Part 5: The Road’s End
May 7th, 2017
After driving several hours to Blarney, we both desperately needed to get out of the car and stretch. We stopped at what we thought was Blarney Castle, a packed parking lot overlooked by a huge stone structure. The building turned out to be Woolen Mills, one of Ireland’s largest department stores. We settled for a coffee from Insomniac’s—both of us thought the cappuccino was too milky. After exploring a park next to the giant parking lot, we noticed signs that lead to Blarney Castle—just a block away. We took a walk and scoffed at the obvious tourist trap that surrounded the castle. We never considered paying the $30 entry fee. It was a joke. When folks back home asked us if we would “kiss the Blarney Stone“ we laughed—gross.
We decided to go to our next B&B but when we arrived at 2 PM there was a note saying that we couldn’t check in yet. Tired, road weary, & bored—we decided to go back and take a look at the castle after all.
It was fantastic! Definitely one of our favorite visits on the trip. The grounds of the castle were beautiful! There was a huge area consisting of the castle, bridge, river, garden (poison garden), horse stable, and a large ornate mansion. There was even a small cave under the castle that could be explored.
I had an Irish coffee (coffee & whiskey) and Ashley settled for a vanilla cone. We made our way around the claustrophobic staircases, huge open dining halls, & and sleeping chambers to the top of the castle. And yes, we kissed the Blarney Stone. Even though we said we wouldn’t—it drew us in. There was something magical about the whole experience—maybe it was just the Whiskey.
In order to kiss the stone, you have to lay flat on your back and hang over an opening at the top of the castle. There’s a couple of bars to keep you from falling—oh yeah, and a friendly Irish dude who grabs ahold of you while you’re kissing a rock underneath a castle top. Not weird at all.
We left Blarney the next day and headed for Dublin. While we originally flew into Dublin Airport on the first day of our trip, we drove out of the town immediately. Now it was time to return and do a proper tour of the capital.
After arriving at our next B&B, we took a bus into the city and walked along the cobblestone streets to find Temple Bar, the oldest pub in Dublin. There we had a few pints of Guinness and were back to the streets. We searched down alleyways and eventually had more Guinness then fish & chips somewhere—I don’t remember now.
We walked through crowds of rushing people as bright red buses shot by. After a few hours of wondering, we made our way to Trinity College, in the hopes of seeing The Book of Kells. Sadly, the library was closed for the day and we left the campus tired, sunburnt, and ready to leave the city.
The Irish Sea
That evening we returned to our car and drove a short distance to the Irish Sea. We had one last thing to do before leaving for home.
While we were away on our trip, Ashley’s Great Grandmother Irene passed away. It was an incredibly sad time. We found out early on in the trip and the day of her funeral was our last day in Ireland.
So, we had our own memorial service for Irene at the Irish Sea. It was our way of saying goodbye to a sweet, loving, truly incredible woman.
The Road’s End
We have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life. What more have we to give one another than our ‘truth’ about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how? — Rabbi Saul Rubin
Looking back on our trip nearly 2 years later—I honestly can’t believe we flew together for the first time, overseas, to a foreign country, then drove hundreds of miles around the entire island and back. There were intense times, sad times, scary times, magical times, and fun times.
At the end of the road we were crushed, debilitated—wasted.
“It’s dangerous business going out your front door.” —Tolkien
I’ve never been so tired in my life.
It was insane.
It was something crazy people do.
But when I look back on my life I want to say “Wow, I can’t believe I did that.” rather than, “Wow, I wish I’d done that.”
I want to add more “Can’t Believes” to my list. I hope these stories inspire you to do the same.
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”