June 1, 2017:
We awoke this morning to pretty hard rain as we boarded our coach and set out for Blarney Castle down in County Cork. For most of the day, our route was the same as we had taken yesterday.
Sadly, when we arrived in Blarney, it was still raining steadily. Nonetheless, we suited up in our rain gear and set out. Blarney Castle was built in 1446 as a typical medieval tower house by Dermott McCarthy. Today, the interior of the Castle is mostly in ruins but for the outer walls and the winding stone staircase.
The Blarney Stone is set into the arch of one of the outer battlement walls of the Castle. To kiss it, you first have to brave the long lines of tourists, then climb up a stone tower (about 130 steps), but that is so narrow, about half of those who had braved the line bailed out. Once you get to the top (which was open and blowing rain), you lie down on your back and a burly guy helps slide you backwards so you can bend down and kiss the Stone. For achieving this contortionist feat, you are supposedly granted the gift of magical eloquence. If you don’t notice any increase in our eloquence, these pictures will at least prove we did the deed!
After a lunch in the tourist center of Blarney, we headed to our new home in Killarney, in the southwestern part of Ireland. On our way home, we stopped briefly in Cahir. There we viewed Cahir Castle, where you can still see a cannon ball imbedded in the wall of the castle. The castle was built in the 13th Century as a Norman fortress, It then came under the control of the powerful Butler family, was expanded during the Renaissance period and stayed in their family until 1964. The site of the Castle is lovely, sitting on an island in the middle of the River Suir.
We checked into our very comfortable hotel (the Killarney Park) in the town, and left immediately for dinner at a local restaurant in the High Street called Gaby’s. The need for speed was dictated by the fact that Dermott had gotten tickets for us at tonight’s performance of Celtic Steps, so we had to finish dinner in time for the show. In my opinion, this might have been the best thing we did all day! The music was fabulous, and the dancers were extraordinary!