Sunday, May 16, 2010
Yanks Cruise Down South to Glendalough and Cobh – Day Eight in Ireland
An American Confederate flag is displayed for passersby to see inside a pub in the seaport town of Cobh. Interestingly, Cobh is not found south of the Mason-Dixon Line - instead it's located in County Cork, Ireland.
The area does share a history of rebellion and civil unrest similar to that of the American South. Cork is also nicknamed "The Rebel County," which could probably be found tattooed on at least a few Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. The name stemmed from Cork's support of Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne in 1491.
Cobh is also known for being the final launching point of the RMS Titanic as well as the current home of the Irish Navy. We took a guided walking tour of the harbor and learned about the town’s history as a shipping port.
The most intriguing part of the stroll was learning about how a crew member of the Titanic helped to save children with an ingenious idea. Fleeing passengers had to jump over a gap to enter the lifeboats that hung over the sides of the sinking ship. The problem was that squirming children had to be passed over the railing, which meant that they risked plummeting into the icy sea.
The crafty sailor made his way back into the bottom of the ship to find mail sacks and other cloth bags. Infants and children were placed into the sacks to make it easier to transport them safely into the boats. They also provided another layer of protection against the cold.
One of these children was Millvina Dean - the youngest Titanic survivor. Dean was only nine weeks-old when the world’s largest passenger steamship slammed into an iceberg, killing over 1,500 people.
After checking out the Titanic memorial, we walked up a steep hill toward Cobh Cathedral, which dominates the skyline. The neo-Gothic steeple juts up toward the heavens in an imposing manner that demands attention from secular and ethereal beings alike.
Earlier in the day we visited another impressive religious site – St. Kevin’s monastery in Glendalough. This monastic settlement was established in the sixth century and contains a mix of buildings including the Cathedral and the imposing Round Tower, which was used as a bell tower and a fortress for protection during raids.
It’s mind-blowing to see buildings that were around 1,000 years ago – there’s simply nothing like this in the U.S. This is ancient until you compare it to the duration of time that people have been walking around this little green and blue sphere. Modern humans originated nearly 200,000 years ago. This makes these ruins only one two-hundredth as old as the first humans.
Suddenly we aren’t so disconnected from the past. We’re right around the corner from the days of St. Kevin when the dates are laid out against the time frame of human history.
Breaking News: American heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio died today at the age of 67 after a bout with cancer. He was the singer for Black Sabbath after Ozzy’s departure. He also sang for the band Rainbow and under his own surname with the band Dio. Please throw up a metal hand in his honor. He’s in a better place now – a land of dragons, shredding guitars and wind-blown hair. Check out this BBC article for more details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8685851.stm