Blarney Castle is a wellknown castle a few miles north of the town of CORK.
You may step up to the very top of the castle and kiss the " Blarney Stone " .
Simply lay on your back, bend back your head in a crazy way into a hole of the top-fence - held by a strong man - and kiss that stone, that will give you the " gift of eloquence "
I admitt, I watched other tourists doing so, But refrained to do it myself...
....Hmmm, maybe I should have done it, but now it is too late anyway ;-((
Blarney-castle is open Monday to Saturday:
May: 09.00 a.m. to 06.30 p.m. Jun-Aug: untill 7 p.m.
Sept: 09.oo a.m. to 06.30 p.m.
Oct-Apr: 9 a.m. to sundown (or 6 p.m.)
and on Sundays:
During Summer: 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
In Winter: 9.30 a.m. to sundown
Last Admissions is 30 minutes before closing-time !!
Admission is 7 Euros / 5 Euros for senor-citizens
16 Euros for parents and 2 children !
The Castle is open for the entire year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Bantry is a colourful lively port on Bantry Bay. Beautifully situated, it commands great views of the bay and the mountains. The only thing that we saw there though was the very centre with its market square. It was Saturday, not a market day, but there were still some street vendors trying to sell various knicknacks to the passers-by. But on the whole the place wasn't crowded and we were able to sit by the monument to Theobald Wolfe Tone and eat our lunch. It was only later that I discovered who he was. A Dubliner by birth, Wolfe Tone led the United Irishmen in the uprising of 1796, the aim of which was to put an end to the British rule in Ireland. The uprising might have ended in their victory, as the French Armada of 50 warships carrying 15,000 soldiers was coming to their aid. Unfortunately, a violent storm in which many of the ships sank, thwarted their plans.
Unlike most towns, Bantry has two and not just one statue in the main square. The other is that of St Brendan the Navigator, the sixth century saint and patron of many Irish towns.
Walk around the square and admire the colourful houses. And, if, unlike us, you have time to spare, go and visit Bantry House, beautifully situated on the Bay and full of treasures collected by many generations of the Earls of Bantry. In the courtyard of the House you will find the French Armada Exhibition Centre, which tries to reconstruct the life on the French warships at the end of the 18th century. Unfortunately, we had no time to get there so I cannot recommend it. I hope that you manage to see more of this lovely town than we did, including the great views of the Bay.
Beara Peninsula is in my personal opinion a much more beautiful part of western ireland than e.g. the Ring of Kerry and it is also an area, where most of the tourists pass by without even trying to explore that beautiful landscape.
Great and endless beaches, mostly without sand, but with a great mountain-scenery across the bay. The roads are mostly single-track-roads with passing-places and you will have to share them with sheep and cows.
The tiny island on which St Finbarr set up his monastery in the 6th century is situated on a lake in the midst of the National Park. It can be reached by a causeway and, as you approach the island, you can see the ruined walls which were once part not of St Finbarr's monastery - nothing had been left of that - but of a later settlement built on the same site around 1700 by Rev. Denis O'Mahony. This beautiful isolated spot in the midst of the mountains used to be the object of pilgrimage for people from far and wide who came here to attend Mass. Even now, on the Sunday after the Feast of St Finbarr (25th September) a pilgrimage is held to the Holy Island. The present Oratory was built there in modern times and has interesting stained glass windows representing County Cork's saints. The remains of the former construction include a square court with cells, the Holy Well and Father O'Mahony's tomb nearby.
It's a magical place, the magic being spoilt a little by the constant flow of tourists, all eager to see it.
Ilnacullin is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) in a distance of just a few hundred meters off the village of Glengarriff. Ilnacullin is the old name of the island and all of the island is an artificial garden, called Garinish (sometimes also Garnish) Gardens, well known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all over the world. Annan Bryce, a rich merchant from Belfast had this garden built for his private use in 1910 with several buildings around the island and the so-called Italian garden in the centre of it - it reminds a lot of gardens of places like Pompeji.
The island is open for visitors between March 1st and October 31st
the rest of the year upon appointement !
Regular ships-trafic according to the opening-times !
When you are lucky you may watch the seals in the bay,
when cruising to the island !
Most probably you will need the whole day to explore the whole island !!
The boat trip to Cape Clear Island was for me the nicest part of our day trip. Roaringwater Bay is not named this for no reason. The boat was rolling and it was hard to keep your balance without holding on to something. At one moment I got up to get a better view of one of the islands we were passing and instantly almost sat down on the lap of an elderly lady sitting next to me. But it was great fun riding the waves of the Atlantic, and listening to the commentary and even a live 'sing song' by a tour guide. The weather was gorgeous so we all sat on deck, took masses of pictures, admired the islands we were passing, waved to the people on the passing boats and watched out for dolphins which are said to sometimes accompany the ferry. We didn't see any but Katherine did notice a sea creature while we were still in the harbour - probably a seal.
The trip on the Karycraft lasted about 45 minutes one way and cost 11 EUR return. This was a special reduced rate for groups I think because a normal return ticket costs 13 EUR adult, 5 EUR child. The are three cruises a day in the summer but only one out of season so you'd better check their website.
Bantry ( Beanntraighe in the old gealic language) is mainly well known for the lovely Bantry Bay and for Bantry House that dates back to 1771. It was built for Richard White, the 1st Earl of Bantry (1767-1851) who had an important role in Ireland's history. In 1840 two more wings were added and today it is a museum for precious gobelins, icons, french furniture and great works of Art.
In the former stables of bantry House is the "1796 french Armada Museum" museum - the armada could not land there because of bad weather !
You may enter the park and the terrace facing the Bantry-bay free of charge. Only when you intend to see the galleries and the museum, you have to pay an entrance-fee.
Bantry House is open daily except sundays
between March and October 09.00a.m. - 06.00p.m.
in July & August it is open untill 08.00p.m.
The 1796 Armada Museum" is open daily
April-September 10.00a.m. - 06.00p.m.
Schull (pronounced like 'skull') is situated on the Roaringwater Bay of the Atlantic and commands a great view of the sea and the marina. It's a very pretty place with colourful houses and hotels gathered along the coast and with many palms and exotic plants reminiscent of the Mediterranean.
If you didn't want to go on the boat trip you could stay there and walk around but all of us wanted to ride the waves of the Atlantic, especially that the weather was very inviting. Driving the coach down to the harbour would have been a little tricky so we walked to the boat. I wish we could have done more sightseeing in Schull itself but the boat was already waiting. You can't have everything.
There are many attractions in Schull in addition to boat trips - you can climb Mount Gabriel for a great view of the area, attend a Star Show at the Planetarium, go fishing, windsurfing, golfing, diving or horse-riding. Or watch the Schull Regatta if you happen to be there in the week following the August Bank Holiday weekend. And in the evening pop into one of their pubs for a pint accompanied by live music.
The beauty of Cape Clear Island cannot be described in words, except by a poet. There is something so romantic in the rugged coastline, the hills covered with heather, gorse and wild flowers and the blue of the omnipresent ocean appearing at every turn you take. It's a heaven for hikers, birdwatchers, scuba divers, anglers, windsurfers, canoeists and anybody who loves closeness to nature, peace and breathtaking scenery.
We only stayed there for about two hours, so did not have time to explore the island fully. Our boat was moored in the northern harbour and we crossed the island to see its southern coast and admired the scenery from the cliff there. I wish we had had time to go to the lake, to see the Megalithic standing stones, the 5000 year-old passage grave, the 12th century church ruin and the 14th century O'Driscoll castle. There was a notice advertising a bus tour leaving the harbour every hour, but there was no bus waiting and anyway, taking pictures from a bus would have been awkward. It would be nice to return there and stay on the island for a longer time, visit the local pubs with their live music, watch the regattae and even see a winter storm. One day perhaps....
The small village of Eyeries (in Gaelic it is called Na hAoral) is about 10km north of Castletown-Bearhaven. It was great to see all of these colorfull houses there, mainly pubs and guesthouses, Bed&breakfasts etc.
In Eyeries I even saw a tourist-bus from the Netherlands last time and I really may not imagine, how it managed to get there on these small coastal-roads on Beara Peninsula.
I once had to drive slowly behind a group of cows & a bull, who did not want to leave the road for several kilometers, because there were the stone-fences at each side of the road and my car was heavy and loud, filling almost the full width of the road. The situation escalated, when a motorcycle came the other way - see my pictures !
Youghal is a small town of 6ooo inhabitants and still today it is partly surrounded by walls. The clock-tower used to be a towngate, later a prison and today all the car-trafic is going through it.Youghal used to be a fortified garrison-town for english protestant troops. Take a walk through this lovely town and you will see plenty of interesting buildings and shops.
The Bars " the undertaker " and the "ramble-inn" were my favorites !
The most interesting building in Macroom is the Castle Arch - the gateway to the once powerful Castle. Burnt out five times, the Castle itself, formerly the property of Sir William Peun, whose son founded Pennsylvania, is no longer there and some parts of the fortifications are in ruins as well. Last time the Castle was burnt out was during the Irish War of Independence on 18 August 1922 by the anti-treaty forces, who set fire to it before leaving.
The gateway still stands proudly though, inviting the public to visit the Castle parklands going down to the river, with some old oak and beech trees. I did go for a short walk there but had to go back to the coach soon. In front of the gateway you can see two cannons presented together with the whole estate to the town of Macroom by their last owner, Lady Olive Ardilaun.
Gougane Barra Lake fills a rock basin created by the iceberg and it is here from this lake that the River Lee takes its beginnings. As our coach went around the forest park we could see glimpses of the river meandering among the trees. There were some meadows with sheep and goats grazing but generally the forest looked pretty wild and unspoilt. You would never guess that the area of the park used to be practically treeless until 1938 when the park was set up and afforestation began. It's a rather unusual National Park which you can tour in your car taking the ring road. But there are also some signposted trails from really short - under 1 km to longer ones with great views of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
Crookhaven ( An Cruachan in Gaelic) is one of the very few places in Irelands south-west-coast that has a really big sandy beach and so you will find big camping-sites and many summerhouses there.
Mizen-peninsula is the perfect place for a quiet vacation, But you will need your own car or a bycycle.
This was our last stop before heading back for Cork. The place looked really pretty with its colourful houses lining the streets but we only had enough time to take a few pictures and have a snack at a local restaurant. If you wanted to learn about its past, which strongly reflects Ireland's history from pre-Christian period to the present, you could join one of Skibbereen Historical Walks starting from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 6.30 pm. One of the things you would learn from the guide is that this charming town, sometimes called the capital of West Cork, suffered greatly during the Great Famine of the 1840's, when thousands of its inhabitants starved to death. Visit the Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre to hear the tragic stories and follow the Skibbereen Famine Trail to see the buildings dating from that time.
The town is also known for having been at the forefront of the struggle for independence for Ireland and fostering the use of the Gaelic language.
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Yacht Club Quay, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Good for: Couples