MY VISIT TO BLACKROCK CASTLE AND OBSERVATORY – ATTRACTIVE LOCATION BUT NOT AS INTERESTING AS I HAD EXPECTED
Blackrock Castle is described as castellated fortification located at Blackrock, about 2 km [I suspect that it is closer to 6 km] from the centre of Cork city on the banks of the River Lee in Ireland. Originally developed as a coastal defence fortification in the 16th century to protect upper Cork Harbour and port, the site now houses an observatory, visitor centre and restaurant.
I have visited Cork every year since 2006 and almost ever visit it rained thus limiting the scope of my exploration of the city and nearby. This year I took a gamble and visited in September rather than May or June and this time I was luck because the weather was beautiful on the second day. I had decided that I would visit the Blackrock area of the city and initially I had planned to walk there but when I was passing the bus station I decided that it would make more sense to get a bus to Blackrock Castle and walk back to the City centre. I got on the 202A bus as the driver told me that he would leave me within walking distance of the castle. After a while I was beginning to get a bit worried because the bus had travelled a long way and there was no sign of the castle. We arrived at a shopping centre [I believe that it was Mahon Point Shopping Centre] and then the driver told me to transfer the the bus in front, a 202, and to explain to the driver that I needed to get to Blackrock Castle. The driver of the 202 brought me to Ferney Road at St. Luke’s Home and when I asked the frequency of the return service he told me once every two hours and that struck me as being odd as my understanding was that the 202 was a frequent bus service [once every ten minutes during the day]. Note: not all 202 buses visit the stop at Saint Lukes and according to the timetable there is one per hour.
Anyway I was at Saint Lukes Home which was very close to the Castle. When I arrived at the castle I had a cup of coffee and scone and when I asked the waiter if it was practical to walk to the city centre he told me that it would take about thirty minutes [tip: when in Ireland assume that half-a-hour actually means an hour]. I took the riverside route and making a guess I would say that you would need to allow at least ninety minutes to walk from the Castle to the City Centre.
To be honest, I did not find the castle to be of great interest but I did not investigate the castle’s observatory which houses an interactive astronomy center and has exhibits including a “tour of the universe” and a radio telescope that beams messages composed by school groups towards nearby stars.