Friday, 27 March 2015

A load of Blarney

Skip mentioned that he is planning a holiday - alright, he calls it a vacation, which sounds a bit like doing Number 2s - in Ireland.

I think that perhaps my vast experience of the Emerald Isle might be of some use to him in his planning so as a matter of civic courtesy I propose to warn him tell him of some of the delights to be found.

It was way back in 1965 that i first visited what Skip might think of as The Ould Country.  The Old Bat and I flew into Dublin, where we picked up a hire car.  We spent just the one night in Molly Malone's fair city - and what a flea bag it was.  We couldn't wait to get out and head south for Wicklow and Waterford.  They make very nice crystal there, not that we could afford to buy any given our impecunious fairly-newly-married status.  From here we headed westwards, towards the rougher part of the country.

Firs stop (or it might have been the second; it happened so long ago that I've forgotten most of the details) Blarney castle for to kiss the jolly old Blarney Stone.  Yes, you doubting Thomases, it really does exist!

You have to lean backwards and reach across the gap to kiss the stone while being held safely by the local guide - always assuming you have tipped him sufficiently.  And no, that's not me in the picture, though I'm sure I had a photo somewhere.  there are, naturally - this is Ireland after all - several legends surrounding this stone, which, on being kissed, bestows eloquence on the kisser.

Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.  It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.  When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland.  A witch saved from drowning later revealed its power to the MacCarthys.

Both the Old Bat and I survived the experience and carried on the the far south-west of the island.  It was here, for the first and last time in my life, that I was persuaded to mount a real horse!

You will notice that scant regard was shown for health and safety.  But I much preferred the dogs at a farm we stayed at.

We booked into a hotel in Killarney for a couple of nights, allowing us to take a day trip round the Ring of Kerry.  It seems to have been developed into a much more popular tourist attraction than is was back in 1965.

Part way round, we stopped at a cottage advertising morning coffee.  The lady asked us where we were staying and we told her we were in Killarney.  She promptly exclaimed that everybody in that wicked city was a thief - and then proceeded to charge me at least twice what I would normally have paid for two coffees!  I was too gob-smacked to say anything!

We then headed north along the western coastline into Galway and Connemara.  I suppose it could have been considered scenic, but to me it was desolate and lonely.  The fields were littered with large rocks, the houses little more than thatched hovels.

Anyway, Skip, I'm sure you will enjoy your holiday, though I confess I have never been back again.


The Broad said...

I found Connemara to be quite hauntingly beautiful. We went there with my parents and a lovely time -- even found a coral beach!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

It'll be a new experience for me.
I mean the only foreign country to which I have traveled where English was the language was Canada.

Cuz is making most of the arrangements, none of which involves driving a car.

I'm sure there will be more information forthcoming.

Jenny Woolf said...

I kissed the blarney stone once. It didn't make me talk more though! I remember thinking it was probably a bit unhygienic ....