The Gift of Gab and the Fear of God

Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 21, 2006

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The town of Blarney sits only a dozen or so kilometers outside of Cork, so there was little question that making it to Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Stone would be on our itinerary. But whether we would survive that short drive was a whole other story. For one thing, breathing was going to be risky. Adrian is one of the most prodigious farters in the world, maybe the finest I've ever known. A couple quick stories (and I'm not doing this to embarrass my friend, he proudly tells these all the time). A couple of days into our friendship, in Ios, Adrian had brought back a girl -- maybe the hottest girl on the island and the main reason, I think, that he landed his amazing job working at Far Out. I'm asleep on my bed and they're on his when he lets go one of those big, vibrate-the-mattress whoppers. Holly turns around to look at him and without hesitation he points to me and goes, 'it was him.' Later that summer I'm sleeping in our apartment when I hear a noise so loud I'm stirred from my sleep and pop my head straight up to the window to see if someone outside has been shot. Instead all I hear is Adrian giggling his ass off and this time taking credit for his work. And now, back in Ireland, he was at his scramble-for-the-window, morning glory finest.

But the real threat was behind the wheel. Since Adrian had done all the driving the day before he handed the keys over to Heather for Day 2. Heather's driving could be described as nothing short of terrifying. Fortunately I was sitting in the back where I could put my head down and pray in order to drown out the sound of branches screeching along the side of the car as Heather veered too close to the side of the road. But to ride shotgun was the real nightmare. You had to look out the windshield, you had to witness the road unfold before you and have the queasy feeling of not knowing if the car would necessarily stay on said road. (Heather would later claim that she was uncomfortable driving on the left side of the road because she had spent so much time recently living in Miami. Heather is Australian. The last time I drove, I was on the left side of the road, but I'm fairly certain that when I return to America I'll be able to adapt. I think the real excuse is that she's just a terrible driver.)

We arrived at Blarney white-knuckled and with more gratitude for being alive than probably anyone ever has. The people who run the grounds have actually set up a nice little area to walk around on the way to the castle. It's quite possible that this was done merely so people who don't buy admission tickets can't see the castle, but either way it's a nice way to enjoy the spot without merely sprinting up to the castle, kissing the stone and being on your way.

Once the walk was sufficiently enjoyed we set upon exploring the castle. It's well set up so you can move around from room to room, exploring the old spots and eventually you reach the top where there are some excellent views of the countryside. Also at the top is the main event -- the Blarney Stone. Everybody knows that you go up and kiss the Blarney Stone, and those who kiss it are given the 'gift of gab.' What I assumed was it would be some big stone sticking out of the ground where you just walk up and give it a smooch. In fact, it's a bit more harrowing. You have to lie down backwards, and with an official castle employee grabbing and guiding you as you shimmy down upside down, tilt your head back and pucker up. And who knows where that stone has been.

From Blarney we took a serious risk and got back in the car to head west toward Killarney, which sits at the entrance to the Ring of Kerry. After looking at the map and doing some quick arithmetic we decided we could still drive the Ring and make it up to Galway to properly enjoy our Saturday night.

The Ring of Kerry is a peninsula on the western part of the island with nice beaches, dramatic coastlines and excellent views everywhere. There's also historic markers with old ruined castles and forts -- and it's small enough you can do the whole thing without pushing too hard or feeling like you're cheating yourself.

We shot out the other side of the Ring around 6 and turned north toward Galway. Thankfully, after some subtle begging and pleading, Heather decided to give up the wheel for the night. We exhaled and continued on our way till we reached Galway. We were excited to get out of the car and explore the nightlife that Galway had such a high reputation for. But that plan didn't really work out. For one thing, we couldn't find a hostel with one free bed, let alone four. Making matters worse, the city is laid out in a series of one-way streets (those that aren't pedestrian) so on more than one occasion we'd find ourselves forced to go over one of the bridges in town and loop all the way back. Finally, we were able to find a place that was way too expensive for a hostel, but as the old saying goes, beggars can't be choosers. I was also in a separate room from the other three on a top bunk with a ladder so precarious I thought I'd rather be in a car with Heather behind the wheel than climb up and down it.

But Galway certainly lived up to its reputation with packed bars and clubs everywhere. This is a good thing because Kate was the pickiest bar-hopper ever. She kept picking places that were empty save the groups of depressing old men and shooting down the lively spots because the crowd was too young (including one place celebrating a 21st birthday -- she's only 27 for fuck's sake!). We were getting more and more exasperated before we found a place with a live band that we could settle on. Adrian and I thought they were only OK until their cover of Sweet Child O Mine. The lead singer was a big, fat woman, and testicles or no, Axl Rose would have been proud. We were fully converted when she brought down the house with the finale -- Fat Bottom Girls. She made the rockin' world go 'round.
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