Ireland: Blarney and the Wicklow Mountains

October 1, 2012

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It occurs to me now that visiting Blarney Castle made me want to use the word “blarney” more often. When we visited, I was happy to learn how to differentiate between blarney and baloney.

“Baloney is when you tell a 50-year old woman that she looks 18. Blarney is when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful.” Source

Blarney is associated with the gift of gab — being a little cheeky, and yet oozing with charm. (Our helpful, winking airport worker comes to mind.)

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Somehow I haven’t made “blarney” a part of my vocabulary. But we did have a charming adventure at Blarney Castle. We arrived Monday morning after a restful night at our B&B. The castle is set on a plush green landscape with trails, gardens, rock formations, cave, and a creek.

IMG_0609More face than castle!

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Blarney Castle is tall and impressive. It was in a little more disrepair than Bunratty, but it was fun to see it that way.

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The roof in the middle was gone which made it as light and airy as a castle can be.

There was a lot of climbing around tight staircases again and peering out iron-barred windows to see new green views.

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The rooms weren’t furnished, but had little informational signs all over to learn about how the castle was used — including things you wouldn’t always think about like plumbing, ventilation, and protection.

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Visiting Blarney Castle was actually one of the biggest “should we/shouldn’t we?” decisions of the trip. Mike and Jean had been to the castle before so we were tempted to save time and skip it. In the end, we felt like we would be missing out if we went all the way to Ireland without kissing the Blarney Stone.

After some exploring, we were finally ready to kiss! The stone is set at the top of the castle on the outer wall. To kiss it, you have to lay on your back while a hopefully-trustworthy worker holds you steady.

I read somewhere that you should make sure you tip the castle worker before you kiss, rather than after. Not a bad idea.

The stone feels like it’s a long way down, but it’s over fairly quickly. A quick kiss, a snap of the camera, and you’ve got the gift of eloquence!

Probably more like the gift of sharing a kissing-spot with millions of people. IMG_0643

I kissed it!

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I really enjoyed this garden next to the castle. As the sign says, it was a “Poison Garden.”

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All of the plants were poisonous in some way, complete with creepy names and cages for safety.

The plant pictured is Atropa belladonna, Deadly Nightshade. Eating 2-5 berries or a single leaf of this plant can be deadly to a human adult. Even so, it has some history being used as medicine and a cosmetic. Most oddly, it was used in eye-drops to dilate women’s pupils so that they would appear more seductive.

It was a very unique garden, though some of the descriptions would either give you the goosebumps or remind you of how terrible the movie The Happening was. Shudder.

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After we were done checking out the grounds (and hiding behind rocks), we were on the road again. On to the Rock of Cashel in South Tipperary.

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I have to confess, as I think back to the Rock of Cashel, I can’t remember any of the history behind it. Informed tourist fail.

After consulting my memory, I think of two things: hidden faces and green views from the hill top.

After consulting Wikipedia, I can tell you the Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat for the kings of Munster before being given to the Church. It’s made up of three dramatic buildings: Cormac’s Chapel, the Cathedral, and the round tower. The buildings are famous for their Celtic art and unique architecture with a Germanic influence.

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At least I remembered the faces as part of the unique architecture, right?

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Since the Rock of Cashel was set on top of a hill, we had the most amazing green views. All around we could see green grass, low rock walls, sheep, and trees.

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We walked down the hill to this abbey. More photo ops.

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We forged ahead, driving towards the Wicklow mountains on the eastern side of the island. From the rental-car windows, we watched the landscape get rockier and hillier, with rivers sunk into the valleys.

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We stopped in Glendalough because we spotted this round tower and wanted to see it up close. It was windy and coooold as we walked around this cemetery, looking at old names and old stones.

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We finished the night in nearby Laragh — which I’m pretty sure we found twenty different pronunciations for: Largh, Lair-egg, Lair-agh, LAAhr, Lar-agh, and so forth. We got to stay in this very new B&B in our own little cottage.

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The B&B owners recommended the restaurant down the road, Wicklow Heather. We were a hungry bunch and gladly complied. The restaurant staff was great and even helped us strategize our trip into Dublin. As we waited for our food, they suggested we check out their Writer’s Room. The walls of the rooms were lined with first edition copies of Joyce, Yeats, and Wilde. Quite the collection!

For supper, I had an amazing seafood chowder with more brown bread and wonderful butter. I think most of my Ireland vacationing energy was fueled by brown bread and butter. Not a bad thing at all!

Stay tuned for the next days of our trip as we get closer to Dublin!

3 thoughts on “Ireland: Blarney and the Wicklow Mountains

  1. Pingback: Ireland: Powerscourt and Getting Into Dublin | In The Mixing Bowl

  2. Pingback: Ireland: Dublin’s Kilmainham, Guinness, and Jameson | In The Mixing Bowl

  3. Pingback: Ireland: Libraries of Dublin | In The Mixing Bowl

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