Saturday, August 10, 2013

Blarney Castle

When we arrived in Cork we headed for Blarney Castle.  It was mid afternoon and the parking lot was not very crowded,  so we were happy that we had decided to visit the castle before checking in to our B&B.   Blarney Castle was built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland's greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney, making it a world landmark and one of Ireland's greatest treasures.  
Walking to the Castle

The Tower
The castle is in partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements.  We started the steep climb to the top of the castle and as I rounded the corners on the narrow stairs my backpack would get caught.  I had visions of getting stuck on the stairs and really questioned whether I should keep going up or not, however, since the staircase was for going up (there was another for going down) I really had no choice!!
The entrance

Looking out over the grounds

Climbing to the top

Wooden  floors would have separated each level

A view from the top

Interior wall
At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone.  Tourists  visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.  Doug and I chose not to hang upside down but enjoyed watching others kiss the stone and have their photo taken.  
Getting ready to kiss the Blarney Stone
Surrounding the castle are beautiful gardens. One of the gardens is called the Poison Garden and contains an interesting and educational collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world.  
Beautiful gardens

Bright colours

Another garden

Castle wall

Glass sculptures

The Poison Garden

Blarney House,  is a Scottish Baronial-style mansion that was built on the grounds in 1874.
Blarney House from the top of the castle

Blarney House
We had a short drive to Gabriel House B&B.  Our room was on the top floor overlooking the docks on the River Lee.  There was one slight elevators! We had a long climb up 5 flights of stairs to reach our room, thankfully we had packed light.  After a short rest we walked down the hill to a pub for supper and then strolled around the city centre of Cork. The area has lots of pubs and restaurants and high end shopping.  We stopped at a small pub for a drink and visited with some people who recommended a few places to go to listen to music.  It was a long walk up the hill to the B&B and then another long climb to our room.  We had certainly gotten our exercise for the day!!
Gabriel B&B

The long climb

The view from our room

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