The fact that I am here in Eire is quite amazing, because the fact that I am here at all is courtesy of the generosity of my fabulous friends and the inspired decision of Heather to invite people to club together and fund some of my 50 challenges as a birthday gift. So if you’re reading this and you contributed, I thank you from the bottom of my heart because this one has been just fantastic!
The intrepid travellers with me here are my two lovely children, Cath and son JJ, Evelyn and Heather. We arrived at lunchtime on Saturday 27th August to Cork airport and then via hire car to Cobh to our wee holiday home. We spent the afternoon having coffee and cake in the town, followed by a land train tour of Cobh and dinner at a local steakhouse. We turned in for the night wondering whether the bells of St. Colman’s Cathedral would be a quarter- hourly annoyance throughout the night, but as it turned out all slept well.
Sunday morning arrived and started with a full cooked breakfast (thank you Heather) then we were on the road in Toyota Yaris convoy to Blarney Castle. Beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine were the order of the day, and the Irish weather didn’t disappoint. We decided to head straight for the castle and the stone in the hope of not having to queue for too long.
The Blarney Stone is located at the very top of Blarney Castle, accessed via what seemed to be a never-ending set of stone spiral stairs. Very full spiral stairs. Full mainly of Americans. With the odd Australian/ South African thrown in for good measure. And a group of 7 Welshies. We probably queued for around 30-40 minutes before emerging at the top of the ramparts.
And so each in turn we approached the Stone. In days gone by, it was necessary to take your life in your hands (or feet) by being dangled backwards over the edge of the ramparts to kiss the stone. Thankfully, health and safety has now kicked in, and there is at least a metal grill to stop you from plummeting headfirst to your death whilst leaning back and puckering up. JJ, Cath, Me, Owen, Georgia, Evelyn… Heather elected to be official videographer, claiming that her eloquence was well developed enough without the need to kiss the stone!
I came to the spot where I was to sit on a conveniently slippy mat…I had to remove my glasses for fear of them falling off, then aided and instructed by the ‘guide’, I slithered backwards, arched my back, craned my head over the edge of the ramparts…and kissed. I was aware of the guide’s Irish lilt talking me through the whole process, and of following the instructions carefully… In truth, the whole experience was over in a flash, and due to the number of people there, it did have undertones of a conveyer-belt! Nevertheless it was a very special thing to do, particularly in the company of those who were with me.
Photos taken, all back on our feet we navigated the spiral descent (rather more quickly than we had ascended). After lunch in the tea rooms, we explored the beautiful gardens including the Poisons Garden, with real life mandrakes, and the Rock Gardens, with Witches’ kitchen, caves, dungeons et al. All in all, Blarney Castle was a great day out; good value for money with plenty to amuse all ages.
As to whether the Blarney Stone has lived up to its claim of giving me & my pals the gift of eloquence..? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see!
[29 down, 21 to go]