Today is the warmest day we’ve had thus far at 26 degrees Celsius, that’s almost 79 Fahrenheit.
Ross Castle – Kilarney Ireland
We started our day in Killarney at the Ross Castle. Ross is actually Gaelic for peninsula, so no one named Ross ever lived in the castle. It was actually inhabited by O’Donoghue and then the Brownes in the 15th century. The castle is actually a tower castle and therefore wasn’t luxurious but meant for protection. I learned that the term threshold comes from the extra height in the floor that intended to keep the thresh (straw) in the room. The castle includes barracks that was used in the early 19th century, and the castle was destroyed as the roof was removed to avoid paying taxes (It has since been beautifully restored.). We enjoyed our guided tour (the only way to see inside the castle) and saved 16 Euro with our Heritage card.
Blarney Castle Ireland – the Blarney Stone
We then headed to Blarney to see the infamous Blarney Castle and stone. We enjoyed a picnic lunch, finishing our purchased food from yesterday, on the grounds outside the castle. So, lunch was basically free for today :-). Unfortunately the Blarney Castle is not part of the Heritage program so we had to pay 37 Euro for a family admission.
We headed straight to the castle so we could kiss the Blarney stone, thinking we would avoid some of the lines. We were wrong, the line from the stone (at the top of the castle) wound down the narrow, tripping, spiral staircase and extended outside the castle. But we waited in line and almost 45 minutes later we were at the stone. The worst part was being stuck on a narrow step without light and with people on either side of you – maybe I’m a bit claustrophobic? The castle is in ruin and so there is not any furniture or tapestries within the castle. There are some signs in some of the rooms indicating what the room would have been.
I learned that a machicolation is a floor opening used to throw stones/hot water/etc to help in defense of the castle. The Blarney stone is one of these machocolation of the castle. Why do people kiss the Blarney stone? It is said to grant the kisser with great eloquence. Because of its location, you must lie on your back and lean over the wall to kiss the stone. Don’t worry, there is a man there to help you and guide you to the stone (as well as a photographer). So we all kissed the stone…wonder how long this eloquence takes?
Our next stop in the castle grounds was the Poison Garden. Here we saw poisonous plants from around the world, including the Mandrake and Wolfsbane – any Harry Potter fans? Did you know that the leaves of rhubarb are deadly? I didn’t until today. We continued through the castle grounds and found the caves, which my kids really enjoyed!
Then we walked through the Fern Garden to an area they call Rock Close. Here we found the “wishing steps,” said to grant your wish within one year if you walk up and down them backwards with your eyes closed. I’m not sure about the validity, but I’m sure people enjoyed the sight of us trying to do this. There was also a pretty waterfall and some beautiful flowers . (We are not really flower people-they are nice to look at and smell but no need to examine each one.)
The kids played for a bit on a playground, yes another one, before we got ice cream in the park costing us 7.50 Euro. We actually had to buy the more expensive ones so we could meet the minimum credit card purchase.
Cork International Hotel
Our hotel in Cork was about 40 minutes from Blarney near the Cork airport. We thought we would check in and then head to town to get dinner, but the airport is a bit further from town than we thought. Our hotel – Wow! Our room is the size of 3 rooms and we have 2 queen size beds and a twin bed, 2 showers, and a Espresso machine. This hotel only cost us $128 for the night. The kids are in love withe the extra space since we have been pretty cramped recently, so we decided to stay at the hotel and eat dinner in the New Yorker restaurant. It was delicious, although pricey. I had a cosmopolitan, and after 1/4 of it I was feeling a bit light headed..ha, I don’t drink much. My husband and I split a 3 course meal and the kids shared a pizza and dessert for a price of 55.50 Euro. I know that is the most expensive meal, but we haven’t had a fancier meal since we’ve been on vacation, so it was our chance to splurge a bit.
We headed back to room and enjoyed some wi-fi time with our tablets, and me writing these posts. We’re scheduled to go to Wexford tomorrow and seeing a castle and some beaches on the way, but we may sleep in and enjoy the room/hotel.