The problem with planning a trip to the fullest is there isn’t much flexibility… unless of course you travel with an event planner.
During our Ring of Kerry tour we decided that since we were in the southern part of Ireland already we should try and make our way over to Cork for the Blarney Stone. We had arranged a private transport from Killarney to Galway for the following day through Costco Travel. I had already been emailing with the company so I sent a note asking what it would cost to swing over to Cork and then head to Galway. After a bit of negotiating we got the added city included for $190 euros. For comparison purposes the train would have taken us an extra hour based on the route and costs $100 each way for our family of 5. Private transportation actually ended up saving us money. Score.
We wave goodbye to rainy Killarney and head east to Cork. The way there is gorgeous. We are greeted with incredible landscapes, hidden houses and roads that look like 1 car is too many. Mike, our driver chats with us about life in Ireland and sports mostly soccer and rugby. After a quick 1.5 hour drive we arrive at the Blarney Castle.
We get in the line that leads you to the stone on the top of the castle on an inside wall. Legend has it that this part of the stone is charmed. If you kiss it, upside down you will receive the gift of eloquence that the Blarney’s are known for. Not one to mock traditions we patiently wait our turn. The climb up and around is pretty challenging. The little window slits let in fresh air and show incredible views of the grounds.
We finally pop out of the stairwell and were on the roof of the castle. We serpentine around the roof through little areas, low walls and some more stairs before we finally are in view of the stone. The concept of kissing a stone along with a million other strangers is odd but its too late to turn back now.
Soon it is our turn, a cute Irish guy is sitting on the edge with his feet dangling. “Lay back, all the way” he says. It is an odd feeling to trust someone to hold you. “Keep going back” he continues. The place of luck is actually much lower than you think so you are really doing a back bend by the time you finally get there. A quick peck and I’m back up feeling lucky.
After kissing the stone we wandered the gardens. It is amazing to think that people had this much money, workers to tend their gardens and animals and this much land. My little New York City apartment seems so distant and even smaller if possible. Around 3pm we called Mike up to come and get us. Onward to Galway we go! After a rainy 3 hour car ride we make it just in time for Mass. Right in downtown Galway there is an incredible cathedral. The mass was 20 minutes leaving me to think why can’t we have these in America… maybe more people would go. The ascetics of an old cathedral also help.
Finally the day is over and we head back to the G Hotel in time for the Euro Championships. Since I am finally in a country that loves the sport I love I convince my dad and brother to find a bar to watch the game. We head across the street to the Huntsman Inn. It is an unassuming Irish bar packed with people cheering. After a couple of hop house 13s a man introduces himself as the Mayor of Galway. He’s here watching the game with his family. Now thats politics I can get behind!