Sunday July 10th: Swimmer plays Tourist
Sandycove, Cork County Ireland, Distance Week is over, time to pack up in preparation for our 4am departure tomorrow morning, but before then a little time to dedicate to learning some more about the town of Kinsale, what has gone down in this little town and the waters of the harbour before my visit, I can sense this area is oozing with history, my senses are right.
Robbin and I zip back to the apartment, change into dry clothes and head down to the harbour, yesterday we spotted a harbour boat tour, 5pm, we are on the boat. The tour begins by telling us of a town rich with history, the town is on the site of a monastery founded by St Multose in the 6th century, by the 10th century the Vikings had a trading post in Kinsale. The Normans walled the town in the 13th century and established it as an important trading base. By the end of the 16th century as a result of overseas trade, Kinsale had become one of the most significant towns on the south coast. Numerous battles took place in Kinsale Harbour, Kinsale had become a place of desire to rule, numerous battles including battles between the Spanish, Irish and English forces, to keep attacking forces out a chain was even laid across the harbour channel to deter attackers by sea.
Charles fort was built in the 1600’s, on the boat tour we saw it from the harbor view, I also got to see the beach from the torture swim, amazing to see it from a different angle, ” how could I have missed that during the tourture swim?”, I wonder. After the boat tour Robbin and I make our way to Charles fort by land, the fort was named in 1681 in honor of King Charles II, the fort was a formidable deterrent to intruders by sea but had weaknesses with regard to attackers by land. The fort is star shaped with five bastions which defended the entrance to the harbour. At the entrance to the fort was the guard house, this was where they used to detain soldiers when army regulations were breached, the discipline in the army was governed by the Army Discipline Regulation Act, this act listed 25 distinct offences that would result in death, these included murder, mutiny, striking a superior officer, fraudulent enlistment, falling asleep on duty and cowardice in the face of an enemy…no pressure there right!
The fort itself remained in use until 1921, the English withdrew at the setting up of the Irish free state, in the 1990s restoration began and it is now maintained and open for visitors to tour, what a remarkable site. Robbin and I walk around the posts, we view the soilders quarters, soilders would enlist for life, it must have been so terribly cold and bitter during the winter months.
We tour the governor’s house, this is quite grand compared to the other buildings, here lived the governor and his family, as the story goes on the wedding day of his daughter the governor shot his new son in law. The son in law and his new wife, the governor’s daughter had been walking, the bride saw some flowers and asked the groom to climb down and pick them for her, the groom wanting to please his new wife, asked a soldier on his post if he would retrieve the flowers, he agreed as long as the groom watched his post, the groom agreed eager to please his new bride on their wedding day, but alas the groom fell asleep, the governor at the time was doing his rounds, he came across one of his men asleep at the post, in keeping with the Army & Discipline Regulation Act he shot him, it was not until afterwards he realised that he shot his new son in law, his daughter was so distressed she threw herself of the cliffs to her death, later that night the governor shot himself dead. Over the years the ” lady in white” has been reportedly seen at Charles Fort, she fell to her death in her wedding dress.
That is but one of the stories we learned on our whirl wind tour of Kinsale on Sunday evening, just the tip of the ice burg I am sure.
We finish off the afternoon with a drink at the Bulman, the only pub we managed to visit during our stay in Ireland, it is a lovely spot with life music and wouldn’t you know it they played a song by a New Zealand band ” Crowded house”, perfect.
Next up the final pack up, off to bed and up at 4am to drive to the airport and a farewell to Ireland, what a wonderful country. I have enjoyed my stay and meeting so many tremendous friendly people, goodbye Kinsale and County Cork, I’ll look forward to another visit some day.
What is up next travel back to Stowe, Vermont, USA, then sizing up the next big challenge, a 2 way crossing of Lake Champlain on August 4th, 16 plus miles and swimming at night, how are plans shaping up for the big swim? I’ll keep you posted.