Baltimore, Ireland – “The Father Ted Tour” – May 2008
The K&E twelve dive in cork…
After approximately 14½ hours on the road for most of us, the K&E twelve arrived at Baltimore, Co. Cork, Southern Ireland. The journey would have been considerably shorter had we not travelled in convoy from the ferry with Paul Eyden leading: he developed a liking for driving around roundabouts several times before choosing an exit (usually the wrong one!). We all hoped his navigation skills in the water would be better.The Father Ted jokes and accents started as soon as we drove off the ferry, thanks to Bret Champion, and they continued until… well, they are still continuing! Fortunately, the Irish aren’t easily offended.
## The accommodation
We were split between two B and Bs due to the size of the group: The Corner House and The Stone House, which incorporated the dive centre. Bret, Ros Hepple, and Brian and Jackie Maskell stayed in the Corner House right next door to the pub – a good bit of planning on Len Hard’s part!The dive centre was run by Rianne and Jerry, and Rianne proved very early on that Superwoman really does exist. She not only ran the B and B and the dive centre, including collecting the cylinders and doing the air-fills twice a day; she also taught bridge; made all her own bread; and generally didn’t stop. She excelled on the last night by eating out with us, and stopping on the way back to put some bread in the oven before joining us in the pub. She then made another batch of bread on her return from the pub! In short, the perfect hostess.
## The diving
We had 5 ½ days of diving, with a mix of wrecks and scenic dives. One of the highlights was the Kowloon Bridge, a 169,080 ton bulk carrier, which sank in December 1986. At 900 feet long, and mostly still intact there was plenty to see, so we dived it twice. Whilst diving the Kowloon Bridge the first time, Ros and Bret got caught in a drift and were half way to America when they surfaced. Not having their passports with them they decided to leave that trip for another time and climbed back onto the boat to return to Ireland. Another high point was the 1070 ton VII C-Class German Submarine. Again it lies nearly perfectly intact on the seafloor with the conning tower open, allowing you to look inside with the periscope up and the glass still in place.
Unfortunately Paul Eyden missed the sub dive – he just couldn’t last the pace and chose an extra couple of hours sleep over the most amazing dive of the week. Turning 50 has obviously taken its toll on him!The basking shark spotted from onboard the boat on the first day was another unforgettable experience; and the dolphins swimming along side the boat twice proved an excellent temporary cure for sea sickness. Cynthia Doughty, Kevan Tulip, and Brian Maskell took on the task of Dive Marshalls. Brian, however, introduced a revised system of completing the dive sheets by writing on the plastic wallet containing the paper rather than removing the sheets first! Perhaps this was due to the fact that he only had half a pair of glasses, following an incident allegedly involving somebody’s rear end. It was at this point that Jackie Maskell decided to switch buddy and dive with Cynthia…Unfortunately the shot lines were often fairly slack, increasing the risk of entanglement on the way down: Kevan Tulip and Ros Hepple both had stories to tell about that.
Novice, Gill Wilson, lost a fin on her first sea dive (well, they were from LiDL!), which was swiftly recovered by Bret. Once re-fitting it under water, he ensured she remained calm by immediately asking her to do mask clearing and removal! She got her own back by holding his hand continually for the next 3 dives. Gill also used Len’s hand as a stabiliser and griped so hard she drew blood! Bret, feeling rather queasy (probably from the experience of having Gill clinging onto him), accepted some rather strong sea sickness tablets from nurse Jackie (or at least, that’s what she said they were) resulting in him sleeping for the next 13 hours – peace at last for the remaining 11; thanks Jackie – one to remember for the future!Jim Molyneux displayed hidden talents when, in the absence of antibiotic ear drops, he suggested Gill use eye drops in her ear to cure her infection. We’re nominating him to carry out all future medicals in the club.On all dives the visibility was excellent, and the weather was perfect (although a little choppy on the boat at times). The sun shone every day, something none of us expected from a trip to Ireland.
## The non-divers
The 2 non-divers, Audrey Molyneux and Mary Hards, kept themselves busy with lots of walking and sight seeing around the beautiful surrounding area. We also nominated them as social secretaries, giving them the responsibility of checking out the local restaurants. They did an excellent job resulting in increased waistlines on our return to England! They also took bread-making lessons, and cookery and nutritional tips from Rianne, our hostess, so we expect to see these skills put to good use in the future.
## The social scene
We arrived the weekend of the Baltimore Fiddlers’ Festival, which meant the town was extremely busy for the first couple of days. Fiddlers were everywhere, fiddling day and night… A great atmosphere whilst sitting outside the bar lapping up the late afternoon sun and a few glasses of lemonade.We had some excellent meals out (going back to 1 restaurant 3 times because of the quality and quantity of food), and look out for news reports of record increases in Guinness sales. We all acquired a taste for the black stuff but somehow we know it won’t taste the same when Len serves it behind the club bar!
## The summary
A damn good holiday!Many thanks to Len Hards for organising the trip, and to Rianne and Jerry (hosts of The Stone House and dive centre) and Bernie (hostess of The Corner House).