2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Pat playing the Waterford Harp

Waterford horse

Memorial to the Titantic

Blarney Castle

Steve kissing the stone

View of the stone from below

Someof the one hundred steps to the Blarney Stone

Waterford was a nice town, a smallish quaint Irish town and before leaving this morning we visited the spectacular and famous Waterford Crystal store. Filled with an amazing multitude of crystal sculpture and ware the beauty of the pieces is truly remarkable and needless to say, expensive. From Waterford we travelled west and south following along the coast of the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Very beautiful country of sweeping panoramas of seascapes and hillsides of differing shades of green looking like quiltwork. An easy drive but I am aching for a decent cup of coffee. Are there no Starbucks in Eire? And last night's colcannon now is making me like Jupiter, the gas giant. We stopped at Dungarvan and visited it's delightful little outdoor market. Offering cheeses, breads, produce and a fish monger with a fresh catch of fish with an array of strange names and hideous faces. The lineup for this catch was very long. Then along to Cobh (pronounced Cove)which is a picturesque village clinging to a virtual cliffside with a quite large port. Driving down the steep narrow twisted and walled lanes was a challenge especially with tour buses amazingly making their way up and down at the same time. Cobh is known for being the last port of call for the Titanic before it sunk now almost 100 years ago. There are memorials for the Titanic here. Our next stop was the best and what one must do in Ireland. We visited the very remarkable Blarney Castle just north of Cork, the three of us hiking the 200 or so steps of the narrow winding staircase of the north tower. Blarney Castle is incredible with all its little chambers, small rooms and claustrophobic passageways I did not think that Mother with her cane would make it to the top, but she did. There were several large guys huffing and puffing and squeezing through tiny doorways. But all of us had a quest. For at the top of Blarney Castle is the Blarney Stone. And to kiss the Blarney Stone is a guarantee of many positive results. But to kiss the Blarney Stone is not just walking up and planting a smooch on a rock. You must lay on your back with the top half of your back, for an average sized person the shoulders and head dangling over the abyss. Reaching behind your head with your hands and grasping two iron bars, you drop your head backwards into space so that now your face is against the stone wall. It is now you press your lips against the surface of the stone where tens of thousands of others have. Well even a paranoid germaphobe like myself did so. Not just once but 4 times. Imagine the good luck now obvious to come my way! Joan passed on the Stone, her vertigo preventing her from hovering over the abyss. But 81 year old Mother did so, although I was very reluctant to allow her. There are assistants there to guide and support that backwards bend over the void which is a good thing because Mother from the small of the back up was hovering over nothing. But she did it, she kissed the Blarney Stone! The whole exercise was a trying challenge for her, the walk down the stone staircase as testing as the walk up. All sizes and ages of people were queasily and fearfully going through the motions of the act of kissing the stone but as elderly or frail as Mother. From Blarney it was into nearby Cork to stay at the majestic Imperial Hotel in very lively downtown Cork. A big city of the usual maze of twisting streets and alleys in Eire that change names every block. We found the hotel remarkably quickly and settled in. Mother was done for the day and as she had a large lunch retired to her hotel room for the evening. Joan & I went out exploring the crowded streets of Cork in search of the mythical Irish pub for Irish food. Alas even in Ireland there is that detested Panini and Wrap and Bruscetti Conspiracy alive. We want stews and root vegetables and thick Irish breads not Buffalo chicken wings, sliders and Caesar salads. Finally we found Clancy's Bar and ordered Irish beers and Irish stew. Real Irish stew and it was perfect. Mutton wonderfully simmered with carrots, celery, onions and potatoes in a thin and savoury au jus like gravy. We ate till we were stuffed and then shared a delicious lemon cheesecake next to the warmth of a small coal fireplace. Finally a perfect meal, it a true Irish pub. We hope for so many more. What a day it has been. Tomorrow it is on to Killarney and the Ring Of Kerry tour on the southwest tip of Ireland. We are enjoying Eire immensely. The accents and languages are at times almost impossible to understand but the people are always cheerful and helpful even though we are always taken us being Americans. Not that there is anything wrong with that. And thankfully it seems we have outrun the Germans. Till tomorrow this is Steve & Joan & a very weary but contented Patricia saying goodnight.

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