August 20, 2011
We woke up at the Blarney Camping & Caravan Park and I headed over to the camper’s kitchen to make some coffee while my travel mates packed up the car to head out. We headed into Blarney and had breakfast at Mackey’s coffee house where we were greeted by a young and friendly Irish waitress with red hair, blue eyes and freckles. We had great coffee and a late breakfast (they serve breakfast all day!). We headed out to Blarney Castle to see if we could find the infamous Blarney stone. The story of the Blarney stone is a little confusing and convoluted. What I gathered from my visit was this:
There are many stories that lead to the discovery, power and ownership of the Blarney stone. Whomever you ask will tell you a different story and a different history of the stone. What I do know is that the stone is considered a “Stone of Destiny” who’s power was revealed to the owners of Blarney castle by a witch on the property after they saved her from drowning. When visiting Blarney Castle, you also get to visit the Witch’s Stone and her home as well as some druid caves. Anyway, so when the witch revealed the power of the stone to the McCarthy family, Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII, decided that the Irish chiefs should agree to occupy their own lands, but occupy them under title from her. Cormac Teige McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, received requests from her to give his land up to the Queen with grace and good humor and he continued to write letters to the Queen stating he was glad to pledge his loyalty to the Queen. His letters were subtle and so well put, she finally realized that he was keeping her happy without giving in. At one point, after receiving another of his charming messages, she flung down his letter and said, “Oh! He’s just giving me a lot more blarney!!!” Thus did the Stone, during that time, come to signify the gift of sparkling eloquence and good luck…
I have to stop here and mention my travel companions: One, we’ll call Phunner and the other is Boozy. Phunner and I are partners in life and Boozy Phunner picked up at last year’s SSEC bike race. Boozy likes to read placards. ALL PLACARDS. And he’s a self-professed slow reader…Phunner and I can smash through an old relic in no time flat…so once we finished up kissing the ol’ Blarney Stone, we strolled around the poisonous garden as an ode to Harry Potter, and strolled…and strolled until I started to get hungry and cranky. We rounded up Boozy and headed out towards Cork.
We drove in to Cork and were in search of lunch. The thing about Ireland is there are lots of places to DRINK and many less places to EAT. We found a place with beer but no kitchen (An Brog). A very cool little bar with a lot of memorabilia on it’s walls and a great reputation, we sat and looked at the menu. Boozy ordered a beer and I, who had been starving while he read all those placards, refused to order. We moved on to the main strip of Cork, had lunch and explored the town. Not a lot to see in Cork…not a particularly beautiful place to stop in for long…we headed out to Dublin.
Dublin is about 2 hours from cork. We drove through town after dark and immediately parked in search of beer and food. We had beers at Mssrs Mcguire, a really cool old bar right on the water in Dublin. Tired from the long day, we checked in to the Four Courts hostel.
For 16 Euro a night it’s a great deal. Very secure with 24 hour reception. The rooms are clean and have hot showers. We stayed in an 8 person which would have been fine except we were stuck with someone with bad cough. I got no sleep between that and creaking of metal frame beds. On a side note, the room was a mixed room but full of guys. If you are a single girl traveling, you might want to ask who is in the room before you agree – especially if you’d rather not bunk with a bunch of rude French college dudes.