I had been looking forward to the Cork and Blarney tour since I got to Dublin. My little sister had studied in Cork for a semester and I was excited to see where she lived for three months!
I arrived to the meeting point around 6:30am and our tour guide, Ross, was already there and chatting with people. There were only ten people on our tour which is the smallest I’ve experienced so far. Ross went around the tour bus and asked us where we were from and a few questions about our home town. I completely blanked when he asked what the best attraction in Virginia was!
We took a quick stop at a convenience store about an hour into our trip to grab drinks, use the restrooms and stretch our legs. Ross talked most of the way to this point about the history of Ireland and the Rock of Cashel which was our first stop on the tour.
Entrance to this stop is included in the ticket price and we also were able to view a short movie explaining the history of the site. It was lightly raining but we were still able to walk around the grounds, see the Round Tower and go inside the Rock of Cashel. Ross let us know that lightning was the main reason that many round towers were destroyed – I had no
idea! There were great views of the surrounding landscapes from the hill at the Rock of Cashel. I do not know if I’ll ever get tired of seeing the beautiful green landscapes of Ireland – I’m still blown away by their beauty each time.
Our next stop was to Blarney Castle and I must have said “This is so pretty!” at least 100 times while I was there. I was excited to kiss the Blarney Stone but did not expect the grounds of the castle to be this stunning. The walk up to the Blarney Stone was quite tricky. The steps you climb up are extremely small and the spiraling staircase is very narrow. I finally made it to the top and there was no one in line to kiss the stone. Apparently it is a two hour wait in the summer time to kiss the stone! I had kissed the Blarney Stone many years ago when I came to Ireland with my older sister but that did not help ease my nerves as I sat down and leaned back over the big open space! There was a worker there to help hold your back while you kissed the stone and there were also metal bars below you in case something happened! They take two pictures of you while you are kissing the stone that you can buy at the gift shop for €10 each.
Afterwards, I continued to explore the beautiful grounds and took dozens of pictures. There are a lot of walks you can take that are mapped out on the site’s brochure. (Entrance to Blarney Castle is also included in your tour price.) This was my favorite part of the Cork and Blarney tour and I highly recommend visiting the castle if you have not yet!
It was a short drive to the city of Cork for our last stop on the tour. I felt like the city size was in between that of Galway and Dublin. I grabbed a sandwich at a local shop and ate it as I walked around the streets. I walked into the Eastern Market which has tons of fruit, bread, chocolate, meat and seafood shops. If you’re hungry – this is the place to go!
I headed to St. Anne’s Church next and paid the €5 to climb to the top. On the second floor of your climb, you get to ring the church bells! They have a book of songs that are numbered and you ring the corresponding bells to play a song. You keep climbing a few more floors to the roof and here you are rewarded with amazing views of Cork!
The bus ride back to Dublin was about 2 ½ hours. It gets dark around 5:00pm now so it felt much later than 7:30pm when we arrived back home! We were dropped off in the city center after a wonderful day on the Cork and Blarney tour!
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