DAY TWO: To Castletownbere and on to the Allihies Copper Mine Museum

Ah yes, the hearty Irish breakfast awaited us on our second morning in Ireland. I had described the ingredients, in detail, on our bus journey the day before. Irish sausages, rashers (slices of fried bacon), black and white pudding (no comment), baked beans, fried mushrooms, and your choice of eggs. All kinds of breads, toast, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, cheeses and salamis etc, etc. Juices, coffee, tea….Some people tried the puddings, but I didn’t hear any, “Gee Ken, they’re delicious “…. quite the contrary…I love the stuff…basically the black is blood pudding and the white is any other shite that’s left over in the butcher shop ground up, add spices and voila…yummy…

We had a massive day ahead of us and we hit the road about 10am…two people (nameless) didn’t make it, the pains from too much fun the night before. We drove to Castletownbere, my mother’s home town, and were met by Jim O’Sullivan who is the Tourism Ireland rep of the area. He gave us a talk about the fishing history of the port over coffee and scones in the Beara Coast Hotel lounge. He then walked us over to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, around since about 1800, this particular station just over 22 years. We were treated to stories of rescues and bravado, many quite humorous by six local volunteer lifeboat men. They go out to rescue in ALL weather, no exceptions. One lad put on the bright yellow outfit and demonstrated the gear for us. We were not allowed on board the vessel as they are ready to go at a moments notice. One story went they arrived back in after a rescue one day, called the local pub for six steaks and six pints, only to be called out again before they got out of their gear….the steaks were overdone when they returned the second time, but they were given fresh pints.

We headed out to Allihies next to the Copper Mine Museum for a lecture and lunch. Bear in mind more than half of our group is from Butte, Montana where thousands of people left the Beara Peninsula and other parts of West Cork as well as the rest of Ireland, and went to work the hard rock copper mines in Butte from 1880 forward. This lot were fascinated by this exhibition and lunch was very good too. We drove back to Dunboy Castle, home of the great O’Sullivan Beara clan, who were the last hold outs following the defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. Less than a year later the castle was pounded by the English Navy guns and the 143 defenders were slaughtered, many of whom had surrendered. About 26 miles away O’Sullivan Beara himself and 1200 of his family and followers, men, women and children made the historical famous trudge march up to join Hugh O’Neill in the northern part of Ireland. By the time they arrived after fourteen days, there were 35 still alive. They had been attacked by both English and Irish on the journey.

Right next door we saw the famous Puxley mansion, original home to the guy who discovered the copper in the 18th Century. Too many details to this part of the story but look it up, the pictures are great.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped again in Castletownbere and went into the famous McCarthy’s Bar. One of the two daughter’s still running the pub regaled us with the story of her father, Aidan McCarthy, a doctor who had an amazing survival history during World War Two….in brief, 1939 he joined the Royal Air Force, survived the beaches of Dunkirk, watched a returning bomber crash land at his airstrip and pulled two survivors from the burning plane. Was posted to Java, the Japanese arrived, he ended up in a concentration camp, was sent on a freighter to mainland Japan to slave labor in a factory, torpedoed by the Americans, was one of 60 survivors out of 1180 on the ship. Rescued by a Japanese warship, when the Japanese realized they were foreign they started shooting them, he jumped over the side and was rescued by a Japanese freighter days later. On mainland Japan worked in a factory in Nagasaki until it was bombed. They had been working underground and when they came up it was just a nuclear wasteland. Thousands of dead bodies lay everywhere and he immediately went to work as a doctor to help any one he could. Upon hearing of this doctor, the Japanese commanding officer surrendered to him and presented him with his sword, which we were allowed to hold in the bar yesterday….what a story.

Back to the hotel for dinner after that and I sang for an hour and a half in the hotel bar later.

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