Ireland Part II: From Cork to Waterford via Distillery, Factory and Castle

Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle

So, in a lot of guides and reviews, I found that Blarney Castle gets a bit of a bad rap, often called a tourist trap or not a very good castle.  Since we were in the area on a Sunday (and nothing else was open besides this and the Jameson Distillery) we gave it a go.  It was definitely worth a morning of exploring.  The castle itself is somewhat deteriorated, and yes, some of the humor on the signs may be a bit tacky but the view from the top of the castle is quite impressive and while it is a ruin, I have been to castles/cathedrals in far worse condition than this one.  We did kiss the Blarney Stone, I know, ultimate tourist, but we were there anyway so what the hell.  A man holds you as you lean backward, not quite dangling, to kiss said stone while photos are snapped to be sold in the gift shop.  Don’t worry there are safety bars to prevent you from actually falling. The exhibits on the history/lore surrounding the castle are quite interesting, and the Poison Garden, a garden filled with poisonous/hallucinogenic/medicinal plants is also impressive.  Labels (and often Harry Potter references) are attached to the likes of Nightshade, Juniper and Rue plants.  The most dangerous (or likely to be stolen) are caged off.  The rest of the grounds were beautiful, even in the fall and included a druid circle and altar and manicured fern and flower gardens. Our next stop was the Jameson Experience at Midleton. IMG_1510 I was impressed by this tour as well.  Although it was a little pricey, it was pretty interesting to learn about the history of the Jameson company and family in addition to the whiskey making process.  The tour is held in an old distillery that was used until the mid 20th century, and is next to a new modern distillery that you can see from the tour, however you do not get to tour the working whiskey making facilities.  I would say this is definitely something to do once, especially if whiskey interests you (or in my case beer making, so I was curious as to how whiskey is produced).  You get a sample at the end, and a few volunteers get a chance to compare with American and Scotch whiskeys. IMG_1529The House of Waterford Crystal tour was easily one of the highlights of our Ireland trip in my opinion.  I was a little skeptical at first, since I didn’t own any crystal and just knew that it was very expensive glass, but the tour really opened my eyes to what an art form and craft it really is.  Our tour only had four people, my boyfriend and I and another couple, which probably helped.  We got a brief history of the Waterford legacy and headed into the factory.  We got to see glass blowers at work-each piece is hand blown, and it takes years of training to become a master blower.  Then we saw the blown pieces get marked up, then carved by hand using diamond tipped saws (as you can see in the picture) and some were etched.  The amount of effort and craftsmanship in each piece is incredible, they really are works of art.  And the amount of training to become a glass cutter or etcher is at least 4 or 5 years, and it requires a lot of skill and talent.  I really enjoyed actually getting to see the pieces being made.  Lucas enjoyed holding the BCS trophy replica. 🙂 IMG_1532We both really enjoyed Waterford and wished we’d had more time there.  The Viking Triangle was fun to walk around and the city centre and restaurants looked promising as well (although we only got a chance to try one, it was very good.)  Now we’re already thinking we’ll have to go back to Ireland! What would you recommend for a summer trip to Ireland?

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Beachbums1 says:

    Poor Blarney Castle does get a lot of grief but I found the castle and, especially the grounds, beautiful. A lot of people warned us that it’s a tourist trap but we stopped in anyway. Didn’t make it to Jameson ~ next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for stopping by the blog:). I’m glad you enjoyed Blarney Castle too!

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  3. I recommend the west coast and in particular the Dingle Peninsular – it is a lovely part of Ireland.

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    1. I would definitely like to make it out that way! The weather didn’t cooperate this time though.

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      1. We were lucky, the weather was wonderful. I wrote a couple of posts about it – this is one of them: https://apetcher.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/ireland-the-ring-of-dingle-famine-and-music/

        Liked by 1 person

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