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…with the Blarney Stone.

I was about seven years old the first time I ever heard of Blarney Castle and the tradition of kissing the “Blarney Stone” in order to get the Gift of Gab. My dad told me the story in great detail and I was fascinated. The legend of kissing the Blarney Stone was described in a book by Francis Grouse in 1785 so it’s nice to know the long standing tradition continues. I could certainly use all the help I can with ‘clever and charming’ speaking as opposed to my current snarky sarcastic propensities so let’s hope the kiss works for me.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Me, Kissing the Blarney Stone ~ have to admit it was awkward but not as bad as I thought it would be. Thank Goodness for the safety bars…

‘Tis there’s the stone that whoever kisses

He never misses to grow eloquent;

‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber,

Or become a member of Parliament.

“A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or

An out and outer to be let alone;

Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him,

For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”        

                      By Francis Sylvester Mahony

Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland

Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland

The Blarney Stone is a block of Bluestone which was built into the castle wall in 1446. Besides kissing the stone, the castle and surrounding grounds are beautiful so if you are traveling with anyone who doesn’t want to kiss the stone (fear of heights, etc), they will still find the area beautiful. It’s a perfect place for a picnic. Give yourself a few hours to enjoy the gardens.

Looking out from Blarney Castle

Looking out from Blarney Castle

Inside of the Blarney Castle

Inside Blarney Castle

Stream flowing through the grounds of Blarney Castle

Stream flowing through the grounds of Blarney Castle

Narrow Staircase going up at the Blarney Castle

Narrow Staircase going up at the Blarney Castle

Window at Blarney Castle

Window at Blarney Castle

Stone Archway at Blarney Castle

Stone Archway, Blarney Castle grounds, County Cork, Ireland

Winding Staircase at Blarney Castle

Winding Staircase at Blarney Castle

 
Poison Garden ~ with some serious poisons. Take heed ~ don't touch.

Poison Garden ~ with some serious poisons. Take heed ~ don’t touch.

JP going in for the Kiss of the Blarney Store

JP going in for the Kiss of the Blarney Store

Blarney Castle is only 8km (5 miles) from the town of Cork and can get VERY busy during the summer season. A staff member told us the wait to kiss the stone in the summer can be over 2.5 hours. We arrived at the Castle soon after it opened and didn’t wait at all to pucker up for a “smooch.”  If you decide to go click here for additional information.

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We woke up not knowing where we were going to spend the next two nights so I scanned the internet a bit, looked through the Lonely Planet guide and came up with Clonakilty. We took our time driving from Doolin (County Clare) to Clonakilty (County Cork). Drove down the coast to Killmer where we caught the car ferry to Tarbert (County Kerry). We stopped in Tralee for lunch which was not the best choice for us ~ I found Tralee to be crowded and a bit unfriendly. We thought about doing the “Ring of Kerry” which a lot of guidebooks list as a “must do” but we only skirted along the top of the Ring. We left that drive on the list for next time.

Shannon Ferry from Killmer to Tarbert (County Kerry)

Shannon Ferry from Killmer to Tarbert (County Kerry)

There was beautiful scenery the entire drive to Clonakilty.

County Cork Coastline

Ireland Coastline

And there were lots of tractors along the road. We even saw an accident between a tractor and a truck ~ thankfully everyone seemed fine.

Tractor Jam

Tractor Jam

I chose to stay at the Bay View House B&B because it overlooks Clonakilty Bay. Unfortunately, the tide was low during the day but it’s still a nice view. The owner of the B&B along with her daughter are wonderful hosts ~ it was a great place to stay. Only hiccup was the man in the room next to us who had his TV on max volume until 1:30am. I finally knocked on the wall which he then thankfully turned it off. I’m the only light sleeper in the family.

The town is full of shops, restaurants and has a rich history. Michael Collins, the commander-in-chief of the Irish Free State army, was born near Clonakilty. If you’re interested, there’s a map called “In search of Michael Collins” which you can get at the town’s tourist office ~it traces the key places in the area such as birthplace, school, place of ambush where he was killed, etc.

Bay View House B&B, Clonakilty, County Cork

Bay View House B&B, Clonakilty, County Cork

View of Clonakilty Bay from B&B

View of Clonakilty Bay from B&B

Clonakilty, County Cork

Clonakilty, County Cork

On the second day in Clonakilty, we woke up to sunshine once again so we decided to spend some time in the County Cork countryside on horseback. All the rides in Clonakilty were booked so we ended up riding in the Mealagh Valley which is about 5 miles outside of Bantry. Weather could not have been more perfect for the ride and we were treated to a gorgeous view from the top of the hill overlooking the valley and out to Bantry Bay. It was about a 45 minute drive from the B&B and the road narrowed considerably as we got closer to the horse farm. We were greeted by several creatures: cats, dogs & sheep. I got a very good feeling about the Bantry Pony/Horseriding and when I asked, I found out they “rescue” neglected/unwanted ponies and horses. We love to ride when we visit a new location but sometimes I don’t like the way the horses are handled. Thankfully with Bantry Pony Trekking, I could tell the horses/ponies are loved and seem very content.  I feel confident HIGHLY recommending this activity if you’re in the County Cork.

Road to Horseback Riding, Bantry, County Cork

Road to Horseback Riding, Bantry, County Cork

Cat greeter at the horse farm

Cat greeter at the horse farm

Sheep Greeter at the horse farm

Sheep Greeter at the horse farm

Horseback riding in Country Cork (Bantry)

Horseback riding in Country Cork (Bantry)

View of Bantry and the Bay during horse ride

View of Bantry and the Bay during horse ride

Mama and her twins ~ she was definitely "on guard"

Mama and her twins ~ she was definitely “on guard”

Cow in Bantry

Cow in Bantry

We had a late lunch at Tractors (yummy) in Bantry then it was back to Clonakilty for the night.

Bantry, County Cork, Ireland

Bantry, County Cork, Ireland 

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