Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 3 – 4 Kissing a Stone and on to Killarney

…go forth with the Gift of Eloquence!

Our wonderful trip continues in Ireland!

The next day we enjoyed our first Irish breakfast at our hotel in Dublin, but we didn’t have explanations for everything yet. That came the next morning in Blarney. After breakfast, we lugged our bags up the hill to the train station. We traveled to Heuston station, then we got a taxi and went to the Hertz car rental.

I could feel the tension mounting for Lin about driving on the left side of the road.  I managed the transaction with the agent while Lin visited with other customers. The agent encouraged us to upgrade to accommodate all our luggage, so we did, but the upgraded car was smaller than the Jetta we originally had rented, so we changed back. We did buy the Super insurance in case of an accident. What would happen with driving on the left side of the road, we wondered?

The car lot was bumper-to-bumper! We needed help figuring out the key and how to get in the trunk, so a pleasant attendant directed us through everything unfamiliar.

Lin’s nervousness about driving rose to a crescendo as we tried to get out of the car lot. My nemesis was adjusting to a Tom-Tom GPS–I’m used to a Garmin. The rental agent set it up for our first destination–Hotel Blarney Woollen Mills. Finally away we went, holding our breaths. Right off the bat, we missed the first turn, but the GPS rerouted us and away we went–on the left side of the road.

The drive to Blarney went smoothly. Quickly we were out of Dublin and on a nice interstate-type road. I was amazed–the gas stations and rest stops were on the left side of the road. When we arrived at our hotel in Blarney, the entrance to the Blarney Castle was across the street.

Now Lin faced the hardest part of driving on the left side–parking the car. It was the most difficult task. After a couple of tries, he parked the car and let out a sigh of relief–something I became familiar with anytime he walked away from the car.

That afternoon, we climbed up a winding staircase to the top of Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.  (See picture above of me kissing the stone.)  That’s not an easy feat for sure. You have to lay down on your back, a man supports you, you grab onto two metal bars then arch your back backwards, duck your head down and kiss the stone behind you.  Wow, I was glad they had a metal grate underneath me, but I could see the ground below through the grate, and it was a long way down there.

Legend says that you receive eloquence after you’ve kissed the stone. We’ll see. We enjoyed several comical plaques around the top of the castle explaining the difference between Blarney and baloney.  This lens and screen cloth I bought highlights some of them.

After this much awaited event, we walked around the top of the castle and marveled at the beautiful view of the lush green all around.

I bought a journal in the Blarney castle gift shop and recorded the whole trip.

That evening we ate gourmet sausage sandwiches in a local pub and drank our first Club Orange soda which became a favorite. We returned to the pub later in the evening because they advertised traditional Irish music at 9:30 pm, but the singer sang country and western, so we didn’t stay long.

The next morning we had another full traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, grilled tomatoes, ham (bacon), sausage, and black and white pudding. The waiter explained the difference between the white and black pudding because I asked: the black pudding comes from the pig’s blood and white pudding is the rest of the leftovers of the butchered pig. I had researched it before we left but forgot.

We shopped in the “Largest Irish Store” and bought mega souvenirs because they would ship home them for us. I loved all the wool yarn–I’m a knitter and the colors were warm and inviting me to create something new, so I bought some.

We drove to Killarney with a near mishap–I thought I had forgotten my iPad at the hotel in Blarney, so we stopped. It had slid under my seat, so we were set.

The drive through the countryside was a variety of greens. I felt a wall very close to me for most of the trip because of the narrow road.

I had trouble with the GPS and setting the address in Killarney. We found out that Ireland doesn’t use street numbers, so we asked for help and were a couple blocks away from our bed and breakfast.

Pat and Mary were our hosts–what a lovely couple. After we got settled, we toured the Ross castle and the Musross house. Pat booked a Ring of Kerry tour for us the next day; Lin was relieved that he didn’t have to drive it.

In the evening, we walked to downtown Killarney and searched for Traditional Irish music. Delightful Irish tunes filled our evening in a neighborhood pub. We did some shopping and Lin had his favorite treat–ice cream. What a wonderful evening in a fascinating town!

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A Trip of a Lifetime!


Lin and I just got home from a three week trip to Ireland and England. I would like to share some highlights with you from that trip. I’m going to start at the end of the trip that was spent in Bury St. Edmund’s, a beautiful quaint city north of London.

The picture above is in the Abbey garden and the cathedral shows in the background on the left.

We attended a family wedding there and the Brit’s really know how to party. My cousin, Meghan Berg, married Mike Edwards at Raven Hall. All of Mike’s family and friends were so hospitable and made us feel welcome. Meghan had lots of family members in attendance which was fun.

While in Bury, Lin and I toured the city and saw the movie, “Dunkirk.” It resonated with us in a different way by being in England. We attended Anglican church Sunday with the family at the St. Edmundsbury cathedral and again the people were so friendly.

As a large group, we went to Cambridge by train and what an experience that was!  Bicycles everywhere! We did a city tour and saw many of the colleges that make up Cambridge University.

We loved the Traditional English breakfast–I have pictures to share.

Lin and I drove to Lavenham, a medieval city south of Bury for an all day adventure. We toured the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, Guide Hall and the Little Hall. At the church, we were surprised to see the American flag and a memorial to a unit that was stationed near there during World War II. Many of the medieval buildings still stand and again the people fascinated me with their pleasantries.

Lin drove from London to Bury, to Lavenham and then back to London. He had driven in Ireland at the beginning of the trip and did well, but he was hesitant to drive in the London area. He did a great job in both countries–I coached him when turning with mantras a friend had taught me. Driving on the left side of the road is a challenge, but he managed it admirably.

Have you ever been to England and Ireland? Leave me a comment!