The next morning found us boarding the bus and heading down the Copper Coast which was just a lovely view and a splendid way to pass the time.
At 10am, we rolled into the port town of Youghal (pronounced Ya All) where we took a little break. Youghal’s claim to fame is that scenes from the original version of Moby Dick were filmed in and around the town. A pub of the same name opened up especially for us. The pub has memorabilia from the film and makes a darn good hot chocolate. One of the owners of the pub dressed up as the character Queequeg complete with harpoon and gave a little speech about hunting the white whale.
After our brief stop, it was back to the bus and more lovely scenery as we made our way to next stop: Blarney, home of the Blarney Woolen Mills, Blarney Castle, and the Blarney Stone.
Blarney Woolen Mills
Blarney Woolen Mills is considered to be the best store in Ireland. I’ve never been much for shopping as I treat any shopping expedition as more of a surgical strike, but I did spend a brief time browsing around the store and seeing the glassware, music, clothes, and other sundry items. Then I headed away towards Blarney Castle.
That is to say, I headed towards Blarney Castle right after I made a detour to a local grocery store. Once again my batteries had exhausted their juice and I was forced to buy some more. Luckily I found an Energizer pack that gave 2 packs for the price of 1 so I was set for batteries for the remainder of the journey. As it was lunchtime and I was feeling a bit puckish, I bought a chicken and cheese sandwich and managed to score a bottle of Dr. Pepper as well.
Fueled by the sandwich, I made my way over to Blarney Castle.
I wish I had had more time here because one could spend hours visiting Blarney Castle with its caves, trails, and woodlands. I got a crash course in the legend of Blarney. As you may or may not know, the term blarney means clever, flattering, or coaxing talk. According to legend, Queen Elizabeth I tried to get Cormac Teige McCarthy, Lord of Blarney, to give up his traditional land rights. As he wasn’t a good speaker, he feared he would lose his lands. On the way to see the queen, he met an old woman who told him kissing a certain stone at Blarney Castle would give him the gift of eloquence. McCarthy kissed the stone and was able to keep his lands by flattering the queen and never surrendering his rights. When Queen Elizabeth I realized Lord McCarthy had snookered her, she is reported to have said, “That’s Blarney!!”
I spend quite a bit of time exploring as much of the land as I could before tackling the climb to the Blarney Stone. It’s a 130 step climb up a very narrow staircase with uneven stairs. I sprinted my way to the top and enjoyed the view from the top before turning my attention to the stone.
We had been told that the queue (line) for the Blarney Stone can get quite long, but I was fortunate as there were only 2 people in line when I reached the top. Or, to be more specific, I would have been fortunate if I had wanted to kiss the stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone is one of the hundred things you should do before you die, but it is the fourth most unhygienic thing you can do on the planet.
I didn’t have much interest in kissing the stone. I just wanted to look at it. However, I did learn that kissing the stone requires a certain level of fitness as you have to lean over backwards and arch your back to reach it.
After watching a few people smooch the stone, I went back down the castle and headed back to the Blarney Woolen Mills where I found my pop at a pub smoking a cigarette. Apparently Dad had ordered a sandwich, but a thieving bird flew down and started chowing down on it.
Mom had bought a few things from the stone, notably a set of Waterford candlesticks and we sat and shot the breeze with some of our fellow tour group members until it was time to head to the bus and head to our final stop: Kinsale.
In Kinsale we checked into our hotel, the Trident.
The Trident was, easily, the best hotel of our trip. It was home to the second best hotel room I had ever stayed in. Tripling up in this room was a boon for my folks and myself as we were given a near suite. It had a huge king bed for my parents and a large, comfy sofa bed for me. There was also a 45 inch Plasma mounted on the wall and a luxurious bathroom with a deep bathtub with a waterfall faucet. Heck, we even had a private balcony.
Dad didn’t want to leave as he liked this hotel so much. He was so blown away by the opulence of the room that he had to know the retail price. He went to the front desk and told me that the room retailed for a stiff 300 Euros a night!!
After settling in, we went back outside where we had a Heritage Town Walk and learned a bit more about Kinsale.
The most interesting thing I learned from our guide was that the Lusitania was sunk off the shores of Kinsale. Like the Titanic, the Lusitania was supposed to be unsinkable, but a torpedo from a German U-Boat ripped right through it. Now the ship should have sunk slowly, allowing all of the passengers to reach the lifeboats, but a second explosion inside the Lusitania tore the boat in two and it sank in 18 minutes, killing numerous people.
Germany greatly feared the United Sates getting involved in World War I and knew the sinking of the Lusitania would bring the USA into the conflict due to the American passengers who died. So they tried to pacify the country with an alternative fact. Germany claimed that, yes, it was their torpedo that hit the Lusitania, but they were not responsible for the ship sinking as the explosion was caused by smuggled arms onboard being sent to England.
One of the pieces of propaganda Germany put out to foster this idea was a two sided medallion. One side showed Death selling tickets to the passengers of the Lusitania and the other side showed the sinking of the ship, implying that America was really at fault for the deaths of the passengers.
Whether or not arms were really onboard the Lusitania has been debated to this day, but, regardless, Germany’s gambit failed. America entered World War I and the course of the war changed.
Shortly after our walk, we headed down to the hotel dining room for dinner. For myself, this was the best hotel meal I ate during the trip. I started off by having a local delicacy, seafood chowder. Ireland’s chowder is one of the few soups that isn’t a puree and is loaded with chunks of fresh seafood. Delicious! I followed that up with a plate of lamb and cous cous.
That meal hit the spot and it was back to the room to relax and sleep for another day of adventures.