Our second day in Limerick we took a side trip to Cork. On our way there we went to Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone. The stone is at the top of the castle and so we wound up the tight stairways, toured the empty rooms, and eventually made it to the top. Drew went first. You sit down in front of the stone and lean backwards holding onto two metal poles. There is a guide there to help spot you as you lean all the way back and kiss the stone which is at the bottom of the outer wall. My fear of heights started to kick in but I pulled threw. Drew has yet to experience the “eloquence” the stone was supposed to bring :-). We also hoped that bottle of disinfectant sitting next to the guide was used regularly.
The castle area also had some gardens including the Poison Garden which contained many varieties of poisonous plants and described what they were and which parts of them were poisonous. Some of the plants they had growing included nightshade, wormwood, opium poppy and cannabis. Other attractions included a small waterfall and druid caves which were pretty neat. They say if you walk up these stairs with your eyes closed and think of a wish you will be granted it by the witch of Blarney Castle – so far I just got a bump on my head where the cave above the stairs got particularly low.
We went to the English Market for lunch which was very impressive. We wish we had a market like that in San Diego where you could buy all kinds of fresh pastries, meats, fish, olives, desserts, etc. all in one spot. We killed time by walking around the outdoor shops as well. Drew really wanted to buy a flat cap or old man cap as I refer to them to fit in with the locals but his good sense prevailed.
5 years ago 15 (yes 15) Irish people moved into the apartment next to me in PB – they were frequently raucous in the evenings and I always threatened that I would one day go to Ireland and keep them all up on weekday evenings. Well that didn’t happen but we were able to meet up with Eamonn and Aoife who were incredibly good hosts. They cooked us dinner and we went out to some local pubs where we had some grand drink, a little Irish dancing and loads of craic (or fun as us Americans would say). We had a great time and it was nice to experience a small town (Mallow) that was not as touristy as Dublin. We crashed there and in the morning we went to see Mallow Castle (yes, another castle!) which also had a fenced in herd of white deer which was neat to see. Drew apologizes to the motorists of Mallow for the Saturday morning traffic jam he created trying to leave the town center. Thanks for the grand time guys!
Next we drove to Galway which is a quaint little seaside town and also the town referenced in Ed Sheeran’s hit “Galway Girl” which we heard a million times on the road. We walked passed the Spanish Arch, through the busy latin quarter, and stopped for a nice lunch. On the way back we walked by the Galway Cathedral and along the river path.
From Galway, we had a 1.5 hour drive to see the Cliffs of Moher (otherwise known as the “Cliffs of Insanity” in the movie The Princess Bride). The drive was very picturesque but also very stressful for Drew. Driving around the winding roads with stone lined walls as shoulders was fun until the large tour busses started their return trips. They did not fit in their lanes and we had to drive uncomfortably close to the walls and even stopped a couple of times to pull over. They really shouldn’t be allowed on that route. Anyway, once we arrived the view was breathtaking. This is one of those rare places on earth that is special to witness. We walked in both directions from the visitor center to get views from both ends of the cliffs. You can go further than we did in either direction but I don’t believe the views got better past our stopping point. We tried to see the puffins perched on the side of the mountain, it was difficult given how far away they were, and Drew wants to me to add even more difficult while I had the telescope reversed : P
The drive back we took a different route that was less stressful and we were hoping to get back in time to catch the Munster rugby match down the street from our b&b in Limerick. By the time we got back the game was over and we also were spent from our long day.