I went down to Cork to retrieve my harp from Brendan the harpmaker. He had waited for too long to bring it to me in Derry, so I finally gave up hope of that. I thought since I’m going to make the trip all the way to the southern end of the country I may as well tour around and see some sights!
I booked a hostel in Cork for the weekend and used that as my home base while I traveled out to other cities around Cork, including Blarney (home to the famous Blarney Stone), and Kinsale.
First, here’s some sights in Cork.
I’m off to bed after my first night in Cork. I can’t remember when I actually met Brendan to exchange the harp, I think it was on the first day on the front steps of the hostel. I was thrilled! I’ll post pictures of it at the end.
The following day I took a bus tour down to Kinsale to see Fort Charles, completed in 1692. This was a really cool-looking fort with a unique star shape.
After viewing the fort I wandered into town to look around. A lovely little Irish village like all the others.
The next day I set out north of Cork to see Blarney Castle! This is a must-see if you are visiting Ireland. In fact I took my parents to see this for a second time when they came to visit me at the end of my stay.
This picture doesn’t do justice to how MASSIVE this building is in-person. It’s perched on a stone bedrock, and they quarried away at the bedrock to build it upwards which makes the castle seem EVEN TALLER from the back.
Once you are done with the castle, there is a little estate to wander around in. There’s something very magical about this area. It’s drenched in mystery and you feel like a fairy might peep out behind a rock at any moment.
The harp that Brendan let me use was really nice. I wasn’t too impressed with the subtle “up-close” craftsmanship, but the overall shape of it was beautiful, the sharping levers were awesome, and it’s sound was divine. I mentioned having harp blisters at some point on Facebook, which is testament to 1) how long it had been since I’d played and 2) I think this harp was strung tighter than my own harp at home. Tighter tension usually means a sustaining and rich sound. I had fell in love with it. I remember returning home and playing my own harp and being really sad and disappointed with its sound. Since that time, I was obsessed with buying a new one, but my financial goals got in the way and I just never got around to it.
I had posted a list of my favorite tunes to play at one point, and since we’re talking about harps in Ireland, it’s a relevant place to put my repertoire (partial list).
- Blarney Pilgrim–G, Jig
- Basket of Turf–G, Jig
- Fig for a Kiss–G, Slip-Jig
- Dublin Streets–G, Slip-Jig
- Morrison’s Jig–D, Jig
- Musical Priest–D, Reel
- Trip to Sligo–C, Jig
- O Carolan’s Welcome–C, 3/4 time
- Brian Boru’s March–C, Jig/March
- Road to Lisdoonvarna–D, Jig