"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Wee Little Trip to Ireland - Day 3 - BLARNEY Rubble

We popped up bright and early this morning and took a cab over to Paddy's Palace - a Dublin hostel and tour company for a day trip south to Blarney Castle for our chance to smooch on the famous Blarney Stone. Paddywagon Tours uses bright green buses with a huge animated leprechaun logo on the side of them. Sounds and looks offensive to the Irish we would think, and definitely a bit cheesy, but they get great reviews online and their tour prices were hard to beat since they cater mostly to the younger hostel-budget crowd touring Europe. For the price of a couple tanks of gas these days, we got professional transportation cross-country on Ireland's tiny little roads without the fuss of worrying about finding our way or remembering to stay on the left side of the road driving in a rental car.
It was our first venture into the countryside of Ireland away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin and the scenery was picturesque. Pristine pasture land, quaint humble farmhouses and rock-wall fences flashed by us on the road to the city of Limerick, our first brief stop. The landscape looked a lot like the rural Southeastern U.S. at times with only the occasional ruins of a castle in someone's back yard to give away where you actually were (photo above). In Limerick, half of our tour group boarded another bus bound for the west coast and the Cliffs of Moher. That would be our destination in a couple of days as well. From Limerick it was another hour and a half south until we pulled into the busy parking area for the Blarney Castle. Trees hid its view from us until we started up the manicured walking path and then all of sudden there it was looming above us (photo below). Our first real castle up close and personal. It looks to have been kept in great original condition or at least what's left of its stone walls and ramparts. Only a very few modern amenities like flood lights placed in discreet locations gave any indication what century you were in during your visit. To get to the Blarney Stone itself, which in fact is a part of the castle's battlement wall and not a separate natural stone as we always assumed, you have to climb to the top of the structure which is a treat as well. The views of the village of Blarney and the surrounding countryside are outstanding. Kissing the Blarney Stone is a fairly low-key affair (Rob taking his turn in the photo below). You have to lay on your back atop the castle's highest point, grab hold of two iron bars to steady yourself, lower your head a bit and kiss the cold stone wall basically hanging upside down. No one looks cool doing it and you can't help but giggle when it's your turn, but admittedly it's kind of a hoot. You have to put out of your mind the fact that the Blarney Stone was ranked as the # 1 germiest tourist attraction in the world by a recent survey. Yeck. It would have been great to stay longer at Blarney Castle. The surrounding grounds are beautiful (photo below) and there are several walking trails of some distance encompassing 60 acres of gardens, woods, the small River Martin and a lake. One of the only drawbacks of a touring company is the rigid schedule you are on. There was a bit of line to the top of the castle to get your smooch on, and by the time we were done with that we only had a little time left to take a leisurely walk back to the parking area and explore a couple of shops in the nearby woolen mills. This area of Ireland is known for it's great production of sweaters, scarves and lace-works. The trip back was long and our jet lag crept up again on us. As the old song says " it's a long way to Tipperary," which actually was another town we passed through on our way back to Dublin. We made a brief late afternoon stop at another castle in the area of Bunratty and to our great surprise the pub next to it was named none other than "Durty Nelly's." This was the name of one of our favorite places to eat for many years in Chattanooga where Ashlee and I met. It closed a few years ago to our great surprise and sadness. We ambled in to the place and the barman greeted us with a smile. We mentioned that we had a "Durty Nelly's" back in Tennessee and we figured we would get an eyeroll and a snort of some sort. Instead, the man smiled broadly and said "Yah, I missed going in there when I visited Chattanooga." We figured he was pulling our leg, but then he added, "but I did get to see The Wrecker Museum." Well, we knew he was a real visitor to Chattanooga then, because only someone who has actually been there would know about the rather infamous "Towing and Recovery Museum." Yes, it's a museum of wreckers. No, we don't know why. We ordered a couple of pints and sat outside in the mild weather to enjoy them before climbing back on the big green express back to Dublin. We got back to Dublin around 8 PM with rumbling tummies and headed out to find something Irish to eat. The first place was too fancy and we weren't dressed for it, the next place was way too busy and in our desperate hunger we settled for an Italian cafe. Not what we planned but it turned out to be delicious and housed in a very cool old building. We wanted to hit some pubs after dinner but our tired bodies just wouldn't hear of it. We headed back to the hotel instead knowing we had a day of Dublin pub crawling ahead of us tomorrow. We slept for twelve hours. Good, good day in Ireland.

1 comment:

Craig and Alison Harris said...

Dang, look at that grass... no wonder they call that the Emerald Isle! Great post