I keep meaning to get back to this posting but it’s never too late until I can’t remember, right? So back to Ireland adventures….
Thursday we started out early to make it to a local PaddyWagon establishment for the Blarney Castle tour. We met at one of their hostels and it was early. We grabbed a couple of snack bars but there was no coffee and it was early. People were gathering and talking and laughing and we looked at all the brochures and it was early.
Finally Frank showed up to lead us to our wagon (another bus, slightly less nice than the Darby O’Gill bus, it took us three tries to find a seat that was together, comfortable, and had no falling apart seat parts in front of us). I got the window seat this time so I was happy, though there was still no coffee and it was still early.
Not to worry though. Frank got us out of the city in short order and stopped at services so we could get coffee, and it could feel less early. Found a lovely chocolate pastry as well so my morning was quickly improving.
Now Murphy was good people, but Frank, I’ll give him credit, Frank was hilarious. He talked quite a bit, not constantly, but he was amusing. Lots of jokes, puns, and another version of the Trump/golf course/wall story.
Our first real stop of the day was at the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary. First we stopped at the side of the road to get the view of the castle from a distance. Then we went up to the castle to get a view of the distance.
Really, though, gorgeous, sweeping views out into the green, green countryside. The sun came out for a bit while we were there, and although there was still a bite to the air, especially when the wind swept through, it was exactly the stunningly beautiful countryside that everyone always says Ireland is all about. We walked around the grounds and crumbling castle walls, through the gravestones, took pictures at the fence at the edge, and went through the chapel which is mostly still whole and the more museum-like part of the site. I signed the guest book so if you’re there, look for my name.
After that we continued on toward Blarney. The sun ducked back behind some clouds and we had a bit of rain here and there — no surprise.
By the time we got to Blarney it was certainly raining. Fortunately, Laura had provided us with an umbrella, so we huddled together underneath it and set out toward the castle, in order to kiss the Blarney stone of legend.
We were waylaid, however, by a huge and monstrous line of unreasonable proportions. After 20 minutes of dueling it out in the wind and rain, Laura said “Argh I don’t know if I even want to go up, I’ve already done this!”
I certainly wanted to, but I reluctantly released her to head back toward the shopping center. I waited it out for another half hour or so — and we only had a two hour stop in Blarney before we had to head back to the bus. Then I heard someone exiting the castle remark to another friend in the line that it was two hours to get to the stone once you got into the castle, and the line was packed one person to a stair.
That was too much waiting and claustrophobia even for me, and so, defeated, I left my place in the line. I did wander through the beautiful gardens for a little while. They were truly glorious, even on the cloudy, rainy day that I saw them. Lots of waterfalls and bridges and little hidden pathways that wound through flower beds; statues and circles; flowers, flowers, flowers.
Then I found Laura back in the shops looking at Waterford crystal. I found the snuggliest of sweaters, bought it and put it on right away. Deep blue wool yarn knotted into hundreds of cables.
We met up with the bus driver and heard over the people chatting and returning that the bus driver was on the phone with part of our group. They’d called to tell him they were just at the top level of the castle, minutes away from kissing the stone, and he agreed to wait. So we sat, damply dripping but relaxing. We ended up with a couple of strays on our bus; their driver had left them and gone on to the next stop.
Frank did not rant about the tackiness of this over the intercom but we were close enough to the front of the bus to hear him ranting about it to the people in earshot, including a couple of the strays. Fortunately, Cork was scarcely 15 minutes away, and when we got there, we found the other bus waiting.
Laura and I set off at a quick march in search of Penney’s and the English Market. We went in a couple redundant circles and passed a little jewelry shop, which brought me up short — oooh, shiny things! I found a tiny silver ring of Celtic knotwork and added it to my souvenirs for the day, also putting it on immediately. The store’s proprietor directed us back the way we’d come and around another corner to find the English market, which we still almost missed. We wandered through it but found it a bit too wholesome and fresh for our current appetites, but recalled a Burger King we’d passed earlier, and made our way back to that for hot fries. (They were still pretty hot when we got them back to the bus.)
At that point we were fairly exhausted and all we had left was the long ride home. Laura dozed or complained about the undergrads across the aisle who were loudly opining about the sameness of sociology and psychology. I read Kushiel’s Dart obsessively. Frank put on a video of Riverdance and I realized that, oooh, I would like to see Riverdance live.
Finally we got back to Dublin and walked home, crossing the River Liffey. By now the whole city was beginning to turn green with garlands and balloons, “Christmas” (aka St. Patty’s) lights and exterior lighting on the downtown buildings. Only two days to go until St. Patrick’s Day.