Even though I could hear the rain coming down all night long (I sleep light in hostels when strangers are sharing a room with me), I decided to go to church. The wind really made the walk miserable, and I had to keep my umbrella at a 90-degree angle just to keep the rain from pelting me. I made it through the first half, but then I just wasn’t having it. My mind was everywhere, and I was restless. I was having the most challenging time sitting still. So finally, I gave up.
There was no way I would walk all the way back to the hostel, so I cheated and called a taxi. The taxi service here has an app, much like using Lyft or Uber back in the states. You set up your pick-up and drop-off locations, and you can even pay through the app itself. It’s convenient, and this will give Uber a run for its money if it ever makes it down to Cork. Plus, I like not having to carry tons of cash with me.
When I got back to the hostile, I kept walking to find a late lunch. After eating some barbecue, I came and took about a three-hour nap. I am now contemplating dinner. It’s not that I’m even close to hungry yet, but I know I will be later. No use buying groceries since I’m headed to my next location tomorrow.
The name of this hostel is Bru Bar & Hostel. When you first walk into it, it’s just a bar. A rather lively one, at that. At night they have live music and they seem to pack the place. You walk to the back of the bar area and there are stairs that lead up and back to the hostel rooms. Not very many frills to this place- I got a shared bedroom with four beds in it. So far, I’ve stayed here with a couple from Canada, and a guy from Brazil. The Canadian couple is here touring, like myself. The guy from Brazil is here working, and he’s staying here while he waits for some flat situation to open up.
I was looking at the map and I saw that there was a nearby castle that had been restored. Blackrock Castle is now officially called Blackrock Castle Observatory. Yes, it is now a planetarium. The walk to get there was wonderful, but I wasn’t really in the mood to learn about starts. Still, I walked through, and ended up getting a while schpeel about the night sky. At least I learned something. My only objection is that the guy who was giving us the demonstration was talking more about Star Trek than actual stars. He also confessed that he stumbled into this job and that he actually majored in geology.
The walk over felt like beautiful spring morning- there were row teams from the high school and the university out going back and forth on The River Lee. It was really cool to watch as I made my way to the castle.
I just made it to Cork. Since I can barely remember this city, it’s like I’m here for the first time. My only memory is singing karaoke somewhere, and that I stayed about a 20-minute walk to get to my hostel.
This time I learned and staying right near the city center. Cork is a great little city, but I think I heard someone say that it’s the third biggest city in Ireland… that can’t be right though. It seems big, but not that big. Perhaps it’s one of those cities that are spread out a bit. That would explain it. All I know is that Apple employs thousands here.
Today’s adventure was to Blarney- to kiss the Blarney Stone.
Kissing Ireland’s Blarney Stone, a tradition that’s been around for several centuries, is said to give a person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. The iconic stone is set in a wall of Blarney Castle, constructed in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, king of Munster, on the site of a demolished 13th century castle. Various legends surround the Blarney Stone’s origins. One story holds it was acquired during the Crusades and brought to Ireland, while another tale claims it was made from the same material used at Stonehenge. An additional account links it to the Stone of Scone (also called the Stone of Destiny), which was used for hundreds of years in the coronation of Scottish and English monarchs, while yet another legend contends it was a gift from Robert the Bruce, king of Scots, to Cormac McCarthy, king of Munster, for sending men to help Bruce defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. However, in 2014, geologists from the University of Glasgow shed some light on the Blarney Stone’s heritage when they concluded that the famous rock isn’t from Scotland but instead is made of 330-million-year-old limestone local to the south of Ireland. The word “blarney,” meaning skillful flattery or nonsense, supposedly came into use following an incident involving the head of the McCarthy family and Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. The queen sent the earl of Leicester to seize Blarney Castle but the talkative McCarthy managed to keep stalling him. The queen grew exasperated by the earl’s reports about the lack of progress in the matter and uttered something to the effect that the reports were all “Blarney.”
Today, people travel from around the globe to give the Blarney Stone a peck (which must be done by leaning backward while holding onto two railings). Winston Churchill is among the notable figures who’ve kissed the stone, doing so in 1912 when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Who’s to say that smooch didn’t bestow a little eloquence on Churchill, who went on to become British prime minister in 1940 and earn a reputation as a masterful orator?
I went to an “artsy” cinema and saw the movie, Orchestra Seats. It was really wonderful!