Family selfie at Blarney Castle
The castle is, of course, best known for being the home of the Blarney Stone. The castle was no more than a simple wooden structure when it was built in 1200 and the current stone structure was erected in 1446.
The interior of the castle is mostly in ruins. The 100+ stairs that wind their way to the top of the castle, where the stone is located are quite narrow and uneven. It’s definitely not a trek for someone with claustrophobia and/or a toddler. So, one of us strolled around the gardens with B while the other made the climb.
The exact origins of the stone are debated. But, legend has it that those who kiss it are bestowed the gift of eloquence. The stone is set in a wall over the battlements, so to reach it you have to lay down and lean backwards. Back in the day, this was quite a treacherous undertaking, since there weren’t any safeguards in place to make sure you didn’t fall to your death.
View from the top
Yours truly made it all the way to the top, got into position to kiss the stone, and then made the mistake of looking down over the battlements. Even though there is a metal grate, a railing to hold on to, and a capable assistant to make sure tourists don’t die, I convinced myself that I would fall over the side and chickened out without completing the task at hand.
Chester was not such a scaredy-cat…although he seems to be no more eloquent than he was prior to our visit.
Continuing on from Blarney, we drove to the harbor town of Kinsale. I will probably remember this site as one of the most spectacular parenting fails of the trip. B fell asleep in the car and we made the mistake of waking her up so we could go exploring. We should have just stuck to our tried-and-true practice of hanging out in the parking lot until she woke up on her own. I’m sure we were quite a sight as we tried to coax a squirming, screaming toddler into her stroller in this quaint, pictureqesue little town.
Definitely not happy.
Fortunately, all was forgiven once we brought her a cute little hat. Retail therapy is apparently effective even at an early age.
There were lots of cute little restaurants scattered around town, but unfortuantely many of them only opened at dinner time. We stumbled upon the Lemon Leaf Cafe, however, and ended up having on of our favorite meals of the trip there. B enjoyed a pancake with Nutella that was twice the size of her head and Chester and I chose two of the specials of the day—a salmon burger for him and an open faced crab and lobster salad sandwich for me. The seafood was some of the freshest that I have ever had! I wish that I had room for dessert because the pastry case was overflowing with delicious looking cupcakes, towering layer cakes and pies. Next time!
Main Street Kinsale
Colorful shops line the narrow streets
We headed back to Cork for the night, and were up bright and early the next day to hit the road to Killarney. On the way to town, we stopped for a stroll in Killarney National Park, the first national park to be established in Ireland.
Muckross House, which was donated to the Irish nation in 1932 and became the centerpiece of the park.
Muckross Lake; you can rent one of those cute little jaunting carriages to take you around the park.
Torc and Mangerton Mountains in the background.
Chasing the ducks…and, yes, that is a leash.
As was the case in Cork, we didn’t do too much exploring in the town of Killarney itself. But, we did stay in an adorable hotel that served amazing scones at breakfast and enjoyed a nice dinner (fish and chips!) at a place Cronin’s, right across the way. I would definitely recommend this stop as a base if your trip includes a drive around the Ring of Kerry, which was on our itinerary for the next day. More on that…as soon as I get around to editing those photos!