Dublin, Ireland

Rail Tours from Dublin

Cork, Blarney Castle, and the Queenstown Story

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Back to the Ireland index. To see all of the pictures taken during this trip, go here.

The tour starts at Heuston (said Houston) Station in Dublin pretty darn early. We got on the Inter-City train bound for Cork. The train actually had a dining car where Linda and I got a cook-to-order breakfast. This being off-season, our tour group was pretty small. What a blessing it is to have a tour guide all to yourselves!

In Cork we got on a medium sized bus and headed off toward Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle has the mythical magical stone that gives the gift of gab to all who kiss it. Gift of gab is sometimes refereed to as "conferred eloquence." Whatever!

Neither Linda nor I kissed the stone. Watching someone kiss the stone was enough to convince me I wasn't suited to hang upside down with my head bent back in an upside down position in thirty degree weather to kiss a stone that hasn't been sterilized. Well, that and the fact that the kiss wasn't worth the scare.

Billy, our tour guide, in the unmistakable trademark yellow RAILTOURS jacket leads the group to Blarney Castle.

At the base of the castle are three openings. The largest, leads to the dungeon and an emergency well. The second largest was used by sentries. I suppose the sentries main job was to say, "Halt, Who goes there?" The smallest opening was a dog kennel.

The keeper's watch tower. This is within a stone's throw from the castle.

The castle looks as though it where built on a giant rock. Not sure what function the tower on the right had. We will be ascend the large tower to kiss the stone.

It is a bit of a chore to climb to the top. This part isn't too bad. At least the stairs are fairly wide.

These are the stairs going down. These were relatively easy to navigate. The circular stairs used to get to the top got more and more narrow as I approached the top. For the last part of the up stairway, my shoulders touched both sides of the stairway. Feeling a bit claustrophobic, I was very glad when I finally breached the top.

There is a bit of a cat-walk along the top of the big tower. The stone kissing occurs where the little girl is standing.

Looking from the opposite side of the kissing stone, we can see folks gathered around the kissing spot. The fellow with the yellow is taking a picture of someone kissing the stone. The guy on the right hand side wearing a hooded jacket and sitting on a green pillow is the guy who holds the folks kissing the stone so they don't fall to their deaths.

Looking up from the ground, you can have a pretty good view of where the stone kissing occurs. Look for that little patch of blue sky above the window.

The view from the top is good.

Cork (suburbs?) is expanding right up to the castle.

We ate lunch at the Blarney Woolen Mills Hotel and Restaurant which is adjacent to the castle before moving on to the next stop. The lunch was excellent and reasonably priced.

War always brings a great many calamities. The Lusitania is just one example. This ship was torpedoed just outside the harbor at Cobh (pronounced Cove). The entire community rallied to pick up survivors and victims of the disaster.

Most of the dead from the Lusitania were buried in a mass grave marked by the stone above. Apparently, the number of dead overwhelmed the available resources. They had to quickly bury the dead or risk even more lives from disease.

The German Navel Officer commanding the U-boat that torpedoed the Lusitania received a medal for his action. The medal is on display at the Lusitania Pub in Cobh. The pub is just to the right of the monument shown below.

Monument in Cobh (pronounced Cove) expressing the gratitude of the United States to the people of Cobh for rendering assistance to the survivors and victims of the Lusitania disaster. The inscription reads:
To the memory of all who perished by the sinking of the Lusitania May 7, 1915 and in the cause of universal and lasting peace.
They helped in the rescue - gave aid and comfort to the survivors and buried the dead.

"The Navigator" can be found along the waterfront in Cobh (pronounced Cove).

St. Colman's Cathedral overlooks the harbor at Cobh.

St. Colman's Cathedral sanctuary is beautiful.

In Cobh, where a number of Irish emigrated to the U.S. there is a monument for the first person to be processed through Ellis Island. Inscription:
Anne Moore and her brothers Anthony and Philip embarked from this town on 30 December 1891 on the S.S. Nevada. Anne was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the new immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York on 1 January, 1892.
This sculpture was unveiled by the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson on 9 February, 1993. It was erected by Cobh Heritage Trust LTD. and is dedicated to all who emigrated from Ireland.

The Cobh Heritage Centre has a pretty good display called "Cobh - The Queenstown Story." This is the story of Cobh intertwined with Famine, Emigration, Convict Ships, Titanic, Lusitania, Annie Moore, etc.

After the Cobh Heritage Centre, we took a commuter train from Cobh to Cork. Changed trains the the Inter-City train from Cork to Dublin. We arrived back at Heuston (said Houston) Station after 8:00 PM.