Blarney

Kilkenny was exactly the Ireland we wanted. That was what we went to do and see. It was absolutely perfect and I will go back . . . . .

Woney and I, having gotten squiffy the night before, enjoyed a restful slumber at the Mena House and then trooped downstairs for breakfast. Planning all our stays in Bed and Breakfasts was an excellent idea, I thought to myself. Katherine, the absolute most helpful person I have met to date, was also an excellent cook. She offered us the full Irish breakfast (with toast!) and while we turned up our noses at the blood sausage, we accepted the rest.

During our planning conversation the day before, Katherine insisted that we visit the Rock of Cashel. In all of our researching we had never heard of such a thing, but Woney and I are adventurous if nothing else, and Katherine had already proven herself knowledgeable. We said our good-byes and set off to see this lump of limestone that was something akin to the famous Giant Ball of Yarn, at least in my head.

You guys, I will probably say this a lot, but I’m telling you, if you get the chance to see the Rock of Cashel, go. From a distance, it’s a modest-looking stone building resembling a church in serious ill repair. Up close, that’s exactly what it is. The stonework, however, dates back to the 12th century in places, and the history there is incredibly rich. The Rock sits atop a hill overlooking some of the most gorgeous Irish scenery you’ll ever see. Grave markers surround the area, and stone walls are everywhere. It felt peaceful and more importantly, it felt chilly and foggy and still – exactly what we wanted. The moment we stepped out of the car, Woney and I looked at each other and said, “We need hoodies!”

Cashel

Cashel

View from Cashel

View from Cashel

I wish I were a better photographer. My pictures don’t do it justice.

When our tour was sadly complete, Woney and I set off for our next adventure, still talking about that Rock. We were looking forward to good things, though, as Blarney Castle was next. Item two on Woney’s bucket list was kissing the Blarney Stone, something that I had no interest in doing.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

“So, you’ll kiss the Blarney Stone, won’t you” people asked me before I left the States.

“Naw,” I said. “The locals pee on that.” I was certain it was true.

“But, Jimmie,” Woney said, exasperated, “it’s the Blarney Stone. You can’t come to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone!”

“Naw,” I reiterated. “It’s been urinated upon. I will pass.”

And pass I did, although I did take the hour or so to climb the four stories of spiral, stone, incredibly narrow and slippery stairs to get to the actual kissing point. That I Highly Recommend unless you are afraid of heights, afraid of close spaces or it’s raining. Blarney was a beautiful castle, and truly one of the most authentic ones we saw, but again, I will say that the heart of this city is the people. When you spend an hour in line with strangers climbing slightly treacherous stairs to put your lips on a rock upon which someone has peed, you are no longer strangers.

Kissing the Stone

Kissing the Stone

Woney did the deed after layering on several coats of lip goo to protect her lips from the urine, and I took pictures. Getting down the stairs was a much quicker and also much scarier process as we really had no one to block our fall if the stairs proved too slippery. We walked out of there content, though, and safe and ready for our next adventure. We also walked out of there slightly sweaty. The gloom and the chill had long vanished, replaced by the sun and its heat.

View from the Top of Blarney

View from the Top of Blarney

The Jameson Distillery was the third and last item on Woney’s bucket list and since we were close, off we drove. We made a slight unexpected detour in Cork and both promptly decided that we were not fans. If I never go back to Cork, I will be alright. Jameson is near Cork in Middleton which I’m sure is a lovely city, but this being probably the hardest driving day we had, we didn’t notice much about it. And being that Woney and I both took the Jameson Master Taster lesson, we didn’t much notice it when we left either. Kidding! I’m kidding! We only had three watered-down, very weak shots. Casey, again, that shot was for you. Cheers!

This tour was fun and I do Highly Recommend it. I also Highly Recommend shopping in the gift shop (hello, Dammit Todd). Jameson gifts are perfect for those friends that you missed purchasing chocolates for at Butler’s.

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I alluded earlier to an unexpected drive through Cork. I wish I could allude to the multiple other unexpected drives through cities but honestly, Woney and I got lost so many times that day, I couldn’t even tell you where we were. On our way to the B & B for the night, the Maranatha House, we made such a number of wrong turns it bordered on ridiculous. Our GPS director, whom I shall call Gwendolyn, was beyond frustrated with us. “At the roundabout, take the third exit to somethingorother and continue straight for .7 kilometers” was a standard speech. Gwendolyn was kind of a bitch. She was relentless and had no idea where we were either.

We did make our way to the Maranatha House but not before we questioned our every step and turn. The more tractors we met on the road, the more remote we realized this house to be. Exhausted and frustrated, we finally arrived at the Maranatha sign. All of that exhaustion and frustration instantly disappeared as we rounded the bend and caught sight of the house. Oh, it was beautiful, inside and out! Every room was decorated like a fairy tale: swags of heavy velvet over the windows, swaths of gauze surrounding the beds, round mattresses with pink heart-shaped pillows. Woney and I were given a choice of the rooms and we ran back and forth across the hall, desperate to pick the best one. We settled on one finally and moved in for the night. I loved the excess of it, the pinkness of it and it wasn’t until I woke up out of a dead sleep that I realized what the house reminded me of – Barbie’s Dream House! Our hostess must have had her own fantasy as a child and was lucky enough to make it a reality. Perfect house for honeymooners and perfect area, too, as the only things of note in that area are the pretty bedrooms with the fancy beds, and everyone knows that’s all honeymooners care about anyway.

Woney's Bed

Woney’s Bed

My Bed

My Bed

One last mention about lovely things to see: Sam. Look at that face.

Sam.  A Good Dog.

Sam. A Good Dog.

Sam was the king of the Maranatha House, you could tell, and no matter how heavy the suitcase or how ridiculous the pillow, Sam parked himself right in the doorway, right under your feet, to ensure that he got at least a moderate pat as you walked by. What a lovely place . . . .

Next stop: Tralee!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Madre
    Aug 07, 2013 @ 19:07:36

    The best one yet !! BTY, I happened to like Cork when I was there in 1966. Met some great folks that I still remember (and yes, I remember yesterday and this morning also, I’m not senile yet).

    Reply

  2. Bootsie
    Aug 08, 2013 @ 13:41:39

    Peeing on the Blarney Stone is a just bunch of Blarney! I myself kissed the Blarney Stone back when I was a wee little one in 1983!

    Reply

  3. Auntie Anne
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 07:11:38

    Best pictures yet, too, even of the foggy Rock of Cashel! But damn I wish I’d been there to eat your scorned blood sausage! I love that stuff! XO

    Reply

  4. FELIX
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 13:30:40

    Wonderful tales of your trip, ma’lady! I loved them all, and they have sucked me in like a HOOVER!!! LOL….I consider myself very adventureous when it comes to trying new foods, but me thinks like thee……I’d pass on the blood sausage, too, ma’lady! i would, however, have kissed the Blarney Stone…..I mean…..you have to!!!!

    Reply

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