I have officially completed my time at University. With this comes the dreaded parade of goodbyes. One surprisingly difficult aspect of this process and in the scheme not the most emotionally painful element however none the less one that has had a deep impact on me is the abandonment of that little apartment I called home for the four years of my degree. I packed it all up and left naught but a sleeping bag behind with the intent of returning for a get away while I could before my lease expired completely. About a week after leaving and returning to Limerick I felt an urge to revisit Cork, unprepared to release it altogether from my life just yet. A plan was formed and as I still had accommodation I thought I would be a nice idea to make a weekend of it and take my little sister on a tour of Cork as I know it and spend some quality time together.
Excited and eager we packed compact bags and took the train to Cork the very next day after making the decision to do so. We awoke early to ensure we maximized our little, quick trip. Arriving in Cork we took a bus straight to my still for a little longer apartment to drop bags and then unburdened explore together. The weather thankfully was stunning, I was so relieved because even though now after four years I can appreciate this city in any light, if I had the choice and chance to show it off for only one day I would always wish for sun to allow the city to sparkle and illuminate all its gems in the best way possible.
I thought it would be nice for myself, selfishly not ready to let go but also for my sister to see through my intimate experiences with the campus, the parts of the University College Cork I loved best. We walked my regular root to campus, I took her through the buildings I was based in the most, showed her the labs and hallways, the stairs that seek to confuse you and the interconnected buildings that so often trapped me in a maze of theatres and dead ends. I was nice to remember and share this place.
I brought her then back out side and through the ‘quad’, the central hub and heart of the campus. Here sits the oldest part of the college, a building dating from the establishment of the college back in 1845. I know my sister has a real love and interest in history and this building for anyone so inclined is a gold mine. A very tactile and immersive opportunity to feel and be, for a moment as close as can be to being in the past. This building is beautiful and walking its halls, sitting on stone that has remained over centuries is almost reverent.
I had to take her into the ‘Aula Maxima’. I once had and exam in this room and that was the first time I had crossed its threshold. I was instantly in awe, the chapel like great hall with its walls covered in heavy leather bound books, stained glass and grand piano it is a spectacular and impressive room with wondrous architecture and design attending to the magnificence of the room. This space once I’m sure for more formal and proper proceedings has now been modernized in its use but thankfully not appearance. Like I said exams are held here, blood drives, lunchtime concerts and during stressful times of the year it is taken over as a relaxation and oasis room, bean bags are added, a strange and contradictory accessory but the most perfect feeling is achieved. The room provides and escape, a still, history calm and then adding the comfort of a bean bag it all becomes peace itself in the midst of a bustling and high stress environment.
Leaving behind that campus I called home, walking out the main gates we strolled, taking in the sunshine towards Cork city centre which is only a 10 minute jaunt away.
Once in town we did typical sister bonding things, we window shopped, sat and chatted under the sun then being as we are diverted slightly from the usual and took in the stunning Crawford art gallery right off the main street, Patrick Street. A little artist inspiration later we emerged enthused and hungry so we shared a meal and left the city together happy and exhausted after a full and exciting day in wonderful company.
After a well deserved lie in, gluttonous breakfast and patient wait until the rain subsided we once again set out to enjoy Cork for all it had to offer. Today I decided to take my sister down Mardyke walk, past the gym and where I attended dance and seeing as the sun had once again returned thought it a nice idea to spend a day in the park and just have a day outside in nature and together.
Fitzgerald Park is just lovely, wide and open with charming spots to sit and take in the river or the peaceful pond or if you are like we are and need to be even more immersed in the park you are spending your time in, climb a tree and be in the park completely. After a hilarious and long time in said tree we jumped down and felt in need of refreshment. After a delicious sandwich and strong fortifying coffee at ‘The natural foods bakery- in the park’ we took off again exploring and always going off the beaten path.
We crossed the river as the evening called and began our return to the apartment.
Choosing the road by the water we took our time and reluctantly called and end to our time in Cork.
A all together low key and relaxing time, it suited me and I hope my sister too completely and served as a perfect farewell to some of my favourite parts of a city I love.