Oh Blarney

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Thursday, June 1, 2006

I like Killarney... it has a nice feel compared to the claustrophobic feel of Cork... the people didn't end up being as friendly as I had hoped. I'm so glad I've got a small car because the streets are notoriously narrow and the drivers are quick to yell out abuse if you inadvertently go down a one way street, which Cork had plenty of. In Killarney, parking is free, there is a good feel about it, the drivers are less rude than that of those in Cork, the weather is gorgeous and I've found a gem of a hostel to stay in for 2 nights. There is an abundance of Irish pubs and restaurants and all other comforts are nearby (laundry, internet, supermarket etc.).

The hostel is called Killarney's Railway Hostel. It has a homey feel to it... wooden floor boards, large living areas, well-equipped and clean kitchen, comfortable beds and a leather lounge suite to relax in. I think the smaller the hostel, the better. I can't stand the sterile, impersonal and military-style larger hostels such as the one I stayed in Oxford Street etc. This one is only 16 euros and I'm in an 8 bed dorm... only person so far. It's a huge room... but I can't decide to extend my stay because a tour group has booked out the hostel on Saturday night. The showers are a bit awkward... you have to press a button every 15 seconds to ensure an ongoing flow of luke warm water. But that's ok... I need to move on so I'm in Dublin by Saturday week. Tomorrow I plan on driving the 211km around the Ring of Kerry... Ireland's number one tourist spot. Looking forward to it.

Last night ended up being quite unbearable and I started to question why I'm subjecting myself to this... I was in a very small, cramped 4 bed dorm. The 50 year old was weird ... and noisy. I desperately searched for my ear plugs, and alas, I found them... they are such an INDISPENSABLE item that I would never travel without. I was able to get to sleep but the room had a nasty musty smell to it. I attended to that by opening the creaky window. I never got to meet the other 2 guys - they got in after me last night. Didn't hear them thanks to the ear plugs. But one of them kind of gave me a nasty look this morning when I made a racket in packing my backpack and getting out of there at 9.30am.

The drive from Cork to Kilkenny took about an hour or so but enroute, I decided to stop in Blarney to visit the Castle. Blarney is situated 8km from Cork City and the historic castle is most famous for its stone which has the traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it... given that millions have kissed it, I passed. Instead, I made my wish on the wishing steps:) The word 'blarney' was introduced into the English language by Queen Elizabeth 1 and is described as pleasant talk, good repartee without offense... we use it in Aussie English I think. The stone is set in the wall below the battlements and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards (grasping an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The Blarney Castle was erected in the tenth century and was made of wood, which was later repalced by a second structure of stone. In 1446 the third castle was built by the King of Munster of which the very strong keep still remains standing. An interesting castle.

I loved the grounds of the castle. The rock close and its surroundings is a most unique place of ancient trees... felt like I was trancing through the enchanted forest... The place definitely had an aura of magic and mistique with the wishing steps, witch's kitchen, druid's cave and many other dlights. It was like stepping back in time. Interesting.

I'm pretty much relaxing today. But I did fit in lunch at McSweeny's Pub... very typically Irish with excellent service and a great ambience. I had Chicken Curry with another Murphy's beer... black beer with a very creamy head. I thought I'd spoil myself given that I've been having very basic meals since leaving London... all for 12 euro.

Off to the Ring of Kerry tomorrow and then I'm kind of undecided as to what I'll do afterwards... probably drive up to Limerick, via the Dingle Peninsula.

I'm getting into Ireland... the east coast didn't really do much for me. But the beauty of the southern western coast is definitely setting in, and for the first time, I was starting to go 'wow' this is what I've come for. I'm loving seeing the castles etc and the beer is exquisite... such a great drinking experience.
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