The rain is different in Ireland. I was expecting big ol’ fat rain but instead it was an annoying mist that would cloak you like a blanket of damp.
When my sister Taryn and I arrived at Blarney for our second stop on our DayTours.ie bus we decided to take cover at the food hall until the weather dissipated into a pleasant grey day.
We don’t really have them here in Canada but Food Halls are these large dinning areas where you seat yourself then head on up to the buffet style set up. You can dish yourself up, order some hot items that are freshly made or select some pre-made items like quiche (eat your quiches cold – heated = microwave = soggy). It can be a vegetarian’s dream with a ton of salads from bruschetta bread salad to a chickpea bean salad. Even for those who aren’t immune to the occasional cavities they’ve got the dreamiest cakes and pies.
It being Ireland, and by the advice of our DayTours guide, we decided to have the most delicious fish & chips with a mix of salads and my ill fated microwaved quiche. Lunch was always accompanied by my new favourite drink Bulmers Cider made with 17 different kinds of apples! Why aren’t we creating something equally as good here in the Okanagan, home of prized orchards?
After the best lunch we would have in Ireland we decided to head to Blarney Castle.
Just a short walk away from the food hall parking lot is the Castle and its surrounding park with a couple of creeks sliding their way amongst the ruins, flowers and trees. We stumbled upon a poisonous garden where the plants that contained arsenic and other poisons grew.
Finally it came time for us to storm the castle. While trying to find our way in we began to walk through a narrow passage that became smaller and smaller. Us adults eventually became a little claustrophobic and retreated with our asses in the air. For the kids it was like a day out at the park and they would be the only ones who would get to see the inside of the prisons of Blarney Castle that day.
When we finally found the actual entrance we had discovered that it wasn’t much roomier. Taryn, with her agile, led the way while I, like an oaf, with my large backpack found myself catching around each turn of my body. We escalated a never ending stone spiral staircase with worn down stairs and only a rope to pull up on. With every heave of my body I either mouthed a prayer or a curse.
How were these people so small back then?
When we finally reached the top I was a muggy mess and my hair had given up all structure. My bangs were sticking to my forehead like a caterpillar to a leaf and my makeup had all been wiped away from the muggy air. At the top of the fortress it was easier to ignore how uncomfortable I was with the view.
There was also a line that formed to kiss the Blarney Stone. It was not as big as I had thought it would be and in this instance it was mainly adults who had ventured to go so high – I think it was because you couldn’t turn around on the steps. Once you’ve committed to walk to the top you didn’t have the opportunity to back out.
So why kiss the Blarney Stone?
In Ireland there are always a few stories to answer one question. Legend has it that Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, had helped save a drowning woman who turned out to be a witch. In gratitude she revealed the powers of the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is thought to bestow “the gift of the gab” with eloquence and wit (something I do not have).
Some say the stone has Biblical connections having been brought back from the crusades it could have been considered the “Stone of Ezel“, perhaps the Stone of Destiny from Scotland or even Moses’ water stone.
The stone was installed at Blarney Castle during its erection in 1446 and put up high to protect its powers.
Here I am kissing the stone… You can have your sister take a picture like I did or there is a photographer there as well. At the bottom of the castle you can buy a photo for 18€.
To kiss the stone you have to lay with your back to the stone floor and grab on to the bars behind your head. A man is there to help you down, tell you where to kiss, then help you back up. You bend over backwards to lower yourself down to a portion of smooth bluestone.
It’s quite a rush because there are only a couple bars below you to prevent you from falling down, otherwise you hang over the edge with a view of tourists on the ground watching you in horror or excitement.
Most often I get asked, “How many other people kissed the stone before you”?
I keep in mind that it rains a lot in Ireland.