We are already on day 3 of our whirlwind tour of Ireland, and today we are heading further west, ending up in a little place called Union Hall, a small dot on the coast but which promises some nice sea views from the B&B we’ve booked for the night.
But on the way we have a couple of way-points planned in, the first being only a half mile or so away in the middle of Waterford, to visit the well known crystal factory.
As we set off, we start having a bit of car trouble which is a little disconcerting, considering how far away from home we are at the moment. But not to worry, I’ve checked we are covered by the Volvo Assistance breakdown cover. The first of our issues starts when the automatic tyre pressure warning system throws up an alert for FOUR under pressure tyres. Not entirely likely but better to get it checked, so we stop at the first service station and check the tyres. All fine, so a quick re-calibration of the TPS and we are good to go.
While we are there I decide to fill up on diesel, and our second issue (not the car’s fault this time) – as the tank got to full, the auto-shutoff mechanism on the nozzle didn’t kick in and instead overflowed the tank all over the back wheel and read disc brakes. Now it’s not so much I’ve probably got a fiver’s worth of diesel all over the car, or running down the forecourt (you can see where this is a regular occurrence) but no, I’m more worried as we will be having a long drive later, and those diesel covered brake discs get awfully hot after a while…
We very tentatively drive down into Waterford and park up in the car park next to the museum, and take the short walk to the main entrance. We present our pre-booked tickets at reception (recommended as they are discounted online) and then we visit the museum’s many fascinating crystal displays until its time to go around the museum with our guide.
We spent a couple of fascinating hours here (to be reviewed separately), and then had a quick cup of tea in their cafe before heading off for our next destination, Blarney Castle, a few miles north of Cork.
My idea had been to visit the seaside town Cobh on the way to see if any cruise ships were in port, but we were running late after a late breakfast and prolonged visit to the glass museum and instead headed directly to Blarney.
Even so, we didn’t arrive until 3 p.m. and we walked up to the Castle entrance. Unfortunately they still required €18 / person entrance fee even at that time of day, and as we intended to head off about 4 p.m. coupled with the fact it looked like rain, we decided to forego the visit to the castle and gardens, and instead had lunch in the local pub and a quick walk around the village green – quite a busy place with a lot of traffic, so beware. I guess Blarney Castle is definitely something that needs a bit more time to visit, so we will put it back on our Ireland to do list for now.
Joe wanted to visit a nearby village of Waterloo on the way out, which we obliged, before heading back towards the coast again and on to Union Hall.
The route from Blarney basically takes you back through Cork, which is another place we will add to our next visit, and then along the N71 for a few miles, passing through some pretty towns and villages en-route.
Union Hall was nothing like what we had expected. Accessed by a long single track metal bridge, the windy narrow road takes you down in to a small harbour village with a couple of restaurants and shops, and a few houses on the surrounding hills, including our stop for the night, the Shearwater B&B.
The B&B was certainly in a spectacular location – and quite steep. I had enquired about steps and stairs with the owner when I had first booked, and had been warned of the steep carpark and multiple steps to the property and also inside. But she could offer me a separate ground floor studio annex easily accessible from the car park, which proved to be perfect, with large double glazed patio doors facing out over the spectacular bay scene – reviewed separately.
That night we decided to have a meal in the village (due to the place being a bit remote, and I didn’t fancy the bridge in the dark!), and we ended up in Dinty’s, and had a very nice meal in front of a rather hot log burner.
And this is where car disaster number two was to strike, as when we returned to the car, there was the biggest puddle of green fluid under the front bumper, which I took to be coolant.
We risked it and drove the short distance back to the B&B, and I called the Volvo Assistance. As it was 9 p.m. and we weren’t exactly going anywhere, I agreed to meet the service guy back in the village at 9 a.m. the following morning.
With a possible tow to the nearest Volvo dealer on the cards, and the rest of our holiday plans potentially scuppered, we settled in for the night…
We visited Ireland in May 2019. Watch our Irish Tour video on Youtube.