Today we got up and had a nice breakfast, finish packing up, loaded up the bus, and took off. At the end of the day, we’ll be in Dublin, but a few stops along the way.
First was to Blarney Castle in Blarney. Brian told us that in the castle was started in the 10th century and last addition sometime in the 16th century. The family that owed it got a letter from Queen Elizabeth I being friendly and nice saying her soldiers were coming to visit (essentially take over the castle). The family replied “how lovely”. Queen Elizabeth replied again thanking them for being so hospitable and allowing them to take over the castle. However, upon their arrival, they were not so welcomed and one version said they were refused entry. The other version said they were welcomed in, given lots of wine and great food, and then sent off on their merry way. Either way, they didn’t take over the castle. When Elizabeth heard, she said “Oh Blarney” which is perhaps where the town gets its name from or so a legend goes. Legend has it that you will receive good luck and the gift of gab from kissing the stone. Of course, I think I may have already had the gift of gab, but the luck would be nice!
Buried in the castle wall is the Blarney Stone. The stone is actually a scone stone / Scottish stone. It is put under the chairs of the kind/queen at coronation. This stone is about half a stone. It is embedded at the top of the castle. We walked and walked and walked up very steep, steep steps to reach it. You have to be upside down and then they push you over a “little” opening to get to it. For those of us who do not enjoy heights, it wasn’t the most comfortable feeling. But, I did it!
We walked out of the castle and headed into Blarney for some shopping and lunch. Well, actually, mostly shopping since I had to get lunch to go. But, I was able to cross off several people off my souvenir list. After the shopping, I grabbed a ham sandwich and a 7up and got back on the bus.
About an hour later, we arrived at the Rock of Cashel. The Rock is the home to some pretty old structures. It has been a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church. Parts of it were build in the 10th century. While it is not in use any longer, they are still burying people in family plots around the church. However in the 1930s they set-up a register for anyone who had a family plot to put in a claim. Anyone on that list can still be buried on the grounds, but after that the cemetery will be closed. It is believed there are still 5 people left on that list.
We had a wonderful tour guide who told us amazing things. I wish I could remember all of them better than I know I have. Ireland is the home to the round buildings seen below. They are truly something unique to the Irish. This particular one is unique in that it still has its original cap.
St. Patrick came to visit and baptist the King. However, it is a rather steep walk up to the Rock and kind of lost his balance and put his staff right through the King’s foot. The King, not familiar with Christian practices, believed that was part of the ritual of baptism and suffered through it without comment. As part of the Rock, St. Patrick also had his own cross. The original has been brought indoors which is photoed below. We also went to the chapel which is the oldest structure on the site. The Cormac Chapel wasn’t very big, but just amazing, but beautiful. It is the part under the scaffolding as they are trying to take water out of the sandstone to preserve the Chapel for years to come.
Following our tour, we got back on the bus for Dublin. Brian shared with us the story of the Ireland Independence. In 1916, a group of men proclaimed Ireland independent in front of the Post Office in Dublin. However, they were all caught and killed. This did lead to civil war for the next several years. In 1922, a treaty was signed that gave Ireland 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland to be independent. The other 6 counties remained as part of Britain and now referred to Northern Ireland. Dublin is about a 90 minute bus trip (or longer depending on traffic.) We’ll be spending the next two days there (until Saturday morning).
We arrived at the hotel and checked in. We followed that with dinner at the hotel. It was fish and chips. Those of you that know me well know that I hate seafood, but I managed to eat some of it. After dinner we did walk a little way in Dublin just to get an idea of where we are. Tomorrow we get a full-fledged tour which will be much more than we talked about today. We did see the Post Office that Brian referred to in the 1916 incident. After dinner we saw the Belvedere Irish Night show. It was actually pretty cool as it was a mix of Irish singing and dancing. We got some modern as well as traditional Irish dancing. The songs were kind of mix as well. While it was getting late, a group of us did head out to the pub for a beverage or two. We found a nice place around the corner from the hotel and they had local live music. We had a great time just listening and soaking up the atmosphere. But, now it is almost 1:00am and I’m tired. Luckily we don’t have to be on the bus until 9:00am tomorrow which should help.
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