Contemplating Germs At Blarney

Cork Travel Blog

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Downtown Cork

The ride to Cork was pretty uneventful; it pretty much consisted of more driving and more iPod.  Along the way we decided to stop at Waterford as Angie’s family lineage came from there.  We wouldn’t be hitting mine as Belfast was too far a car ride for the amount of time we had in Ireland.  I will go there one day, but this trip there just wasn’t enough time.

 

We really didn’t get a big feel of Waterford as we had a lot on the agenda and were just passing through, but what I got from Waterford was that it was near the water (thus Waterford) and was very crowded, there was nowhere to park and the streets were really narrow.

Spirals of St. Fin Barre's
  So pretty much our experience there was driving through and pulling up to a residential area with a church and snapping a quick photo and leaving.

 

From Waterford, we continued to Cork.  We had originally wanted to stay there our first day, but jet lag got the best of us.  Angie had wanted to see Blarney Castle more than the city itself.  I was more about the city and less about Blarney.  We decided that we would make a brief stop in Cork before heading to see what the Castle was all about.  

 

Cork was pretty cool looking, but seemed very industrial from what I could tell.

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral
  We drove around the city a little bit before coming upon the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral.  We had no intention of stopping at this cathedral, we didn’t even know it existed, but when it appeared in front of us, we couldn’t resist it. 

 

So we pulled over and took it all in.  It really was beautiful structure and is still in use for service today though on the weekdays it is open for visitors for 3 Euros.  The outside is pretty amazing and very intricate.  I am a huge fan of the Gothic style Cathedrals and this one did not disappoint.  I knew I had to see it in its entirety and had no problem paying the 3 Euros, though 90% of the people who showed up walked in, saw the price and left.  That was okay by me, because it was pretty empty when we went inside which I prefer.

 

A little history on the St Fin Barre’s Cathedral; it has been a place of worship since the Seventh Century though a Medieval castle was there prior to the one that is in the spot today.

Stained Glass at St. Fin Barre's
  The Gothic Revival Cathedral that is present today was finished being built in 1879 by Architect William Burges.

 

It was very beautiful inside the cathedral and quite serene, I needed a little serenity after my experience in Kilkenny, so St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral was a perfect stop.  I had to time myself here; because once I get into a Cathedral it's hard to get me out of it.  I find the structures fascinating and the atmosphere very calming.  

 

After about an hour, I sadly knew it was time to head out to Blarney.  So we headed to the car and we were off.  But it didn’t take long for us to get caught up in traffic and to be completely lost again even with the map.

Kick Butt Gargoyle
 We decided if we were ever to get to Blarney before it closed we needed to a map of the general area to make it easier.  We pulled up to a hotel and the man behind the counter was very nice and helped me out; though at first we had a hard time understanding each other.

 

This happened a lot while I was in Ireland.  People didn’t understand me at all unless I spoke slowly and clearly.  I tend to be a bit of a fast talker as I have so many thoughts running through my head at once and I do get excited easily.  The other problem is that the accents in Ireland vary, so there were times I couldn’t understand what the person was saying at all as their accent was very thick to my ears.  A sense of humor will get you through anything, though.

 

In fact one guy cracked me up.

This Tree is Full of Blarney
 He knew I was American straight up by my accent.  He said he could always tell who was American for our love of the “R,” and kept repeating “arr, arr, arr!  You love the R’s.”  I said, yes, I guess we do.  It’s because we have a drawl and a drawl wouldn’t be complete without a lot of hard R’s.  He laughed and told me that was completely true, though he thought the Canadians were the worst offenders. Personally I would argue the Southern Americans as being the worst offenders, but I have only been to a few places in Canada and am hardly an expert on the drawl; I only speak with one.

 

After getting directions we were on our way.  Angie had been pretty excited about the Blarney Stone early on when we were planning the trip, me, not so much.  I had heard the rumors of what happens to the stone after dark and even though the probability of that are pretty low, I just find it a little absurd that people have been kissing a stone for decades and all I could think about was the germs that thing must be harboring.

Blarney Rules!

 

But Angie’s opinion on the stone changed when she saw a segment on TV about climbing a lot of narrow stairs to the top of the castle and then hanging over backwards to kiss the thing.  She was beginning to wonder if eloquent speech was worth all of the trouble as she is claustrophobic.  My answer hadn’t changed, it remained, “no!”  I talk too much anyway and I didn’t feel I needed any help in that department.  Well, that and the image of the stained stone (from people kissing) was burned in my brain.

 

When we got to the grounds we decided that we would play it by ear and keep our minds open.  I found the price a little steep at 10 Euros, but then realized that there was more than just the Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone on the site.

A View From a Window in Blarney Castle
  You also have the option to see Rock Close and the surrounding gardens which make up for the price in the long run.  Rock Close is very beautiful and worth checking out to get the full experience.

 

It was a little overcast and rainy as we made our way to the Castle, but it wouldn’t matter when we began the hike up to the stone inside the castle. When you first walk in, you know you are going to be in for quite a treat.  The stairs leading up to the top of Blarney Castle are steep and pretty much all they have to assist you in your climb is a big rope to grab onto.  This was right up my alley! 

 

Every once in a while you could veer off of the steps and head into a room on the way up and read its history.

The Railing in Blarney Castle
 I found it interesting and found my mind wandering and thinking about the people in the past that had lived here.  How amazing I found that to be.  I liked the history but I think some people probably just liked the rooms as it was a break from the climbing.  I am in pretty good shape though and didn’t find the climb all that bad though at times it did get very narrow, but it added to the experience, though we had a camera casualty halfway through.  

 

Angie was trying to take a photo of the climb and somehow lost her grip on the camera and hadn’t tied it to her hand.  We both stood in horror as we heard the sound of metal hitting stone for a few feet.  The day we went hardly anyone was at the castle.  In fact we only ran into about 10 people total, so it was easy to chase it down quickly without looking like damn fools.  At first the camera wouldn’t turn on, but finally it woke up from its shock and turned on unscathed, though it would carry a dent on the front of it for the remainder of its existence.

The Top of the Blarney Castle
 A war wound, care of the Blarney Castle.

 

By the time we reached the top of the castle, the rain had stopped though it was still a little overcast.  The view from the top was amazing and so worth the climb.  As we turned the corner I was faced with my nemesis in all of its disgusting glory.  Okay, I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there as there was a man there with a blanket you had to lie on to get to the stone.

 

Angie asked me if I was going to do it.  I had so many thoughts and fears going through my mind.  Has anyone ever died of disease from kissing this thing?  Would I be ridiculed back home for coming this far and not finishing what I started?  Did I care?  My answer was yes to the former.

The Blarney Stone. Notice the Stains...
  Getting sick off of the rock truly was a possibility in my mind; I truly did care!  

 

The next thing I knew I was zipping up my pockets, throwing off my hat and putting down my bag as I walked over to the guy manning the stone.  “Do you want to kiss the stone?” 

 

“Yes, yes sir, I do.”

 

“Make sure your pockets are empty, hold onto the posts and lean all the way back.”

 

So before I could turn back I got onto my back, grabbed the black bars and began leaning back.

Kissing the Stone. Yuck!
  I was having an internal struggle; do I kiss the rock or just fake it?  Who was I kidding, I had gone this far and before reason could stop me, I had planted a light kiss on it.  I quickly pulled myself back up with the help of the gentleman and the yoga I had been doing daily for months now.  Core power!

 

All in all, it wasn’t that bad and I made sure to look straight down as I went upside down.  It was wild to be hanging upside down 150 feet above the ground and found that experience to be more fun than the actually kissing of the rock.  Also, I couldn’t quit wiping my lips over and over and used some sanitizer from my purse discreetly on my lips to get rid of any germs. If you think about it, it really is kind of gross, I am sorry!

 

Angie was the person who was questioning kissing the stone, now.  Why, I don’t really know, actually I do, but I was a pro now.

Reaping the Benefits
  But I told her it was no big deal.  She asked me why I changed my mind, my answer “I wasn’t myself at the time.”  To this day I stay up at night questioning that moment.

 

Finally, she agreed and planted a big one on it.  Apparently she left her mark as she was wearing lipstick.  Yuck! 

 

After descending Blarney Castle, we headed over to the gardens to enjoy the view.  There I fell in love with a large tree with a lot of character.  I love trees; I love climbing them even more, I spent part of my childhood in the Northwest, so I know trees!

 

I had about 15 minutes of fun with that tree and have the photos to document it.

Planning My Next Move
 I hope to visit my friend again one day, though I tend to meet various trees in my travels around the world.  You know I never really noticed that until this moment, I have a lot of photos of trees!.  Whoa!

 

After about an hour in the garden we knew it was time to head to Kilarney so we could find a B&B for the night.  So we said goodbye to Cork and we were on our way.

binky says:
Kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift gab. Yeah, Like I need that! Still... The rumor is, supposedly, after dark, the locals like to use it as a urinal...
Posted on: May 29, 2008
B-Town says:
So, what's the story surrounding the Blarney stone? And the rumors of what happens to it after dark? And why kiss it?
Posted on: May 29, 2008
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Downtown Cork
Downtown Cork
Spirals of St. Fin Barres
Spirals of St. Fin Barre's
St. Fin Barres Cathedral
St. Fin Barre's Cathedral
Stained Glass at St. Fin Barres
Stained Glass at St. Fin Barre's
Kick Butt Gargoyle
Kick Butt Gargoyle
This Tree is Full of Blarney
This Tree is Full of Blarney
Blarney Rules!
Blarney Rules!
A View From a Window in Blarney Ca…
A View From a Window in Blarney C…
The Railing in Blarney Castle
The Railing in Blarney Castle
The Top of the Blarney Castle
The Top of the Blarney Castle
The Blarney Stone.  Notice the Sta…
The Blarney Stone. Notice the St…
Kissing the Stone.  Yuck!
Kissing the Stone. Yuck!
Reaping the Benefits
Reaping the Benefits
Planning My Next Move
Planning My Next Move
State at St. Fin Barres
State at St. Fin Barre's
St. Fin Barres
St. Fin Barre's
Me at St. Fin Barres
Me at St. Fin Barre's
Oh Yeah!
Oh Yeah!
A Cool Window in Blarney Castle
A Cool Window in Blarney Castle
A Sense of Accomplishment
A Sense of Accomplishment
Trapped!!!
Trapped!!!
A Bridge in Blarney
A Bridge in Blarney
The Gardens of Blarney Castle
The Gardens of Blarney Castle
Im a Beast!
I'm a Beast!
Danger is Funny!
Danger is Funny!
Cool Bird at Blarney
Cool Bird at Blarney
Popcorn Pleasure
Popcorn Pleasure
Cork
photo by: sarah_82