10 Sept 2006 Sunday - Sneem to Cashel

Today our goal was to drive from Sneem to Cashel, which we did. We drove from Sneem through the rest of the ring of Kerry, through Moll’s Gap,

where we stopped at a scenic overlook and saw a sheep that had escaped the fences and looked like he was heading back to Sneem at a pretty fast pace.

We got out and walked around, through the gardens of a beautiful tourist trap.

Then we continued on our way.

We stopped at Muckross House and toured the mansion.

It was very big and beautiful, but no photos were allowed inside. The area was beautiful and wooded though.

Next we went to Ross Castle, which was pretty cool. As we approached Ross castle, we were dismayed to see hundreds of cars parked all around. We figured it must surely be a madhouse with thousands of people. Much to our surprise, all the people were there for some kind of rowing competition,

and they weren’t there to see the castle at all. We had to park what seemed like a kilometer or two from the castle, but we saw it with relatively few people around, and that was good.

It was a Mediaeval (1600s) stone fortress made for defense.

It was very basic,

but it had some period furniture that was very cool. We took a guided tour which was very interesting. For example, there was a large square notch in the wall to the right of the bed, and the guide said it was the cubbyhole. She said that “Cubby” was an ancient word for Infant, and back in the 1600s, they used to place the infant, bundled up, in the cubbyhole for the night. The cubbyhole was on the other side of the chimney flue so the baby would have the warmest place in the house to sleep. Later, when the baby was bigger, it was moved from the cubbyhole to a crib.

From Ross castle, we drove through Killarney and on to Blarney where we saw the Blarney castle.

I expected it to be crowded with people and a tourist-trap, but it was actually a very fun—and tall—castle.

Well worth the time, with lots of rooms to explore,

including a dungeon.

I pulled out my little LED flashlight as I went into the pitch black rooms, and I started to sing the Savatage song, “The Dungeons Are Calling,” for my own amusement.

There were also scenic towers.

When we climbed to the top of the castle, there was a fantastic view of the surrounding grounds

and neighboring castles.

You could also see the inside of the ruined castle. It was very big and very cool. We took lots of photos.

We deliberately chose not to kiss the Blarney stone like so many do. Seemed like a really silly thing for someone to do, actually. The stone is built into the wall at the very top of the castle and you can only kiss the stone by having someone hold you by the feet and attacking it upside down.

It was amusing to see people attempt this, especially women who looked like their boobs were ready to fall out of their blouses. And of course, there was an official photographer who would take your photo and charge you to take it home later.

After the castle, we ate at a nearby Indian restaurant which served excellent food. At first they gave us papadams that were stale. I sent them back and asked for fresh ones.

Then we drove to the town of Cashel. We tried three bed and breakfasts and two hotels before we found a room available. The funny part is when we stopped at the middle house of three. She didn’t have any available rooms, so she graciously called her neighbors, who were also B&B’s, to see if they had rooms. What was funny is that the houses on either side of her were both run by women named Mary. We had a bit of fun with that. She said “Mary doesn’t have any rooms either. I’ll call Mary to see if she does. Oh. Different Mary. They’re both Marys.”

Finally, we found a hotel that had a room, but it was extremely expensive, like more than 200 Euros per night. We said no thanks and they graciously suggested another hotel across the street and down the block. That hotel wasn’t cheap either; they cost more than the castle did a few nights ago. But they did have an underground garage to keep our car out of the rain which continued on.

Tomorrow it’s down to Waterford where we want to visit the famous Crystal factory, but we’ve got several things to see along the way.