Ireland Holiday 4 - Cork

Next stop on our holiday was with Fi's friend Kathleen in Ballydesmond, or rather a house in a field in the middle of nowhere vaguely near Ballydesmond. In fact, by my standards, it was more of a mansion than a house. All over Ireland we saw enormous, newly built, detached houses on farmland owned by family members. Our first night with Kathleen was pleasant enough as Fi and Kathleen caught up and the rest of us got to know Kathleen for the first time. On the beer front I had a Postman's Knock from Hobson's that I had picked up while I was still in England - a very decent porter - and a four pack of Beamish that I had bought for old times' sake. The Beamish was ok, but not as good as I remembered it being when I drank it regularly at university.

The following morning we headed towards Cork to meet up with another of Fi's friends, Aileen, in Crosshaven. While we waited to meet up we popped into Cronin's. I was very pleased with the variety of beers on offer including a Belgian brown ale, a saison, and a wheat beer amongst several others. I opted for the Kinsale Pale Ale, as it was the most local brew as far as I could see, and a very good west coast IPA it was.

The decor in the pub was rather striking, from the unique tap handles in the form of an axe, a deer antler and a spanner, to the memorabilia hanging from walls and ceiling including bird cages, fishing nets, and brass fire helmets.

I would have been very happy to work my way along the bar, but Aileen answered her voicemail during the first pint and invited us for lunch. 

In the afternoon Aileen took us to Fountainstown beach where Dylan and Bridie enjoyed clambering across the rock pools with Aileen's children while the grown ups chatted and took in the scenery. 

By the time we left Aileen and her children it was late afternoon and we had to decide whether to head back to Ballydesmond or to make a stop in Cork itself. It was too late to do the city justice but we also knew that we might not get a chance to come this way again while we were staying with Kathleen. 

While we ate a picnic tea on the bank of the river Lee we were approached by a young man begging. Not being flush with cash ourselves, I said that we were sorry we couldn't help him. Then Fi's maternal instinct kicked in and she offered him some of our food, as we did have some of that to spare and he surely could do with some nourishment. Maybe that wouldn't always be a wise move but on this occasion it worked out well. Sean, my namesake, appreciated the food as he told us a bit about his life story. As he refilled his Starbucks cup from the bottle of rum hidden in his jacket it was clear that he was the worse for wear, but he was friendly, polite and quite harmless. Before he moved on he recommended that we try Sin E for good craft beer and trad Irish music.

The bar was heaving with people who had crammed in too enjoy both the beer and the music, both of which were excellent. Compared to our Temple Bar experience the music was rather more rough around the edges, but in my mind all the better for it.

Fortunately Sean had told us about the upstairs room, as it was standing room only in the bar. Although we couldn't see the musicians we could hear them perfectly as we enjoyed our beers. Mine was Grainu Ale from Rising Sons; brewed in Cork itself this award winning Belgian Wit combines a citrus edge with banana and clove form the yeast and is topped with a lasting fluffy white head. 

The abundance of music posters gave us a pleasant trip down memory lane as we compared notes on bands that we had seen back in the day, while the old photos were an interesting insight into the history of the pub and the local area.

Again I would have been happy to work my way along the bar, but again it wasn't to be. Hopefully I will get another chance to do that, and to visit the Rising Sons brewery. Instead it was back to Ballydesmond for an evening of Irish wheat beers; although none of them were quite up to the standard of the Grainu Ale.


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