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What have I been up to lately?

I'm visiting Ireland and recently I was in Cork. A picture I took while in Cork

On Monday, I went to Blarney Castle

A large tree with Blarney Castle in the background
Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle and the remains of a defensive wall

The Blarney Castle grounds are large and gorgeous. I went on a weekday, so there were very few people around. It was quiet and there was no shortage of wildlife, which I tried to photograph with my digital camera.

Blarney Castle grounds Wildlife4.jpgWildlife5.jpg
A bird in the Castle Gardens Bird preening

The castle was amazing. It's almost intact, and you can explore to your heart's content. No one bothers you, and you can discover all kinds of little corners. At the bottom are some dungeons and caves where (presumeably) the castle's inhabitants stored food, water, and prisoners.

The castle dungeons

About half-way up is the dining hall, a large open-air room in the middle of the castle. When you get here, you really have to stop for a while, because the very narrow corridors, tiny stone rooms and extremely steep staircases might get you feeling a bit claustrophobic, despite the arrow slits everywhere.

The dining hall

Once I got to the top, there was a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.

Blarney Village View from the Walls
Ramparts Stream from above

And, of course, you have to kiss the Blarney Stone! BlarneyStonekiss.jpg

After exploring the castle, I went out into the gardens, which are every bit as amazing as the castle. The gardens were quieter than the castle and it was a great day, sunny and windy. I took my time and wandered around admiring the profusion of growth and the history that you could find everywhere.

The wishing steps in the Blarney Castle gardens with the sun at the top
The fairy glade
The druid's circle
The sacrificial altar
More wildflowers
The Rock Close, as advertised
A stream off the beaten track in Blarney Castle garden