I have a lifetime goal of learning or doing something, significant to me, new each year! The only criteria is something started in one year must be credited to that year and cannot be carried forward into another year.
While stationed in Alconbury England, I thought, a tour and quick study of Ireland would be an appropriate goal. So I took a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. The tour started in Dublin on the east coast and ran along the bottom of Ireland and up the west coast.
Dublin in 1965 was less built up than London. We stayed in the old section and saw donkeys pulling carts thru the winding, narrow, frequently cobbled streets, rather than trucks. Milk delivered from large milk cans on the carts. Dipped, with ladle, from the milk cans into the home owners containers. This is my lasting image of Dublin!
The Ring of Kerry is a beautiful, verdant area, totally green and full of many beautiful gardens many of which we visited. Most if my fellow passengers were elderly retired couples who showed concern and care for a single lone woman, making sure she had a great time.
One of the last stops on the trip was Blarney Castle. Built in the 1400s. It has earned the reputation that a particular stone, in the battlements, when kissed would confer ” the gift of gab”! Being a quiet and shy person I felt this would be a worthwhile endeavor. The castle today is an empty stone shell, about 50′ high or 4 stories. When entering the main door you are surrounded by four stone walls open to the sky. On the right are stone steps clinging to a wall going straight up to the battlements. Probably about 4′ wide without a railing. Even tho I had not yet developed my fear of heights yet you can bet I hugged the wall in that climb.
This is one of several instances that confirmed to me the importance of traveling and doing things every year! No one knows how long they will live, so crowd as much into your life as you can as soon as you can! You see most of my companions were older and a four story climb was beyond their physical capabilities. Only four of us made the trek.
As I said the stone was part of the battlements and I will try to explain its placement. There was a stone walkway around the interior of the castle. Periodically there are drainage holes in the walkway with the wall continuing over the open area. The Blarney stone is the bottom stone of the battlement wall as the wall passes over the open area. Safety bars are in place today that assist you in the kissing ritual. Thick metal bars have been installed at the bottom of the well to help prevent you falling thru the drain hole. The view thru the bars is the TOPS of some beautiful large old oak trees. On the battlement wall two hand holds have been installed to assist you in reaching the stone. To do this you lay on your back, with your head over the hole, grab the holds, while a nice elderly attendant grabs your legs to prevent you falling. You pull your body out over the hole until you can reach the under side of the Blarney stone and give it a kiss. You have been given “the gift of gab”.