After the roller coaster ride we had yesterday with high winds and seas, we actually got a good night’s sleep. The sleep of exhaustion, but sleep nonetheless.
We were up early to prepare for our day touring Blarney Castle. It was a cold 52° with overcast skies as we pulled into port.
The first thing we saw as we stepped onto the balcony was a large mural announcing the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic (1912-2012). Cobh (Cork) was the last port of call for the RMS Titanic before striking an iceberg and foundering with the loss of over 1500 passengers.
We could see the town with its colorful buildings and the beautifu St. Colman’s Cathedral high above the city. The structure even so far away was quite impressive.
We ate a quick breakfast and made our way down to the pier to board the bus and take a leisurely ride through Cork on our Way to Blarney Castle and Woolen Mills.
As we drove along our tour guide gave us an interesting and educational history lesson about this beautiful island that included tales of the potato famine of 1845-46, the fate of the RMS Titanic and, Annie Moore who was the first person to be admitted to the United States through Ellis Island on January 1, 1892.
Our only goal for the day was to ‘kiss’ the Blarney Stone. However, what we experienced once we arrived at Blarney Castle was so much more.
We made our way directly to the castle taking pictures along the way. The skies were overcast and gray making it interesting to take good pictures. We were both a little apprehensive about the 100 steps we would have to climb once there and Randy was not sure he would kiss the stone once we got there.
The climb sounded a bit intimidating but to our surprise it was not that difficult. There was a line so we would climb a few steps and then stop as the line inched its way to the top. Once we got into the bowls of the castle it was quite tight in the stairwell.
We climbed up narrow pie-shaped stairs holding onto a thick rope running vertical to the wall. The stairwell was very narrow and a bit confining. I worried that if there was anyone who suffered from claustrophobia they would not do well. Randy had to duck as he entered this confined space.
As we made our way up the stairs we passed bedrooms, the kitchen, looked down on the banquet hall and through narrow windows to the beautiful landscape below. I was surprised at how small the rooms were.
We finally emerged onto the parapet and were treated to a beautiful view. We saw pastoral lands, cows grazing in the fields and the Blarney House in the distance. It was all very beautiful.
Then it was time to for Randy to make the decision about kissing the stone. Would he or would he not lay down on his back, grab hold of the metal bars, lean backwards and kiss an old stone? But, of course, he did!
There was an elderly gentleman who was sitting on a cushion next to where everyone laid down. His job was to hold onto we crazy people while we kissed the stone. Another gentleman was taking pictures. It was nice though because we could also take pictures ourselves. Now, it is said that once you kiss the Blarney Stone, “you gain the gift of eloquence”. We shall see.
We decided to take a walk around the grounds. What a treat! As we walked, we discovered many beautiful gardens; Blarney House, an arboretum, the Herbaceous Border and Rose Pargola, waterfalls, and a wooden sculpture entitle “Celebration in Wood” by Pieter Koning. Everything was beautiful eye candy. I loved it all.
We still had some time before returning to the bus so we walked over to The Blarney Woolen Mill. The mill was originally opened in 1823 for spinning and weaving wood. After a brief closing for a time from 1972-75, it re-opened as an Irish heritage shop. The shop was huge and filled to the rafters with all manner of Irish goods.
Before too long it was time to board the bus and return to the pier. As we rode along, I mentioned to Randy that I really could not come all the way to Ireland and not spend some time in an Irish pub. There were several local gentlemen on the pier and I stopped and asked if there was a pub close by.
“Oh, yes indeed,” he replied. He told us there was a pub called Kelly’s only a short distance from the pier in the center of town. We set off to find the pub and along the way we ran into Sal and Anna. They joined us and we had a great time enjoying cups of Irish coffee and scones. The pub was full of local and tourist talking, singing along with the a gentleman playing a guitar and singing Irish songs while enjoying a variety of libations. We had a great time but it was time to get back to the ship.
On the pier we stopped at a sculpture of Annie, Anthony and Philip Moore. Everyone making their way back to the ship, including us, stopped and had our pictures taken with Annie and her brothers.
As we made our way back out to see we ran into a heavy blanket of fog. The ship had to blow its horn many time until we emerged back into clear skies.
We had a lovely evening with friends during cocktails and dinner after which we enjoyed listening to the Guest Choir in the Centrum.
It had been a lovely day but now it was time to get some rest. Tomorrow we dock at the port in Cherbourg, France.