Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Day 8 Skibbereen to Blarney to Cashel to Dublin

Rock of Cashel

 October 24, 2021

Looks like the rain has stopped this morning. 

We're up and ready for breakfast at The West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen. It's a sad day, our last day in Ireland with Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland. This 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tour flew by.

After breakfast we meet outside the hotel to load up the van.

Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day to explore the Blarney Castle and Gardens and the Rock of Cashel.

If we drove from the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen to the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin it would be about four hours in the van. We're going to make two stops along the way for some more sightseeing and to break up this long drive.

First to Blarney Castle (and NO I'm not going to kiss the Blarney Stone-YUK!) about 1.5 hours away, then a stop at the Rock of Cashel about another hour drive, then on to Dublin. It's Sunday morning so traffic is pretty light.

We're very early to the castle and almost no one is visiting yet. This is great-no crowds!

Blarney Castle originally dates from before 1200, when a timber house was believed to have been built on the site, although no evidence remains of this. Around 1210 this was replaced by a stone fortification. It was destroyed in 1446 but subsequently rebuilt by Cormac Láidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muscry, who also built castles at Kilcrea and Carrignamuck.

The castle was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars and was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces under Lord Broghill. However, after the Restoration, the castle was restored to Donough MacCarty, who was made 1st Earl of Clancarty.

During the Williamite War in Ireland in the 1690s, the 4th Earl of Clancarty (also named Donough MacCarty) was captured, and his lands (including Blarney Castle) were confiscated by the Williamites.

We climb the narrow, winding stairs. How invaders in full armor could maneuver up these stairs baffles me. The stones are worn and slippery. Proceed with caution.

We make to to the top of the castle.
Ladies and Gentlemen-The Blarney Stone. The guy on the right helps you lean over backwards and upside down to kiss it. They snap a photo of you and you're done. Gift of Gab given-maybe.

We walk around the gardens and stop to see Blarney House.

Members of the Jefferyes family built a mansion near the keep. This house was destroyed by fire, and in 1874 a replacement Scottish baronial-style mansion, known as Blarney House, was built overlooking the nearby lake. In the mid 19th century, the Jefferyes and Colthurst families were joined by marriage, and the Colthurst family still occupies the demesne. 

It starts to rain, and you know what that means...rainbows!

We start to head back into town and we see...another rainbow!

This is our third visit to Blarney Castle and we've never seen it so empty.

Jay and I stop for a coffee and split a lemon poppy seed muffin. We meet the others at the Blarney Woolen Mills and we're back in the van and about an hour later we arrive in Cashel, to visit The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig), more formally St. Patrick’s Rock, is also known as Cashel of the Kings.

This is supposedly the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD. 

Long before the Norman invasion The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster, although there is little structural evidence of their time here. Most of the buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries when the rock was gifted to the Church. 

The buildings represent both Hiberno-Romanseque and Germanic influences in their architecture.

To quote from the WIKI entry “The complex has a character of its own, unique and native, and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.” 

The Rock is the setting of the fictional “Sister Fidelma Mysteries” mediaeval whodunits from Peter Tremayne.

The oldest and tallest of the structure is the well preserved round tower (28 metres, or 90 feet), dating from c.1100. Its entrance is 12 feet (3.7 m) from the ground, necessitated by a shallow foundation (about 3 feet) typical of round towers. The tower was built using the dry stone method. Modern conservationists have filled in some of the tower with mortar for safety reasons.

We've seen just about all we can see around the Rock. And it's time to head back to the van.

We all met in the car park and start the long drive to Dublin. We arrive about 5 p.m. and say our goodbyes to our fellow travelers. These past eight days have been a Wild Irish Rover adventure for sure.

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