Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Did you kiss the Blarney Stone?

Queenstown exhibit
View from our hotel on the River Lee in Cork City

We left our lovely hotel on the River Lee early this morning after we had a delicious breakfast.  Nick and Lucas are enjoying the typical Irish breakfast which includes: eggs, sausages and hash browns.  I’m enjoying the more continental type breakfast which includes: fresh fruits, cereals and some delicious breads.

We had a short ride to the seaside port town of Cobh (pronounced Cove) which was the sight where most poor Irish immigrants left Ireland for the last time.  The area is also called Queenstown (I can’t remember why.)  The area is known for several reasons.  It was the last port of call for the Titanic where about 7 got off and around (not sure) 100 got on.  Queenstown was also the place where the survivors of the Lusitania were taken after they were rescheduled.  A touching museum has been built at the site that does a great job illustrating all of the historical events that occurred there. I especially liked the displays that showed the conditions of the immigrants on the ships. 

These ships were called “coffin” ships because 1 in 4 died because of the poor conditions.  On the dock is a statue of Annie Moore and her two younger brothers.  She was the first immigrant to be processed on Ellis Island.  A similar statue was erected on Ellis Island.  When I took a closer look, I saw that people had put coins in their pockets.  I put some in too.

After that, we traveled about an hour or so to the town of Blarney, which I’m sure you have heard of.  Blarney not only had the Blarney Castle, but it is also famous for its woolen mills.  Every town we have been in, big, small, and well-known or not, has been very picturesque, clean and memorable.  Blarney was especially so.  It started raining again about the time we got off the bus, but I was ready with my poncho.  Our tour guide warned us that if we had any physical problems or were claustrophobic, we probably wouldn’t want to go up in the Blarney Castle.  I was not to be stopped.  It was about 150 steps up the tower, which was  in a very narrow, steep spiral staircase.  Just imagine, stone steps that have been around and walked on since before 1200 ad.  They have at least installed a rope rail to help you pull yourself up.  I made it to the top without any problem. 

 I walked on up ahead of Nick and Lucas, but I didn’t kiss the blarney stone.  I did watch other people kissing it.  You have to lie on your back and a worker helps you slide back to kiss it and your head is hanging over an 82 ft. drop below.  Lucas actually did kiss the stone and he has a picture and a certificate to prove it.  We dined in the Blarney Woolen Mills and it was nice and delicious.   I have to say, there is always a great selection of sweets.  I think they have them for their tea time.  Our group spent about 3 hours touring, eating and shopping in Blarney.

This is where they helped people slide back and kiss the Blarney Stone.

Blarney Woolen Mills

We had a nice drive to our next destination in Killarney.  We found out that many Irish people come here for holidays in the summer.  We enjoyed the countryside on the way and we made a bathroom stop in Macroom, which was the birthplace of William Penn.  The ruins of the castle are still there.

William Penn's birthplace

We drove on to our hotel, Killarney Towers.  Killarney is another quaint town with lots of neat shops.  Our group had the opportunity to go to the Old Killarney Inn for an evening of "craic", that is Gaelic for good fun.  We enjoyed a traditional Irish meal and entertainment that included an Irish band and dancers.  We had a great time.  The man and woman sang many traditional Irish songs and played guitar, banjo (I think that’s what it was), and flute.

Here I am with the Irish singers
 They cracked a lot of jokes and had lots of audience participation.  Lucas volunteered to do a reel with several others from our group.  It was what I remember as the square dancing that we used to do in PE.   Two young girls also came and did several Irish dances.  You know the kind of dance, like River Dance. 
Lucas dancing a reel.

I’m working on this blog even though I’m having trouble logging onto the internet tonight.  Hopefully, it will start working soon.  We will be staying here for two nights. Tomorrow, we get to hike in the Killarney National Park and then later in the morning,  we will drive through the Ring of Kerry.  Our time is drawing to a close, but  we have two nights here in Killarney, and then our last night will be in Limerick and our family will be spending our last night in Dromoland Castle. 

Until next time!


1 comment:

  1. I saw the bronze statue of Annie at Ellis Island. Loved seeing Lucas dance!