Cork and Blarney:
Our camp for two nights was just outside Blarney, a bit north of Cork. First job here was to catch up on the washing. In the camper and on the move, there is not a great deal of opportunity to do any serious washing and it had piled up a bit. Most of the time was spent putting the clothes on the lines, then rushing to get them off again when the rain started ... several times.
Blarney Castle was better than we expected - we expected a very touristy experience with loads of people lining up to kiss the Blarney Stone. What we got was quite impressive, a not badly restored castle with interesting information, lovely views of the surrounding village and countryside, and a beautiful garden in extensive grounds.
We duly climbed to the top of the castle, about 6 stories of winding stone steps, to where the Blarney Stone is, a highly unimpressive piece of shiny rock set low in the ramparts over a drop to the ground. Only the odd person decided to actually do the deed and kiss the Stone. Russ and I passed - the stone looked decidedly unhygienic with all that kissing and there was no way either of us was going to bend over backwards while being held over that drop. Apparently the gift of the Stone is Eloquence. Neither of us need it that much and will make do on what we have.
We caught the local bus into Cork for the day and sought out the tourist Information Office to arm ourselves with all the brochures to make sure we didn't miss any exciting places or activities in the city. We decided to follow a self-guided walking tour. Frankly it was a bit dull. Most of the time the brochure said things like: 'formerly on this site was an abbey...', 'the original building was replaced in the 1950s...' and so on. We got faintly excited when we almost saw a horse trough, but it was up another street.
Later we did part of the second walking tour and opted to check out the Cork Butter Museum. The gentleman at the desk was delightful and so pleased we had come to the museum. First up was a film about the history of butter in Ireland. It was black and white and SO old - it was like being back in geography class at school. We learned more about the history of butter than we ever wished to know ... ever. The displays were quite well done but again there are only so many butter churns of varying vintage and only so many antique milk cans that can hold your attention. Let's just say it was not exactly a riveting experience.
So Cork in general was a bit underwhelming. No beautiful bridges over the river, lots of hideous 1960s concrete monstrosities, a nice but not outstanding shopping precinct. When the promise of a horse trough and the Butter Museum are the highlights, it could not be said to be the city of Cork is a must-see.