UCD was really great about making sure international students had opportunities to see the rest of Ireland. The first trip they planned for us went to Cobh, Cork, and Blarney Castle.
Cobh is a small fishing village just outside Cork, and is famous for two reasons. It was the last boarding stop for the Titanic, and it’s cathedral has the largest bell arrangement in the country. Two very different reasons, but two reasons nonetheless. It’s a super small town, but very cute. Apparently it’s a lot like St. John’s, though I haven’t been able to confirm that for myself yet.
We were there on a pretty gloomy day, but even still, the charm of this small town was still very much evident. My favourite thing had to be the rows of colourfully painted homes.
Up next was Cork (which is about a 4 hour drive from Dublin). Cork is thought to be the cultural capital of Ireland, but I most enjoyed wandering on its winding streets and finding little antique stores to look through. We also discovered a great farmer’s market which fed us for the day. It was another gloomy day weatherwise though, so not many pictures were taken.
Our third and final day was spent at Blarney Castle, my absolute favourite place from this trip (I love castles). There’s quite a bit to see at Blarney Castle, though it is most famous for having the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to give one the gift of eloquence – a useful gift no matter the time period!
There are quite a few legends about the stone, but the general story is that the earl living in the castle was Queen Elizabeth’s man in Ireland. She was very happy with his work for her, and sent him part of the stone so that those loyal to her would kiss it to pledge their allegiance. After some time she wanted him to visit her at court. He kept putting it off, saying he had to wash his hair, etc… . After some time she was irritated by his reports and said they were all ‘blarney’. And that is how some believe the stone got it’s name.
I really loved exploring here. Not only was there a castle, but there were caves, gardens, and waterfalls. Everywhere you looked there was something to see. I only wish I brought food so I could have had a picnic – it would have been the perfect place!