PROC Official West Cork Holiday Part 1
As this column predicted two weeks ago, Murphy’s Law has been implemented fully by Mother Nature (or Allah or Jesus or whatever you’re having – just don’t riot or rosary outside PROC headquarters please!) as the smallies went back to school and the summer finally arrived.
Avid readers will be aware of the People’s Republic of Cork Cloud Seeding Committee and you may be wondering if the reduction in clouds in the Rebel county is down to our sponsorship of a small plane putt-putting up and down the coast spraying silver iodide on them.
At this point we are unable to comment as our pilot Sulky Harrington technically only has a licence to drive a small rigid truck, but if you want to send us a few bob to keep the good weather up put it in a large padded envelope and leave it in the rubbish bin outside Bishop Lucey Park at 4 O’clock any Friday.
|Take that Ryanair baggage Nazis!|
Anyway, such glorious weather after a summer of cool miserable meteorology sparked a case of ‘sun panic’ among us Proccers. This is a unique condition often experienced by Corkonians caused by the sudden onset of fine weather and an overwhelming desire to be outside in it.
So we quickly closed all the browser windows with Chris de Burgh’s daughter on them before shutting down our ‘nerd terminals’, packed our bags according to the PROC rulebook - two underpants, one togs, one spare PROC t-shirt, sleeping bag, bottle of Tanora, six pack of Murphy’s and a framed picture of the messiah Roy Keane - and hit the road.
|Some of you health and safety nuts may note the absence of sun block from the PROC holiday suitcase. Although the medical profession would (rightly) ridicule us, we believe that it is a rare privilege to be burned by the sun in Cork. We sleep even sounder when we’re sunburnt - knowing that it was, recently, very hot in our dear county. Plus, when you bump into some feen or beour you know in town who says “cmere, the colour on ya like, were you away boy?” you get to say “nah, sure I got that below in west Cork lah!”.|
This week we want to tell you about the magic of Cork’s Lough Hyne and Baltimore.
After Inchadoney and Owenahincha there are no major big-name beaches until Barleycove, which takes well over an hour to get to from Skibbereen. There are small strands like those at Tragumna and Toe Head but if you like getting the hurleys out for a puck-about you’ll have to settle for the big ball as space is at a premium and you don’t want to open up someone’s head with a stray drop shot. This is football territory anyway: when in Rome and all that.
Stunning Lough Hyne near Baltimore is the best non-beach balming out spot in west Cork and if you’re lucky you’ll see Seven Oceans swimmer Steve Redmond training for whatever incredible feat he chooses next (How ‘bout the Atlantic fella?).
|Lough Hyne near Baltimore|
The water is a bit icy but once you’re in keep moving and man up (or just let science do the work and buy a wet suit). Swimming out to the little island in the middle is very do-able because being a lake there’s no tide or waves trying to drown you so your stroke is far more efficient. Even if you don’t fancy the distance just paddle out a bit and take in the poetic scenery and hum a line of ‘De Banks’ to yourself.
Another bonus of the Lough over the beach is that you can dive in from the wall and because Hyne is only barely tidal (there’s a tiny outlet to the sea at the southern end) there’s nearly always enough depth to practice all manner of wild water-entry techniques.
We crashed in superb houses on the Inishbeg Estate whose rates are far from unreasonable despite the undeniable opulence of their small island - accessible only by a narrow road bridge from the Skibb-Balimore road.
Aside from the lush gardens and romantic forested walks that your old doll might make you do, you can have a barbeque and mini-rave in the stunning 8-bed Boat House which overlooks the Ilen river and play tunes and gat on until all hours without disturbing anyone (as far as we know!).
|The Boat House at Inishbeg: so posh you'll start to get notions about yourself afterwards|
The local bar, The Sibín, will even set up a keg of your favourite Cork brew in the gaf so you can mock the person who makes the biggest balls of pouring their own. Inishbeg even has its own cute indoor swimming pool in a beautiful walled-garden and before you ask, you’re not allowed to do dives or bombs. But as one of our gang put it in his own very Cork way “yeah, it says you’re not supposed to”. You know yourself like.
One of the objectives of the PROC annual holiday was to eat our way around west Cork and put on some whale flab for the impending winter to cut heating bills at PROC headquarters. Just outside Baltimore is the glorious Glebe Gardens Café and Restaurant. Their lunches nearly made us cry they were so tasty (to be fair we were quite emotional with our hangovers)– hearty sandwiches, delicious quiche and hangover-deleting lamb pasties.
|Glebe Gardens and Restaurant just outside Baltimore|
One of us did get stung badly though - not by a local but by a cranky wazzie in a Kilkenny jersey. The girls were out quick from behind the counter with a magic remedy though to take the pain away (you wouldn’t get that in Croke Park) and you are under strict orders from us to taste all their desserts: instant restoration of health guaranteed after a big night.
Chez Youen in Baltimore ‘city centre’ up the road does a savage fish and chips and the seafood pizza would be the best we’ve tasted in ages but for the slightly eye popping price – no pizza should be more than 16 euro unless it is delivered by teleportation from Italy. Sitting outside watching the sun set over Sherkin and Schull in the distance with a pint in hand is something every Corkonian needs to do once in his or her life.
|If you're looking for a good beach near Baltimore go to Sherkin Island|
When you’re full pop next door to Bushes who turn out a good pint of stout and in September most of the annoying yachties are back in Crosshaven leaving the sound ones behind. One local fella came up to us and gave us a trad CD from the Fiddle Fair for free and sat down for a chat over a few ‘cures’.
You wouldn’t get that in Santa Ponza!
(btw: while this might seem like something you'd see in a free sheet newspaper that is clearly paid for by some tourist board, PROC got no freebies and has not been given cash or handy shandies of any kind for writing this. We just fecking love Cork!)