Ireland · travel

Ireland from West to East: Cork

“Today, we’re going to take a bit of a detour. This isn’t included in the trip itinerary but I think it should be and it’s raining at Blarney anyway so that’s that. We’re going to one of my favorite cities- one of Ireland’s larger ones and home to a very important port with a history you may have heard of…”

Hungover stares from the passengers.

“Right, I see you all must have really had quite the night out so I won’t bore you with the details but we’re headed to CORK.”

“Oh, the Titanic Museum!” Stacy shouted.

“EXACTLY!” our guide beamed.

I’ll admit that I’m biased against anything Titanic- which explains why I don’t have any photos of the museum. Titanic the movie came out when I was in middle school and a handful of my classmates were obsessed with it. Obsessed with anything Kate and Leo. Obsessed with anything Celine Dion. Obsessed to the point that any Titanic school-related paraphernalia was a must and the famous boat scene was re-enacted on the school jungle gym every day, without fail, rain or shine. So by the time we were at the Titanic museum, I was totally burned out on it and ready to zip through to better things.

We wandered through an immense and buzzing grocers’ market, sampling breads and cheese, little pastries, and tiny cups of alcohol before sneaking out down alleyways and residential streets.

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The city had a grittiness to it and a sense of humor that was immediately warm and welcoming. It seemed less like a tourist zone and more like a living city with foibles and flaws and an inherent beauty. A pastel rainbow of townhomes called to us from across the street. Their Georgian doors each a bright, distinct color.

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The guide sidled up next to me. “Back home,” I said, “You’d need a permit for these colors. Door and exterior. And they’d say no.”

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“Really?!” he replied. “What harm is there in a pink house?” We stood for a moment and listened to the gulls. “You know, in the fishing towns they painted them all different colors because the fishermen would come home from the sea, they’d go to the pub, come home too blinkered to find their house- and they’d all look the same ‘cause they were all white at the time- and stumble into the wrong ones. And you can bet a few of ‘em got a good beating from whichever wives they stumbled in on-“

“Or not,” I joked.

“Or not,” he laughed. “Right. Ha! Could all be a ruse! So then, after enough accidental stumblings, they all started painting their homes in bright colors.”

“So their husbands couldn’t say they didn’t know it was the wrong house!”

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