Irish Musing about Cork and Blarney Castle

We started this crisp, cloudy day with a flat tire. Yep, our little Pixo’s tire was not healed from the original meeting of the curb back in Dublin. Cole changed his second flat tire in two days and let it be duly noted that he shaved a good five minutes off his time (of course we timed it).

We found a tire shop and were told the “tire was gammy” but they could replace it with a “safe and sound tire. We would be on our way for not too much cost.” I agreed to replace the tire, the cost was not too bad, and we were on our way to see Kilkenny Castle in record time.

Kilkenny is on the banks of River Nore. The town’s streets are narrow, winding, and congested.  Kilkenny once a medieval city is now a busy, industrious town. Kilkenny Castle stands dramatically in the center of town. Really? Cole and I could not find it for ages. Everyone kept saying “why it’s right over there” or “you can practically see it from here.” We were beginning to think the castle was a big tourist joke when we finally spotted it. It is surrounded by buildings that almost hide it despite its impressive large towers. Can you believe we had a hard time finding it?

Onward to Cork, Ireland. Isn’t Cork a great name for a city? We drove the back roads, the highroads, the low rows and I got plenty of practice improving my roundabout skills. I love the road signs in Ireland; you are driving along at about 65 and a sign pops up that says Slow Down Now. It does not give a suggested speed or give you any clue about what you are about to encounter. I took the sign to heart anyway and slowed way down. The other road sign, we drove past that made me smile is Calming Highway Ahead. Calming for me or calming for the highway? I expected the next sign to be No Horns . . . Highway Mediating. Or how about the road sign: Turn Back Now? This is for the idiots who enter a roundabout the wrong way. I wondered exactly how you would turn back with cars coming at you from all different directions. I’m glad I did not have to find out.

The countryside ride on the way to Cork was beautiful, with different hues of green landscapes and black and white cows gazing in meadows.

When we reached Cork we went straight to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. I had been warned that this side trip was silly and perhaps a bit of a tourist trap, but guess what? We are tourists. Blarney is a picturesque little village amidst a beautiful rolling countryside; the architecture is mostly in a Tudor style.

The Blarney Castle was constructed in 1446 by Cormac Laidhir MacCarthy, Lord of Muskerry. The tower, which measures 85 feet high, is above the river. Dungeons and caves reside below the castle.

At the top of the castle lies the Blarney Stone, which promises you eloquence when you kiss it—and who does not want eloquence?

I was game to walk up the 100 stone steps that spiraled around and around to the tip top of the castle,


but when I saw that you had to hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, I thought maybe I would just blow the stone a kiss instead. But then I did what a good mother does and told Cole that he could go first. A stranger directed Cole to hold two bars as he bent over backwards. The stranger supported him while he kissed the stone. My turn. I hesitated but the Irish are so darn persuasive. The stranger promised not to drop me so I got down on the cold stone floor, held on to the bars with all my might as the stranger pushed me back, and I gave that stone such a kiss. My eloquence is so bright I almost have to wear sunglasses. Cole did not get a picture of me kissing the stone but the guy taking pictures got a great a shot. You can bet I paid for it and I will post it as soon as a scanner is available.

Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens that Cole climbed his way over and under.

We loved the wishing steps. For hundreds of years, the Blarney Witch has been allowed to gather firewood from the estate for her kitchen, but in return she must grant a wish to guests of the Blarney Castle. The catch is you have to walk up and down these steps backward with your eyes closed, not thinking of anything other than your wish. If you follow these instructions, your wish will come true in one year.

Cole and I were successful! Don’t expect world peace or the end of hunger, though. It was only one wish.

We left Blarney Castle thrilled with our visit. Tourists at heart, we loved it all.

Next we headed back to Cork to bum around a bit and see a few of the city’s sites. Cork is the second-busiest city in Ireland. We walked by St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, which is dedicated to the patron saint of Cork. We also saw the statue of Father Theobald Mathew, the Apostle of Temperance.We walked in Fitzgerald Park among the gnarly trees. Tomorrow we will explore some of the areas outside of Cork as we travel towards Kerry.

Cue stomachs growling. We had been too busy to eat more than our snacks and strawberries, so we found a pub before heading back to our hotel. Cole’s roast dinner included a baked potato, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and a few French fries. The Irish are very proud of their potatoes. I ordered soup. The best news ever is that Coke is served in little, glass bottles, so who cares about the food . . . which Cole describes as “interesting.”

Time to bid you all slán leat! Until we meet again tomorrow. I will leave you with this ditty I saw hanging on the wall of a pub:

May you have no frost on your spuds,
No worms on your cabbage.
May your goat give plenty of milk.
If you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal.
Don’t walk in front of me I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me I may not lead.
Walk beside me and just be my friend.


13 thoughts on “Irish Musing about Cork and Blarney Castle

  1. You just explored the area where the Leahy’s are from. Mitchelstown Ireland is not far from Cork. King street is the main street and there is a public house called O’Mahoney’s that has been there for generations that is their family home. Mr Leahy not far from a lovely little village called Donnaraile. My home in Elizabeth looks just like the green fields near Cork. The Spanish Armada landed in Cork and didn’t want to leave and you can see why! Invaders from all over the world have landed in Ireland and they never want to leave, can you blame them?

    • We took the Patterson whiskey tour this morning in Mitchelstown and it was very fun and interesting. Cork was very pretty but very busy.
      Ireland is beautiful. My heart will be ready to come home on Monday but I will never forget the beauty and the people of Ireland.

  2. You are so eloquent. This was a brilliant musing! I’m delighted that you and Cole are having such a lovely trip. As always, thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you. I do feel a lot more eloquent. . .now if only there was stone that would help improve my spelling and punctuation.
      We are having so much fun! Sharing it all just adds to our enjoyment- Thanks for being a part of our Ireland adventure.

  3. County Cork is where my grandfather was from..his last name was Gallagher..I remember Cork mentioned many times when Ireland stories were told..that was a long time ago..really enjoying your trip !

    • I met a Gallagher–I wonder if he knew your grandfather. :-D. Cork is lovely and really at the hub of so many things in Ireland.
      Thanks for dropping by and being a part of our trip–sharing is only as good as your readers!

  4. The pictures are outstanding! The fact that you are driving astounds me but gives me a small glimmer of hope that I could do it. Love the story about the Witches Step.

    Kb, thank you for sharing. I really am going to Ireland and your humor and itinerary is giving me all sorts of ideas.

  5. Another wonderful leg on your journey! Loved your stories of the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, and Cork! Hope you’re taking LOTS of pictures to fill Cole’s memory book!

  6. I kissed the Blarney stone, too! It’s freaky to hang upside down (at the mercy of a stranger, no less) but hey, it’s definitely an experience! Thanks for taking me back!

  7. Pingback: Irish Mussing: Irish Whiskey, Fota Island, Ring of Kerry

  8. I love it all, the castle, the blarney stone, it’s all so whimsical, quaint and beautiful!
    You are very brave for driving in a foreign country but it’s certainly paid off as you probably wouldn’t have been able to explore as much as you have and pick and choose where you want to go and spend the most time in.

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