Originally published 16 November 2012.
The adventure continues! First of all, I have to tell you that Noreen O’Mahoney, the owner of Mystical Rose B&B, is lovely, kind, and so much fun! When she greeted us last night, she was happy to see us—she said she’d thought we weren’t coming since we didn’t get there till around 8:00 or so that evening. She gave me a kiss and pulled us all in. She even let us have two rooms—one for me and Cherie and one for Matt, instead of us all having to share one—since we were the only guests there that night! Talk about hospitality!
Thursday morning, we awoke a bit late and sat down to a lovely breakfast around 9:00 or so. The tea was delicious, orange juice was waiting for us at the table, and again we had the traditional Irish breakfast, guaranteed to last us the day: two poached eggs, three slices of thick bacon, two sausages, tomatoes, and Noreen’s homemade brown bread, which she said was mostly nuts. She giggled when she told us that once a man asked her what the green things were in the bread, and she told him MOLD! Of course they’re really pumpkin seeds!
She told us before we left that we needed to not miss the Lakes of Killarney before we left, so we were on our way! Next stop: Muckross House and Gardens. We’re so glad we stopped there! Not only was it beautiful in the final weeks of the fall-colored trees, we also got to take a lovely “Jaunting Car” ride (horse and buggy) to the beautiful Torc Waterfall! We got lots of pictures there! Robert, our guide, and Suzie, the horse, made the experience wonderful.
I believe our guide Robert said he’s 68, and he looked like a true Irishman in his sweater, corduroy pants, driving cap and curly red and grey hair; bless his heart, the man had almost no teeth, but he sure was a sweetheart! He sang bits of Irish tunes and told us all about the Muckross grounds. He even knew all the tree names and knew exactly where the good places were to stop for pictures. There’s a vein of brown marble somewhere in the lake of Killarney, and he pointed out the general area to us. He stopped at the base of a pedestrian trail and told us where to walk to get up to the Torc Waterfall. It was well worth the trip!
Then it was time to head back to the Muckross House. We saw a few more sights along the way, and Robert got a picture of the three of us sitting in the jaunting car with Suzie in front of the Muckross mansion. Time for County Cork!
We’ve experienced some rather narrow roads throughout the trip, as you might imagine, but none quite like those we experienced on the drive from Killarney to Blarney! The scenery was lovely, but we were definitely getting friendly with the stone walls! But this was the site that greeted us at the end of the journey:
Onward to kiss the Blarney Stone! To me, this is one of the most Irish things we had to do while in the country. The castle isn’t the only thing to see there. I was surprised when we looked around at how much else there is to see! The flora all around was very pretty, with lots of moss to make even a dreary, overcast, fallish day seem pretty!
There are some “wishing steps” that are supposedly bewitched. The Witch of Blarney Castle takes firewood from the castle grounds for her fire each evening. As payment, she grants wishes to those who walk up and back down a set of stone stairs—with their eyes closed! Matt and I tried it out. Our wishes should come true within a year!
We also saw the witch’s kitchen and a rock bearing her likeness. Quite the bewitching place! We also saw a glen where “faeries” live, and a druid’s hut, which made my first studio apartment in Old Town look like a mansion!
And finally… Blarney Castle! We found out that the difference in “baloney” and “blarney” is that “baloney” is a flat out lie disguised as flattery; “blarney” is the varnished truth! An example they gave was this:
Up and up and up we climbed the tiny stairs. The passage up to the top of the castle was quite the tight squeeze, but we made it with minimal difficulty!
When we got up to the top, we assumed we wouldn’t be able to take our own pictures. But this must have been our lucky day! The man helping people lean back to kiss the stone was not only allowing folks to take personal pictures, he was also telling them exactly where to stand to get the best shot! He seemed to be a sweet older gentleman who just enjoyed his job. I love the jovialness we’ve seen among the Irish throughout our stay so far!
And back down we went! We bought a few souvenirs and went on our way. We passed by the Poison Garden (didn’t linger too long there!) on the way out and found a cave where supposedly some people had dug tunnels to escape from the Castle in days gone by. All in all, it was a successful day!
Next stop: Checking in to our B&B, eating supper, and meeting up with the church folk!
Now those who know me know this is one of the very best things about traveling for me. It’s such an eye-opener and an encouragement to me to see how Christians in other countries worship. We’re all using the same book, and we all have the same examples, but there are always little nuances brought on by culture that leave an impression on me. For example, Ireland is predominantly a Catholic country. That holds much weight in their approach to religious discussions with their neighbors and with each other. What’s really funny is that they were doing their Bible study using materials from Gene Taylor, the preacher at the church where Cherie grew up in Tallahassee, FL! Small world!
We stayed a while after for dessert and to talk. They seemed very happy to have visitors, and we were happy to be there! It’s so nice traveling the world and having family just about anywhere you go. Carrigalin is the name of the congregation, and Mic and Glen are the men to get in touch with if you’re ever in the area and want to find a church!
And then it was time to drive again! The drive back to the B&B was much better than the drive out. There are way fewer cars out at 11:00 pm, and thus fewer cars to avoid! I got to drive again, which was actually quite fun!