Friday, March 14, 2014

Irish Landmarks and Landscapes

In honor of St. Patrick's Day it seemed fitting to write a post in tribute to Ireland.  Not having had the opportunity to visit Ireland myself, although Irish blood flows through my veins, I sought out my best friend Melanie.  Having spent over 4 months in Ireland through her study abroad program I figured if anyone could give a great synopsis of Ireland she could.

You can’t celebrate on March 17th without a little green beer and lots of Irish cheer. Get into the St. Paddy’s Day mood with a tour of some famous Irish landmarks and landscapes. These photos were taken during my study abroad semester in Ireland in spring 2010.

The Blarney Stone is one main tourist attraction in southern Ireland. The site is a few miles from Cork, the second largest city in Ireland and my home base during the semester. It is said if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will be given the gift of the Gab – a remarkable and unique way with words. One example of Blarney…

Being a good student of Irish culture, of course I had to attempt it. Yes, attempt it. This isn’t something that can just be done. First, one must conquer a fear of heights. Blarney Castle is basically in ruins – no roof, etc. – which is fair, because it’s super old. But that does require a hopeful kisser to muster some courage and climb steep and narrow stairs. When you make it to the top, you find that not only will you have to venture down the stairs again when you are finished, but in order to actually kiss the stone, you have to lie on your back and scoot backwards over the edge of the castle. YES – the Blarney Stone is on a part of the castle that can only be accessed safely by having an attendant hold your back. Oh, but don’t worry, two metal bars would catch you if there were an accident. Not so nice for an individual who is scared of heights, but…. I had gone all the way there, and on Valentine’s Day no less.

Even though Blarney Castle is in shambles, Blarney House, also on the grounds, looks like a fairy princess castle.

The Cliffs of Moher are another iconic feature of the Irish landscape. An interesting part of the sight is that there is a large sign that reads something to the effect of, “No Passing Beyond This Point” near the top of the cliff side. It is kind of comical because no one obeys the sign. There did not appear to be any authority figures present attempting to enforce the rule, not that that fact makes it OK, but we couldn’t decide how relevant the command was for the present. 

One final attraction (because it is St. Patrick’s Day, after all) is the Guinness Storehouse. Now, I had never had a Guinness before arriving in Ireland but after enjoying the unique flavors and pouring rules (it’s actually an art), the Guinness Brewery was definitely worth the admission fee. But that is mostly because you can Pour Your Own Pint and enjoy a glass of the frothy brew and 360 degree view in the top-floor bar. Fun fact: the building itself is shaped like a Guinness pint glass and the top floor bar looks like the foam on top.

Some other great Irish views while we're at.

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