dsc06598This stop reminded me a little of the amazing Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, but without all the flowers, and with the addition of a medieval castle. dsc06595

I know that sounds silly, but imagine groomed walkways meandering through trees “dressed” in colorful knitted and crocheted “trunk wraps.” Seriously! I thought maybe it was to keep the infamous red stags from stripping the bark of the young trees as they scraped the velvet off their antlers, but I found out that the “tree scarves” are actually a part of the Cork Textiles network recent art installation. (Apparently, “yarn bombing” is a world-wide phenomena… Google it!)

dsc06604This “garden,” like Butchart, is really a series of unique areas and hidden visual treasures, a true oasis for weary tourists. Unfortunately, it’s so spread out, the hike from ticket booth to castle necessitated several rest stops. Fortunately, there are plenty of gracefully curved cement benches to sit on!dsc06605

The base of the castle itself has many cubbyholes and caverns that beckon the explorer. And on the final climb to the tower, a young Irish woman, dressed in green velvet, played the familiar tunes of “Danny Boy” and “Molly Malone” on a violin. I encouraged her to play the theme from Star Wars, as that garners good tips for the grandson of a friend of mine at Saturday markets. She good naturedly had me hum a few bars, then played a little of it, causing many laughs from the tourists and an influx of coins to her open violin case.

dsc06614Once I made the “final” climb to the castle, I knew there were 127 stone steps, spiraling upward inside the tower. If you wanted to “Kiss the Stone of Eloquence,” this was your chance. I watched as my fellow travelers were bent over backwards (literally) so they could press their lips to the slimy stone that was “washed off” when the young man “assisting” the contortion of the tourists threw a bucket of water at it.dsc06596

Thanks but no thanks. Even though I don’t have the “photo and certificate” to prove it, I’m pretty sure everyone who knows me would concur that I ALREADY have the gift of gab, thank you very much!

NOTE: My photos do not do this lovely place justice. Here’s a link for more info: http://www.blarneycastle.ie/