We set off early glad to leave Courttown behind, travelling through the lush Irish countryside. We stopped for a coffee at a quaint little town, Carrick-on-Suir, slowly making our way to the Rock of Cashel. A 4th century fortification the stone fort was the seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century.
In the 5th century St Patrick went there and accidentally stabbed the then king Aenghus in the foot with his crozier. Thinking this was a painful initiation right the king bore the pain....with fortitude. Not very bright, he should have croziered him back. In 1101 Muircheartach O'Brien granted the Rock to the Church and in 1127, the bishop Cormac MacCarthy, started work on a Chapel which survives to this day and is said to be the most remarkable Romanesque church in the country. By the way a crozier is a bishop's staff representing a shepherd's crook.
The weather was a bit unpleasant but we pressed on, stopping at CastleHyde for 'afternoon tea'. Very posh place in the middle of nowhere. A very posh 'communion' lunch was going on in the dining room (how can all those people have a week day off), wine and food flowing. We sat, neglected, in the sitting room until they could find time to serve us. I don't think we were 'quite' well dressed enough.
Our final destination that day was Blarney Castle,County Cork. Blarney Castle is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, an ancient stronghold of the McCarthy's, Lords of Muskerry, and one of the strongest fortresses in Munster.The old castles fascinate me, how could people have lived in them, steep winding stairs that keep going up forever, cold forbidding rooms. We watched a couple of people 'kiss' the Blarney Stone (The Stone of Eloquence - which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it) but I wasn't going to let that old man grope me - actually I was afraid he wouldn't be able to hold my weight! Blarney Castle is only 8km from Cork City but seems to be deep in the countryside. There is a beautifully maintained garden around the Castle, so we managed to get our plant fix for the day before we went off to search for a little farmhouse to stay the night, much nicer than last night.