This weekend was INCREDIBLE and definitely goes on the list of “Best Weekends Ever!” So for this weekend, Ireland had a Bank Holiday on Monday, so we had a 3-day weekend, and my friends and I decided to plan our own trip to the southwest part of Ireland!
CORK. For the first day, Saturday, we booked it early on a bus to Cork and arrived around noon. Cork was actually a very interesting city, architecturally-wise. Most of the buildings are three stories high or higher! It was surrounded by a few canals and all the buildings were strangely uniformly geometrically rectangularly shaped, and each building had a different color. You would see a bright pink, baby blue, purple, green, yellow–basically every color in different shades! It was a charming city, and when we arrived, we first checked into our hostel, and after we headed towards City Centre to the English Market, which is one of the top places to visit. Cork is known as the food capital of Ireland, and the market was adorable and had such fresh smells of fish and desserts and many other food items. We got lunch at the Farmgate Cafe in the market, and since there was fresh seafood everywhere in the market, I ordered the seafood chowder. I’m in general a big seafood fan, so I definitely enjoyed it! I also enjoyed an eclair as well.
After the market, we just walked around City Centre and shopped a little bit. We also headed towards the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, which was ginormous and beautiful! In general, I’m absolutely awed at cathedrals because they’re built with so many intricate details, and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral had so many statues carved into their walls and many other details. However, what leaves me in awe is the fact that it began construction in 1863, a time with much less advanced technology but they were still able to construct something so intricate.
After, we left to go see Blarney Castle, which is home to the famous Blarney Stone! The area surrounding Blarney Castle is huge–it’s filled with many different types of gardens and also the Blarney House. We began at the castle, and there were so many rooms and caverns to explore. Whenever I walk through a castle, it’s crazy for me to think that people lived there. We crawled into this wet dungeon area underneath the castle, which was believed to have kept prisoners–and if the flashlights they placed in there weren’t there, it would be pitch dark and wet. After, we climbed the steps of the castle and headed towards the top, exploring the different rooms.
At the top is where the famous Blarney Stone lies! Legend has it that whoever kisses the stone will be endowed with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skillful flattery). The top of the castle is actually REALLY high up, and to kiss the stone, you have to bend backwards and grab these bars and kiss the stone. Now, although the pictures show little railings at the bottom to catch you if you fall, there aren’t many railings! There’s probably three and your head could probably fit through it! It was hilarious when I went to kiss the stone. There’s a guy who works to hold people while they kiss the stone so that no one falls. And being a 5′1 person, it was a struggle. I bent backwards, and the top of my tush was already at the edge of the ledge. But the guy was saying, “You’re not there yet. Keep going.” And I kept going and literally my butt was off the ledge and it was intense! Haha. If I let go, I definitely would have fallen because it was just my legs hanging on. And the best part was the guy that worked there started laughing HYSTERICALLY! HE WAS SO ENTERTAINED AT MY STRUGGLE because he realized that I was really short! It was great hearing his laughter though, it was a really big, infectious Irish laugh and his face turned completely red!
After, we just explored the gardens around the castle! We walked through the Poison Garden, which had some famous poisonous plants, such as wolfsbane and nightshade. We also walked down the Wishing Steps, and legend has it that if you walked down the steps and back up with your eyes closed and only thought of a wish the entire time, the witch that enchanted the steps would grant you your wish. But it was quite daunting! I attempted it and literally took one baby step at at time. I wasn’t sure what to wish for though–so I kind of gave up halfway, haha. There was also the dolmen, which is another portal tomb; and there were some really great plants and trees that were decorated with knitted yarn balls or had some sort of knitted sweater on them. Walking through these parts felt like I was walking into a new world like Narnia or Terabithia.
After Blarney Castle, we headed back to Cork and went for some dinner in this bar/restaurant place. The Gaelic football games were on, which apparently was a really intense thing! Gaelic football is a mix of football and rugby, and my friends and I were originally confused because it looked like soccer, but then they would pick up the ball and begin dribbling it and it was pretty cool! It was the Cork vs. Kerry game. Apparently, all the players do not get paid to play (they actually have real jobs for a living, such as teaching, etc.), but they play for the pride of representing their region, and the games are taken very seriously–the players train HARD. Then, evening came and we just walked around the city some more, listened to some live music in the pubs, and then headed to sleep because we had an early train ride to Killarney the next day. Cork was such a charming city, but Killarney definitely stole my heart.