Published: July 26th 2012July 26th 2012
Yesterday, we pulled into Kinsale, a brightly colored harbor village packed with fairy tale cottages, cobblestone allies, flower beds, stain glass windows and, of course, pubs and a steeple. It's where the Irish go when the sun graces them on a weekend, and they want to live their own version of a fable.
Prior to Kinsale we embarked on a harrowing journey, which was our Ford Focus equivalent of sailing the high seas to unknown lands. Imagine being on a tiny road that looks barely big enough to be a one-way street, midway through it you realize a tour bus is coming right at you. Now, you have stone walls and parked cars on both sides. The bus keeps coming, and you can't back up because there are cars behind you. What do you do? Well, you and the car behind you squeeze into the same patch of empty space (which isn't big enough for even a Mini Cooper) and fecking pray to every god there is while the bus bullies its way through. I don't know how we still have any paint (or metal for that matter) left on the car. Add all the twists and turns and last-minute signs that sorta point the way you're supposed to go, and you still have no idea of how many times I've thanked God for another day. The praying must help because seriously I don't know how we always manage to make it to where we're going, all in one piece.
That said the stops and sights along the way are what you come to Ireland for. We visited the Rock of Cashel and kissed the Blarney stone. I read Blarney wasn't worth it, and I disagree. While I couldn't care less about kissing a moldy rock wall, climbing up the narrow stone tower and crawling into castle tunnels was so worth the price of admission. There is also a poison garden (which includes worm wood and marijuana plants, apparently weed WAS used back in the day) and a babbling brook. It's a beautiful place to explore. If I were to go again, I'd give myself more time to walk its woods.
When we got to our B&B, Martina our hostess, pointed the way to restaurants and pubs and let us know that since it was a Friday the pubs would all have music. After a fantastic seafood dinner and a few bottles of wine (um, we might've been the obnoxious too-loud table) we chose the only pub that had no music. No worries though because it was adorable and, eventually, friendly. It could've been just our paranoia, but at first it felt like everyone stared at us with the "oh no here come the tourists" look. A few drinks later, and we're buzzing and laughing about with the table next to us (turns out they were off-duty Garda, police... whoops).
To pee or smoke you have to go out back (there's a small sitting area and a bathroom cottage), which is where the best action takes place. You see there's no need for a band because, apparently, every town has its bard. I walked out of the bathroom to see an old man named Oliver sing to a nest of smokers. Turns out he was singing about picking up Kinsale girls at the pubs (and me thinks he has no shortage of lady friends). The smokers ayed him on, and he belted out limerick after limerick. My favorite being a story about how you used to be able to wee for free but thanks to the Celtic Tiger (Ireland's economic peak before it tanked) there's a charge for that too. And once a drunken man decides to do it his own way it becomes a 20 pound (even though they use euros) pee because of all the hassle he goes through jest to take a wee.
It didn't take long for the rest of my group to come out and chat with him. Kaylene told Kelly he was no longer needed because she was now madly in love with Oliver, who must have also kissed the Blarney stone (which is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence) because we were all under his spell.