do in Ireland so enjoy your journey.

The first city that I want to submit is Cork.
Cork is the second biggest city of the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and the capital of the homonymous county. It is located on the southern tip of Ireland, on the estuary of river Lee, and it is an important seaport. It is a very old city: it was mentioned the first time in 1185, so it has lots of ancient monuments that you can visit.
First in Cork there are two principally cathedrals: Cathedral of st. Mary and st Anne and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is the most important cathedral in Cork because it is the seat of the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross and it owes its name to the patron of Cork, St. Fin Barre, who created an important centre of culture in which gathered many monks and students.
The building was built by the architect William Burges starting from 1862 until 1879 and he embellished it putting a golden angel on the pinnacle.
Inside the building is amazing, rich of symbols and religious meanings; the staff is very knowledgeable and it can give you important information and it is happy to answer your question.
St Fin Barre’s Cathedral is also call “The South Cathedral” to distinguish it from “The North Cathedral” which is the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne.

St. Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral is the Catholic Cathedral of Cork and it was built in 1808 in a Neo-Gothic style but it needed a restoration due to a fire that was carried out by the architect George Richard Pain in 1820. In 1964 was built the tower that reaches a height of 80 meters. It is very beautiful inside too, rich of religious details and altars dedicated to the saints; you should visit it.

Another famous and interesting cathedral in Cork is “St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral” which is located in the hearth of the city, close to the main road “St. Patrick’s Street”. It was built in 1859 and it was consecrated in 1866. It is famous because, in addition to its primary function as a sacred place dedicated to prayer and the worship of God, Saints Peter’s and Paul’s, is also important because of its architectural significance and as the repository of baptismal, confirmation and marriage records dating back to 1765. Those records provide a rich source of information for individuals in Ireland and around the world tracing their genealogy and composing their family trees. So if you want to try to find some of your ancestors you could go to this cathedral and enjoy the experience.

The last religious built that I want to advise is “Holy Trinity Church” which is located in city centre near the river Lee. It is not as famous as the cathedrals but it worth a visit. Founded by the Capuchin after the persecution of the 17th century, Holy Trinity Church is now the most important centre of meeting of this ecclesiastical order; it’s an imposing building which offer a great view of the river Lee and it’s amazing see it in the light of the sunset. So don’t miss the opportunity to go visit it!

But Cork is not only a religious city, there are lots of interesting building that you can visit during your stay in the city.
One of these is the tower of “Bells of Shandon” and the name Shandon comes from the Irish, Sean Dún, meaning “old fort”. Shandon was one of 28 settlements in and around ancient Cork.
The church is noted for its 8 bells due to the song “The Bells of Shandon” by Francis Sylvester Mahony. To reduce vibration, they were placed in a fixed position. They first rang on December 7, 1752. Today, visitors can climb to the first floor and ring the bells themselves.
The clock of the tower is known to Corkonians as “The Four Faced Liar”. This is attributed to the fact that, depending on the angle of the viewer, the time shown appears slightly different on each face during the hour. The reason for this is that the numbers on the faces are made of wood and gilded, with some of the wood being thicker than others, and so some hands stick when they reach these numbers. However, on the hour, the hands all come together on each face. Lots of people go to visit it everyday and everyone remain very happy, so don’t forget to visit it!

Another important construction is “Fort Camden” which is not located in the city of Cork but it is positioned on Rams Head near Crosshaven, County Cork.
The fort derives its name from the Earl of Camden, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1795. Fort Camden, though internationally recognize to be one of the world’s finest remaining examples of a classical Coastal Artillery Fort, has sadly become derelict and overgrown.
The Fort was briefly used as a prison, and prisoner were used for there labour in the construction of its fortification. Then in 1855 Cork harbour was again recognised as being an important strategic position for the defence of Ireland, the west coast of England and Wales.
During the Second World War, the Irish Army formed its own coast artillery service with headquarters at Spike Island. The Coast Defence Service was maintained until it was dissolved in 1949.
In 1987 Cork County Council indicated that they were interested in having the fort developed as a military museum and suggested that the fort should be transferred for a nominal sum to a public body such as the council. In 1989 Cork County Council acquired ownership of the fort.
It will be a great experience for who is interested in history but also for who likes nature because is situated in a wonderful place!

Now I’m going to introduce the most particular and suggestive place in Cork which is “Cork City Gaol”. It is situated at the top of the city, away from the bustling center and this gives it an air of gloomy and mysterious.
The Cork City Gaol in Sunday’s well, was designed to replace the old Gaol at the north gate Bridge in the heart of the city. The first site chosen was at distillery fields-an area prone to frequent flooding! This fact and enlightened thinking that hilly airy sites were best for containing Gaol fever probably influenced the change to the present site. In 1870 the west wing was remodelled into a double sided cell wing & in 1878 the gaol became an all female prison. The Gaol closed in August 1923 with all remaining prisoners either released or transferred to other gaols. To the older generation around Sunday’s Well the place with the “big high walls” is often referred to as the “Women’s Gaol”. This is because in the early years its use was for a time confined to female prisoners. Inside you can still see all components of prison and understand what was the real life of the prisoners thanks of statues that depicting scenes of everyday life in prison. You can’t miss such a beautiful step back in time.

The last building that I want to advice is the University Collage Cork (UCC).
If you have seen the amazing films of Harry Potter’s saga, I’m sure you will think that the UCC is the famous school of Hogwarts but be careful not to tell it to the students: they don’t like the comparison!
Apart from that, the university was founded in 1845 as one of three Queen’s Colleges located in Belfast, Cork, and Galway. It became University College Cork in 1908. Queen’s College Cork was founded by the provisions of an act which enabled Queen Victoria to endow new colleges for the “Advancement of Learning in Ireland” and the three colleges of Belfast, Cork and Galway were incorporated on 30 December 1845. The college opened in 1849 with 23 professors and 181 students and a year later became part of the Queen’s University of Ireland.
The original site chosen for the College was particularly appropriate in that it is believed to have had a connection with the patron saint of Cork, Saint Finbarr. This is also reflected in the College motto “Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn” which is also the current university motto.
Today the university has over 18,000 students. This student base is supported by 2,747 staff – of which 762 are faculty. The university is one of Ireland’s leading research institutes, with the highest research income in the state. The university had seven faculties in Arts and Celtic Studies, Commerce, Engineering, Food Science and Technology, Law, Medicine, and Science.

So I gave you lots of possibility to enjoy your stay in Cork, but I’m sure that you will think that all of this wonderful destination will be boring and you will want to know “Is there something funny that I can do?” Of course!!

Cork city can offer lots of different opportunity to have fun. One of this is definitely the theatre “Everyman”. It’s on of the most particular theatre in Cork County: you can book for a dinner and a show in this wonderful theatre. It could be little expensive but I’m sure you will have lots of fun and you will pass a great night with lovely theater and good food, and this will become a fantastic night if you bring someone with you.
If you find this choice too expensive or formal but you would like to go to a theatre I advice you to go to “Opera House” which is the principal theatre of Cork. It is near the city center and is perfect for who want to go alone or with the family because it can offers lots of different type of theater for young and old with local and international artists. So if you like going to the theater don’t miss this possibility, I’m sure you will enjoy yourself!

If you instead want to see something unusual you should visit “Butter Museum” of Cork City. It is situated near “St. Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral” it isn’t expensive; it can explain you the importance of the butter in Ireland in the early ’60 and how this trade has evolved over time. The newspaper “New York Times” wrote in one of its article: “Visit this museum for a surprisingly, engaging and multi-faceted view of history”, what I have to say more? It is also possible see how butter is made with ancient instruments. What are you waiting for? Run to “Butter Museum”!
There is also a great experience in Cork for those who are fascinated by astronomy: Cork has an Observatory too, “Blackrock Castle Observatory”.
Blackrock Castle is a 16th-century castle located about 2 km from the heart of Cork city on the banks of the River Lee. Originally built to defend the port and upper flows of Cork Harbor, the castle is now the site of an observatory, visitors centre and restaurant.
The “Cosmos at the Castle” project was intended to create a centre for scientific research, outreach and communication. A feature of the facility is the manner in which children and adults are encouraged to interact with science. The exhibition is open to the public and is themed “The Search for Extreme Life in the Universe”. Highlights of the exhibition include:
-A tour of the Universe using interactive floor-to-ceiling screens.
-A “social software” cinema designed by Martello Media, with digital post production by the award-winning Irish company The Farm
-A radio telescope that beams messages composed by school groups towards nearby stars
-An optical telescope that continuously searches for very short flashes of light that may be evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence.
I think this will be a great experience for young and old and I’m sure you will find it very interesting.

But now, to conclude, I will advice you two destinations which are engaging and relaxing.
The first is “Ballycotton Cliff Walk” which is a wonderful walk along the Irish cliffs that is perfect for who want to stay alone with the wild nature and listen to music or run or only relax seeing the sea and the cliffs which are really fascinating. It is not a hard walk so you can do it with your family and children will love it. Don’t forget to visit Ballycotton City at the end of your excursion: it is a typical and traditional port city that can help you recover from the walk with tea, cakes and traditional dishes.
The second destination is “Fitzgerald Park” which is the biggest park of Cork city; is near the city center and it is perfect to spend your spare time in contact with nature but not so far from urban convenience. It is provide of a big playground for babies and lots of comfortable benches for adults, so it is perfect to spend a sunday afternoon with your family.

I’m now at the conclusions but I want to put the current that in Cork there is another experience that is waiting for you: a match of Gaelic Games, I don’t want to spoil the surprise but you shouldn’t miss this opportunity, you will have lots of fun with your friends!

Now I’m really at the end, I think I have said all I had to say and I’m sure you are very bored now. So enjoy your journey in Cork, I hope my tips will be helpful!

MC

UN ITALIANO A CORK!!!

Sono arrivata a Cork martedì 3 Giungo 2014. Ho volato da Venezia ad Amsterdam per circa due ore e successivamente ho volato da Amsterdam a Cork per circa 45 minuti. Il tempo non era dei migliori: stava piovendo e c’era molto vento: il tipico tempo irlandese! Come se ciò non bastasse la mia valigia era stata persa durante il viaggio, perciò non era molto contenta del mio arrivo in Irlanda. Fortunatamente avevo con me il mio bagaglio a manodove avevo messo alcuni cambi d’abito e oggetti indispensabili. Questo, dunque, è il mio primo consiglio: metti le cose piú importanti e necessarie nel bagaglio a mano, in questo modo sarai tranquillo mentre aspetti la tua valigia ( io l’ho riavuta in pochi giorni).

All’aereoporto ho incontrato i primi due componenti della mia famiglia ospitante: Tracy, la mia nuova “mamma”, e Georgie, la mia nuova “sorellina”; hanno portato me e la mia amica Irene (che vive con me nella stessa famiglia) alla nostra nuova casa che si trova a Ballinlough, uno dei quartieri di Cork. A casa abbiamo incontrato il resto della famiglia: Sophie, che è la sorella gemella di Georgie, e Keelan, il mio nuovo “fratellino”. Sophie e Georgie hanno 10 anni mentre Keelan ne ha 7 e sono tre fratelli adorabili: sono sempre molto gentili con me e Irene.

All’inizio ero terrorizzata dalla lingua, ma Tracy ci chese subito se avevamo qualche problema nel parlare inglese o se ce la cavassimo bene: dato che noi non siamo molto bravo, lei ci rassicurò dicendoci che ci avrebbe parlato piano in modo che noi la potessimo capire. Questo è stato molto importante per me perchè pensavo che nessuno sarebbe stato disponibile ad aiutarmi, invece sono rimasta molto sorpresa del fatto che tutti sono e sono stati molto gentili e pazienti con me e il mio inglese stentato.

Durante i primi tre giorni ho potuto conoscere qualcosa di piú di questo posto. Cork è una cittá adorabile. Non è molto grande ma ha tutto ciò di cui hai bisogno: ci sono supermercati, cinema, negozi di vestiti, ristoranti e un enorme quantitá di pub! Se sei maggiorenne dovresti entrare in uno di questi solo per vedere in che modo molte persone passano l loro tempo la sera tra birre, partite di calcio e musica; e potrai inoltre conoscere nuove e simpatiche persone non solo irlandesi, ma tedesche, francesi, spagnole e anche italiane. Non puoi farti sfuggire una simile occasione!

Comunque ora devo parlare del tempo che è uno dei piú grandi problemi per un italiano. Il tempo irlandese puó essere veramente pazzo; il piú comune commento riguardante il tempo irlandese è che possono esserci quattro stagioni nello stesso giorno: ed è la veritá! Durante la prima settimana ha piovuto molto, c’era vento e faceva davvero freddo! Io e i miei amici italiani indossavamo maglioni, calze e pantaloni lunghi e indossavamo sempre una giacca quando uscivamo di casa o dalla scuola. Ma gli irlandesi non davano importanza alla pioggia o al vento, era comunque estate e andavano in giro con magliette, sandali e top senza maniche; perciò è stato molto difficile cercare di nascondere il fatto che eravamo turisti. Fortunatamente la settimana successiva il tempo migliorò: era abbastanza tiepido e soleggiato, ma qualche giorno continuò a piovere. Adesso c’è un tempo meraviglioso: c’è un sacco di sole e fa veramente caldo, quasi come in Italia; sono anche riuscita ad abbronzarmi le braccia! Perciò assicurati di portare con te diversi tipi di vestiti e la cosa più importante che devi portare con te ovunque è un piccolo ombrello perchè il tempo può cambiare in pochi minuti.

E per quanto riguarda la gente? Gli irlandesi sono il popolo più pazzo e divertente che abbia mai conosciuto! Ma una delle loro più importanti caratteristiche è che sono molto disponibili! Se hai bisogno o non capisci qualcosa devi solo chiedere a qualcuno quello di cui hai bisogno e lui o lei sarà disponibile a darti tutte le informazioni e si assicurerá che tu abbia veramente capito. Per esempio, uno dei primi giorni io e i miei amici abbiamo deciso di uscire la sera per visitare la città di notte. Dopo il nostro tour dovevamo tornare a casa con il bus ma alla fermata non riuscivamo a capire le tabelle degli orari; quindi abbiamo chiesto ad un autista se poteva aiutarci e lui disse: “Si, certamente!”, scese dal bus e ci spiegò in che modo dovevamo leggere le tabelle degli orari e ci indicò quale bus dovevamo prendere. Ma voleva essere sicuro che prendessimo quello giusto quindi aspettò con noi alla fermata fino a che non arrivò il nostro bus! Che uomo fantastico! Penso che gli italiani non siano così gentili e disponibili come gli irlandesi; è una delle differenze che ho rilevato durante la mia permanenza qui.

Un’altr grande differenza tra Irlanda e Italia è che in Irlanda guidano a destra! Ciò significa che quando ti trovi in macchina o in bus in Irlanda fai un infarto ogni volta che attraversano un incrocio o si immettono in una rotatoria perchè per gli italiani questo significa che le prendono contromano, e dopo tre settimane non mi sono ancora abituata a tutto ciò. Inoltre qui i negozi chiudono molto presto: alle 18 tutto è chiuso (esclusi i pub ovviamente) e le persone cenano alle 18:30 o anche alle 18: questo è usuale in Irlanda. Dopo cena le persone sono solite andare in un pub per incontrare gli amici o vedere qualche partita, naturalmente molto presto: alle 20 ci sono già molte persone nei pub e sono solite rimanerci per ore.

Dunque questo è un quadro generale della città di Cork e degli irlandesi: ma per quanto riguarda la mia esperienza? Questa è la prima volta che viaggio all’estero da sola e posso dire che è una fantastica esperienza per me. Conosco l’enorme quantitá di pensiri che possono venire: la lingua, la famiglia, la città, il tempo… ma stare all’estero da soli è il miglior modo per imparare e migliorare velocemente la lingua e sono sicura che troverai il vivere all’estero piú semplice di quello che pensi; certo i primi giorni saranno difficili ma poi non vorrai piú tornare a casa!

I miei suggerimenti per una buona esperienza sono molto semplici:

  • Non essere spaventato per questa nuova esperienza, potrebbe cambiarti la vita.
  • Non essere spaventato dal parlare in inglese: non ha importanza se commetti errori, ti capiranno lo stesso.
  • Sii curioso: prova nuovi piatti e bevande, è il miglior modo per conoscere la loro cultura.
  • Trova nuovi amici con cui uscire e parlare insieme.
  • Divertiti e goditi l’avventura!

AN ITALIAN IN CORK

I arrived in Cork on 3rd June 2014. I flew from Venice to Amsterdam for about two hours and then I flew from Amsterdam to Cork for about 45 minutes. The weather wasn’t very good: it was raining and there were lots of wind: the typical Irish weather! Moreover my suitcase were lost during the travel so I was not very happy for my incoming in Ireland. Luckily I had with me my hand luggage in which I put some clothes and some necessary items. So this is my first advice: put some important and necessary item in your hand luggage so you can be secure while you are waiting for your suitcase, I get it in few days.

At the airport I met two components of my host family: Tracy, my “mother”, and Georgie, my new little “sister”. They drove me and my friend Irene ( who lives with me in the same host family) to our new house which is located in Ballinlough, one of districts of Cork. At home there were the rest of the family: Sophie, who is the twin sister of Georgie, and Keelan, my new little “brother”; Sophie and Georgie are 10 while Keelan is 7 . They are three lovely brothers and sisters and they are very kind with me and Irene.

I was terrified for the language but Tracy asked soon if we had some problems with speaking English or if we was good at it: since we are not very good she ensured us that she will speak slow with us so we will understand what she says. They was very important to me because I thought that no one would have been helpful with me, instead I was really surprised that everybody were very kind and patient with me and my basic English.

During my first three days I could learnt something more about this place. Cork is a lovely city. It is not very big and it has all what you need: there are supermarkets, cinemas, clothes shops, restaurant and a huge amount of pubs! If you are eighteen or more you should go in one of these just to see in which way lots of people spend their time in the evening between beers, football matches and music, and you can know new nice people who are not only Irish but German, French, Spanish and Italian too! You can’t miss such wonderful opportunity!

However I must talk about the weather that is one of the biggest problem for an Italian person. The Irish weather can be very crazy; the most common comment about this weather is that you can have four seasons just in one day, and that’s true! During my first week it rains a lot and it was very windy and cold. Me and my Italian friends wore sweaters, long stockings and long trousers and we always wore a jacket when we went out of the house or the school. But Irish didn’t mind the rain or the wind, it was the same summer and they went around with T-shirts, sandals and sleeveless tops, so it was very difficult try to hide that we were tourists. Luckily during the next week the weather was better: it was quite worm and sunny but it was still rainy some days. Now it’s an amazing weather: there is lots of sun and it’s very hot almost as in Italy and I was able to tan my arms! So make sure to take with you different kind of clothes and the most important thing that you have to take with you everywhere is a little umbrella because weather can change in few minutes.

What about people? Irish people are the most crazy and funny people that I have ever known! But one of the most important feature is that they are very helpful. If you need something or you don’t understand something you have just to ask someone what you need and he or she will be available to give you all the information and will be sure that you have really understand. For example one of the first days me and my friends decided to went out in the evening to visit the city by nigh. After our tour we had to take the bus to come back home but at the bus stop we wee not able to understand the time tables so we asked to a bus driver if he could help us and he said: “yes, of course!”, he got off the bus and he explained us how to read the time tables and he signed which was our bus. But he wanted to be sure that we take the right bus so he waited with us at the bus stop until our bus arrived! What a lovely man! I think that Italian people are not so kind and helpful as Irish people, this is one of the difference that I found during my stay here.

The other bigger difference between Ireland and Italy is that in Ireland people drive on the right side! That mean that when you are in a car or in a bus in Ireland you will have an infarct every time that they make a cross or take a roundabout because for Italian that means that they take this in the wrong direction and after three weeks I haven’t used it, yet.

Moreover here shops closes very early: at six o’clock pm everything is closed ( apart from the pubs of course) and people have dinner at half past six or at six pm, this is usual in Ireland. After dinner people usually go to a pub to meet some friends or watch some match, obviously early: at eight pm there are already lots of people in the pubs and they usually stay there for hours. 

So this is a survey of Cork city and Irish people, but what about my experience? 

This is my first time that I travel abroad alone and I can say that this is a fantastic experience for me. I know the huge amount of thoughts that may come: language, family, city, weather… But stay abroad alone is the best way to learn and improve quickly the language and I’m sure that you will find a lot easier than you think to live abroad. Of course first days will be difficult but then you wouldn’t want to go home! 

My tips for a good experience are very easy:

  • Don’t be afraid about this new experience, it could change your life. 
  • Don’t be afraid to speak in English: it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, they will understand the same. 
  • Be curious: taste new dishes and drinks, it’s the best way to know their culture. 
  • Find new friends whereby go out and speak together. 
  • Have fun and enjoy the adventure! 

My internship in Ireland

Time is tough for everyone, including me. The crisis emphasis the tensions and it’s hard to keep a good mood, particularly if you are a young adult, just graduated and without tons of experience. And I live in a country where internship is not considered as work experience… So you can guess how fucked up I am…

I worked a little bit as a freelance but this kind of jobs come and go very easily. Even if things began to move in my hometown, I couldn’t stand to stay there one more year. After a long year of unemployment in France I decided I needed change. And when I say change, it’s not just moving to another city… Nope! I decided to move to another country! I joined some international organization, came to conference about emigration in UK, Canada and Australia. My goal was to pack my luggage in September.

I applied to a Leonardo Program, so I can get more experience and spend some time in another country to speak English while having a grant to live. I was so eager to be accepted in the program I didn’t specified a country, I just wanted to speak English.

I had different propositions but they didn’t fit my expectations so I turned them down. Then I received an email from Ireland with a great internship proposition so that’s how I ended up in Cork!

I was scared at the beginning, it was a complete new life: new language, new people, and new work! I’m not an outgoing person, that doesn’t help to meet new people!

So here I am! In Cork, at night with my luggage in my accommodation and I’m wondering: “what am I doing here?” It was really scary. But I quickly made new friends, at school, at work and in my accommodation. ☺

It’s still a bit difficult to meet new people for I am a massive introvert but I’m confident for the future.

My internship is doing very well; it’s clearly more relaxed than if I actually worked for them so it’s perfect for a first approach. I was scared at the beginning: ‘do I know how to do that?’ ‘I’m not good enough’ ‘Why am I here?’ but everyone is happy with me. I’m doing graphic design for the website, it’s not my trained job but I like it. And, as I’m the only one who knows how to use Photoshop in the company, every visual I create is welcome with awe.

So it’s really positive and I’m happy. ☺

Cork Zombie Walk

I swear it’s the last post about Halloween! And I’ll make it short! – the posts about Christmas will begin! (◕‿-)

On the 27th of October you could find some strange creatures in front of the Cork Opera House. A lot of people dressed up with blood and guts. Yep! Cork welcomed a huge bunch of zombies in the streets that day; also called the zombie walk!

zombiewalk3

I saw the event on Facebook a few weeks before and I wanted to take part but as shy little foreigner I was a bit scared, and my friends are not big fans of that…

But I decided to take a look, because it seems that I always miss the ones in my hometown! I was a little bit late but there were a lot of people in front of the Opera House, some curious people like me and some zombies. ☺

Most zombies put good efforts in the making of their costume and make-up. There was a lot of creativity and references to pop-culture and films.

And some of them were very scary; I don’t want to meet one of them on a dark street at the end of the night!

I was surprised to see a zombie 11th doctor; I couldn’t resist but take a picture of him!

I have the impression that getting dressed is something people like a lot here, and every occasion is good! So there were a lot of very well dressed zombies. Here’s some photos I took that night!

zombiewalk01

zombiewalk5

zombiewalk2

zombiewalk4