Some of you may already know that in 1830 the Victorian novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton penned, within his novel ‘Paul Clifford’, the rather uncharitable phrase – ‘the great unwashed’.
Actually he used it in respect of the ‘hoi polloi’, the common, the lower-classes. Since then the phrase has been used in several different contexts not uncommonly in respect of the street homeless.
What you might not be so aware of is that many years ago, when I was but a young man, I myself was part of that ‘great unwashed’ as I was street homeless for several months.
During this time I roamed the streets of England and more specifically ‘the midlands’ and it was one of the most inspirational and informative times of my life. It was also, I should admit in the interest of objectivity, honesty and fair play, one of the most challenging and difficult times of my life.
But what is more important (or at least what is more relevant) is that it was also the time when I fell in love with ‘an irish colleen’ by the name of Philomena who I soon learned hailed from County Cork in Ireland.
Actually, again in the interest of honesty, I fell in love with her voice – for that is what met me first drifting melodically, charmingly, from the small kitchen of a homelessness information centre called the Link in Birmingham and my love for her as a person was to follow a little later.
Much later that night, whilst trying to find sleep and shelter in a shop doorway, I decided that one day I would indeed visit this County Cork in Ireland and it has been a commitment (to myself at least) and a desire that has never left me.
Monday, thanks to the visit of my dear friend Tony, I saw the realization of that commitment and desire and trust me I was far from disappointed.
Setting off early in the morning on what was a bright and sunny day, we hit the open road…
Our first port of call was to be a beautiful little spot on the coast and the Colligan River called Dungarvan and the views were wonderful…
The scenery was stunning and thought it would be kind of neat to take some scenic pictures for you all.
Towards the top right hand corner of the above picture you will probably notice a small bridge (I love bridges) and this is a beautiful feature of this seaside resort town.
The presence of the yachts very obviously demonstrates how appealing and popular this town is.
Dungarvan castle (pictured above) was closed to visitors and is much smaller than a lot of castles. It was built by King John of England and stands by the harbour in Dungarvan proper.
King John also built defensive walls but none of these remain and what takes their place is truly beautiful.
And when I mentioned Dungarvan proper above it is because the town is split into two halves with that bridge and a long causeway joining the two halves.
Leaving Dungarvan we continued our journey and along the way we stopped off for coffee at a small village and sat outside a local church just soaking up the morning and chatting.
The rest of the journey Cork bound was full of stunning scenery but I will share some of those later (I have images in my head of those friends who insist in coming round after their vacations just to share hours of photos with you lol)
And besides, our actually destination was Cork and that was where my main interest focused.
The National Monument was unveiled on St. Patrick’s Day 1906 and was erected to commemorate the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848 and 1867.
It is a stunning monument and I think it is only right and fitting that a better picture should be shown here. 1
Further into the city centre and you are met with the main shopping area.
Which, since Cork is reputed to be the third most populated city in Ireland, was surprisingly empty.
But of course because of both mine and Tony’s aversion to crowds I had deliberately chosen to go on a Bank Holiday and so had expected the crowds to be much smaller. And after all, it was the architecture that I was interested in on this trip, not the people as such.
And whilst there were a handful of folk around I was certainly struck by how deserted the place was.
Even though it was admittedly a bank/public holiday, I really did think we would see more folk.
But actually all there was to see where these fine buildings (this one above being shot from inside the car and being the Courthouse.)
So seeing as most of Cork City seemed to be closed we pressed on to our next destination, passing University College Cork (above) on the way.
Cork City provided some wonderful sights it is true and even this Catholic church below (the Church of the Holy Spirit) proved interesting – even if it was only a fleeting view.
Did I bump into the fair colleen Philomena whilst we were there? No of course not and to be honest I never thought I would do and never had any real intention of doing so.
But then, when you are living rough on the streets and cold and wet and hungry and are sheltering from the night and in search of sleep, dreams don’t always wait for you to slumber. And those dreams sometimes becomes hopes which in turn become intentions. And occasionally, very occasionally, those intentions – such as my 25+ year old intention to one day visit County Cork, do one day become a reality. 🙂