Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Cork

We found a hotel manager in the lobby and asked where we might find some coffee. An expression crossed his face like he thought we were nuts! But he recovered his decorum and told us we might try the 24-hour Petrol station down the street.

If you’re thinking you just read a first paragraph which needed context, you must have missed the last post. Go ahead and catch up HERE to understand why were in the lobby of a hotel in Cork, Ireland at 5am. Otherwise, on with the story…

We were in Europe! We didn’t want our first espresso to be gas station coffee, so we asked when the coffee shops would open. The manager turned to another employee who had joined our conversation and they exchanged blank looks. He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

A cathedral by street light.
Saints Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in Cork, Ireland before sunrise on Sunday morning.

I thought, surely the coffee and pastry shops would open by 6. It was Sunday. There were churches and cathedrals in every direction. People would want their lattes on the way to church and hospitality directors would be purchasing boxes of pastries for their welcome tables. That is how I’ve seen things done all my life.

But not in Ireland! All of Cork city centre was closed. There were a few people with brooms and mops, reminiscent of Disneyland after the last parade; but other than that, it was completely empty.

We spoke to one friendly guy with a large rolling trash can. We asked him about coffee. He told us the shops would remain closed for several hours, and maybe all day. According to him, our best bet was to find a pub that was still (!) open. But we found no such thing.

Cork city centre was intriguing in its desolation. It was very clean. The lights were bright. I had the opportunity to photograph things without battling people or traffic. It was almost surreal. But we had a huge dilemma.

We were to catch a tour bus at 7am. By 6:00, it became apparent that no place was going to be open for breakfast. We’d been awake since 3:00. We were hungry. We headed to the 24-hour Petrol station the hotel manager had mentioned.

But even the Petrol station was only open for gas. We needed to get ready to meet the tour bus. We walked back to the hotel.

Storefront decorated for Christmas
We had great views of heart-warming window displays.

The fancy, but turned-off and lonely, espresso machine behind the empty pastry case in an unlit corner of the hotel lobby, seemed to taunt us as we walked past it to the “lift”. We pressed the floor for our “bedroom”.

God spoke to me on the lift. Ireland honored Him by taking the sabbath seriously. I felt challenged that I should be more in the habit of preparing Saturday evening for Sunday morning. I could have easily purchased provisions when I was exploring the city before I went to sleep. It hadn’t occurred to me.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night.”

Psalm 92:1-2

We thanked God for the trail mix we had left from our airplane snacks. And there was a percolator with instant coffee in our room. It tasted awful, but it was warm caffeine. We thanked God for that too.

The difference in mindset really struck me. I’d set out a few hours earlier with arrogance. I wanted an experience of European intrigue, and gas station coffee would not suffice.

God created gratitude in me for what I already had.

Mama Lava

I’d been humbled. Even the gas station coffee was out of reach. God made me grateful for what I already had.

I thought about that as I gathered my things for our full day tour. And looking back now, I’m sure my attitude adjustment was necessary preparation; the foundation for what was to be my favorite day of our vacation. I cannot wait to tell you, next time, about our PaddyWagon excursion!

The lack of coffee on Sunday morning in Cork may have been disappointing, but it made those early hours irresistibly more interesting. Had caffeine been readily available across the street, we would not have needed to wander. We would have missed out on the intrigue offered by the deserted city centre.

I fell in love with Cork, Ireland in the wee hours of Sunday morning. When we walked it again on Monday, it was like meeting up with a familiar friend. More to come on that too! I hope you’ll join me!

Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.


9 replies on “Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Cork”

Great post, Mama Lava! Thanks for the reminder of Sabbath rest and quiet. Your description here reminds me of the way Sundays used to be here here. At first we found it exasperating. We had been so used to quick convenience, yet eventually got used to it. But over time, Italy’s Sundays changed. Commerce became more important than Sabbath rest, relaxation, and time-off. Anymore grocery stores and malls are all open on Sunday. I miss the Sunday quiet, and wonder how we could have let it sift through our fingers so easily. So thanks for the reminder!!

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In the States, we’re obsessed with constant work, activity, and I love that in other countries they take time to rest, feast, have conversations, and enjoy their surroundings. Thanks for sharing that great reminder! I love how nothing is wasted with God, and you chose to turn your disappointment to gratitude and focus on him. Great post!

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