Cork, Ireland

Tuesday, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

The ship docks in Cobh (pronounced Cove) which is about 15 miles from Cork.

Currency: Euro (€).

May weather: Average temps of 58°/45°F. Record temps of 74°/30°F. Average precip of 3.3″.

Our Port Plans

We’ve made arrangements to take a private tour with Butlers Coach Hire.  We’re planning on Blarney Castle, Blarney Woolen Mills, and Kinsale.  We’re driving through Cork–not sure yet if we’ll be stopping to see things–we have to decide if we want to.  If we have time after Kinsale we can do some sightseeing in Cobh.

Our Day

We had a lovely day–sort of a typical touristy sort of day–but I should be more eloquent today, since I kissed the Blarney Stone this morning.

Stan and I didn’t quite leave enough time for a main dining room breakfast but we did have time to go to the buffet on the Lido deck. After we’d had breakfast, we met up with the rest of our group in the Vines Bar (which was closed since I guess not many people drink wine at breakfast time).

We found our driver pretty promptly and made sure he knew that we needed to be back on ship by 4:30 instead of the 5:30 of the original plan. We’d intentionally met as early as possible because we wanted to get to Blarney Castle before the crowds did–and we did.

Unfortunately, the small bus and our guide were a bit of a disappointment. Our driver was very nice and funny and cheerful–all of that was to the good. However, the microphone on the bus wasn’t working so he was basically a driver rather than a driver-guide. I wasn’t impressed and was sorry we didn’t get the type of narrative and back and forth one expects from a tour like this. The small bus (fit 20 instead of the 12 I’d reserved) was very uncomfortable. The seats tilted forward and I had to brace myself in the seat the entire time we were driving, which caused quite a bit of back discomfort. Although these issues detracted from the day, they certainly didn’t ruin it!

Blarney Castle

We’d pre-purchased tickets for the Blarney Castle and so went right in. Strangely enough, I still had my tickets when I went through my purse when we returned to the ship. I’m not quite sure how that happened. The grounds were lovely and the views of the castle as we walked were great. We kept stopping to take pictures–and then after another turn of the path, found that there was yet a better view. I got a bit ahead of the rest of the group and didn’t make the turn into the castle (in large part because the door was only labeled “Teas”. Missing the turn was serendipitous–it gave me an opportunity to walk through the poison garden.

As luck would have it (and it did) Stan and I met back up with great timing and were able to climb the stairs together. Most people climbed directly but we stopped off in several places to explore other rooms of the castle, including a room that was marked as being shared between young girls and the priest.

For our final part of the climb, we were behind a lovely woman (who later told me she was 69) who was using her hands to help herself up the steep circular stone staircase. When we reached the top, she was concerned about being able to get into position to kiss the stone. I told she’d climbed up all this way, she should do it–and I’d help if she needed help getting up and down! We had a terrific conversation while waiting our turn–it was her first trip out of the US–she’d just gotten her passport for this trip!

I’m not always wise, but having seen how quickly people get down and up to kiss the stone–lying on their back sliding backwards and down to kiss the stone, I knew that pictures would be tough to get. So I put the camera on video and started it–and didn’t stop the recording until Stan had taken video of me and I’d taken video of him! So, I should now have the gift of gab, or perhaps I should the gift of gabbier?

I’ll have to wait until I get home to see if I can edit the video and include the two on this page–please await developments there.  Success–I did manage to edit it.  (Now I need to figure out how to post it.)

Us with the castle as a backdrop.

After our visit to the Blarney Stone (and lots of pictures), we went shopping.

Blarney Woolen Mills

I didn’t take any pictures in the Woolen Mills, but did successfully spend a lot of money.  Bethy and Stan and I each got Aran sweaters.  Jennica got a scarf.  Jordan got knit socks.  I got a few delicate scarves.


Kinsale was a charming little town but our primary motivation there was lunch and most of us ended up in the same place–the White House Inn. I ordered soup and a seafood spread sandwich but should have just ordered the soup. It was delicious and was a large enough serving that I didn’t really need a sandwich to go with it.

I had forgotten my battery charger for my camera (not even sure how I managed that, since I thought it had been one of those “early packed” items that I’d staged on to the cart).  However, we went into a small electronics store in Kinsale and asked if they had anything that could charge that type of battery–and he did.  It was expensive–but it was cool.  It could take any type of “rectangular” battery and you adjusted the points to match the positive and negative–and it charged it.  We used it for both cameras for the remainder of the trip.  (And for a stranger who needed his camera batteries charged!)  Now that I have it home, I wish it didn’t require an adapter to a US plug (which we also had to buy) because that makes it a bit bulkier, but I still think it’ll be our “go-to” charger, for both AC and DC charging of camera batteries.

Kinsale is a harbor town

Charles Fort

I wish we’d had more time in Charles Fort, which was an early star fort–even if it had meant not wandering around Kinsale very much.  I think we’d have learned a lot if we’d had time to take the entire guided tour of the ruins, but we didn’t.

Stan and I with the fort ruins behind us

Places we might visit

Blarney Castle: who doesn’t want to visit a castle–and kiss the Blarney Stone?  The castle was built nearly 600 years ago.   Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney Village which is 8 km northwest from Cork city in the South of Ireland. Open 9:00 – 6:30.  Admission €12 (€11.50 if purchased on-line)  No credit cards.  I’m going to purchase these on-line to avoid having to wait in line.  I’ll ask who else wants me to buy them for them.

Blarney Woolen Mills is just “across the street” from Blarney Castle.  I drooled over their on-line store.  I intend to acquire a sweater or two–and maybe a scarf or two!  I’ve learned that a ‘snood’ is really an infinity scarf; its weight and length can vary, of course.

Kinsale, a historic fishing port was established in 1333.  It looks as if there are lots of unique and interesting shops in Kinsale, including one that specializes in Celtic Crosses (Wild Goose Studio).

Other ideas

Muckross House is a place I’d really like to visit some day.  It’s a 90 minute drive from Blarney Castle, though, which means we really couldn’t visit Blarney Castle and the Woolen Mill and Muckross House on the same day without cutting things pretty tightly. I tried to do the math:

Leave port at 8:30, 9:00 to get to Blarney Castle, 3 hours at the castle and Woolen Mill makes noon, an hour for lunch somewhere makes 1:00.  3 hours of driving makes 4:00, leaving two hours (and no time to spare) at Muckross House.  That doesn’t seem like a wise choice–we could go to Muckross House instead of Blarney Castle–but I don’t see any way to do both in a single day.

And, well, Blarney Castle is such an iconic destination–so, we’ll go to the obvious one and save Muckross House for another visit to Ireland.

House of Waterford Crystal is another destination that is just too far to combine with a visit to Blarney Castle.

Youghal is a medieval walled town and is now a resort destination.

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