Blarney, Zoo and a Map

I know, I know,

My titles are so creative, right?

Oh well.  At least you know what I’m going to be talking about!

First of all, my weekend didn’t exactly go as originally planned.  I did go on a bus tour to Blarney, Cork and some other outlying towns, but the other two I had planned got nixed, mostly for lack of funds.  (I have spent so much money here it’s a bit ridiculous, but I mean, come on!  Ireland!)  So Sunday ended up being kind of a lazy day, and then I went to the Dublin Zoo yesterday because it was a bank holiday and there was no work! =D

I still can’t believe how close it is to the end of my time in Ireland.  I just got an e-mail for my last survey about the program, and this week will be spent doing cleaning and packing after work.  I’m not sure how I’m going to pack everything–my suitcases were pretty full on the way here, so the way back will just be ridiculous, but I guess if push comes to shove I’ll have to ship some things.  Moving and packing are, like, my least favorite things to do.

But lets talk about the Blarney trip and the map!

There’s a nice picture, with the Blarney Castle thing in the distance.  I’m not actually sure if that particularly building is CALLED Blarney Castle–I feel like it is?  Maybe I’m confusing it with Blarney House.  Either way, they have a pretty large grounds area that you get to explore when you come, although there had been so much rain that a lot of the area was flooded when I went.

That’s some of the inside of the castle.  Everything was very wet, because it was still raining while I was visiting, and the whole thing is just a bunch of half-standing, half-crumbled rock and stone.  The doorways were all super-short, not built for a giant like me at all, and the spiral staircase to get to the top where the Blarney Stone is located was getting a little cramped!  Still, it was fun to imagine when people actually lived in that thing.

That hole at the top is actually where you lay down to kiss the stone.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I guess my idea of the Blarney Stone was a bit… skewed.  I always thought it was just a rock sitting out in the middle of like a courtyard or something, and people could just…y’know…walk up and kiss it?  WRONG.  It’s just a tiny hunk of rock built into the castle that requires you to dangle down backwards and upside-down to kiss.  Sort of terrifying when you imagine that people used to do it without the grating there to keep you falling to a horrible death!

Besides the castle, the Poison Garden was probably my favorite spot on the Blarney grounds–I mean, how neat is it to have a garden full of poisonous plants?  It’s a rad idea!  (As long as you don’t have any beloved family pets or children running around who might try to eat them…)

It had things like Wormwood, Mandrake, Deadly Nightshade, Poison Ivy, and even Tobacco, which made me laugh a little.  (I’m very anti-smoking–nasty habit.)  Next to each plant they had a plaque telling about how it is poisonous, and the ways people used to use them in medicine and such.  Like birthwart, which I guess they used to give women during labor?  Which actually SHUTS DOWN YOUR KIDNEYS, so.  No wonder women used to die giving birth all the time.

Next we went to Cobh, pronounced ‘Cove’, which was actually the last stop on the Titanic’s journey before hitting that iceberg.  It’s a cute little town with a Titanic museum, although I didn’t go in because I’d already gone to the Belfast Titanic Museum earlier and didn’t feel the need to repeat myself.  Still, pretty nifty!  And I got a ton of pictures of the harbor, water and outlying islands, so there you go.

This is a picture from a distance of Kinsale, the next stop on our tour.  We actually went down and into the town, but my favorite pictures of it were taken from above.  There was a pretty big battle fought here between a group of Irish and Spanish against the Brits, one of many in Ireland’s war for independence.  Not that you would guess from the very quaint and serene town I got to visit. 🙂

Finally we went to Cork, a rather large city in Ireland and one that many would argue should be the capital.  Here we have the English Market, a really old fixture in Cork.  I loved it because it reminded me of the West Side Market back home–smelling very much like their patented mix of dead meat and sweaty butchers.  I guess the Queen of England stopped here on her tour of Ireland last year–I wonder if she bought anything?

So that was my Saturday!

Exhausting as it was.  I had to be up at 5AM, which anyone who knows me will tell you is insanity, and the tour didn’t get back until quite late, so I wasn’t in bed until midnight.  I’m not sure that I could have done three such tours in a row, even if I HAD the money!  Besides, that just gives me a reason to come back to Ireland someday, right?  Unfinished business.

On Sunday I was enjoying my day off, and one of the things that I did was to draw a MAP for my story!  Since it is a fantasy, it takes place in a fantastical world, and therefore requires a map, like all good fantasy stories.  I’ve never drawn a map before, and I thought it would be hard–but I was dead wrong.  It. Was. AWESOME.  I had the best time just getting to make stuff up!  (I should have known–that’s one of my favorite things.)

It’s a pretty legit-looking map though, I have to say.  There are islands, mountains, rivers, lakes, a desert, plains, a valley, a gorge…  All the makings of a really cool world.  (At least I hope so!)  I even colored it because I had some extra time.  I would post some pictures, but it’s not quiiiiite finished yet, and I want to make a cleaner version on the computer.  Well, I also don’t want anyone stealing any of it until the whole thing is ready, so.. yeah.  But take my word for it–it’s totally deadly.  And inspiring, because now I can correctly reference where everyone in my story is going!

I also went to the zoo.  Did I mention that?

I think I did… Oh well.  Yeah, the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park!  I actually thought it would be a relatively small zoo, but I was totally wrong.  It was pretty big!  And they had a great selection of animals. 🙂  I like to go to the zoo at least once a year–no reason, just because I can I guess.  This year just happened to be in Ireland!  I got there at about feeding time as well, so I got to watch all the big cats gnawing on hunks of dead pig–yum.

(If you’re ever in Ireland, check out FOTA near Cork!  It’s also a zoo, kind of, but you get to just kind of roam around with all of the animals, who aren’t caged up!  (At least I think that’s how it works?)  I don’t have time, but I really wish I did!  I wanna see what’s really going on there.)

Soooo that’s my weekend. 🙂  Now I’m just back to that grindstone, and feeling a little sad that my trip is coming to an end.  Hopefully this will translate into some story writing, which would be great–needless to say, I’m quite behind on my Camp Nanowrimo!  Thanks for reading. 🙂




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