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Cork is the second most populous city in the Republic of Ireland, after Dublin.  In the 6th century it was the site of a Christian monastery subject to Viking raids but by the 10th century the Vikings had settled, as in Dublin and Waterford.  In due course the Normans arrived (see the history above...) and Cork became a Yorkist town during the Wars of the Roses. 

Not a lot of the old Norman city remains. Cork was the location of one of the Tudor Protestant 'Plantations' (see the history above...) and a Republican hot spot during the war for Irish Independence between British Troops, supported by Irish 'Auxiliaries' known as Black and Tans, and the IRA (see the history above...).  In 1920 an IRA ambush against the Auxiliaries resulted in Cork being set alight and local attempts to put out the fires being prevented.  About five acres of dwellings were consumed, together with several significant public buildings including the town hall.  Loss of life was minimal but many were left homeless in what was described as a 'reprisal'.  Republicans have not forgotten.

We reached Cork in the morning and were immediately ensnarled in a traffic jam.  Parking was difficult to find along the river and we soon determined that this is a busy commercial area with little to recommend it to tourists. We would seek out the local museums.  We were tempted by the Cork City Gaol from which Irish Convicts were transported to Botany Bay (Sydney). But after a quick look on-line decided that our recent visit to Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin was enough Gaol experience for one trip. And so we ended up at the apparently next most popular and bizarrely different Butter Museum. This had the added advantage of nearby parking; another church (Church of Ireland) to look at;  and pubs within walking distance for lunch.

As the name suggests The Butter Museum records the Irish butter success story.  I was reminded of the Cupnoodles Museum in Yokohama. Yet it turned out to be very interesting.  Growing up on the rural outskirts of Sydney I was not completely ignorant of dairying.  Yet at the same time in Ireland our local dairy would have seemed like a space station to the average Irish farmer.  They were still hand milking and using what in Australia would have been a farm's kitchen separator and a hand churn to make butter.  It was both primitive and unhygienic. 

Then came the European Economic Community. Ireland has some of the world's best dairying countryside and its farms and infrastructure were consolidated, automated and improved.  Modern milking sheds were built; herds and pastures brought into the 20th century.  Milk processing factories received bulk milk deliveries by tanker and churned out the yellow stuff.  At the same time a series of marketing campaigns promoted a single homogenised, high quality product: Irish Butter.  And thus butter joined the advanced guard of the Irish economic miracle - the 'Celtic Tiger'.

The museum is high up on the ridge overlooking the city so we strolled down the hill in search of lunch and with the aid of local advice found an ethnically unsullied (authentic) place.  As we had noticed in local pubs previously, the locals, while perfectly fluent in English, speak Irish among themselves.  With the general wellbeing and quite high prices this gives a tourist in Ireland a similar experience to visiting Denmark.  Together with declining religiosity Ireland seems to be joining Scandinavia.

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# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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At the end of February 2016 Wendy and I took a package deal to visit Bali.  These days almost everyone knows that Bali is a smallish island off the east tip of Java in the Southern Indonesian archipelago, just south of the equator.  Longitudinally it's just to the west of Perth, not a huge distance from Darwin.  The whole Island chain is highly actively volcanic with regular eruptions that quite frequently disrupt air traffic. Bali is well watered, volcanic, fertile and very warm year round, with seasons defined by the amount of rain.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The First Man on the Moon





At 12.56 pm on 21 July 1969 Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) Neil Armstrong became the first man to step down onto the Moon.  I was at work that day but it was lunchtime.  Workplaces did not generally run to television sets and I initially saw it in 'real time' in a shop window in the city.  

Later that evening I would watch a full replay at my parents' home.  They had a 'big' 26" TV - black and white of course.  I had a new job in Sydney having just abandoned Canberra to get married later that year.  My future in-laws, being of a more academic bent, did not have TV that was still regarded by many as mindless.

Given the early failures, and a few deaths, the decision to televise the event in 'real time' to the international public was taking a risk.  But the whole space program was controversial in the US and sceptics needed to be persuaded.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Holden - The Demise of an Iconic Brand


I drive a Holden. 

It’s my second. The first was a shiny black Commodore.  A V6 Lumina edition.

I have owned well over a dozen cars and driven a lot more, in numerous countries, but these are my first from General Motors.

The new one is a white Calais Sportswagon and it's the best car I've ever owned.

Based on the German Opel, it has traction control conferring impeccable braking and steering and ample power and acceleration even with four adults and luggage.  Add to that: leather seats; climate control; head-up display; voice commands for entertainment, phone and so on; and it's a luxurious ride.

Yet I’m starting to think that I can put an end to any car brand, just by buying one.

Holden finally ceased manufacturing in Australia just after my present model rolled off the production line.

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