Thursday, we went on our first of several day trips. This one took us to Blarney, Cobh, and Kinsale.
We had a bus driver named John who, I am convinced, knew everything (or at least everything related to the Irish countryside we were driving through).  My very favorite thing that occurred on the bus was when John imitated (mocked) Irish accents from other regions, and did a remarkable job.

We started the morning at Blarney Castle,

IMG_0268A nearly six hundred year old castle. Unlike Barryscourt, this castle is a ruin. We climbed the old stone steps, which were perilous and there were so, so many of them, to get to the main draw of the castle, the Blarney Stone. Visitors climb to the top of the castle, and upon kissing the Blarney Stone are supposed to be granted the gift of gab – eloquence.

Kissing the Blarney Stone requires laying on the ground, reaching up behind you to grab two bars and lowering yourself backwards until you can kiss the stone.  There are iron bars underneath you to keep you from plummeting to your death and  there is a person who’s sole job is to hold on to your waist and keep you from falling backwards. As I was kissing the Blarney Stone I was trying my hardest to avoid 1. Letting the germaphobe part of me think about how many other people  had done this and 2. Leaning so far back that I would be able to actually see the ground and recognize how high up I was.

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Me kissing the Blarney Stone. I did not have to pay 10 euro for the picture taken by the Blarney Stone photographer because I had friends with me who could take this picture for free.

The rest of the castle and the grounds all around where beautiful.

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IMG_0318 I don’t quite understand the appeal of these poison gardens. I’ve seen them a couple of different places, they feature plants such as rhubarb, marijuana, and tea (because it contains caffeine and lack thereof can result in withdrawal, which as everyone knows is right up their with the effects of some of the other plants, for instance…death).

From Blarney we went on to Cobh. Cobh was the final port of call for the Titanic before it set off. We didn’t spend much time there, but the harbor was lovely.

IMG_0350And we did visit a church

IMG_0357St. Colman’s Cathedral. Our driver pointed out that this was the last significant building that the people on the Titanic saw, which was kind of a haunting thought.

We also stopped to eat lunch, here:

IMG_0394We sat outside and enjoyed the breeze and the view of the water.

Next, we moved on to Kinsale. I loved Kinsale. Before we actually headed into the town we went to Charles Fort, which was once an English fort.

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IMG_0437Then we spent a couple of hours in Kinsale walking through the town and going into the shops.

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I actually took this and the next one on Saturday when a few of us went back to Kinsale. (We went back for an arts festival that wasn’t really starting yet, so we just spent the afternoon exploring Kinsale further.)

IMG_0515 IMG_0447I got this enormous piece of cake, and I am not ashamed to admit (well, I am a little bit ashamed) that I ate this entire thing, including the clotted cream.

It was a marvelous day, I saw a lot of a really beautiful place and I can’t wait for our next day trip on Wednesday!  (Also, buses put me to sleep like nothing else.)

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