My week in Ireland has flown by. It’s pretty hard to keep track of time when you’re being constantly spoiled and doted on. My time has been split between doing fun, tourist-y things and trying to retrace the old haunts of my grandmother and visit the settings of all the stories I grew up hearing.
On the tourist-y side, there’s Blarney.
It’s a castle in the country, and I read somewhere that it’s the most photographed building in Ireland.
Climbing to the top provided a beautiful view of the already gorgeous countryside, and we were lucky enough to be able to go on a day that wasn’t gray and rainy, a rarity during an Irish October.
But the real fun of the castle is the legend of the Blarney stone; a smooth bit of polished rock built into the wall of the castle at the top. Legend has it, that if you kiss the Blarney stone, you’ll have good luck.
The exciting part is that in order to kiss the Blarney stone, you have to lie on your back, and hang your head over the edge of the castle wall from the top of the tower. There’s a charming old man who sits at the top, and his entire job is to make sure you don’t fall.
The grounds around Blarney Castle are also beautiful, and I had a lovely time wandering around for hours.
On the heritage appreciation side, I spent my last day in Ireland in Crosshaven, where we were fortunate enough to have yet another sunny day.
My Grandmother and her sisters used to spend their summers in a bungalow in Crosshaven, down by the ocean.
In fact, it is the setting of one of my favorite stories that Granny used to tell me about growing up in Ireland.
She was extremely athletic for a girl growing up in the 1940s, a fast runner and a star Camogie (an ancient Irish girls game, similar to field hockey, that was traditionally used to train for battle) player. Because she was a great athlete, the boys she knew encouraged her to jump from low cliff into the “men’s pool” in ocean below. It was standing on that cliff that she discovered that she was terrified of heights. Night after night, she stood on the cliffs, terrified to jump.
When I arrived in Crosshaven, I climbed down to the “Men’s pool” looking for the cliff. When I found it, it was more like a massive boulder that I estimated to be about 12 ft. high. I climbed to the top, one look over the edge at the churning, blue waters below and my heart dropped into the bottom of my stomach, reminding me that in spite of my sky diving and cliff rappelling, I’m still terrified of heights.
I climbed back up to take in the view of the ocean once more before I headed back to Cork to pack my bags.
My visit to Ireland may have been missing Dublin, the Guinness brewery and the pub crawls you’d traditionally expect from an American college student visiting Ireland, but my experience was unforgettable nonetheless, and a great opportunity to spend time with family that I rarely see.