After a few days in Dublin we set out to see the real Ireland. I’d heard that the truly beautiful Irish scenery doesn’t begin until you reach the west side of the country and I found this to be true; if I were to do Ireland over again I’m not sure I’d even stop in Dublin, but might instead immediately rent a car and head for the hills!

This rental go-round we were lucky enough to get this little guy, pictured below. It didn’t have quite the same pickup as the VW we had in Scotland, but was an absolute dream when maneuvering between tight spaces and tour buses!! (= priceless)

We headed southwest from Dublin towards County Cork, home of the amazing Blarney Castle. We passed a handful of ruined castles along the way, including Duckett’s Grove, pictured with Julia below (castle camouflage was unintentional).

As we drove further west the landscape grew greener and more picturesque, to the point that some of my shots looked absolutely unreal!

The sun started coming out as well, which was especially appreciated once we heard they’d received nothing but rain the two weeks prior! (Views from the Rock of Cashel, an 800-year-old cathedral and fortress, pictured above and below.)

The first highlight of our Irish roadtrip was visiting Blarney Castle, which I recommend to anyone that has time for a stopover!

The historic seat of the MacCarthy Clan, the castle was built in the 1480s and looks like something out of a fairytale. The castle grounds are huge, offering a lake walk, river walk, lime quarry, multiple gardens and a tour of the castle itself.

It was total bliss just walking around the grounds for hours. As you can see from the pictures above and below, the weather was amazing.

Well, in addition to the fairytale castle and beautiful grounds, Blarney Castle also happens to be home to the famous Blarney Stone. I’d never heard of this wonder, though Julia had and was super excited to see it. As it turns out, the Blarney Stone is a major tourist attraction, and is listed as a must-see in Ireland! (Am I the only one who’d never heard of it??)

Dating back to the early 1600s, when the native Gaelic clans were at war with the English, the Blarney Stone owes its name to the builder of Blarney Castle, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, who was known on both sides of battle for his smooth and flattering banter. As years passed his fame grew and the tale of the Blarney Stone was born. Nowadays, one can climb to the very top of Blarney Castle, kiss the stone, and be forever granted the gift of eloquence. (Seems like a steal for 12€!)

What they don’t tell you is that the long stairs up the castle are treacherous, and that you have to hang upside down to kiss the stone! (Shots of and from the castle tower pictured below.)

Once you reach the top of the castle you’re treated to a lovely panoramic view… though a peek over the castle wall is a little more fun.

Once you’re around the top of the castle, a friendly gentleman helps you to not-so-gracefully lower your body backwards to kiss the famous stone, located on the underbelly of the castle wall.

There is a whole queue of people waiting to do this, it’s really quite a scene. Some people are too freaked out by being dangled over and can’t go through with it. I, of course, was more concerned with germs, and the idea of putting my mouth on something hundreds of thousands of others had previously kissed… (Fortunately, as any one of you who have heard me speak publicly would understand, my quest for eloquence won out and I kissed dat der stone!)

And that concluded our short time in County Cork! Beautiful sights, a ton of history and even more interesting folklore, County Cork is absolutely worth spending a day or two visiting!

Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie