On Day 4, the tour left Dublin to travel to Cork, the second largest city in Ireland.
On the way, we stopped at the beautiful seaside town of Waterford, home of the renowned Waterford Crystal. The group had a private tour of the factory. Waterford Crystal dates back to 1783 when George Penrose and his nephew William started making extremely fine flint glass that became world-renowned. Their Waterford company closed in 1851, and re-opened again 100 years later.
We left Cork on the morning of Day 5 and took a beautiful, winding, green, and scenic route to view Charles Fort at the top of Kinsale, a town on the southern coast of Ireland.
The fort isn’t very accessible to wheelchairs, so we didn’t go in, but the views of the castle and port city were astounding. We took some photos, learned about the history with our tour guide Barry, and then took a five minute drive down into Kinsale itself.
We took a quick break, and then were off on a rolling tour of this quaint, seaside city. We browsed the many little stores full of antiques and walked by, of course, more bars than restaurants.
We ate lunch at the award-winning and fully accessible restaurant, Fishy Fishy. Everyone agreed that it was probably the best meal so far on the tour.
Located in Kinsale, Fishy Fishy is an award-winning restaurant run by husband and wife team Martin & Marie Shanahan. The couple are extremely passionate about what they do, and chef Martin Shanahan knows a thing or two about fish. His passion for seafood led to their opening the original Kinsale Gourmet Store in 1990. A fish shop and deli in one, it regularly had long lines of diners waiting to be seated. This roaring success led them to expand the business and open Fishy Fishy.
The sun came out and we strolled through a beautiful park and along the sea. Everywhere was incredibly accessible and everyone was so friendly and happy; this is one of the best places to visit in Ireland.
We spent Day 6 exploring the town of Cork.
Cork is Ireland’s 2nd biggest city and is a bustling collection of cool coffee shops, vibrant art galleries, unusual museums, and seriously good pubs. It sits on an island in the middle of the River Lee. It’s a compact city with a very laid back attitude. Originally a monastic settlement, Cork was expanded by Viking invaders around 915. Its charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185.
Highlights today were:
- St. Peter and Paul’s Church. A “must see” in Cork for some divine inspiration.
- Crawford Art Gallery. Set in a beautiful historic building in the heart of Cork, it’s an amazing gallery with permanent collections, as well as visiting exhibitions.
- Gallaghers Pub. We enjoyed a quiet pint on the terrace.
Day 7 started with the sun shining brightly on the gorgeous view from our hotel, which overlooks the River Lee.
The sun stayed out for the entire day while we explored the vast gardens and historic buildings at the Cork University campus tour. Our private guide was one of the best we’ve had, and gave us so much interesting history and information. We learned about the great minds that shaped Cork’s culture, science, and literature. Everyone agreed that this was a wonderful opportunity. Getting around on wheels has been a breeze thanks to WHILL and Scootaround who provided the chair for the tour that you see Deborah in.
We had lunch at the five-star Hayfield Manor restaurant with a view overlooking the garden. This truly decadent experience was also appreciated by kings, princesses, presidents, and movie stars, as depicted on the walls of the lobby.
Next, we took a quick bus trip over to Nano Nagle Place. We learned about the inspirational woman, Nano Nagle, who founded the Nano Nagle Convent, and how her work still lives on today. We were allowed to touch her tombstone, which is said to bring joy and peace.
The heritage buildings at the South Presentation Convent have been lovingly renovated, and they now house educational charities and rooms for community groups, charities, and local businesses. The chapel has been turned into a heritage centre that tells the story of Nano Nagle and the city where she worked to educate and care for the poor.
Born to a wealthy Catholic family in 1718, Honoria Nagle was given the nickname, Nano, by her father. The Nagle family home in Ballygriffin, was on the banks of the river Blackwater. If Nano Nagle were alive today, she would qualify to win a Nobel Prize. Before her death in 1784, Nano had opened seven schools for poor children, founded an almshouse for poor women, and most notably, founded the Presentation Order, who continues her education and social inclusion work today.
Visitors are allowed to explore the Presentation Order to learn about the sisters who have dedicated their lives to that order, and to understand the remarkable work they still perform today as campaigners for social justice. The Presentation Sisters’ mission is to help the poor and needy around the world. Historically, the Sisters focused their energy on creating and staffing schools that would educate young people, especially young ladies.
Most of these schools are still in operation and can be found across the globe. Today, The Presentation Sisters are located in 24 countries including Antigua, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Commonwealth of Dominica, Ecuador, Great Britain, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Slovakia, Thailand, United States of America, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Nano Nagle Place is an unexpected oasis in the centre of bustling Cork, a place that celebrates Nano Nagle’s vision of empowerment through education, community, inclusion, and spiritual engagement for a contemporary world.
After an educational day, we headed to the hotel for a little rest. We later enjoyed the world-famous Oliver Plunkett restaurant and bar for live music on our last night in Cork.
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