Spike Island and Cobh, Ireland

The first land we spotted after a week of crossing the Atlantic Ocean was Spike Island and Cobh, Ireland.  It was an uneventful crossing except for my propensity to get sick in odd ways.  First, my left leg suddenly giving out and not supporting any weight for three days.  As precipitously as it went out, it started feeling just fine and I am now walking normally again.

Then I got strep throat.  I knew I was sick so we made an appointment with the ship doctor.  I was afraid it was Covid but I tested negative on that.  But definitely positive on the strep throat.  The doctor gave me antibiotics and also some prednisone to keep the swelling in my throat down.

I took two prednisone the first day, and that night my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.  Mayo Clinic describes the side effect as “fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse”.  It was all those things at the same time!  I was dripping in sweat and woke Tom up so he would know why I was dead the next morning.  He listened to my heart and agreed that it wasn’t normal.  Once we figured out it was the prednisone, I knew it would wear off and I would still be living in the morning.  No more prednisone for me!

Since then I have been feeling much better.  The antibiotics are working and my throat doesn’t feel like I am swallowing glass shards.  With all this going on, Tom and I were ready for some time on land.

We were originally going to take a shore excursion to Tipperary, but it is a long way to Tipperary.  Ha ha.  That shore excursion included some strenuous hiking and neither Tom nor I were sure I was up to it.  We exchanged it for a shorter and more moderate trip to Spike Island.

Spike Island is important to Irish history.  It was a monastery in 700 A.C.E., a British fort in the 1700’s and early 1800’s, and a prison up until 2004.  Many people (especially in Europe) say that Alcatraz is the Spike Island in the U.S.  Spike Island definitely gave off that vibe.  At one time it was the largest prison in the world.

Guide Robert
Cobh, Ireland
Lusitania Memorial

A guide, Robert, met us at the ship and we took a short walk through Cobh.  He pointed out highlights of the town as we walked.  Cobh was the place where thousands of Irish immigrants set sail for the United States.  The Lusitania and the Titanic both sailed from Cobh.  There is a gorgeous stone cathedral up on a hill that was built in the 1860’s.

Entrance to Spike Island

We quickly reached the ferry dock and boarded the small boat for the quick ride to Spike Island.  Once there, our guide told us stories about the history and the people of the island as we walked up the hill to the fortress.  The buildings were an eclectic mix of styles and years built.  Most of them were built in the 1880’s, but there was a modern building in the middle that had recently been competed as a cafe and gift shop.

After listening to our guide’s stories, we had a couple of hours to wander around Spike Island.  We learned a lot about the Irish fight for independence because many of the men imprisoned on the island were charged with treason against the British.  Each of the buildings interpreted a different era of the island’s history.  It was very interesting, but it was also very cold.  The high was 47 with a strong wind and overcast skies.  I was glad for all my layers.

Prisoners waiting for transport to Australia

We took our time wandering through the buildings and were glad to get back on the ferry when it returned.  When we got back to the ferry landing, Tom and I stopped by a pharmacy to get a knee brace – just a little extra support.  The first thing we bought with Euros (certainly not our last).

Tom with cannon

It started to rain, so Tom and I hustled back to the ship.  We found a nice spot to eat a late lunch and watch our ship sail out of Cobh.  As we sailed out of port, a rainbow came out which seemed very appropriate for the end of our first visit to Ireland.  But, never fear, we will be back in Ireland for a longer stay in June.

Rainbow goodbye to Ireland – for now

Tom and I had a great visit to Spike Island and Cobh, Ireland.  I felt good at the end of the day and it is nice to think I might finally be done with these health issues.  We also learned a lot and got to see some cool, old cannons, which always makes Tom’s day.

Next stop, Guernsey.