Sunday, July 11, 2010

European Vacation Travelogue: Day 15, Kenmare Stone Circle, Blarney and our last (Fresh) Guinness

We spent the morning of our last day in Ireland in the little "tidy town" of Kenmare.

It is a darling little town and, as usual, we only wish we had had more time there.

Naturally, I had to drag everyone to the Kenmare Stone Circle.

This circle was about five minutes' walk outside of the town and is unique in that it is quite large and has a Dolmen in its center which probably denotes a burial of someone significant.

Of course, the kids, instead of seeing a sacred space, see a megalithic jungle gym.

I should have said something. Stopped them somehow. Somehow explained to them how sacred was the land and rocks on which they stood. But I didn't. A woman with her daughter scolded them and Ten got a little embarrassed about it. We headed back to town for a little window shopping and a cup of coffee.

In town I wandered into "Skyline Gallery" a photography studio featuring artist Eoghan Kavanagh and was immediately struck by the magical photographs of Ireland, none of which were trite or expected.

His wife was at the desk and Big and I wandered around enchanted as she talked to us about her husband's work. He was upstairs talking with other fans of his work.

I just fell in love with one rectangular photograph of an enchanted forest and we ended up taking it home. Our most favorite souvenir from Ireland, other than pictures and memories. The artist explained that the photograph was taken at the Gougane Barra woods near Cork.

Here's a photo of the photographer and his wife.

We added that to our list for the day, on the way to Blarney and took a short detour on the Ring of Beara (another for the "to do list next time", skipping the Ring of Kerry).

The park was amazing. It was situated in a valley and had cliffs jutting out of it with a lake that was carved by glaciers.

The most striking aspect of the park, however, were the trees, particularly the Sitka spruce covered with enchanting moss.

We reluctantly headed out toward Blarney, well aware of the clock today, knowing that the closer we could get back to Dublin, the better off we'd be the next morning.

Kissing the Blarney stone was really Big's idea.

He had heard about kissing this stone, leaning over backwards, and climbing up in some castle from Grandma and would not be thwarted from the plan.

On that particular day, BioMom and Ten and I were all hesitant and could have easily been talked out of this particular tourist trap. The night before I read that the Blarney Stone itself was filthy; British soldiers probably regularly pissed on it as do current disgruntled castle workers. Not to mention lipstick and saliva and all other remnants of a day of tourists lips on a particular spot of a particular stone.

Plus, I had heard that among kids under eight, it is entirely up to the guy helping potential smoochers as to whether or not they can do it.

So it was my greatest fear that we'd head all the way down to Cork, get to Blarney, pay our way in, climb the stairs and Big would be told he couldn't kiss the stone.

We took the risk.

It was really really fun and, despite the touristy schtick, we loved Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone.

Of course we had to explore the dungeons.

And then headed up the windy stone stairs to the top to kiss the stone.

At the top the helper guy was, in contrast to expectations, very helpful and even welcomed Big to the stone.

Now,he officially has the gift of gab, but to be honest, I can't tell the difference between how much he talked before and after kissing the stone. It is all non-stop!

Oh and don't forget the "murder hole" on the way out!

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