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!
eternal golden braid or something.
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.