Wednesday morning we headed off to Blarney to explore Blarney castle and most importantly, to kiss the Blarney stone. The theory is that anyone who kisses the Blarney stone gains the gift of eloquence. The castle is surrounded by quite a large garden which was really nice to wander around in even though it was freezing cold. The garden is apparently full of druid magic and inhabited by the Blarney Witch and they have a wide range of signs explaining various superstitions as you walk around. I’m sure the effect would be quite good if you had kids with you but for us it became more fun to laugh at how unbelievable the claims were. They did tend to have a decent sense of humour about it though. One sign described how if you walk down and back up the “witches steps” with your eyes closed and thinking about nothing except your wish, that wish will come true. The last sentence was simply, “all we say is that the steps are slippery and we take no responsibility”.
The blarney stone itself is actually at the very top of the castle and at the bottom of the castle battlements. So you have to bend over backwards while leaning out over the edge to kiss it.
From Blarney we drove on to Limerick, had a late lunch and then spent the afternoon relaxing and just enjoying being on holidays. We found a funky pub with good food for dinner and generally lived it up.
Tuesday we drove from Limerick to Kilkenny and found lunch in yet another pub there. Then we headed out to Kell’s Priory which seems to have a very significant history and a very insignificant present – there was no information about it’s past and basically just a bunch of old stone buildings surrounded by a paddock of cow dung. The only sign we managed to find was unreadable except to say that Kell’s Priory was the medieval capital of Ireland. We braved the freezing cold and strong winds to wander around a bit, carefully dodging the dung and then retreated back to the warmth of the car.
We’d booked a room at a B&B near the ferry terminal without paying too much attention so were pleasantly surprised to discover it was a five star B&B (though the Irish tourism council only gave it four…). It was a beautiful old manor house surrounded by gardens and we were given instructions to drive down to the beach for an afternoon stroll. Donning our big coats, gloves, scarves and beanies, we set off. We managed to get lost on the way and discover a nice coastal road so got to enjoy the scenery from the warmth of the car before eventually finding the beach and wandering along it. It was quite pretty to watch the sunset but eventually we gave in to the cold and went of in search of a warm cafe and hot chocolate.
Fortunately the seas were much calmer this morning so the boat trip home was much nicer and just provided time to sit back and relax reading the paper. We ran into rush hour traffic on the M4 so the drive back to Maidenhead took longer than expected and we got home about 6:30pm.
Overall we had a nice relaxing time and got to see a fair bit of Ireland. It would be nice to go back in the summer sometime and do more of the north of Ireland, but for a 5 day holiday, two of which were spent getting there and back, I think we managed to see quite a bit. Janet still has a few more days off, but will have to get stuck into some planning and I’m back at work tomorrow with a ton of stuff to catch up on, but such is life.