Tuesday July 15th ~ Touring through Ireland in Tipperary and Cork
What fascinates me the most is the amazing marketing campaign that has somehow managed to get a million people or more a year to travel 1000’s of miles, then wait in line for one to two hours, climb up narrow winding steep steps to the top of a rock building, put your life in the hands of a total stranger, bend over backwards, and then put your lips on a piece of stone covered by God only knows how many germs. Well done Ireland!!!
And we, like all those others, are off today to do just that!
Our early morning started out with a brilliant blue sky, a warm sunny day and I had such high hopes. Within two hours, gray had set in again for the rest of the day. The weather leprechauns are quite the tricksters.
Up early again for a 6:50 tour, this time to see the Rock of Cashel, Barney Castle and the city of Cork. We used the same local tour company, Irish Day Tours, that took us to the Cliffs of Moher on Sunday.
We got off to a wee bit (do I sound Irish?) of a late start, as our tour guide/bus driver, Jim, evidently was assigned a bus he was not familiar with and could not figure out how to start it.
The online posted itinerary showed that we were supposed to go to Blarney Castle in the morning, have two hours in Cork and stop at the Rock of Cashel on our way back toward Dublin. I think perhaps that might have been a better arrangement.
Instead our itinerary went like this:
Left Dublin 10 minutes late. Toilet stop had slow passengers evidently that can’t tell time that kept everyone waiting on the bus 10 minutes. Stopped at the Rock of Cashel on the way, (had a couple different passengers that delayed us leaving by 15 minutes), then Blarney Castle (parking lot full of busses, and line to kiss the Blarney Stone took well over an hour, then more delays for over 20 minutes). By the time we finally arrived in Cork, the promised two hours was reduced to only one hour. That meant a quick late lunch and no time to really enjoy the city.
OK, enough about what went wrong. Here is what I enjoyed tremendously.
This is reputedly the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD.
Located in the county of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock. It is currently going through some preservation measures, so the oldest section including Cormac’s Chapel was covered in scaffolding.
“The oldest and tallest of the buildings is the well-preserved round tower (28 metres, or 90 feet), dating from c.1100….The complex is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.” ~ Wikipedia
Here are some of the pictures we took while there:
“The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence.” ~ Wikipedia
“Blarney Castle, as viewed by the visitor today, is the third to have been erected on this site. The first building in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face. This building was demolished for foundations. In 1446 the third castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster of which the keep still remains standing.” ~ Blarneycastle.ie
After seeing the parking lot filled with busses, we knew that long lines were facing us if we wanted to make it to the top and back down before we were scheduled to depart. We made a beeline to get in line.
Standing below the main tower, looking up we could see the opening where far over our heads people were kissing the stone.
The line moves at a snail’s pace it seems, but high above we can watch one after another quickly get their turn to put their lips where thousands of other people have already kissed (and that is just today). Howie Mandel would never survive this!
Once inside the castle, we had a few things to look at and were entertained by a violinist playing Irish jigs.
The last part of the waiting was a bit more of a challenge as we threaded our way through very narrow rock passages, winding up steep and claustrophobic inducing stairways. Thankfully every little bit there was an opening that let in light and I could get a look outside. Anyone with a weight issue might not easily fit through the last part of the passageway.
Finally! Made it to the top where we could see others get their turn to “get the gift of gab”.
Tim had not been keen on following this age-old tradition, but I insisted that we could not come to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone, so he kindly went along with my whim. And here we are, finally both getting our turn:
Our final stop of the day was for a quick lunch in Cork. I would have enjoyed having a little more time there, but with the earlier delays, that was not to be.
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for receiving good medical news from two different friends via Facebook messages (a surgery that was a complete success and continuing mobility improvement for another) and I’m awaiting test results on a third person, a friend from high school days that just had a lump removed. Another medical story in progress involves a transplant. He is now on day 10 of 100 during the critical post-transplant process. Another friend is being referred to a heart specialist, and another trying to get medication leveled out while fighting depression.
My prayers are for all of these people and their families as they go through these challenges.
How brave of both of you to kiss the Blarney stone whilst upside down. Reminds me of people getting dunked at total immersion baptism. Now you really do have bragging rights!
Carol Leigh, it was a long wait for a 20 second event, but I’m glad we did it none the less. One more of those silly memories we can laugh about in the future.
Best wishes to your friend with the transplant – my husband has had two kidney transplants, one in 1992, and the second in 2008, and is doing well. We will be taking the British Isles cruise you took and I have a question concerning converting USD into Euros before we fly to England. How much in Euros do you think we should bring, and can you convert USD into Euros easily? Thanks for your help!
Thank you for the encouraging words regarding transplants. Going through TWO transplants could not have been easy. I’m so glad that he is doing well now.
We find it easiest to use an ATM machine in each country to get local currency. The conversion rate is usually better and you can quickly and easily get more cash along the way if you run short. Cash machines are everywhere. We even had one on board the Ruby Princess but they had a $4.50 service fee each time you used it which I did not like and the rates were not as good either. If you do want to get a little money from your local bank at home before you leave, you will need British Pounds for England, N. Ireland and Scotland. Ireland used the Euro.
Another option is to bring US dollars and exchange some currency when you arrive at the airport in London, or what ever major city you are flying into. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. I hope you have a GREAT time on your cruise.
Thanks for explaining the reward for doing this and for the excellent photos. What I had pictured in my mind was entirely different. Suzanne
Suzanne, I think the ideal situation would be to do this on your own which would allow more time here. Two hours is just not enough if it is during the summer busy season. We did not have time to see any of the gardens, which looked beautiful, or visit any of the other buildings on the property. Still, I’m thankful we got to have this truly unique Irish experience. I’m glad you enjoyed our pictures!
I have kissed the Blarney Stone twice- once as a child and once as an adult…. I don’t know which one was scarier! It’s a shame you had to cover so much in one day, Just up the road from Cashel is Cahir with a lovely castle and a stones throw from there The Motte of Knockgraffon (I spent a lot of time around there as a child) Seeing ‘The Rock’ lit up at night is breath-taking!
Good Luck on the rest of your journey.
Hello Ghost Writer and welcome. You are so right about crowding so much into one day. It is hard on tours to find that right balance. People want to see as much as they can for their money. But often then they are whisk from place to place with barely enough time to process what it is you are seeing or doing. We are constantly trying to weigh out our options. In the long run we know we can never see it all, but are working on simply enjoying and appreciating all the marvels we are seeing. I would have loved to have seen The Rock lit up at night!
We are looking at both the Cliffs of Moher tour or this tour but we only have one day, so we need to choose one. Which one did you like better?
Erikk, that is a tough one. Both are definitely worth seeing. The Cliffs of Moher tour was very long, but the scenic beauty was well worth the long bus ride. The Rock of Cashel/Blarney Stone tour incorporates two classic Irish ruins with a lot of history. Kissing the Blarney Stone is of course very touristy and there is normally quite a long line to make it all the way to the top to catch the view and then have your 20-30 second moment to bend over backwards and kiss a stone that has been kissed by probably millions of others. Still, it is a classic moment, and there is no other experience quite like it that we have encountered anyways. Somehow it almost seems like you would be missing out to go all the way to Ireland and not see/do either one. Sorry, I somehow doubt that helped you one bit. 🙄