Today we had a “phenomenal tour,” as Sean Finnegan would say. He, and our bus driver Frank, did a fine job motoring us over the Irish countryside. We set out for the Cliffs of Moher, spectacular 700 foot high walls above the Atlantic. This was not scheduled on our tour as it is weather dependent. Although the skies were a bit gray, the visibility was good enough to take in excellent views, as the photos clearly show. We hiked up like “real Irish people” rather than going on the sidewalk from the parking lot. We were on more of a cow path, complete with nice Irish cows.
The views once we arrived to the top were spectacular and made me feel very small. We did not lay on our bellies and look over, though some around us did. Sean clearly warned us about the danger of doing so. We also saw a huge sea cave that was in Harry Potter 7, Part 1. The cliffs themselves were also featured in The Princess Bride (“The Cliffs of Insanity”). Pretty cool.
We ventured on for a lunch stop next to the Bunratty Castle. (We saw LOTS of castles today, many of which looked a bit “broken down,” as our nieces stated.) It was a nice stop with good food (all of which is very excellent here, though a bit heavy…lots of potatoes, which we learned today are mostly imported from Cypress and Spain as the farm ground here is too valuable to waste on potatoes!).
We departed for County Cork, specifically the Blarney Castle. Reed and I visited three years ago, so we knew what to expect. You climb many, many stairs up a narrow, winding stone staircase to the top of this mid-15th century castle. Then you wait in line to lay on your back, grab two iron bars, lean your head back, and kiss the stone in the wall. The Irish believe this process gives one the gift of gab or eloquence. We all kissed it so we will see what happens! (Abbie already has the gift, so she said perhaps it will work in reverse for her!)
We separated from our California group as they were staying in Cork for the night. We headed back to Dublin on the 7:20 train from Cork via Mallow and Limerick. Then we went by bus to Trinity….it was good to be “home,” which is also my folks’ home for the next few days until we head to Scotland. Our students are a bit weary and may be taking the day off from their placements tomorrow, which I approved of. It was a very busy weekend…we saw a lot of this small, green island, and feel much better acquainted with her (called Eireann in Gaelic, my namesake).