Slobbing your gob on the famous Blarney Stone!

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Where I stayed
Globetrotter Inn

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kalannie, County Kerry, boasts a beautiful 10,000 hectare national park which is home to deer, squirrels, birds and fish species which are native to the region. The park came into being in 1932 when the Muckross Estate was presented to the Nation by Senator Arthur Vincent. An interesting feature of the park is Ross Castle, a fifteenth century tower house built on the shore of Lough Leane which was once the residence of the chieftain O'Donoghue Mór and is now open to the public. That morning fourteen of our group took horse and carriage rides around the park. Our horse's name was Jerry and our driver, a real character of an Irishman, Tom... yes hahaha Tom & Jerry... It was a brisk morning and the ride around the park was brilliant.

These rides are extremely popular; there were horse and carriage after horse and carriage trotting around the park and the vistas of the town's cathedral, lakes, mountains, woodlands, moor lands, open fields, gardens and the odd castle made for fantastic scenery. Tom was a bit of a jokester as are many of the Irish; he told us he was from a family of seven brothers and sisters, they all slept in the same bed and half of them wet the bed, his mother asked him 'son which end of the bed would you like to sleep in', 'the shallow end mom'... it really needs to be told with that thick Irish accent. But on a more serious note he was telling us about how his father, a former bus driver had recently passed away, God rest his soul... he died peacefully in his sleep... though it wasn't so peaceful for his 32 passengers... hahaha.

Back to the bus and our destination today was the famous Blarney Castle to pucker up to its famous Blarney Stone and receive seven years of the gift of the gab. Well you may be thinking 'what a load of blarney blarney blarney' and that's exactly what it's all about. The story goes that during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I it was customary that estate holders provide food and lodging in the estate's castle with the flags of the approaching army displayed to welcome them as requested. This proved to be something of a problem for one such estate holder by the name of McCarthy who frequently enjoyed a bit of drink and a party and was never prepared for the arrival of the approaching armies; no food and no flags. This became such a problem that a particular general informed Her Majesty the Queen and a warrant was issued for McCarthy's arrest. At this very time McCarthy was returning home after a night on the town and he passed a young maiden who was drowning in a lake and being the gentleman that he was, McCarthy dived in to rescue her and brought her ashore. Just as he was attempting to revive the young woman she turned into a witch. You tricked me, he cried. Yes replied the witch, but since you rescued me I'm going to give you this stone, put it in your home and when you kiss it you'll receive the gift of the gab for seven years.

Now McCarthy was not one for witches and their crooked ways though he didn't want to upset the woman for fear that his cows may stop producing milk and all other manner of misfortune that may come upon him should he not do as she requested. So he got the stone back to his castle, had it mounted in the place where it still sits and gave it a peck. Moments later a regiment of the Queen's army arrived to arrest him and take him to the Queen so he may explain his lack of compliance in providing hospitality to her soldiers. Apparently it is recorded that McCarthy spoke for 14 hours continuously and at the end of this time all had fallen asleep bar the Queen who managed to keep only one eye open. The Queen ordered that McCarthy return home and that his castle be renamed Blarney Castle in accordance with his endless ramblings.

On hearing this story many came from far and wide to kiss the stone and also receive this blessing and the McCarthys have enjoyed a steady income ever since from tourists and the like. Blarney Castle is situated in County Cork which is the largest county in Ireland. The castle itself is situated amongst lovely gardens and a bubbling brook passes through its grounds.

As our bus approached Dublin we began to hit the afternoon congestion so I left our bus and group and joined the tram which took me straight into the city's bus station. I then transferred to the airport express bus which was exceptionally fast and reached the airport via one of the city's roadway tunnels. I then boarded my flight to London where I stayed overnight before joining a tour of a number of countries on the European continent.
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