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  • Day16

    Day 16 - Kissing the Blarney Stone

    August 16, 2019 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Jackie slept in until 9.30am, three hours after me, but I didn’t blame her it had been raining hard all morning. It wasn’t until 11.30am that there was a little break in the rain, so we threw our motorcycle gear on & set out for the day.

    No sooner were we on our way when the heavens opened up again. We started on the N72, but my SatNav had other ideas & took me off down country roads to pick up the R628. We were progressing at a decent pace, when an oncoming van started flashing me. I slowed down as I went round the next corner & came face to face with the Fire Brigade controlling the traffic. When we were let through, we saw that a car was smashed in at the front, which was a sobering reminder to stay vigilant.

    We continued to the M8 motorway, where we paid our €1 toll fee, then rode down towards Cork, whilst being battered by heavy rain & high winds. Before reaching Cork City centre, we came off & passed through Glanmire & the scruffy suburbs of Cork. We next joined the N20 that took us to Blarney & it’s Castle.

    We rode into the official Blarney Castle car park after taking a ticket to raise the barrier. I then had a heart attack when I realised we may have to pay. What a schoolboy error!

    Upon parking up, it had eventually stopped raining & the sun had come out. We stripped of the motorcycle togs, put them in the panniers, then headed to the entrance. We paid our €18 admission fee & I asked the cashier if motorcyclists had to pay for the car park. We wasn’t initially sure where I was going with this question, but once he realised we were motorcyclists, my guinea pig hair probably gave it away, he said that officially we had to pay, but if we drove around the barrier no-one would chase after us. That brightened up my day!

    We celebrated with a cup of coffee & half an egg sandwich each. We then headed straight to the castle & joined the queue to kiss the Blarney Stone. At the end of the queue was a sign that told us that it would take approximately 30 minutes to reach the Blarney Stone, which was less time than we expected.

    The queue started just outside the castle, then went in to the castle, up a wooden staircase for two flights, then we ascended a narrow steep spiral stone staircase. Before reaching the spiral staircase there were plaques on the walls providing information about the castle & the Blarney Stone.

    The current Blarney Castle was built in 1446, but earlier fortifications were built on the site. At the top of the now ruins of Blarney Castle is the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. It is said that those ‘brave enough’ to hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, will receive the gift of eloquence.

    Queen Elizabeth l is credited with introducing the word ‘Blarney’ to the English language. Whilst frustrated with the then owner of the Castle, MacCarthy, refusing to accept the authority of the English throne, she exclaimed, “This is all Blarney. What he says he never means”. And a new word was born.

    The actual process was a bit of an undignified affair, well certainly for me. Jackie went first, lay down, leant back & kissed the Blarney Stone, which was all captured by me on video. It was then my turn & I did the same thing, well nearly, I’m not quite so flexible, so as I struggled to get to crane my neck back for the kiss, my T-shirt flew up exposing my 6-pack to the world. I did kiss the Blarney Stone, but I shouldn’t have worn such a baggy T-shirt having lost so much weight on this trip!

    It was interesting to note that a lot of people queued & got all the way to the top, then either failed to kiss the Blarney Stone or just refused to attempt it.

    We then proceeded to negotiate the much more treacherous steps down, stopping to look at Murder Hole. We didn’t however stop to look at the official photos of our kisses. Jackie was keen to, but I wouldn’t let her. Nothing to see there!

    After, we strolled around the various gardens, including the Poison Garden, Himalayan Garden, Rock Garden amongst others & we took the lake walk, well part of it. The whole afternoon had been in sunshine which made for a very pleasant experience & all in all probably worth the money. On the way out we passed through the gift shop & Jackie bought herself a Pandora shamrock ☘️ charm for her bracelet with the birthday money she had been given.

    It was 4.00pm, when we saddled up, then sped around the car park ticket barrier, thus evading the €2 parking fee! My plan was to stop along the coast, back at Youghal, to the explore the town’s rich history further. Unfortunately, what I had not taken into account was that it was Friday afternoon rush-hour & everyone was coming out of Cork, completely choking up all the roads.

    Despite conducting a few sneaky manoeuvres, it was still gone 5.00pm & Youghal was in total gridlock. We decided it just wasn’t worth the pain of stopping, so apart from passing under the Clock Gate Tower at about 1mph, we didn’t see anything else.

    Instead we decided to go back to Lismore & pick up a Chinese Takeaway. I’m not sure why, but instead of putting Lismore into the SatNav, I entered Tallow. As a result we avoided the quick direct route to Lismore, but took a ridiculously long winded way to get there, funnily enough via Tallow.

    We arrived in Lismore about 6.15pm, with a sore & not so happy Jackie on the back, particularly as she had pointed out the quick road to Lismore, but I ignored her for the more ‘scenic’ route!

    We got off & walked to the Chopsticks Takeaway & ordered our favourite dishes, then decided we needed a drink, so arranged to collect it at 7.00pm. We went over the road to The Classroom Bar ordered a pint each & sat outside in the dying sun. The landlord was very welcoming, albeit slightly pissed, and his customers as they went in & out of the pub to bookmakers next door were all very friendly & said “Hello” to us. It reinforced our view that Lismore was a very lovely town & definitely worth going out of your way to visit.

    The happiness, serenity & peace was soon to be shattered by Hoisin Sauce Gate!

    At 7.00pm, we collected our takeaway & returned to the bike. I put the bulging carrier into a side pannier & did my best to secure it safely. I was just about to get a jacket to pack out the pannier & so hold everything firmly in place, when Jackie bellowed “Hurry up, it’s going to get cold”. There then was a ‘minor’ disagreement, resulting in me closing the pannier without said jacket to pack it tight.

    We then proceeded home without incident, parked up & when I opened the pannier, lo & behold the now lidless Hoisin sauce pot had tipped up & was empty. There was Hoisin sauce running over all the other dishes in the bag & worse still, Hoisin Sauce has nicely coated the inside of my pannier & formed a pool at the bottom.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t best pleased & our very dry Aromatic Duck Pancakes were eaten in stony silence. As it happens the meal turned out to be generally very nice.

    We played another game of Cribbage with a bottle of red & had an early night.

    Song of the Day - Kiss by Prince.
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