Monday, July 16, 2018

Day 5 in Ireland: Kissing the Blarney Stone (Guest Post)

Ann is back with all the details from the fifth day of our trip to Ireland.

Sunday was our final full day in Ireland and turned out to be the dreariest day there so we finally had to break out our rain gear. We attended what is most likely the fastest Sunday mass ever. You had to pay attention to hear what the priest was saying through his thick brogue, on top of him speaking very fast.  One thing that was different was that after the opening blessing everyone knelt down until we got to the gospel, which is what happens in a Latin/Tridentine mass. Besides being in English, the whole mass reminded me of the Tridentine Rite. St Finbarr’s was a beautiful church. There were lovely stained-glass windows of the Irish saints, lots of beautiful statues, and a quaint grotto to Mary just outside the church.

All the Masses we attended in Ireland were unique in that no one says the responses together, they all just say the responses at their individual paces.  It sounds a little bit like our dinner blessing with Judah and Bobby behind the rest of us, but on a larger, louder scale.

After church we headed straight to Blarney Castle. Even with the rain, albeit a light rain, there were a lot of people visiting that day.  We headed to get in a pretty long line, and while the dad’s held our place Kelle and I took the kids to look quickly at some of the nearby gardens. There are a ton of gardens and you could spend most of the day there walking through them all. After an hour plus wait that took us through the castle and up very, very, very narrow and windy steps we arrived on top of the castle where everyone age 8 and up kissed Blarney Stone. The man had Drew lie back and at the last minute told him to “blow it a kiss” because his arms weren't long enough to hold the bars and lower himself down to actually kiss it.  We enjoyed lunch in the café where we had the most delicious Irish stew and ice cream. The café was much larger than we realized as the back half of it had tables that were set in old horse stalls.  After lunch we followed a path down one of the gardens that took us past a waterfall. Then Brian had us double time it back to the car as we had 4 pm reservations for a tour at Jameson distillery.

The Steep and Narrow Way up to the Blarney Stone

The Entomologist Found Another Bug

The Whole Group

Hannah Loved this Red Bench

View from Top of Blarney Castle

View from the Top of Blarney Castle

Genevieve Kissing the Blarney Stone

Ann's Son Kissing the Blarney Stone
Isaac Kissing the Blarney Stone

Kelle Kissing the Blarney Stone

Drew Blowing a Kiss to the Stone

Brian Kissing the Blarney Stone

Hannah Kissing the Blarney Stone

Ann's Oldest Daughter Kissing the Blarney Stone

Ann's Youngest Daughter Kissing the Blarney Stone

Eating Lunch

The Jameson tour in Cork was well worth the time and money. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and was engaging for most of the kids and included some history about Cork and not just how the whisky was made. The tour ended with the kids enjoying a refreshing ginger ale while the adults enjoyed ginger and Jameson or some straight up whiskey, included in the entrance fee. We did pick up some souvenirs here, but not much whiskey. The limits on the amount of liquid we could carry home on Ryan Air restricted us to a just few samples, which we enjoyed back in Germany and in the US.  This seem the right time to mention that after our trip my son told me that my husband doesn’t really need a Father’s Day gift as he drank his gift all over Germany and Ireland, which is the truth!

Ringing the Bell

We ended the day driving into Cork to find a place for dinner. We did not eat in a pub! We ate at a restaurant called Amicus. It took us a while to find a place to eat and this was the least Irish place we’d eaten at yet. The food ended up being quite good, although it did take a while to get to us.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Day 4 in Ireland: "Away, Away, Come Bye, Come Bye"

Ann is back chronicling our fourth day in Ireland.

Today we headed directly south to County Cork to our next house. My kids have read all three of the books from The Cottage at Bantry Bay series, so we were looking forward to staying in Bantry. Before leaving this region of Ireland we visited two more sights that were pretty much right on the way. First, we headed to Caherconnell farm to watch a sheep herding demo. The man who ran the demo explained how dogs have to get trained to a person’s voice first, then they train them to recognize whistle calls. They need to hear the whistle as our voices don’t carry as far and the dogs needs to be able to hear you when it needs to bring in a sheep from far away. Kelle and Brian starting using the commands “away, away” and “come bye” on their kids afterwards getting them to head to the right or left. The kids didn’t’ pick up on the commands as quickly as the dogs did! It was neat to see how the sheep respond to the dogs and how the dogs knew commands and whistle calls specific to them. This was my nine-year old’s favorite things we saw in Ireland. She loves dogs!

 Watching the Demonstration

Everyone enjoyed petting the old retired sheep dog.  She was the oldest dog they'd had, maybe around 19 years old.

Outside the Sheep Dog Farm, showing the stone "fences" famous in Ireland

The Demonstration

You can see the dogs sitting around the outside of the circle keeping the sheep in one spot while they guy showed us the different kind of sheep he hand there and explaining their markings.

Wearing Daddy's Glasses

Just a mile away from the farm we visited Poulnabrone Dolmen, a tomb structure reminiscent of Stone Hedge. It dates back to the fourth millennium BC during the Neolithic age. How could we not stop to show the kids something that old?! Other than the one standing tomb, the rest of the area was covered in limestone rocks that showed off the landscape of the Burren region in western Ireland. The kids all took off running in different directions beyond the tomb. We stayed there about a half hour, but it could have been a quicker visit.

We stopped just for lunch in Ennis, which is the largest town in County Clare. No time for sightseeing as Google maps said it would take almost 3 ½ hours to get to the house at Bantry. Lunch was at Cruises pub, and we squeaked in for lunch just before the kitchen was closing. Turns out some pubs have the kitchen close down between lunch and dinner.  I had a delicious Irish stew and we also ordered English Toffee Pudding. Brian had tried ordering it at the pub by Lisheen house and they had run out. Thankfully the chef agreed to make us two, one for the kids table and one for the adults, even thought the kitchen had closed by the time we ordered dessert. It was delicious!

So, Google maps was wrong and it took closer to 4 hours to get to Bantry. The final hour of the drive took us on a windy, single lane road through an uninhabited portion of a mountain. I kept praying we didn’t break down. Did I mention there were no potty breaks between Ennis and Bantry? We really didn’t even have any options for stopping. When the owner of the house greeted us and we told her about our ride she told us, in her lovely Irish brogue, “Didn’t ya read the directions I sent you in the email? You would have been much better off comin’ round directly to Bantry town then head to the house.”  Brian said something about remembering that now that she’d mentioned it.  For the record, when we headed back to Kerry airport on Monday we went a different way, and the road was shocking similar except it that just had a lot more houses on it. I think just getting over the mountains to get to the coast has limited road options in this section of the island.

The Front Yard of the Bantry House:  The view was amazing, and the kids immediately took off running and playing the minute we pulled up in the cars.

The owner of the house was kind enough to leave us a basket of fresh fruit along with some delicious Irish cheddar, a fresh ½ gallon of milk, Irish butter, and a few other things to enjoy. We (read the kids) enjoyed/devoured all of the fruit and most of the cheese, which tided them over until we headed out to dinner. For dinner Kelle and I dropped everyone off in the town of Bantry, about 10 minutes from our house, and we went grocery shopping at Lidl (similar to Aldi) while the dad’s found a place to eat. We planned ahead for breakfast and snacks to get us through Monday so we didn’t have to make another trip to the store. A soccer game was playing so many of the pubs were full of people watching the game. We met up with everyone as they were finishing their dinner at Wharton’s Fish and Chips. The shop also offered real southern friend chicken, which some of the kids, including Genna, enjoyed. I’m singling out Genna because on Monday, when we returned to Kerry airport, Genna turned to her mom and exclaimed, “Oh no! I didn’t have any fish and chips!” How this child missed out on every chance to order fish and chips baffled us all. Especially after one meal was at a fish and chips place.

We ended the night with some beers at the house and the adults playing cards. The men might say the only negative about this house was that it wasn’t’ walking distance to a pub.