Visit Ireland's oldest city, Waterford. Visit Blarney Castle and view the legendary Blarney Stone.
05.08.2016 - 05.08.2016 18 °C
Hotel - Killarney Plaza Hotel, Kenmare Place, Killarney, County Kerry, Killarney - Room 420
We left Dublin at 9 am for the two hour drive to Waterford. The famous Waterford Crystal factory is no longer in operation, closing down in 2009, but there is still plenty of Waterford Crystal on sale, but it is very expensive.
We met our local guide Tom, and went on a walking tour through the streets of Waterford for about an hour and finished up at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Waterford is the country's oldest city. It was founded by Vikings in 853 AD and parts of its ancient walled core remain. They were driven out by the native Irish in 902 and re-established themselves in Waterford in 914.
Reginald's Tower is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland and the oldest monument to retain its Viking name. It is believed to be the first building in Ireland to use mortar.
The first time the Irish flag was flown was in Waterford. The green represents the Catholics, the orange the Protestants and the white, the peace between them.
Phil and I noticed a shop called Button and Co, so we had our photo taken outside and had a chat to the woman running the shop. No Button relation in there.
We had a nice lunch in a cafe with a very nice gift shop attached. I bought a couple of Christmas decorations.
On our way to Blarney Castle, our lovely guide Tom, stopped the bus, crossed a busy highway, just so we could taste Wexford strawberries and raspberries. They were delicious. Thanks Tom!
Along the way to Blarney Castle we stopped Dungarvan Bay for a panoramic photo. It was a lovely view. Phil was having a bad hair day!
We arrived at Blarney Castle and it is just lovely. The grounds and gardens are quite spectacular.
To kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to walk up about 125 steps inside the castle. It is a narrow, winding, steep staircase and if you suffer from claustrophobia, don't go. Phil has a sore calf muscle so he didn't want to walk up all those steps, so I tagged along with Susan and Chris and Gary and Jane. I was hoping I would be able to climb 125 steps without killing myself - well, it was a breeze. There was such a long queue to get to the top to kiss the stone, that we only ascended about two to three steps at a time, so by the time we got to the top, we were all feeling great.
To kiss the stone, you have to lie on your back, grab hold of the two handles and then the assistant moves your body outwards and you tilt your head backwards to kiss the stone. It was slightly nerve wracking, but was all over so quickly, that it is okay. I am so glad that I have done it.
Kissing the stone is supposed to give you eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate. Some say it was Jacob's pillow, brought to Ireland by the phophet Jeremiah. It became the stone used as an oracular throne of Irish kings. 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 four thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, the stone was split in half and sent to Blarney. Some years later, a white witch saved from drowning, revealed its powers to the MacCarthys.
There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh! He never misses
To grow eloquent.
By the time we came down from the castle, we only had 15 minutes until we had to board the bus, which meant we didn't have much time to wander through these beautiful gardens. This is a lovely place to visit and well worth the effort to climb to the top and kiss the stone!
After about two hours driving through beautiful green Irish countryside, we arrived in Killarney and check into our hotel. We just had time for a quick cuppa before we dressed for our group dinner in the hotel. We had dinner with Margaret, Peter and Shayne from Victoria and Karen and Lew from Brisbane. It was a nice group and the conversation flowed.
I have made contact with Byron and Annie and we are planning to have dinner together tomorrow evening.