Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ireland, Cobh, Cork and Blarney

We left our Waddell and Reed friends and headed by train to the Southwest part of Ireland. You have to appreciate that when we are with the Waddell and Reed Group they have people that take care of EVERYTHING. So striking out on our own in a foreign country was exciting. We arranged a tour through the Irish Rain Tour Company. They had someone in a bright yellow jacket to meet us at every stop along the way.

Our first stop was in Cork. From there we got on a bus and went to Blarney, home of the famous Blarney Castle. There are lots of beautiful castles in Ireland, but Blarney Castle has capitalized on it's legendary "Blarney Stone". Thousands of tourist come in by the bus load to kiss stone that is suspended over the top wall of the castle. Smoochers have to lay on their backs and lean out and down over the wall while someone holds their legs to reach the stone and give it a big wet smooch. Legend has it that a kiss on the stone will grant the smoocher the "gift of eloquence in speech"

We decided to skip the eight flights of stairs through narrow medieval passageways packed with anxious smoochers and we walked over the to Blarney House. We were the only two on a wonderful tour of this fantastic house. The house is still a family residence of the family that owns the castle and grounds. They had tastefully covered over the electronics and plasma TVs with 18th Century privacy screens.

The Blarney Stone is at the top of the wall.
Irish Country side passing by the train.
Next stop was Cobh (Pronounced COVE). This is the launch site of the Titanic on it's fateful journey. This is where millions of Irish left for America. This is also the closest harbor to where the Lusitania was sunk on May 7th 1915 by a German submarine. 1198 of the passengers died and 761 were saved. The survivors were brought to Cobh and there is a mass burial site in the nearby cemetery. In the 1800s the town was renamed Queenstown to honor the Queen of England. Apparently there were no towns in Ireland named after her. Once Ireland gained it's independence the name was changed back to it's Gaelic origins of Cobh.
Mass grave site of Lusitania victims.

Memorial to Lusitania victims.
Annie Moore left for America from Cobh. She became the very first person to pass through Ellis Island in New York Harbor on January 1, 1892.
This is the embarkation station for the Titanic. It is now a museum.
We arrived at our hotel in Killarney, the International Hotel. Built in the mid 1800s. It wasn't the Ritz Carton like the suite we had in Eineskerry , but it was a perfect location for our adventures to come in County Kerry.

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