Saturday, August 09, 2014

Blarney Castle in the background.
Today, August 9th, we set out to visit the Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. We're not far from the bus station, so after a 10 minute walk we had our tickets and were on our way. We arrived in the township of Blarney about 30 minutes later to find an absolutely charming town with all manner of eateries, B&B's, a small hotel or two and souvenir ships. One attraction we took in are the "Blarney Woolen Mills" and shops. Its claim-to-fame is that it's the largest Irish store in the world!! I must admit, it was big.

A short walk out of town brings one to Blarney Castle property. The history of the castle is interesting and, as it turns out, there were three iterations of the structure over the centuries.  An original wooden dwelling was built in the 10th Century replaced by a stone building in 1210. Finally, the current castle was built 1446 by the then-owner Dermont McCarthy. By kissing the Blarney Stone, it is purported that one will attain the "gift of gab". The stone was set into the castle tower in 1446. The story goes on an on -- but you get the idea. Right??

Kissing the Blarney Stone.
We paid our 10 Euros to gain entry to the grounds and hiked to the castle itself. It is a beautiful and imposing structure. Not too big, but it does command the environment. It turns out that the Blarney Stone is on the very top and set into one of the walls -- so it's quite a climb to the top. We got in line and followed the crowd to the top. The narrow stone stairs wind around and around and are fairly steep. Along the way there are various "rooms" -- the kitchen and the "young girls bedroom". Now they sit empty and exposed to the elements.

As we continued our climb it started raining, so we broke out our rain gear and umbrellas. It wasn't very cold, so it was fun to brave the elements on the top of the castle and find the Blarney Stone itself. The stone is on the "base" of one of the walls and difficult to get to. One must lay on their back and arch over -- head down and bent backwards to kiss the stone. No easy task for me and my "bad posture". Linda had no trouble at all. Me??!! Not so easy, so I'm not sure whether my effort counts or not.  I did kiss "the wall". Still -- I hope my "gift of gab" has been enhanced a bit -- by proximity if nothing else..

In the "8 young ladies"
bedroom in Blarney Castle.
We made our way down and out of the castle and back into the township. After looking around a bit, we found an absolutely delightful pub/bar where we enjoyed one of the most delicious meals I've experienced anywhere. For those of you who know me, I eat fish but no meat. The "seafood pie" was a dish of different fish in a tasty sauce with potatoes. Of course, we enjoyed a Guinness during our meal.

Gimme a "Murphy's" will ya??
We found ourselves back at the bus-stop at about 4:30 and enjoyed the quick and easy ride back into Cork. We met a young couple from London and enjoyed a delightful conversation on the way into Cork. Oh -- did I mention that all of the busses we've ridden in Ireland have "wifi"?? Everywhere we go, we've found wireless networking for our convenience. During our trip out to Blarney, for example, I was able to make our lodging reservations in Dublin in the comfort of the bus itself. Not bad. I remember thinking we need more of that in the U.S.

A delicious meal in Blarney and Internet
all at the same time! Can't gt better than this..
We exited the bus in the Cork city center and continued exploring the city. We wandered in and out of the small and winding streets with the goal of getting back to our lodgings before it was dark. Since Cork is 51-degrees North longitude, it doesn't get dark until after 9 p.m., so we had plenty of time. Along the way, Linda wanted to treat me to a "Murphy's" -- as opposed to Guinness -- so we found a neat pub and enjoyed a "pint". It was delicious.

As we continued our exploration of Cork, we found a "vegan" restaurant and shared a snack. We continued our way back to the hotel with good memories, full bellies and with great anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.

So, tune in then.....
In the Bodega restaurant/pub
We ventured out at about 6:30 p.m. in search of a restaurant. After a 10 minute walk into the center of town -- we found the main shopping district and downtown area of Cork. It is alive with shops, people and traffic. Cork is a vibrant and interesting place. We'd stop along the way, asking some local folks about eateries. In each instance, they were helpful and friendly.

Downtown Cork
It wasn't long until we heard about the "Bodega" -- a restaurant/pub worth our consideration. After checking the menu of a couple of places we chose the Bodega as a place to have our dinner. I had  "fish and chips" while Linda had a delicious salad with a variety of cheeses. Of course, we enjoyed the obligatory "Guinness". The beer tastes a bit different here. Much more elegant and delicious.

Today we're off on some more exploration, including the "Blarney" castle. We'll see if it's true about kissing the Blarney Stone!!

Linda along the north channell of the River Lee