Leaving Waterford, we first headed through Cork, the third largest city in Ireland
(would barely count as a suburb of L.A. or New York, mind you...). Then we headed for Blarney,
home of the famous Blarney stone. Kissing the Blarney stone is supposed to give a
person the gift of Gab. Apparently the Irish used to do something else to the stone
that made me wonder if they had cleaned it properly...
Getting up to the Blarney Stone was more difficult than I imagined. The Blarney
stone is at the top of a castle wall, underneath the battlements. To get there, you
have to walk up a set of very narrow spiral staircases that wind their way up the inside
of the castle wall. They were very slippery, having been worn over the centuries and
also because it was raining that day. Most of the group elected not to go up, but I
did (as you can see!). When you get up to the top, you have to get on your back,
hold on to a pair of iron bars, and reach underneath to kiss the stone. All they
have to catch you is a lousy net: otherwise it is a 4-story drop straight down!
It was a lot of fun, actually...
On the way over to the castle, I was stopped by a man who was reading little poetry
sheets and claiming they were done "just for you". He would then sign them
and give them to you, but mentioned that a "small donation" would help him
out... I gave him a punt.
There was also an outlet for Waterford crystal at Blarney castle: I picked up a few
pieces and had them shipped to the U.S. Waterford crystal is renowned for its
clarity and strength. I thought it looked kinda cool, too. :-)
When we left Blarney, we headed for Tralee, famous for the "Rose of Tralee"
festival that takes place there every year. It's a beauty pageant for We were a bit
late for the festival, but the town definitely lives up to its name: there were rose
gardens everywhere. We also went into a little museum that talked about the Kingdom
of Kerry (Tralee is part of Kerry county, which was a Kingdom in ancient times. We
were also to go around the famous Ring of Kerry the next day). In the front of the
museum was a wax figure of a man who bore a startling resemblance to a member of our
group! We were playing "spot the dummy" for a while there.
The museum also features a little ride into an animatronic medieval version of Kerry.
Although interesting historically, the ride had one problem: it stank! I
don't know what was in there, but it smelled like something had died... Bleah.
In the evening there was a carnival going on across the street that I checked out: lots
of rides, games, etc. Fun! I played a few games, but then headed to the movies
to see what Irish films were like. Unfortunately, the only non-American film that
was playing was "Bean" (which eventually made its way to America anyway), so I
went and saw that: not a bad film, actually.
One thing that was interesting was that sometimes the theater seats are assigned!
Fortunately that was not the case this night...