19 Mar Clonakilty, County Cork
At the top of a winding inlet is the lively market town, laid out 1614 by the 1st Earl of Cork. The tall-spired Catholic church dominates the square. The handsome Presbyterian church, built in 1861, was converted into a post office after its once prosperous congregation, mainly farmers and land stewards, gradually died out.
In the street outside the courthouse is the 19th century pump known as the Wheel of Fortune, which formed part of a water scheme for the area promoted by the Earl of Shannon, a descendant of Richard Boyle.
Clonakilty became notorious during the devastating 1847 Famine, when hundreds of starving farm labourers and their families struggled to the town in the hope of finding food. Many either died there in the workhouse or carried on to Cobh, where they boarded ships sailing to America.
Today Clonakilty has a far more cheerful reputation and hosts an international busking festival, when the town resounds to music and frolics and becomes one joyous ‘get-together’ or ‘hooley’. It also has several bars where traditional music is played.
Clonakilty and its lively streets are a must see on your tours of Ireland.