Day 13 – Blarney Castle & Cork

by Jenn

After a delicious meal at the Druid Cottage Jenn and I got on our merry way to the city of Cork in the south of Ireland.  Along the way we stopped at a very well known church in the Gogane Barra park for some photos. This was definitely not something that Rick Steves knows about but well worth the detour.  We followed that up with a stop at a castle on the bay in Castletownshed, obvious huh? Then on to another stone circle like the previous day, but this was bigger with respect to the rocks used to create it.  It was smaller in circumference but the stones could surely be seen as pointing in the directions of the compass.

My most favorite part of the day was our trip to the Blarney Castle, and your guessed it… kissing the blarney stone. It was quite some way up the tower wall and yes it does look and feel that high when you are bent over backwards to kiss it upside-down. After that thrilling experience we walked along the grounds a bit more taking photos and being silly together.  Our innkeeper for the night at Higgins B&B is a wonderful woman named Breeda. She is one of my favorites as host to our evening she took to answering all our questions and gave us a great map of the city restaurants and recommendation for dinner.  On the way back tonight we saw our very first rainbow. Both Jenn and I were excited, cant you tell in the photo? Take a look at some of our other photos that Jenn has pulled together:

Day 9 Part 2 – The Dingle Peninsula

by Jenn

This afternoon once we were settled in the new B&B, Jenn and I went around the Dingle Peninsula.  It says it should take 4 hours and we did it in about 3, with some longer stops for my necessary Ogham stone photo.  We began with some stops at really old stones structures called “beehives” these were circular structures built in 500 BC, that is 2,500 years ago.  They protected the early Irish folk from the harsh winds and kept the food, women & children safe from attackers.  Following that we traveled further along the coast taking pictures of the wonderful blue waters, green hills and perfect sky.  We had to stop at a special spot for me.  That spot was an ogham stone on the hillside that one could say is the western most point in Europe you can walk to.  The stone was used as a mile marker before there were maps.  I was inspired to find the location because I loved a wallpaper for my computer that was taken there.  I did a pretty good job of photos for myself once on the summit of the hill.  On other hills we saw the remnants of potatoes left in the ground from the great famine of the 1850s. It is tragic to think that over 75% of the population in this region died or moved away because there was not enough food to eat.

A bit more driving got us to the Gallarus Oratory.  This structure is water proof & wind proof and built in 1200 AD by monks to celebrate early Christian holidays.  Finally we ended up at a 15th century church that had fallen into disrepair, it was interesting to see some of the old Gaelic headstones mixed in with the newer Christian crosses.  This truly is a land where history is all around.  I find it so wonderful here and hope to come back to trace the McNeil roots when we have better records to search old cemeteries.

We stopped back in the town of Dingle for a few beers and a delicious pizza and are now fit to retire at 10:30pm – late but still the tiniest bit of light outside.  Here is our trip around the peninsula: