Well, today was one of the high points of the trip, as we stopped at the Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney stone.
The term Blarney was paired with talkativeness when Elizabeth I, the Queen of England, complained Lord Blarney could talk in circles without ever agreeing or complying with her.
These days, the tour of the ruins of Blarney Castle are a great tourist attraction, requiring the guests to walk up the spiraling tower staircases, and after walking around the battlements, lay on their back, lower themselves backwards over the gap, and kiss a stone at the end of the north parapet! Of course, professional photos are available, for a price, and amateurs are discouraged from snapping the scene from the best angle.
At least one tourist hand book quips not to kiss the stone, as it claims "The locals do terrible things to that stone..."
(A local guide book claims that the stone is wiped with disinfectant every few hours to reduce the chance of plague! )
Also on the grounds are some great sunken gardens, some suggestive rock formations that fairies, witches and druids are drawn to, and a Woolen Mill Outlet that does a swift trade for all things woolen!
Later in the day, we visited the site of some of the oldest ruins in southern Ireland, the Rock of Castel when the bishops and monks governed Munster Provence for hundreds of years. This national attraction has only been restored and valued since 1980... another testament to the economic boom that Ireland has experienced since the 1980s and their major exports are.... (are you ready for this?) software and Viagra! Both have exclusive manufacturing rights in the Emerald Isle that will expire within a year!
Can you imagine?
And as our trip begins to draw to a close, we envision faeries, leprechauns and kings and castles as they were since the fifth century, tenth century, twelfth century and later.
It's been a whirlwind history lesson that is fascinating! Certainly a trip to remember.
Now, to catch a leprechaun before we leave...
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