When Cork is... Closed?

Alexis Funaki
October 27, 2017

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Ireland has been combating some pretty crazy weather lately! While we survived ex-hurricane Ophelia, not even a week had gone by when we were faced with Storm Brian. And did Brian sure cause us some problems…

The rail systems throughout the country and cheap student-priced tickets make it super easy to travel outside the ‘concrete jungle’ of Dublin and to the other wonderful counties of Ireland. This past weekend some friends and I decided to make a journey out to the ‘real’ capital of Ireland, Cork!

After checking into our hostel, we hiked over to the Cork Goal. And yes—it was a HIKE. I have never appreciated the flatness of Dublin (and Ireland in general) more than those 30 minutes of climbing up hills in the non-stop rain (thanks Brian). Alas, we finally made it to our destination, only to find out that the city’s historical jail was closed for—get this—a wedding! While we were not allowed to explore the grounds on our own due to the happy couple tying the knot amid the jail cells, we were still able to go on an abbreviated guided tour. Little did we know this was only the start to a weekend full of hiccups in our trip…

Outside of the Cork Goal

Not wanting to spend too much time in the rain brought upon by the wrath of Brian, we headed over to St. Anne’s Church to go ring the Shandon Bells—a cool experience I read about online and was excited to go do! But as we came through the church doors, we were greeted by a sign that said the bells were closed due to unfavorable weather conditions. There was too much rain and too much wind to make it safe for visitors. Once again, our plans were snatched out from beneath us.

Oh well, we thought. It’s bad today, but the storm is supposed to clear up by tomorrow. The rest of our plans for the weekend will be fine! Brian was probably snickering at us and our naivety.

View of Cork

The next morning was actually quite beautiful! No rain or wind, just a crisp fall morning. It seemed as though we had finally lucked out with good weather! We were excited for the day ahead—a trip to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone and receive the gift of the gab. A short bus ride from Cork got us into the town where the castle is located. While we were confusingly trying to figure out where to buy the tickets (because all the ticket windows seemed closed), we overheard an employee tell another group of travelers that Blarney Castle was closed for the day. My heart dropped. Storm Brian had actually caused some sort of fire near the castle, so it was not safe for visitors to go near it. I had been so excited to go! Visiting Blarney Castle was one of the few things that I knew I really wanted to go do before even arriving in Ireland.

Unfortunately, the closures didn’t stop once we made it back to Cork. We headed toward Fitzgerald Park to walk across Daly’s Bridge, also known as Shakey Bridge. It is the only suspension bridge in all of Cork and I was determined to walk over it! After getting Google Maps to navigate us to the right place, we were met with a giant fence and sign saying that the bridge was closed for repairs. That meant no bridge for us.

Not willing to let this dampen the mood, I remembered reading about a free museum in Fitzgerald Park. Turns out it was only a five minute walk down the road! We found the museum after those five minutes of walking, but it was behind a series of closed gates that did not look like they were going to open any time soon. Sigh. This one was probably not Brian’s fault, but we are just going to blame it on him anyways.

We decided to walk back to city center. Slightly annoyed and a bit disappointed, we were thinking about how we could have not picked a worse weekend to visit Cork. And it was on this walk and engulfed by this mindset that we spotted a building—a hotel named the Blarney Stone. Ha, that’s funny! Someone jokingly suggested that we kissed that instead, since the real one was closed. And I said yes! If this is the closest thing I am going to get to kissing the Blarney Stone, then I am going to do it! So we took turns taking pictures of each other kissing a random hotel in Cork city—making the most of the situation we were in and the cards we were dealt.

Me kissing the 'Blarney Stone'

What did I learn? No matter how much you plan ahead, there are some things you just cannot plan for (*cough* Brian). Up until this weekend, I had faced no problems whatsoever—every trip had gone as planned, and the only surprises I encountered were good ones! But when those surprises become less that great, you have to accept it and move on. Make the most of what comes your way and still have a good time. You are only going to be abroad for a short period of time. There is no use letting the weather or anything else get you down! So while it seemed like almost everything we tried to do in Cork was closed, we still managed to eat some great fish and chips, shop in some cool indoor markets, see lots of awesome street art, and listen to some amazing musicians at the pub! When weather’s got you down (or your destination closed down), make the most of it and have a great time anyways!

Mario Street Art

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Alexis Funaki

<p>Hey, I'm Alexis! I'm a born and raised San Diego, California girl and (no surprise here) I love the beach, warm weather, and all things outdoors--from riding bikes on the coast to exploring hidden hiking trails. However, my biggest passion in life is softball. I have been playing for ten years now, and I currently play in college (go tigers!). In the summer I help coach youth softball teams and serve as a camp counselor. I love being around people, sharing my energy with others, and just having a good time living life!</p>

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