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Published: June 27th 2019
By Monday, June 3 we had travelled from Connemara to the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry to Killarney. This was a great tour! We were definitely seeing all of Ireland's highlights as the trip had advertised. The weather was variable; luckily we had another sunny morning at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, but rain and fog continued to pursue and finally enclose us like clockwork at least every afternoon. Killarney was my favorite city in Ireland. Our hotel, the Killarney Towers Hotel, was right in the middle of town, jammed in among pubs, shops and restaurants, offering us the freedom to walk around in that city whenever we wanted, daytime or night; everything was right there close at hand. Diagonally across the street from our hotel was a chocolate shop with a most delicious selection of fine Irish chocolates. I replenished my supply. Two shops down was a little market that sold foods and beer and wines; for about five Euros I bought what turned out to be a very good Merlot. And while wandering through Killarney, connecting and disconnecting with other travellers in our group, I passed by an ice cream shop that sold (yes!) vegan ice cream! A young woman was outside that store, offering tiny tastes to passers-by; when I shook my head and said, "No, thank you; I am vegan," her face lit up and she smiled, pulled me inside, and insisted that I try both of their vegan offerings. She was vegan herself, so knew how delicious those ice creams were. I tried both, and found the chocolate most excellent. Even though I wasn't hungry right then, I bought a cup and ate it right there; how could I pass up such a treat? And, of course, I wanted to support that shop's vegan efforts. Maybe I'd even come back after dinner to support them some more.
Besides shops, pubs, and restaurants, there were also several churches in Killarney to visit; two of them (at least) are named St. Mary's. I joined in with another group of friends meandering through the city center and stopped inside to see if these were as beautiful, as uplifting and inspiring as are so many ancient cathedrals in Europe. They were not, but it always feels good anyway to step inside a church, or temple, or any place dedicated to religion, to stop, if only for a bit, to quietly think, or pray, or meditate, to give thanks for our amazingly gifted lives.
Two days before this tour ended, we spent a morning at the Blarney Castle, an imperative stop for any visit to Ireland. I had intended NOT to kiss the Blarney Stone, as one needs to lie on her back and hang over a very high, narrow open chasm to do so; a strong man is there to securely hold onto each person so s/he doesn't fall to her death below, but still that was neither totally reassuring nor exactly inviting. Anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone is said to have a wish they make come true, but I read there was no truth to this, that this supposed legend was simply a marketing ploy, a publicity story created to bring more paying visitors to the castle, to increase income for the estate. But as we climbed up the dark and narrow spiraling staircases, my intent wavered; I thought that since I was here, maybe I should do it. And at the open top of the castle it started to rain. The tightly curving rock steps were slippery enough to begin with even when dry; now that the rain was splattering down there was no way I was going to lie down on the wet stones, hang over backwards and put my lips where thousands of others had already put their mouths to that rock. If you really thought about it the whole idea was disgusting. So I didn't do it; I just walked by holding my umbrella, looked, and sent out a wish anyway. However, the "legend" also says that if a person kisses another person who has kissed the Blarney Stone that her wish will be granted as well. So I borrowed a friend's husband; he - and she - were willing to allow a kiss, and made another wish. I do not remember what I wished for either time, so who knows if that legend is true or not?
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