Hi Caite, I love reading your story about travelling in Ireland, and love the pictures.Now i know.....i have to go there!!!! In just one month, i will have a little TASTE....going to Dublin,but i'm sure i will be back in 2008!!! Thanks for sharing ,Greetz Joyce....See Ya.
Ah I'm glad you enjoyed Ireland!! It really is a beautiful place, but living here I think you start to take it for granted sometimes! It's kinda scary leaning back to kiss the Blarney stone isn't it?! Hehe! Was the man there to help you? xx
I did have a wonderful time. It was terrifying leaning back to kiss the Blarney stone. Not only am I afraid of heights, but it was raining so everything was slippery! I'm glad I did it though, and yes there was a man there to help me. xx
I've just realized I haven't finished my adventures yet! I'll finish the writing portion and then add some pictures. Enjoy!
Ireland Day 3: Clonakilty, Blarney, Cork City 24th October 2007
I woke up without any trouble this morning ready for Clonakilty. I got my ticket and found out I had a good forty-five minutes to wait so I walked around the city centre for a while and then went back to the bus station to wait for fifteen minutes. On my way to Clonakilty (Clona as it's called) we passed familiar sites as Clona is on the way (for a while) to Glengarriff. It was about an hour bus ride and the green hills were endless. Arriving in Clona the first sight that greets you are tons of brightly colored buildings – what a cheery town! I wasn't ready to eat anything so I walked down the high street until I came across a large church. I took a left and walked down a side street and to my surprise I saw another church-looking building but it turned out to be the post office. I later learned in the museum that was a Methodist Church at one point, but it was actually shut down after the lease was up and the owners didn't want to pay anymore. I continued to walk on that road past the boys school and straight into the outskirts of town – where the buildings were still very cheery and looked quite new.
Remembering Deirdre's (Deirdre Shannon formerly of Celtic Woman) advice I went hunting for Shanley's Pub which turned out quite easy to find – even for the directionally challenged like me. Unfortunately it was closed until much later in the day and I would miss my bus if I stayed. I guess I'll just have to go back to Clona again, oh darn. I then went in search of some lunch that I could take on the bus with me. I got a sandwich from a deli and continued to walk around. I went in search of a place that had some Clonakilty pudding (another recommendation of Deirdre's) in the time I had, but wasn't able to find any. Another reason to go back. By this time it was time to heard over to the bus stop. I got on the bus, at my lunch and promptly fell fast asleep. I guess Clona really took a lot out of me. I was so fast asleep that I didn't wake up for anyone getting on or off the bus at various stops on the way back to Cork. I managed to wake up while we were passing the hospital and stay awake. I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my day.
My mind kept wandering back to Blarney and to something I had seen in one of the gift shops there. I first went to the gift shop where I thought it was – it wasn't. I did end up buying a few things though. Checking my watch I realized I had about fifteen minutes until the bus came and I didn't want to have to wait two hours for the next bus so I quickly walked over to the next gift stop – Olive's Crafts and Gifts. The woman, who I must assume to be Olive, remembered me as soon as I walked in and she and her husband greeted me warmly. I found just what I was looking for and went up to pay. While her husband was wrapping the gifts Olive and I chatted. She asked me how I got on, how I enjoyed the castle and my trip to Glengarriff. I told her about a little boy who I had seen at the Castle who kept asking 'Where's the dragon?' and his older brother said at one point 'Look! It's there, just over there.' And the little boy's face lit up and he started looking around. Olive also told me that when I walked in she thought I was an illusion and that she was seeing things. She told me she had spoken to her husband about me and that I was very inspiring for what I had done and the fact that I did it alone and continued to travel around Europe on my own. During that her husband came out and agreed. They wished me the best of luck and I went across the street to wait for the bus.
On the way back I made up my mind that I would go out that night either with someone or on my own. Once I got back to the hostel I changed my key like we have to do every day and went up to my room. I tried the key but it didn't work. I tried it again. No luck. So I tried a few more times before I gave up and went down to the kitchen and TV room. I sat at a computer and checked my emails and updated a couple things, and after about fifteen minutes I went back up to my room. I tried the key hoping it would work because I was starting to get tired and wanted to put my things away, but it didn't. I walked back downstairs to get the key reprogrammed and not more than five minutes later was I downstairs again. The key just wouldn't work! I asked the guy at the front desk so he switched keys and came up with me. He used his key to let me in to my room. I settled my things in my room and met two new roommates. They were from New Jersey. I asked if they'd let me in if my key didn't work so I went out and tried it again – sure enough it didn't work. I started to wonder at this point if there was something wrong with my hands so I asked Callie (one of the girls) to try my key and see if she could get it to work. She could. She offered to let me use her key since her friend would have a key too just in case mine (now hers) didn't work.
I thanked her and went down to the kitchen to make some porridge for dinner. While there I looked online to find a place that played Irish music that I could go to later. I found a couple places and after I finished my porridge I left to find a place called 'The Corner House' which was just down the street. It was my lucky night as not only were they going to be having traditional Irish music that night, but the atmosphere inside was very comfortable. Everything was made of old wood and the walls were painted a warm shade of red, there was even a wood fire going. I walked back to the Brú (which means 'lodge' in Gaelic) and tried my key at the door I knew I had to enter by after the music – it didn't work! This time I just walked in through the pub entrance and around to the stairs to the hostel. Funnily enough the key worked to enter the room so I hoped it would work for me outside later. Callie and Laura were both getting ready to go to a Gay Bar for a glass of wine, but I still invited them to come with me later to the pub. I knew they weren't going to come, but I invited them anyway. I lounged around and relaxed for two hours before I headed off to The Corner House. At one point during the two hours I was singing very quietly. Suddenly I heard people singing back, but I kept singing. On my way out the door I stopped in the kitchen to get a drink of water and someone asked if it was me that was singing. I said it was me and they said 'You're very good. It was the Finnish girls who were singing back. They were singing their national anthem.'
Once I got to the pub the music had already started so I got myself a Guinness (which I've now acquired a taste for) and sat down. The music was really good. I didn't mind sitting alone because it allowed me to enjoy and observe true pub life in Ireland.
I finished my Guinness and counted my change, walked up to the bar and asked for another Guinness. While it was building a guy came up and ordered two Guinness'. He introduced himself as Vincent and asked me if I was here alone and when I replied 'yes' he invited me to join him and his friend (Paul) for the remainder of the night. I did so and we began to talk. They said they had discussed if I was indeed there on my own or if I was waiting for someone. I explained that I was travelling alone and that I don't mind if I've company or not, which prompted them to ask a series of questions and ending in a statement of 'I could never go into a pub, or hardly go anywhere for that matter, by myself. I've always got to have a bosom buddy with me.' We figured it's just how we were raised. We enjoyed a nice conversation bringing up every possible stereotype from the US and Ireland we could think of. I even included doing some accents for them and they commented that my accent was quite neutral for being from the US. We had lots of laughs doing that.
At one point they almost made me sing, but I avoided that – though I wouldn't have minded singing I didn't want to steal the spotlight from the fantastic Irish musicians already playing. Paul went for a smoke and Vincent turned to me and said 'You make me feel like I could actually leave. I was very angry yesterday and just fed up. Meeting you makes me realize I could actually do it. You're an inspiration.' When Paul came back we somehow got on the topic of sarcasm and they both said I was very sarcastic. Vincent went on to say that sarcasm is actually 'intelligent humor.' Paul then made a comment that I probably wished I was over at the table I was sitting at before, and before I could say anything Vincent said 'I think Caitlin here is a very smart, witty girl and will tell people to feck off if she wants them to. Also if she wants to leave , she will' and turning to me Vincent asked 'Am I right?' and I smiled and said 'Mostly.' This made Paul laugh and say 'You can't get any information out of this girl. We need to drink more.' So he went and bought more drinks. We spoke and drank until the pub closed. They gave me their cards and Vincent told be to be sure to email him, and with the promise of a pint when they are in London they walked out of the pub. I waited a few minutes before I left to go back to Brú. On my walk back I was praying that the key would work because I knew the pub was closed. Thankfully the key worked for both the door and my room. I walked in to find everyone was already fast asleep, so I quietly got ready for tomorrow and sat down to write this. I can't believe I leave tomorrow!!
Thanks for part 3 of your irish adventure You mentioned that the people you met thought that you were brave to be travelling around europe on your own - I also think that you are brave to do this. Its really the best way to experience a true sense of the place you are vistiting though - to be amongst the local people etc.
I enjoyed reading about it - thanks for sharing See you in Croydon in a couple of weeks
I've only come across this thread now. Sounds like you had a great time in Ireland, Caitlin.
Cork is one of a few counties in Ireland that I haven't visited yet. I hope to put that right soon. I've heard some of the scenery in the county is breathtaking. I wouldn't be too keen on kissing the Blarney Stone though. That just doesn't appeal to me at all.