Looking at the Castle from the road
So internet the past few days has been almost nonexistant. But, I did blog those days, and am now posting what I've blogged.
Day 2 of driving - SO much better than Day 1. We only had to stop and ask for directions once (at a rather shady looking gas station - although my Mom assured me that the man working there was extremely nice).
Today's goal was to leave County Waterford, head into County Cork, and ultimately end in the town of Kinsale for the next two nights. Along the way, we had two castles to visit - Cahir Castle, and (of course!) Blarney Castle.
Cahir Castle is in Cahir, and was built in 1124. It is one of the largest castles in Ireland that is still standing today. We spent about 30 minutes walking around the castle and viewing the exhibits they had arranged. My favorite exhibit was about women in the middle ages. After the castle, we wandered across the street and had a wonderful lunch in a little tea house.
Our next stop was Blarney Woollen Mills - mainly because we somehow (conveniently) managed to find the largest gift shop in Ireland before
Looking at the Castle from the bridge.
we found Blarney Castle. I did pick up an awesome knitted wool sweater here, among other random Irish crafts. I do love how there are so many different types of hand crafts in Ireland - crystal, knit wear, pottery, wood work, etc.
We did realize that we could walk to Blarney Castle from the Woollen Mills - which was good, because there was a much better parking lot (or Car Park) at the Woollen Mills. I didn't realize how large the Blarney Castle grounds are. It took a few minutes to actually walk up to Blarney Castle, and another few minutes to figure out how to actually get inside the Castle. The Blarney Stone is located at the top of the Castle, and kissing the stone is supposed to impart the "gift of gab." As another side note, Trip Advisor named the Stone the world's most hygienic tourist attraction in 2009. Climbing up to the top of the Castle was not an easy feat - the stairs are narrow, spiral, slippery stone - and the first few feet there is actually a rope to help pull yourself upwards. It probably took a good 10 minutes to climb to the
The Blarney Stone is directly above at the top.
top, and it was a miserable, cramped, dizzying climb.
When we got to the top of the Castle, we made the mistake of looking down. From the ground, the Castle doesn't look that high up, however; from the top, it looks much higher! To kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to sit down, grab iron rails, and lean backwards off the top of the castle. There is a surly little old man there who holds on to you and ensures that you don't fall to your death. And, as he assured me - they haven't lost anyone off the side of the Castle yet. (As another aside, Mom and I kept hearing Dad's voice in the back of our heads today saying, "You two dingbats spent how much money to lean arse backwards out of a Castle and kiss a filthy rock?!") It was exhilarating to lean backwards off the Castle and kiss the stone - with the wind howling by, and a light misty rain falling. And, we both did kiss the "filthy rock!" As an added bonus, the stairs down and out of the Castle were a LOT better than the stairs on the way up.
This was at Blarney Castle. I am still wondering why there is a children's playground in the poison garden?
We walked the grounds for a bit after - I was on an adrenaline rush and didn't feel like driving quite yet. There is a dolmen on the grounds. Dolmen are megalithic "portal" tombs that have a long, flat rock stacked on top of two other rocks (think Stonehenge-ish). There are also the Wish Stairs. Basically, there was once a witch that promised the owners of Blarney Castle that if you walk up the stairs, and back down with your eyes closed and only thinking of one wish - then that wish would come true. As we were walking the grounds, we heard other tourists complaining that they wanted a refund because it was raining - it was funny to me because I expect rain in Ireland, and am pleasantly surprised by the sun.
After Blarney, we were on our way to Kinsale, passing through the City of Cork. Kinsale is a small coastal town and is known as the "gourmet capital" of Ireland. We're planning on spending two nights here. Tomorrow during the day, we are visiting Cobh (pronounced Cov or Cove). Cobh was once known as Queenstown, and it was the port town that many people emigrated
Blarney - Looking Down
Looking straight down from the top of Blarney Castle.
from. It was also the final port of call for the RMS Titanic.
(Note: There are 8 pictures uploaded total today. I think some of them may be published at the end of the blog, below an ad banner)
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