Monday, 30 May 2011

Kinsale - Rugby 7's

Every Summer Kinsale is jam packed with tourists enjoying the sites sounds and craft shops selling everything from souvenir shells to authentic Irish tin whistles (made in China). To me and my cousins its where we were regularly shipped off to for holidays as its where my cousins and my grandparents lived. I still regularly visit my cousin and her family there and it is with her (the best hosts ever!!) I will be staying this weekend.

Although its only the end of April, this weekend finding an empty hotel/b&b room will be as difficult as finding a ticket for a Tipp/Kilkenny All Ireland Hurling final. This weekend the town will play host to the Heineken Kinsale Rugby Sevens. Rugby teams from all over the world (this year over 100) will converge on the town for rugby, drinks and general having of the craic! A bit of change from the usual sites and sounds of the town & I am looking forward to it. In all my years coming to Kinsale I have never been there for the  7’s so this is going to be fun!
Enjoying the Sun
The journey from Dublin to Cork is about four and a half hours with a fifteen minute rest stop in Urlingford, Co. Kilkenny.

If you have time to stop off along the way there are a few great places en route. The rock of Cashel is nice for a stroll around (if its good enough for hrh lizzy...), second to that, the highlight of Cashel for me, is Mother Hubbard's restaurant just the other side of town, They do, in my opinion, thee greatest sausage sandwich in the country! Glengarra woods are near Mitchelstown. There are some great walks and an An Oige hostel for those who fancy an overnight. You can beat a youth hostel for a bit of banter with a random German student! I stayed in the hostel many years ago - very funny incident involving an ambulance, a muddy mountain path and a 30 foot drop on one side of the road! While your in the area, the Mitchelstown caves are a must. The cave has some of the finest examples of limstone caves in the country. The caverns are breath taking - some of the formations are as old as 350 million years. If your not into the geology of it, well, its pretty and it sparkles!
On arrival at the almost deserted Cork bus station the lovely Italian behind the information desk tells me that I have an hour wait on the bus. It’s not all bad though, I get a text to say that my cousin and friends will meet me off the bus, sure isn't the pub only across the road! Rugby 7’s is in full swing so it seems!

I brought with me my beginning to get battered copy of ‘McCarthy’s Bar’. A gem of a guide to Ireland. Pete McCarthy, the author, travelled around this part of the country and so I thought it would make for a good read (for the umpteenth time!)
According to McCarthy  the first rule of travel is ‘On arrival buy a local paper and have a drink’. The best I can do here is a local bus time table and the lukewarm bottle of water in my bag. I suppose I could ring ahead and ask them to meet me with a copy of the Evening Echo and a drink from the pub...

Nothing like a neon wristband to make you feel like your at a festival!
Saturday morning after breakfast we decide to head into town for lunch! On the advice of the locals we head to ‘The Blue Haven’. Its a hotel, restaurant and pub. For a very reasonable €15.50 we have thee freshest fish (you can see the boat from the window) chips and mushy peas. More then we could eat and just divine!

Time for some rugby then! The local bus company runs a very organised service up and back from the pitches. Its €2 each way. A bargain considering the incline of the hill you would be forced to walk up! Its held up at the local rugby pitch. It is just down the road from Charles Fort. A 17th century star shaped fort, used by the military until 1922. It is open all year round and well worth a visit. Fabulous views out to sea and into town.

On arrival at the pitches games are in full swing. Some of the teams are there for serious rugby playing (there is a nice cash prize for the winning team).Others are there for the rugby but more for a bit of team bonding and fun times!  The whole affair is very well organised. There are a half dozen pitches, marquees to to house the bars and screens which are showing Leinster’s defeat of Toulouse.
A bit of the action.
Drinks were a very reasonable €4.50 for a beer. I’m here with three other gals. None of which are particularly interested in rugby, thought they are not adverse to the whole fit men in shorts aspect of the event!!

For dinner that evening we head to ‘The White Horse’. The four of us opt for the Cajun Chicken wrap with Ballymaloe relish, salad and chips. There is enough on the plate for two ( I have a sneaking suspicion that they are giving larger portions to feed up the rugby players) and along with a drink we still get change from a tenner.

Stretch it out!
Fed for the evening and after a quick change of attire we head out for the evening.There are lots of pubs to choose from but we go for Hamlets, they have has thee nicest staff and security I have ever come across. The friendliness of people in Cork in general is something that is very apparent. Even as the night goes on the staff remain polite and helpful. All the furniture has been cleared out to accommodate the crowd. On a regular weekend this place has lovely wooden tiki huts outside, perfect for a drink in the sun!

One of the many jerseys..
The whole weekend has a great festival feeling to it. Like Oxegen with a whole lot of super fit people!! As I said this weekend was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was relaxed, fun, we met some great characters, and it showed me another side to Kinsale. Will I be back for 7’s next year?? Yep, sure I might even wear my Munster jersey.

1 comment:

  1. well well well , very well written hun, you have a way with words oh cousin of mine. Lets not forget our random swim in sandycove.. Doesn't seem that long ago when we were all down there learning how to swim!! keep it up hun, i look forward to the next post, miss you
    Steph x