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Monday May 24, 2010.


Today we visited Blarney Castle, home of the legendary Blarney Stone. Whoever kisses it will possess the gift of eloquence. It is set in the wall below the castle's battlements. The climb up to it is steep and difficult, but we all went up.




There was a long line of people waiting their turn. In order to kiss the stone a visitor is grabbed by the feet and suspended backwards under the parapet. I did not want to subject myself to all the contortions needed, but brave Pat went ahead & kissed the stone. We later joked that she really did not need the gift of gab, she talks enough as it is.



Here are more views of the line on top of the parapet, notice how high it is. There is a plaque referring to the problems a stout person could have while climbing to the castle's top and contorting to kiss the stone.  Afterwards we walked along the Castle's gardens, finding an old convoluted tree; Paddy posed next to it.



The gardens are very colorful, and we all walked through them. Here's a photo of Fran, Paddy, and Julie. Pat took it.




Blarney House, built 1874, is a Scottish baronial mansion, the residence of the Colthurst family since the 18th Century. It is opened to the public June through September. At the Rock Close there are limestone rock formations. Throughout the gardens we found ancient groves of yews and attractive walks alongside waterfalls.



There were some beautiful rhododendron flowers, and next to the castle we found Blarney Mills. Of course we went to visit them; they have innumerable shops selling all kinds of Irish handicrafts, embroideries, etc. It's a very pleasant group of stores and restaurants.



We left the Blarney Castle and continue to the town of Waterford. Unfortunately, the famous Waterford Crystal factory is no longer in operation, due to union demands and the like. So we stopped briefly at a pub (of course) in a town called Stradbally, along the Celtic Sea, home of Ken, our chariot driver. We passed in front of his house and he took us to have a drink at a local watering hole. I had a Guinness, in keeping with the program. On the local plaza there was a sun dial. I approached it and read that it had been made from Atlantic mud and limestone dating 400 millions of years ago!  The same stuff formed the cliffs along the road.



The cliffs were very picturesque, although not as impressive as the Cliffs of Moher. Nevertheless they reminded me of Il Faraglioni in the island of Capri.



We continued to the Granville Hotel in Waterford, where we would spend the night.


In the middle of downtown Waterford stands a statue of Christ with a sign proclaiming that  it was erected "in memory of all those who fought for Irish freedom". The plaza itself is non descript, but there's a plaque stating that the town was "urba intacta", meaning "unconquered city", title granted by Henry VII when Waterford repulsed pretenders to his throne. There's also an iconic Clock Tower, erected in 1861 and almost 40 feet high.



The Hotel Granville provided us with a very nice dinner, and afterwards we went to hear a local entertainer who was rather popular with the attending crowd. We finally went to bed, knowing the next day would be our last adventure:  A Famine Ship, a tour of the Guinness Brewery, and a last look at Dublin.


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