I have been up and down to Cork a bit with the children.
On our last visit we donated a possibly interesting document to the city archives. I found it in a box at my parents house with random tat including postcards, school essays and the like. I suggested that I might drop it into the national archives but, my father, roused to vehemence, said he did not want it to go off to Dublin and it was to go to the Cork archives.
The city archives are not particularly central but they are near where the man who did my mother’s upholstery had his workshop. I saw a chaise longue on the footpath and pulled up on a whim. The boys sat resolutely in the car but herself came in with me for a look. It turned out that the upholsterer (Mr. Nodwell – an unforgettable name, you would think, but I had forgotten) had operated out of the premises next door but was now dead. The Princess and I had a look around the bric-a-brac shop with the chaise longue. I suggested that she look out for coins to add to her growing collection. The shop owner overheard us and made her a present of a big box of coins and a cheque from 1961 from a butcher’s shop on Castle Street (now gone) which specialised in crubeens. We had to explain to her what crubeens were. Burdened down by her gifts she whispered to me that she felt she ought to buy something. Her eye fell on a 1970s picture of a foxglove.
Her: Excuse me, how much is that picture please?
[She opens her purse]
Him: Are you paying for it yourself? You should always haggle. Look, I’ll do it for you. Will you take â‚¬2, go on, it’s hardly worth â‚¬3. Alright so, you can have it for â‚¬2.
Giggling, she handed over the cash and left with her treasures clutched to her chest.
Then we went into the North Cathedral where I had never been before.
The children found the cathedral unutterably dull but I was surprised how attractive it was inside. It is also the burial place of the bishops of Cork. The Victorian bishop is on the left – no false modesty there. The other graves get progressively plainer until we get to Bishop Murphy who confirmed me whose tablet is flush with the ground. There’s a metaphor there but you’ll have to work it out for yourselves.
We strolled down to Shandon where I had promised the children a chance to ring the bells. Alas, the bells were being repaired and were unavailable to ring. The children sat in the Belfry dolefully for some time and we got chatting with the young man fixing the ropes.
Him: Where are you from?
Him: Do you know where Griffith College is?
Me: No, probably after my time.
Me: I haven’t lived in Cork for more than 20 years.
Him: You’re not from Cork at all then.
Me: Where are you from?
Him: Leap (West Cork).
Me: Is there much money in the whole bell repair thing? It must be quite a niche job.
Him: I don’t know, I was a gardener until the day before yesterday.
I hope that works out for you Shandon.
Then, gluttons for punishment, we went to the butter museum. Of only mild interest, but having been there before, the children knew what they were signing up for.
I took them to the South Chapel as well. Because I can. But look, catholic church from 1766 and a famous sculpture. What’s not to love?