Discovering Kinsale, Ireland
Into the second week of my study abroad program in Ireland, a group of us took a trip from Cork to Kinsale. It was only a 30 minute bus ride, so why not? Plus, they had two beaches to relax on: something I desperately needed. When we pulled up, the tide was almost completely out and all you could see in the river was mud, algae and boats sitting on top of the mud. But farther out there were rows of brightly colored sailboats sitting on shallow water, with rolling green hills in the background, lit up, as Colleen so beautifully put, seemingly from beneath the earth.
The town was small and quaint, with soft older American music in the background from a carnival that was set up right in the thick of it all. The bed and breakfast we booked, The Walyunga, was apparently three kilometers away from the town, which was walk-able, so we started making our way up the coast. The eight of us took over the entire sidewalk and had to walk single-file when others were coming our way. We stopped to take pictures of the sun’s reflection off the water as it slowly encompassed the muddy bottom. We crossed a bridge on our way and stopped to gaze across the water towards the town on our left, then crossed over to focus our views on the endless rolling hills of wheat and vibrant green vegetation on our right.
Once we crossed the bridge, we had to make our way down a winding road with no sidewalks and barely enough room for even one foot. Purples, reds, yellows and oranges popped out amongst the thick green that lined both sides of the road. As dangerous as it was, I couldn’t help taking pictures. There were two times I was afraid for mine and everyone else’s life walking down that road, but we made it and still had one and a half kilometers to walk. Coleen called the owners of The Walyunga to see if they might pick some of us up, considering the roads we had yet to walk on also had no sidewalks. Matt and Tom left us to go explore a mysterious wall in the middle of a field and once the driver came to pick the three girls up, Michelle, Cheryl and I had time to explore. The three of us were up for walking, plus we wanted to see what this ancient wall was.
We made our way up a hill towards a cemetery and, hopefully, a way to get to the wall. The cemetery was small but captivating, as it overlooked the hills we were previously admiring from the bridge. The wall was on the other side of the cemetery, but there was wire preventing us from crossing over to it, along with three horses that may or may not have wanted to trample us, so we kept our distance. Once we left the cemetery, we decided to walk up the rest of the hill to see if there was anything worth seeing up that way. There were some pretty views and pretty fields, but nothing too terribly exciting. Though, in one field at the top of the road, there was one tree in it surrounded by golden wheat that caught my eye. I almost couldn’t look away. I don’t know what it was about that tree, but it’s shape, position and sense of loneliness mesmerized me. It was alone and beautiful surrounded by golden waves of life constantly caressing it, almost as if it was letting the tree know it is not alone.
After obsessing over this tree for too long, we walked back down the hill to make our way to the bed and breakfast, which we thought was much closer than it actually was. After walking down a winding road and past an inlet, we arrived at a crossroads of sorts with a sign that read “Walyunga / Bed & Breakfast / 1 km / First Turn Left” and another sign to the left with the image of a car going up an almost vertical hill. The three of us looked at each other with eyes of disbelief and thoughts of “Well, here we go” and then we went.
For the first time I felt like I was actually in Ireland, not just some random city that was new to me, and it felt nice. After traveling around for two weeks with Matt and Max, every big city was similar in some ways, but the smaller places within those cities are what defined them. For Ireland, it was Kinsale. There was more than just tall buildings, cheap restaurants and millions of bars. There were rolling green hills, fields of golden wheat and small shops scattered throughout the land. It was nice to finally be in Ireland.