Timing is everything. I climbed the steps onto what seemed like a wrap-around stone “deck,” as a huge gust of wind and dark clouds blew overhead. As I turned to see if there was a storm about to strike, the clouds broke letting through a peek at blue sky and sun.
There is an eerie three-dimensional feel to this photo. I’m not sure exactly why, but the more I stare at it, the more surreal it looks.
How, you might wonder, did I get to Cork, Ireland if I only travel by ship (or train.) Our ship docked in Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) Ireland which is just steps away from a small train station. Actually, it’s the beginning of the run for the train from Cobh to Cork. A quick thirty-five minute train ride takes you to the middle of Cork. From there it is a three to four block walk to catch the bus to Blarney Castle. It is so simple to do, as long as you are relatively mobile as it requires stepping on and off of public transportation.
Once you pay your entry fee, you can wander to your heart’s content through the castle’s beautiful gardens and grounds. There are hidden passages to explore (not for the claustrophobic), steps to climb and of course, there’s the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. I did not climb to the top, wait in line to kiss what I thought was probably a pretty germ-y rock. Legend says that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will be given the gift of gab and ability to become an eloquent speaker. I didn’t want to kiss the stone. I seem to do ok as it is or on many occasions, I talk way too much.
The tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone goes back to 1446, when it was placed in the battlements at the top of the castle. It was and still is no easy feat to kiss the stone. Once you climb to the top, you must lean backwards, face-up and bend into a small space to reach your lips to the stone. Over the centuries, many people lost their lives in an attempt to kiss the stone in a search for great eloquence. As you can see from my next photo, there is now an iron grate protecting people from literally falling backwards down the side of the castle. Guide rails have also been installed to help with leaning backwards.
If you look carefully, you can see the silhouette of a man leaning backwards while his right arm is holding onto the guide rail.
No trip to Cork is complete without a side trip to visit Blarney Castle. Better yet, before you leave home, make arrangement with the cruise line to debark the ship in Ireland. Then you will have your own schedule to tour the lush countryside, meet the incredibly friendly Irish people and of course, stop in few pubs along the way.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath… stop for a meal and a glass of wine along the way.