Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cahir Castle - Ireland - Day 3

February 13, 2019
The final castle on our day trip was Cahir Castle, built from 1142 as a stone fortress and the main castle being built in the 13th century. It is located on an island in the river Suir in County Tipperary and the town of Cahir has grown up around it.

In recent years Cahir Castle has been used in a couple of movies and television shows, most notably the 1981 movie Excalibur.

The castle was besieged twice, once in 1647 when a cannon ball lodged in the side of the tower. You can see it in the wall in the photo below.

This castle is so well preserved and is made in a different style than the other castles we have visited so far.
One of the entrances with the crest above the door and the eagle perched on top of the wall.

Once inside the walls the grounds are beautiful and you can imagine the buildings and stables that used to be in here. 

Looking toward the castle.

The portcullis and murder whole at the entry into the castle grounds.

One of the reasons the movies like to use this castle is the working portcullis.

Above the entry you can see the Murder Hole.

Below is the family room of the castle. I was surprised at how warm and inviting it looks when the walls are plastered.

Darryl is checking out the portcullis mechanism.

The doors are quite small, which I didn't expect.

But the stairwells are still small and steep as they wind up the tower.

One of the upper floors in the main keep. They now have a very informative display of the Irish Revolution in what used to be family rooms of the castle.

A good view of the corner tower and the yard.

And yes, this castle had a dungeon.

viewing the river and the town from the ramparts of the corner tower.

Looking back on the keep, or family part of the castle.

This castle had the banquet hall separate form the family's quarters in the keep. It's the building to the right.

I wonder if this area might have been a kitchen area connecting the two buildings.

Inside the massive banqueting hall. The cupboard in the back is over six feet tall. The antlers mounted above are massive!

Looking the opposite direction.

I love the seating areas at the windows.

Having fun inside the yard.

Outside the walls of the castle is even more impressive than the inside.

Of course, we had try our hand at pulling Excalibur out of the stone.

Put your back into it!!!
On the drive back to Dublin our driver sang that most beloved song for us "Molly Malone", which was wonderful with his pure Irish accent. Thirteen hours after leaving Dublin we returned to our hotel with a greater appreciation for our Irish ancestors and wonderful memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.

Oh My Sweet Wesley!!!

While Darryl and I were traveling around Ireland we received a text that Shiloh was going into labor. She had her baby early Wednesday morning February 13th. 
Wesley John Guffey

He was born at 12:50 AM

weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz. 

and is 20.5 inches long. 

Wesley has 10 older brother and sisters and is loved and cuddled beyond belief!
And daddy is overjoyed with his sweet little boy. 

This little guy has now idea of the joy he brings to our family.

Grandma was finally able to meet her sweet little grand-baby when he was 13 days old.
Hello little 27! I love you!

The only problem was my visit was too short. 
Don't worry little man! Grandma will come back soon to snuggle you smunch on you!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Blarney Castle - Ireland Day 2 .

February 13, 2019 
The second castle on our tour is probably the most famous castle in Ireland- Blarney Castle. I must admit, this is the main reason I booked this tour, and not so much to see the castle, but just to say "I kissed the Blarney Stone"

The grounds of this castle are magnificent and the ruins of the castle are very impressive. There are signs everywhere explaining what you are seeing and teaching you the history of the castle. 
Blarney Castle dates from 1446 and is known as a Tower house and was the stronghold of the McCarthy Clan.

So I give you fair warning now, there are a dozens of photos in this post, but I will keep my writing to a minimum. Instead, I ask you to click on the photos of the information signs so they will enlarge and read them.

It is quite an impressive sight as you walk up to the castle, it's built on a huge limestone rock and towers over the countryside. Originally it would have been surrounded by tall stone walls.

Dark, narrow, stone passageways, uneven stairs.... that's what I think of when I hear the word castle now.

This little passage doesn't lead to anything. It's more like a dungeon or wine cellar than anything else.

Due to repair construction going on in the main hall area we had to take a detoured route up the first couple of floors.

I did learn what a Murder Hole was. Today we might call it the ambush hole.

I learned I was mistaken about the dark stone being throughout the castles. The family rooms were plastered to give it a bright and comfortable feeling. 

The construction work going on in the ground floor room.

Did you know this fact about internal castle stairs? I didn't.

You can see where the fireplace was and the floor joists of the great hall on the second story of the central tower.

Darryl checking out the view from the Earl's bedroom.

Garderobe = toilet.  This castle had 3 of them.

Darryl demonstrates how to use the garderobe without the seats. It makes me thankful for the sweet smelling life we all lead here. Life in a castle with open toilets must have really stunk.

The Young Ladies room.

The Kitchen. It's quite high up in the castle, where the banqueting hall was. I can't imagine the work it must have created to haul all of the food stuffs up several flights of those narrow, winding stairs.

If you had to climb these stairs several times a day you wouldn't have to worry about getting fat. I don't think Henry VIII would have been able to get up these stairs.

On top of the castle, What a view. That's part of the wall and the poison garden. 

One nice thing about touring in the off season is that there aren't crowds to contend with. No line of hot, tired tourists waiting to kiss the Blarney Stone. No feeling like you had to keep moving. Instead, we took our time and enjoyed the views. The men at the end are there to keep you safe while kissing the stone. Looking down you can see distinctly 3 of the 5 levels of common rooms of the tower house. 

There are several different legends of the Blarney Stone and where it came from. One legend is that it is the stone Jacob used as a pillow when he dreamed of the ladder going up to heaven and was brought back by crusaders.

Another legend is that it is 1/2 of the Stone of Scone given to the Chieftain in Ireland by Robert Bruce, King of Scotland to keep it safe. That's why it's built into the top of the castle. 

Or Maybe Cormac McCarthy rescued a witch who told him of the powers the stone in his castle would give him if he kissed it.

Or it might have been a stone blessed by a fairy and used in the castle and would give those who kissed it the gift of eloquence.

Whatever you believe I wasn't going to leave until Darryl and I had kissed the stone. I just had no idea you had to bend over backward to do it.

I bought my "Castle" picture from the gift shop that is taken with a stationary camera. You get a different take on how far back you are actually bending.

Another view of the beautiful grounds from the top of the tower. This country is so green and beautiful, even in the middle of winter! I know why they call this Island the Emerald Isle.

Yes.. we were there!

Another view of the interior of the castle. 

The little beige spot on the wall of the bottom floor is actually some original plaster work. Until now I never realized they plastered the inside of the castle rooms. Maybe they weren't so dark and dank after all. 

I believed they have sealed this plaster to protect it from the elements.

Looking the opposite direction.  This level was the family room. Above it was the banqueting hall and at the very top "attic" level was the chapel.

All castles and manor houses had their kitchen and herb gardens. Blarney castle has a beautiful Poison Garden too.

Interestlingly, the humble hemp plant has to be kept inside the metal dome enclosure to keep people from stealing it. 

The castle grounds are quite large and we spent more than an hour exploring them.

I would go back tomorrow if I could spend more time in the Fern Garden. It is one of the loveliest and most romantic places I've ever seen.

And as Darryl and I were the only people there, it was so peaceful and serene.

 I let my imagination run wild as I pictured young maidens and handsome knights or a young Irish Chieftain and his lovely wife meeting in this secluded place to talk of their future and dreams and steal a few private moments and kisses.
 You can't see it very well, but there was even a waterfall. 

I believe this was my favorite spot in all of Ireland.

As we said goodbye to the castle we walked around the park and down to the town...

Where we met up with our tour group at the Blarney Woolen Mills. 
Oh the wonderful woolen clothing I wanted to buy. I think I need more tweed in my wardrobe. It was a massive store and I didn't even see half of it. We had a delicious lunch at the pub and then climbed in the van with the other 5 in our group and headed off to visit the last castle of the tour.