West Cork musings

Posted on: 7th March, 2017

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

Sometimes I take a step back and think about of how much West Cork has changed since I first visited in 1990. Looking around, remembering what it used to look like, is like a Pokemon Go augmented reality experience with the new superimposed on the old. Inchydoney, Clonakilty, Schull, the view from my window, the drive into town have all changed. There are still potholes on our road, but the traffic has increased from nearly non-existent to a safety concern for small children walking alone – which is something I don’t see any more. When we moved into the village, most children walked or biked up our road to school.  These days, the only people I see walking on the road are either jogging or taking their dogs out. No one walks to actually go somewhere.

The allure of West Cork has changed radically over the last twenty-five years. The increase in population and popularity, the traffic, shops, entertainment, and the wide spread availability of avocados have made it unrecognisable from the sleepy backwater I settled into in the early nineties.

West Cork has become a brand synonymous with a certain middle class, organic, gogi-berry, raw chocolate, gourmet  lifestyle. I had to laugh when I heard the story of a little girl asking her auntie in Cork city if a cake was gluten-free: “Yer not in West Cork now, girleen,” replied her Auntie.

Don’t get me wrong. I welcome the diversity of food, the choice and comfort that West Cork offers today. The romantic notions that old blown-ins like myself came with when we moved to Ireland often turned out to be cold, damp and uncomfortable. Having a choice of vegetables in the winter that comprised of potatoes, carrots and swede was boring. I love cheap asparagus to go with my duck. Other changes like a swimming pool, a cinema, and cafe terraces serving delicious varieties of coffee have made my life more enjoyable. Being a foodie and a lover of creature comforts I cannot but applaud the banishing of mild instant coffee as my only option for a caffeine fix.

It has been really interesting to see a community evolve, adapt and change. It is incredible to see what an impact three new bungalows on a mile long stretch of road can have on traffic, flooding, and light pollution at night. I used to look out in front of my house and not see a light for miles. Now the night landscape is dotted with outdoor lighting. Just up the road is a yellow strip of street lights around the school and five new houses. Walking up to the village in the dark has been changed forever. Not that I ever walk up to the village anymore.

Though I appreciate that where I live is now as cosmopolitan as other European regions I can’t help but sometimes feel that it has lost some of its magic. Lines of traffic feel very urban. Anonymous neighbours make one feel bizarrely both less and more isolated.  A Sunday walk on the beach in crowds of people, and a cafe offering dairy free hot chocolate seems as adventurous as a stroll down Brighton pier. Thanks to GPS no one gets caught in the miscaen mara that used to regularly make visitors drive around in circles. I worry that the faeries have all upped and left, pushed out by the growth of suburbia.

So it was lovely to be totally flummoxed last week when a car parked outside vanished only to be found stuck in the ditch in the far corner of the front field, about an acre away. It was one of those days so soft and grey that it felt rinsed in old conditioner. The air was saturated with humidity: creeping rain at its best. Our lodger had just popped back home for something and parked his car on the flat bit along the house between two other cars. While upstairs he heard the dogs going mad and thought it must be the postman. Looking out the window he saw no postman. He also saw an empty space where he’d parked the car. Following the dogs barking he spied the car at the bottom of the field. It had rolled very slowly backwards across the yard and down the field where it had gently got stuck in a ditch. The only proof of its route were some slightly flattened daffs on the edge of the drive. The sensible explanation was a forgotten handbrake, but it was far more delightful to blame the inexplicable ways of the landscape. “Must be the faeries” I told our lodger, as we stood laughing in a sudden downpour, gazing down at his car. “Or maybe the trees had a good stretch now that it’s Spring, and that started the car rolling.” He shook his head in disbelief, but looked rather delighted all the same. “Welcome to West Cork,” I concluded before going off to find someone with a tractor to pull it out. Three hours later it was sorted.

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West Cork Flag Day Collections
in aid of Cork ARC Cancer Support House

Cork ARC Cancer Support House’s annual West Cork Flag Day collections are set to take place in Bandon on Friday 21st April and in Castletownbere, Bantry, Ballylickey, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Kinsale and Macroom on Thursday 27th April, 2017.

Hilary Sullivan, Head of Fundraising / Corporate Affairs at Cork ARC Cancer Support House says: “Please remember on our annual Flag Day collection that all our collectors are volunteers, giving their time freely to raise funds and increase awareness about our cancer support services at our West Cork centre.” Acknowledging the ethos of volunteering being the driving force behind the charity’s work in the community, Hilary also says, “As all of the services at Cork ARC Cancer Support House in West Cork are supported by a large volunteer base, we hope that our volunteer collectors’ generosity of spirit will be rewarded by a warm reception from the public despite the difficult financial conditions experienced by so many people.”
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19th April, 2017  ·  

ECCLES Hotel Glengarriff to host April 30th Wedding Showcase – Newly refurbished ballroom and bedrooms on show – Tasters of Chef Nick Davey’s delicious menus

ECCLES Hotel in Glengarriff has been helping guests to experience West Cork in all its serene beauty for over 250 years. And with the Eccles Team now being led by General Manager Aileen Hanley, that tradition is set to continue.

Aileen joins the historic West Cork Property from Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare where she held the position of Sales & Operations Manager. Firmly re-establishing the award-winning property, during her tenure, along with her husband Patrick (now Park Hotel Kenmare General Manager) Aileen plans to continue her success and work her magic at ECCLES Hotel, along with a dedicated team to bring it back to its former glory and re-establish its place in the local community.

Aileen and the team at ECCLES Hotel will host a wedding showcase on Sunday April 30th from 12 to 5pm. The showcase will present the refurbished Ilnacullin ballroom to couples. The ballroom which can comfortably host up to 320 guests, will be set up in all its splendour to help couples visualise their wedding reception at ECCLES Hotel. Some of the hotel’s newly refurbished bedrooms with stunning bay views will also be available to view on the day.

Rose O’Sullivan, wedding coordinator at ECCLES Hotel said, “As well as larger weddings ECCLES Hotel is a wonderful venue for more intimate wedding celebrations too as well as civil ceremonies and blessings. Couples can come and see all we have to offer and enjoy a prosecco and canape reception at the showcase, to give them a flavour of our delicious new wedding fare by Head Chef Nick Davey.”

For more information visit www.eccleshotel.com, call 027 63003 or email weddings@eccleshotel.com
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19th April, 2017  ·  

Clonakilty Cruinniú na Cásca event

As part of the “Cruinniú na Cásca” initiative, Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage has organised a complimentary guided historical walk of Clonakilty town starting at 12.00 noon at the Michael Collins statue on Easter Monday.

The event is totally free and the walk will be led by Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage committee member, Fachtna McCarthy.
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13th April, 2017  ·  

The Peninsula Players' stage their new play "The Cripple of Inishmaan" on April 28th & 29th in the Beara Bay Castletownbere. Tickets at the door. Unsuitable for younger audiences. Not for the faint-hearted! ... See MoreSee Less

10th April, 2017  ·  

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