Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Gift of Gab

One item on our bucket list has been Blarney Castle.

I had been a little offish about this because it's one of the few 'famous' touristy things, so I just assumed it was touristy.

As with all preconceived notions, it's based on a few bits of knowledge one gains over a wide span of life that may or may not be true.  In this case, I admit I didn't really know its history, location, or pretty much anything about it.  But it is famous, and we really can't leave Ireland without having said we went there, so off we went.

As it turns out, just getting there was an adventure, a good 2.5 hour drive.  Because of my continued aversion and prideful disdain for paying road tolls, we took the countryside roads, and came across this little gem, Burnchurch Castle:

I know that this part of the world a castle ruin is a dime a dozen, but this one was cool.  Way off the beaten path and literally on a farmer's field, it's still in great condition though the entrance was gated shut.

It's hard for me not to walk around places like this and wax philosophical about humanity, progress, history.  People actually lived in these things for generations!  I wonder about their lives, their problems, their thoughts. Living in a castle must have had its perks over living out on the countryside, but it still must have gotten terribly cold in the winter, no running water, etc.

But this was only a first stop in a day of castles.

Next we headed to Cork for what we'd hope was a city tour and lunch.

I don't have any pictures of Cork because we never actually got to stop and take any.  We spent our time driving around the streets looking for parking.  And by streets I mean the 85 degree angle bike paths that run up and down the main part of town.  For those of you who don't know, Liz has serious problems with slopes.

We gave it our best shot, but Cork was a bust.  On to Blarney.

Luckily for us, parking there was plentiful, free, and horizontal.  After a short walk we arrived at the village and secured some pub grub.  As we all were famished, we wolfed it down quite readily.  Really, an Irish pub is a lot different than what I thought it'd be.  It's really more of a restaurant.  Sure, it has a bar, but most U.S. places do too.

Now off to Blarney Castle!  This is where my preconceived notions were about to be shattered.

It was a beautiful day, and the Blarney grounds are a well-maintained park, complete with a small river, flowerbeds, and even a boardwalk through a pond and waterfall.    It also had a handful of dolmens and caves with their on The castle itself is in excellent condition, especially considering the  number of visitors it hosts every year.

So I guess at this point I really should just let the pictures do the talking.  Here we go!

 Gabe absolutely fell in love with this hat from the overpriced tourist trap, er, gift shop. It looks good on him too, and he still wears it all the time! What's that saying about the invaders becoming more Irish than the Irish?

 Blarney Castle as seen from its base.  The fancy window on the lower right was the master chamber, of course.

 It's a little hard to tell in this pic, but a tree branch had grown horizontally into another branch, forming a natural beam.  Kind of your random nature freaky thingy.

 Springtime in Ireland, more of the beautiful foliage around castle grounds.

 Toward the end of the day, poor little Aaron was just getting too tuckered out.

 Liz taking a picture of me taking a picture of her.  I'm sure Douglas Hofstadter would have something to say about this being an eternal golden braid or something.

 More lovely scenery.

 Ok, check out the size of those leaves!

 And there really must be something interesting under that leaf, but I don't know what.

 The kiddies...

 The garden boardwalk

 More garden boardwalk . . .

 OK, one thing I didn't take into account was how high this castle was.  Of course, everything seems a LOT higher once you're on top of it!

 It's time to get our kiss on!  Go Gabe!

 Honestly, I hope he didn't really kiss it.  yick.

 On his way back, good job, bud!

 Sweety Sariah doing her best...

 Liz on her way back.  She's laughing because of the incredible awkwardness and somewhat scariness of the situation.  It used to be there were no helpers, handrails, or protective grates under the stone, you just had to have your buddies help you and hope they didn't lose their grip.  You really have to bend back to get to that stone.

 Liz gets down to do some serious smooching . . .

 What, did I lose my hat???

 And the best of all, little Aaron getting down there to do it!  What a champ!

 Liz and I taking more pictures of each other for no good reason.

 There was a line to kiss the stone, but it wasn't too bad.  I've been told that sometimes it can stretch accross the castle grounds!
 More of the hopeful waiting their turn for a kiss.

 and here's me.  You can get a little bit of the sense of how high you are above the ground,which being backward and upside down doesn't help.  Yeah, the old guy gripping onto you isn't much of a comfort, either.
 What's left of the innards of that castle.  I wonder what it was like in its majesty?  Must have been awesome to live there.
 A view of the castle grounds.

 another pic of the castle.

Obligatory picture time!

 More Blarney.

 I've noticed that the color in these pics is all messed up because I'd accidentally activated a weird filter on my phone.  Anyway, that orange-green tint is not the way things look up there.

 The kiddies enjoying themselves.

All in all, I really liked Blarney.  I am glad that it wasn't very crowded when we went, I may have enjoyed it less in that case.  Really, it was a perfect day despite the Cork incident.

On the way back, stop at the gas station - Super Mac combo (think Burger King) for dinner and a road break.

Another awesome weekend in Ireland.

1 comment:

  1. We will just pretend there there is no jealousy at all from me in the fact that you guys get to see ruins of castles, a dime a dozen, in your adventures over the pond ;) !! How exciting! Maybe my sidekick and I should come visit you guys while you are there!

    Love the picture of Liz kissing the Blarney Stone :) !!

    Keep the fun posts coming!