Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 19

We had to have our bags out at 07:00, and then headed down to the usual Irish breakfast (which generally consisted of fruits, yoghurt, cereals, eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, baked beans and toast with tea or coffee.)  Those going on the Waterford walk optional left at 8:00, we had opted not to do this optional.  Instead we did a geocache and went for a walk to the nearby park.  Once the others got back at about 09:15 we left the hotel, headed for the Blarney castle.  It was a very scenic drive, we had a stop to take photos of the stupendous view along the way.  

Our route took us via Youghal (pronounced “yawl”) and Cork to Blarney.  I found Youghal very pretty and would have loved more time there. 

We arrived at Blarney Castle and immediately joined the queue to kiss the Blarney stone.  To get to the stone you have to climb up a steep, narrow, winding stair-case. 

It sounds a lot worse than it is, I get quite claustrophobic, but I didn’t battle with this at all as after each turn in the staircase you come to a small opening with a pretty view of the gardens, which helps a lot. 

Although there were a lot of steps to climb, it was very slow going because of the queue, so it wasn’t tiring at all. 

See the metal structure on the turret below? That's where the Blarney stone is

Once you get to the top there is a guy who tells you to lie down on the padded cushion, grab onto the two metal struts to support yourself  and lean far back to kiss the stone, while you are doing this a chap is taking a couple of photos of you, which you can then view and buy, along with a certificate stating that you have kissed the stone, at the kiosk downstairs if you are so inclined. 

The kissing of the stone is a very rushed affair, you barely have time to pucker up and the guy is hauling you up and ushering the next person into position!  Once the kissing was done we made our way done the stairs (one flight to come up, a different flight to go down, thankfully) and out into the very attractive gardens.

Oh dear, another one of those poses!

We did a quick geocache (our first Virtual Cache) along one of the very nicely sign-posted walks.  Then it was time for lunch and we found a very nice pub in the village alongside the castle. 

The Liverpool fan sat in an appropriate spot ;-)

After lunch we headed into the fantastic Blarney Woollen mill shop.  Wow!  My advice to anyone visiting Ireland who plans to visit Blarney Castle is to wait and do your shopping at this shop.  They had a huge selection of everything from clothing (gorgeous scarves and sweaters included), to household linens, crockery, d├ęcor items as well as souvenirs, Ireland branded merchandise… you name it! If we didn’t have the weighty problem I would have gone completely moggy. 
Once we left Blarney, it took just short of 2 hours to drive through the hills to Kenmare Bay Hotel, a very pretty drive.   This is such a beautiful area.  The town of Kenmare is gorgeous.  We had an hour and a half to unpack etc and then we left on our optional extra excursion to the bay, where we had a cruise, seeing the sweetest seals, and 2 lovely castles, we then had a lovely dinner at a restaurant on the bay.

Double click on the above photo to see the seals!

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