The Gift of Gab, Ireland Day 3 & 4
It’s funny how you don’t know you didn’t know something until you know something, you know what I mean?
To say I was less than enthusiastic about our tour of the Waterford Crystal factory is an understatement. However once inside I was truly mesmerized by the artistry and craftsmanship that has gone into making Waterford Crystal since its’ beginnings back in 1783.
Our guided tour of the factory took us step by step through the process of making Waterford Crystal. The process is painstaking and the artisans involved have hundreds of years of combined experience. Perfection is the standard and anything that is less than absolutely perfect is destroyed. The guide even allowed us to destroy some gorgeous pieces that were deemed unworthy to bear the name Waterford. Even more shockingly he allowed us to hold some very heavy and simply amazing pieces of crystal-the young man was definitely a risk taker.
After purchasing our Waterford souvenirs we were off to Blarney Castle. Doug and I had climbed up to the top of Blarney Castle and kissed the stone previously, so we planned to spend our time in the gorgeous park surrounding the castle.
After entering the park Doug made the critical mistake of telling my 82 year old father that he thought it wasn’t a good idea for him to kiss the Blarney Stone. Dad was immediately compelled to prove he wasn’t too old, and off we climbed. 127 steps later we laid on our backs, bent backward over a gaping hole and kissed the Blarney Stone. Dad managed the climb very well (even with two new knees) but rising back up after bending over backward proved to be the most difficult challenge of the enterprise. I bet he doesn’t do it twice!
Blarney Castle was built back in the early 1400’s and the ruins are fun to explore during your visit. The grounds surrounding the castle are gorgeous, and worthy of at least a 60 minute investment of time and strolling.
We then strolled over to the Blarney Woolen Mills and had a delicious piece of carrot cake with coffee and then perused the three floors of Irish Heritage merchandise. If you can’t find a souvenir here you won’t find one anywhere. Blarney Woolen Mill is dedicated to Irish Heritage and there are literally thousands of items offered here, from the least to the most expensive, all made in Ireland.
We continued on to our hotel in Killarney and had free time to explore the city and local pubs before an excellent dinner in our hotel.
Day four provided one of the most hysterical events during our tour. We drove around the glorious Dingle Peninsula (glorious is the most accurate word to describe it I assure you) and stopped to participate in a sheep dog exhibition. Our shepherd had us all laughing until our sides ached. The Irish have a particular and peculiar type of humor that keeps you in stitches.
We also stopped at a pub owned by Tom Crean, an Irish explorer who journeyed to the South Pole. His life story was simply amazing and his spirit of adventure was on steroids. His pub was quaint and in a truly gorgeous setting beside a babbling brook. Could it have been more quintessentially Irish? The Irish Coffee there was delicious, too.
That evening we enjoyed traditional Irish music and dancing along with a delicious meal.
Off to the Cliffs of Moher next week.
Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.