2nd Stop in Ireland: Blarney Castle, Cobh, and Cork
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Blarney is another one of those places that I have been to multiple times. Not only do you have the castle there, but you can walk around the gardens (magnificent) and you can stroll around the little town. It is much more than kissing the stone.
Like my other posts, the information you receive on Blarney is pulled from their website, so I encourage that you visit it if you want more facts on the castle's history.
I have always gone mid-day when the tourist visitation is high, so I wanted to take Ash here when it wasn't so busy. We got to the Blarney Castle grounds around the time it opened- 9:00am- and I would recommend this to other travelers. There were people waiting in line ready to buy tickets, but it was nothing like the crowds I have seen before. It made our time here more peaceful and enjoyable.
Tickets were around €18. It seems a bit spendy, but there was so much to do and see here that we felt it was worth the price. We got access to the grounds, gardens, and castle, and by the time we explored everything a couple of hours had already passed. Ash and I started our time here by following a path that led us straight to the castle. We stopped every two minutes (of course) to take photos, but felt justified in doing this because the grounds surrounding the castle were so lush and green- we were not passing up the opportunity to capture Blarney's beauty.
We recommend, before stepping inside the ruined tower of the Blarney Castle, that you spend some time exploring its exterior. The base of the castle has some cool caves, hidden nooks, and different buildings you can step into. Once Ash and I had finished walking around this area, we headed inside and prepped for the climb to the Blarney Stone.
The climb started relatively easy, and each floor we went up presented new rooms that we could explore, but it was the last flight of stairs that challenged us. Single file with barely enough room for our shoulders, we hiked up the incredibly steep spiral stairway that eventually opened to the top of the tower. The view of the grounds below was beautiful, and made waiting in line to kiss the stone very easy. The stone itself sits at the very top of the castle tower, and you have to lean backwards off the edge of the wall, 90 feet above the ground to kiss it. We both successfully gave the stone our kisses, and trekked back down the stairs to the castle floor.
Once down on the ground, we took time to walk around the gardens. I hadn't done this on my previous visits, so I didn't know what I had missed. It was so beautiful, so please don't make the same mistake I did my first two trips here by skipping it.
After the gardens, Ash and I headed outside the castle grounds and walked across the road to eat at Muskerry Arms. I visit this pub every time I come. I absolutely love the atmosphere, and the staff there are very nice. If you want to experience a cozy interior, good beer, and football on TV, then this is your place.
The Woolen Mill is also something to see. Blarney has a great store that seems to go on forever, and you can find yourself spending a lot of money here... easily. We left the store with a new wool blanket, and some fun things to bring home for our family.
Cobh & Cork
We headed out from Blarney mid-day and drove 45 minutes east to Cobh (pronounced Cove), a beach city situated right on the Cork Harbor. Coming into the city, you immediately notice a few things: steep hills, palm trees, and the iconic St. Colman Cathedral which almost seems to pierce the sky. we parked our car near the Cathedral and headed downhill to the port. Even though we were in a good-sized city, it felt like we were in a small town. Ash and I snacked on bags of candy from the local candy shop and sat outside listening to live music. We ended up heading into The Mauretania Bar, for a few pints. The bar itself was extremely tiny, but it gave us the opportunity to meet some of the locals and literally sit right in front of the band that was playing. We really enjoyed our time at this pub and would encourage anyone visiting Cobh to check it out.
It's a good thing to keep in mind that shops and restaurants in Europe close down pretty early- in comparison to the U.S. By the time we headed out of the pub, most everything was closed and many places were not serving food. We got lucky and were recommended a restaurant by one of the residents of Cobh, but if you are planning to eat make sure you do your research and get dinner early.
After dinner, Ash and I drove a half an hour northwest to our AirBnb in downtown Cork. Cork is a very large city on the southern border of Ireland, and like Dublin there is a lot to see and do. Ash and I, however, were feeling a little overwhelmed with the city and didn't end up exploring it as much as we could have. We spent some time walking down the main streets, but ended up heading back early to get cozy in our own space. I think if we were to do it again, we would stay in Blarney rather than city center Cork. I would recommend Cork for a day trip rather than a two-night stay. Blarney was more quaint and quiet, and we were very drawn to that.
Now it is your turn. What experiences have you had in these areas? Did you have the opportunity to explore more parts of Cobh and Cork than we mentioned? We would love to hear about your experiences, so please drop us a line- we would love to learn from you!
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