BLARNEY, Ireland – When we tell people we meet that we are from Maine, in the United States, they often look at us and within seconds say, “that’s cold.” They’re right of course, but Ireland also seems to be a land that understands the benefits of layering and a good dose of wool, not to mention a solid pair of walking shoes or boots.
The weather seemed to cooperate with our plans today and while it was still overcast and cool, the rain held off as we drove the 90 minutes from Adare to the castle in Blarney. Having visited the castle and the grounds before, we knew our friends would be interested in the history surrounding the ancient structure and people who lived there, and after touring through the castle we knew the village itself was home to one of the largest woolen stores in this part of Ireland. I knew there was a great pub to visit.
We walked along the shores of the Blarney river and laughed as we watched two local school teachers tried their best to corral 20-25 young children. They looked to be no more than six-years-old and it made me smile as one boy clung to the railing of a bridge as his teacher tried to implore him to step away from the edge of the running water. All I could think of was our grandchildren – every step was a new adventure for them.
The castle and the groomed gardens surrounding the ancient stone structure were quiet and most of the parking lot remained empty as we toured through the area. As the minutes passed, the sun worked its way through the clouds and we were warmed by a gentle breeze. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch – tea, brown bread, and hearty bowl of Irish stew.
After watching people come and go as we ate, we reluctantly gave up our table and made our way to the Blarney Woollen Mills. That was my cue to find a book shop and pub, another good day away from the snow.