Kells priory 12th sanctorum 15th

One way to look at today is that there were pairs…of medieval monastic/church complexes and harbor-cities.

Kells p river

These first two photos are of Kells priory. This one was founded in the 12th C by Anglo-Normans—some of the ruins inside the wall. Then, the wall was added in the 15th C, and the whole thing was attacked in the Dissolution in the 16th C. Anyway, the ritual architectural core is next to River Kings, and the adjacent settlement was on the slope above and the hill to the south.

Rock of Cashel cathedral complex

Here’s another 12th-C cathedral complex in ruins. It was sacked a bit later, in the 17th C, and some well-meaning??? Englishman had the roof removed in the 18th C. You can guess my take on that.

Rock of Cashel view of town

This one, however, is atop a limestone outcrop, very dramatic. It also has a wall, but mostly the defensiveness is due to the bedrock it is built upon. Here’s the view of town from just a few feet from the cathedral ruin.

Such different choices…next to the water and the riverine transportation network vs atop a defensible peak. Supply lines are different. These aren’t far apart in space, and the surviving architecture overlaps temporally….

Cobh harbour

Here’s a view of Cobh harbor. This was the last port of call of the doomed “Titanic,” in 1912. Uncounted Irish set sail from here for the New World, hoping, as is often said, for a better life. I think of Cobh as the outer harbor area in the same estuary as Cork, which is in a more protected location farther inland–but doesn’t have the deep draft for larger “modern” ocean-going vessels.

Upriver Cobh toward Cork

This is the estuary between Cobh and Cork, and there’s a car ferry that goes between the two cities traversing the River Lee in the shot. Notice how the overcast has set in; we have lost the sunshine we’ve had since we arrived (where’s my raincoat gotten to?).

Cork south out of medieval city area

We’re headed south over the bridge that is where the bridge was in medieval times, exiting Cork to the south. The plan of walled medieval Cork survives as narrow streets and bottle-necked traffic. Charming layout, slightly gritty city (or is the overcast skewing my perceptions?).

Ponder these two cities. One (Cobh) is nearer the open ocean and has a deep harbor, an advantage in “modern” times. The other is farther inland, at the farthest downstream that crossing the rivers that forked around the city was relatively easy. Cork was a Viking stronghold far later than most Viking cities in Ireland; the Vikings liked to be inland of the river-mouth, with the security the protected location offered. Archaeologists have found another Viking settlement with ironworking and other crafting even farther upstream, which was unanticipated and suggests that, at least here, the Vikings located activities that required expensive materials even farther inland in an even safer location.

Kinsale book shop

We kept rolling south to Kinsale. I like that this shop offers bibliotherapy. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but I haven’t.

Fancy dinner Kinsale

We even had a fancy fish dinner in Kinsale. Delightful and tasty. For dessert, I swooned over my crème brûlée, and the Guru’s pavlova and strawberries was gorgeous and seductive.

BB view

And score another fine B&B for us. This is the view from our room—ignore the overcast….


  1. Anne Regenstreif says:

    If this was the first time you’ve had to locate your rain coat, you are blessed!

  2. kayak woman says:

    Bibliotherapy rang a bell but I HTG to remind myself of what it is. Interesting idea. I noticed it can be used in tandem with writing therapy, which I think I actually do, at least some of the time.

  3. Sammy says:

    We expected to be mossy and moldy by now. Farmers are really wanting rain.

    I had not encountered the term bibliotherapy before; I have become a teensy bit more educated….