The Gift of Gab
I went to Blarney and kissed the Blarney Stone to get the gift of gab. I had to lay down flat on my backside, grab on to two poles and then a man helped me lean back through a hole. Some people got worried, but you won’t fall through. You can kiss one of two stones, but the Blarney Stone is the one at the bottom.
|Kissing the Blarney Stone|
I also went to St. Ann’s Church. It had a salmon-shaped weather vein, because the local monks reserved the right to fish by putting up the vein. Visitors can ring the Shannon Bells there; I did “When the Saints Come Marching In”. As I walked up to the top, someone else was playing a song and it got loud.
Today I went from Cork to Kilkenny by bus; the trip took awhile as it seemed like we stopped in every little city but eventually we did make it. Today, I learned that Kil means church. The main thing to do in Kilkenny is to see the castle, it dates from 1172. It was a decent tour; they showed visitors the bedrooms, the rose garden outside, and the lawns. Cromwell bombed the fourth wall in 1650, which allows a view of the many acres they owned.
The long gallery was neat, it had a couple hundred pictures on the walls, many of them restored. They were able to restore rugs from the 13th and 14th century because they found a London store that was able to design the same exact size and make of the originals.
I took a tour of the city, through the tourist office. The tour included the Black Abbey, which is a church from 1225. I also saw the new city hall, the old city jail, the old city wall, Kilkenny Brewery, St. Mary’s and St. Canice. While at St. Canice, I walked up to the round tower, which dates back to 1251. Kilkenny was split into an Irish and British side, a gate separates the two sides. I did go to a pub, The Pumphouse, and we saw a local Irish band. It was two musicians that played guitar and banjos and we had a good time. The pubs are the best thing to do because there are a lot of people there and the interior design is interesting.
I tried to go to Dublin today but there’s no accommodations, there’s a big concert up there and weddings. It’s really hard to find a place, I went to the tourist office on Friday and they couldn’t find anything within 60 miles of Dublin so I stayed in Kilkenny.
|The famous Guinness Brewery|
I have Irish TV on in the background; I was watching Celtic football, which is a big sport here. Yesterday, one of the things on the tour I thought was interesting was the windows that were bricked up. The reason why was the owners got taxed depending on how much light came in the window, so they bricked some off and didn’t have to pay taxes on it. That’s where the expression “daylight robbery” comes from.
There is some talk of foot and mouth disease. There are places where I had to walk on disinfectant mats but it doesn’t seem to be a big problem here. Apparently it did hurt tourism a little bit, but it is more of an issue in England. The other thing that I got to see yesterday was a funeral, which I guess isn’t that neat, but it’s one of those where the casket is leading and the people walk behind.
Today I went to Dublin by bus with the first stop being Trinity College. The school has one of the most important books, the Book of Kells, which are the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The pages are actually made of lambskin; there were 180 lambs that were killed for these books. There are different dyes on the pages to make them look more colorful. They’re red, green and yellow dye. The green dye came all the way from NE Afghanistan, and the yellow were little beetles that were squished for the dye.
Discover Island in the Trinity College auditorium is an audiovisual film, about 45 minutes, on the history of the island. You get an idea of some of the struggles the Irish had to go through, the Norman Conquest, the potato famine and the independence movements throughout the years.
We also had a 2-hour city tour, it was a ghost tour. The tour was of Dublin Castle, the city office building, Christ Church and some of the back streets of Dublin. We then went to the composer Handle’s place and sang “Hallelujah”; there is a hotel where Handle stayed for awhile.
I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is a real nice cathedral. The church has been at that location since the 6th century and then it was rebuilt in the 13th century and that’s what it looks like today. It’s huge and it’s important throughout the history of Ireland.
|Trinity College in Dublin|
This morning I arrived in London from Dublin via a ferry and then an overnight bus. I went to Buckingham Palace to catch the changing of the guard. It starts about 11:15; better get there early because there’s a huge line. When I first came here a couple of years ago I thought London was an unbelievable place. It’s interesting to see if you are impressed when you see something a second time and, yes, it’s still an impressive city. I’m checking all my papers to see that they are in order for my flight to Russia tomorrow.