Castling Out

On the road from Waterford to Cork, we visited three legendary locales in Ireland – Cashel, Cahir, and Blarney. All three places are famous for the same thing. They all have castles.

This is Blarney Castle, seen from a different vantage point than the first photo.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, castles are quite common in Ireland. Indeed, we’d already seen castles in Enniscorthy, Waterford, and Kilkenny by the time we arrived at Cashel. So why bother with more of them? Because they’re there? Because they give us an excuse to take pit stops while we’re driving? Because every castle is unique in its own way and worthy of our time?

This is Cahir Castle. Very different from Blarney Castle…and yet…similar.

Sure, every castle is worthy of our time – to a point. The thing about castles in Ireland is that they’re a lot like churches in Europe (or shrines in Kyoto, as I wrote about here a few years back). You can visit a bunch of them and appreciate the nuances – the architecture, the history, the stories of the people who built them and used them. But after a while, they all start to blend together. Travelers in Europe sometimes speak of getting “churched out” during the trip. I think travelers in Ireland can get “castled out” in similar fashion.

This is a view of the main medieval buildings at the Rock of Cashel. Technically, it’s not just a castle. But it looks like a castle, right?

So why are visitors to Ireland drawn so particularly to the castles at Cashel, Cahir, and Blarney? I honestly don’t know. They aren’t habitable structures like the castles in Kilkenny, Waterford, and Enniscorthy. They’re ruins. And while ruins can certainly be interesting in their own right, Ireland has a glut of those too.

In its heyday, I’m sure the Rock of Cashel impressed the hell out of its guests.
Welcome to my castle! I’m more important than you!

You wouldn’t have believed that any of the castles we visited were really all that popular based on our time there. None of them were being overrun with tour buses or selfie-snapping tourists. Instead, we experienced more of “Ireland to ourselves” – as I wrote about in this post – but I don’t want to dwell on that. George and I are just glad to have experienced these famous castles in person, ruined or otherwise.

Here, you can see several interesting details of…wait, which castle is this?

I think each castle does have its own special worth. Each has its own unique aura of lost grandeur and mythology. I’m sure we’ll keep visiting castles in Ireland. (They’re kind of hard to avoid anyway.) And if at some point during the trip we start to feel like we’re castling out, well, Ireland has some very nice churches worth checking out too.

Not a castle. (It’s St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.)
Castle? Church? Disneyworld? And the winner is…Blarney Castle from yet another perspective.
Blarney Castle is mostly famous for the Blarney Stone. Here, a tourist prepared himself to smooch the legendary rock. Despite his expression, I’m pretty sure he was a willing participant in this silly tradition.
The actual kiss is hard to witness unless you have the vantage point of the house photographer (at left) who will gladly sell you your very own keepsake photo on the way out.
The legend of the Blarney Stone is that, upon kissing it, you are granted “the gift of eloquence” – which some call the gift of gab.
What I’d like to know is, where is there a place people can visit to receive the gift of shut the hell up?
Many old castles continue to provide a home for people who no longer have much to say.
I always advise people, “Pack light for your travels – but be sure to save room for a drone!
If you forget to pack a drone, you can always buy one from the local Hore’s.
Ireland is where the color green was invented.
I mean, even the horse poop is green. (Though maybe this horsey needs some ivermectin.)
Sure, a green bridge too. This is in Cork, a city we really enjoyed.
Another view of Cork.
Cork has a vibrant nightlife.
The blue skies have been hit or miss for us in Ireland. But when the sun is shining, I don’t know that there’s a more storybook place on the whole damn planet.
Oops, another castle pic. That’s enough of those for one blog post, don’t you think?
Out, damn castle! Out! (Keeping score? That’s MacBeth, 2. Game of Thrones, 0.)
Live and let live. The Irish get it.
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10 Comments

  1. Margie and Tim

    They don’t call it the ‘Emerald Isle’ for no reason!! ???
    And despite all the castles, there’s no place quite it.
    Enjoy every minute….just wish we could be sharing the experience with you.
    xoxo

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      So far, despite our most intense efforts, we have found not one single emerald for the taking here in Ireland. No pots of gold, either. Not even a winning lottery ticket. I am also beginning to doubt that we will encounter any leprechauns in the wild. The only ones we’ve come across are all passed out in taverns.

      Reply
  2. Joan Gavin

    Excellent! Loved both the photos and commentary!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Dang

    How beautiful!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Vicki

    It’s nice to “hear” your very distinct voice and see your pics after all this time! Alex and I miss you and George very much. Love your sense of humor!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      You’re too kind! George and I miss you and Alex very much too!

      Reply
  5. Alex Duvan

    Hi Craig, I enjoyed your last several blogs. Reading them was like being with you and George in a room, happy to listen to your skillful storytelling and warm sense of humor. I also admired the photographs and the inspired and funny captions. Keep traveling and writing, my friend!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      So, you’re starting to hear my voice in your head, eh? That is a very, very bad sign, my friend. I recommend some counseling.

      Reply

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