Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A Load of Blarney
Our final stop that day was Blarney Castle, Ireland's most famous tourist attraction. We had the misfortune to arrive at the same time as a couple of other coach-loads full of tourists, so the trip through the castle was rather like standing in a very long line.
The castle is largely a ruin, only rooms that had stone floors and ceilings are still intact. Any area that used wood is long collapsed, so the central core of the structure is open to the elements. The narrow stone stairways were still in tip top shape though, as were the battlements ringing the summit.
Once on the top, everybody got to lean over and kiss the Blarney Stone, bestowing the "gift of gab" on all the lucky stone smoochers. Despite rumors I have heard about what the locals do to the stone after hours (rumors I discounted looking at the security of the place), I went ahead and gave the rock the requisite kiss.
While it was a fun experience, the severe overcrowding kind of lessoned the pleasure considerably. I like time to wander and explore at my own pace, but the line up the stairs to the battlements made that difficult to do. The fact that I couldn't find a replacement tweed cap to the one my sister pinched from me was also a letdown. Who knew that a suitable snap brim green tweed cap would be so difficult to find in Ireland?
Looking around town I noticed that there is still a bit of Republican zeal in Ireland, which in these days of peace seems a little odd.