Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blarney Castle and Cahir

We got our regular 9:00 a.m. start after breakfast and headed to Blarney, about 90 minutes away. At Joe's suggestion, we did the castle first, as it quite often gets backlogged later on.

Blarney Castle was a medieval stronghold near Cork, dating back to before 1200 A.D.

Look at that gorgeous sky!

Here we are in the shadows of the castle...

It is 105 uneven spiral steps up to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. This sign was partway up in the castle, just to encourage you to keep going!

The view from the top. The winding path leads around the estate to gardens, the lake and the Blarney House.

View of Blarney House from the top of the castle.

This is the picture you buy at the gift shop after you kiss the stone. You hang upside down over a sheer drop (that is covered by a gate) to kiss the stone. This was just after "kissing" it. There was no contact made here! I have heard that the stone is covered with lipstick and other "stuff" so I just got close and pretended to smooch!

This was the line-up to kiss the stone. You can see the person laying down for his turn. At 10:30 in the morning, the wait was pretty good. By the time we got down, the wait was over an hour.

The view below...

The murder hole...strategically placed on top of the entrance below. Hot water, oil, tar or other undesirables were poured through the hole onto unwanted visitors below.

A view through the murder hole to the floor below...

The hole at the top is actually where people are kissing the Blarney Stone.

We went for a walk around the estate and gardens. Look at this amazing tree!

Blarney House is situated about 200 yards south of the castle and was built in 1874.

Jim checking out the gardens of the Blarney House. For some reason, the House is only open in the spring. I guess that is the big tourist season.

Pat, Jim and I....we were standing posing waiting for Marlyn to notice us and take our picture!

Some interesting clock tower...not sure what the story is on it.

The roots on this tree are part of the problem that Ireland is experiencing with rhododendrons taking over the trees. The rhodies wrap themselves around the trees and are blocking the sun and killing the trees. They are having to remove the rhodies and burn them to protect the forests. Who knew that something so beautiful could be so much trouble?

After a good morning at the Castle, we headed through the city of Cork on our way to Kilkenny.
Picture of the River Lee, the second largest river in Ireland.

The city of Cork...

More beautiful countryside...

On our way to Kilkenny, we stopped in the town of Cahir (pronounced Care) to see Castle Cahir, one of the largest and best preserved castles in Ireland.

The castle was granted to James Butler in 1375 for his loyalty to Edward III. It was owned by the Butlers until 1961, when the last Lord Cahir had no relatives and the castle reverted to the state.

Eagle on top of castle...no actual significance but looks nice!

One of the few working dropgates in Ireland. It was used in the filming of Braveheart in order to capture the actual sound of the gate dropping.

Tour guide, Jeff, who did an excellent job of explaining the different features of the castle.

The extended rectangular part of the castle was the toilet facility. The toilets were situated on the top floor and waste dropped to the ground floor. Twice yearly, a farmer came and cleaned out the toilet through a door located on the ground floor. The smell didn't bother people too much as they rarely bathed anyway. The decomposing waste emitted ammonia which helped to kill any fleas or lice in the clothes which were kept hanging nearby.

The kitchen facility was located away from the castle due to the potential for fire, but near the well which was convenient.

Downtown Cahir...

Beautiful flowers in front of memorial commemorating those who died in the wars.

Another quick stop on our way to Kilkenny at the Rock of Cashel. This castle served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years. In the 13th century, it was decided that the potential kings would no longer feud over the site and it was granted to the church. It became the residence of the Bishop who established a cathedral and a bishops' residence on the site.

Sistine monastery located nearby...

And yet more countryside....

Hay bales on the outskirts of Kilkenny, a rich cattle raising area...

Kilkenny Castle which we hope to visit tomorrow....

Today was one of the longer bus days. Tomorrow we are visiting Waterford and having the afternoon at our leisure...


  1. Your pictures are beautiful!

  2. Thanks for the picture of the sign! Love all the castle pictures!

  3. Who'da thunk that you had to be a contortionist to kiss the Blarney Stone...