Castles, Markets, Churches and a Stone-cold Kiss

(Originally posted by Katie Virostek, a junior at CSU studying abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland.  You can access her blog here:

Saturday I took a day trip to Blarney Castle and Cork City, which is in the very southern part of Ireland. The day started very early at 8:15 am — I have quickly realized that when I return home and back to American people time I will have a very, VERY difficult time getting used to waking up early. My earliest classes here are at 10! After about a two hour bus ride, which I definitely napped during, we arrived at Blarney Castle. We started the day the only proper way- with much needed tea/coffee and scones at the tiny local hotel. Once the caffeine kicked in we made our way onto the castle grounds to explore a bit. Blarney Castle is the home of the Blarney Stone, which you can kiss once you walk to the top of the castle. Because our tour group consisted of 150 students, it took us about 45 minutes to actually walk the 100 stairs to the top and kiss the stone. To kiss the stone you lay down on your back, hold on to two iron bars with your hands while a worker holds on to your hips, lean your head all the way back, and MWAH! Kiss the stone. I actually really enjoyed doing this, even though it looks really scary. Those who kiss the stone are said to have bestowed upon them the gift of eloquence. I will leave that up to you to decide if it’s true or not.

Because we had to wait so long in time we didn’t have time to properly explore the rest of the grounds, which includes a lake, fern garden, and water garden. We did survive the Poison Garden, which contains a wide array of poisonous plants. One that I came across and found rather humorous was cannabis, which is illegal in Ireland. A totally unexpected find for me. Our leader joked that this is probably the only place you could find it growing and not get in trouble for it. I’m not going to touch on that subject any more though.

After Blarney we drove another half hour or so into Cork city, which has the River Lee running through it. Cork is a lot bigger than Limerick and the term “city” is more appropriately used to describe it than Limerick.  We got lunch at Cafe Mexicana, where I had some incredible enchiladas. We then visited the famous English Market, which is like the Milk Market but for Cork and a bit nicer. It contains some of the best foods from all over the world, including some ice cream that I got post lunch.

Once we finished up at the English Market Sally and I walked to St. Anne’s church, which houses the Shandon Bells and Tower. You actually are able to climb the tower and ring the bells yourself, but we got there too close to closing time to be able to do that. The tower itself though is pretty iconic, and we enjoyed the walk over.

I’m excited for fall to start here! I’ve seen some amazing pictures of fall in Ireland, and I cannot wait to experience it firsthand.


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