The second stop on our British Isles cruise will take us to Cork, located in the southwest of Ireland.
All I knew about Cork was what showed up in parenthesis on our cruise ship itinerary. (ie. “Cork, Ireland (cobh – For Blarney Castle”)
The Blarney Castle was familiar due to its Blarney Stone. The only thing I knew about it is that people kiss it. Which I first presumed was for good luck. (Otherwise why else would you kiss a stone? Maybe for good health?) But I discovered while researching Blarney Castle that kissing the stone is for something else. (Which I discuss at the end of this post.)
I’m not sure if the castle also has any ghosts, but it’s a castle (well, the remains of one), it involves a superstition, and it seems like the kind of place I might like to see.
But what else does Cork have to offer? I decided to investigate so I don’t miss out.
Points of Interest: Princess Cruises List
Blarney Castle topped Princess’s PoI list. But their other suggestions included:
- Kinsale or Youghal – Here’s the description from Princess’s site: “Kinsale is a historic fishing port featuring a pretty harbor, along with many well-preserved, 18th-century houses. It was off the coast here that the Lusitania was torpedoed by a U-boat during World War I. Youghal is one of the only few medieval towns in Ireland that still has it walls.” The Lusitania connection appeals to my macabre side, but from TA’s forums I glean it’s more of a tourist trap. (A picturesque one from the sounds of it, but definitely a place that caters to tourists nonetheless. I’m sure Wayne will pass on this one.)
- St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral – A cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Cork. The architecture looks very intricate. Might make a neat place to see.
- House of Waterford Crystal – Waterford, Ireland is the home of Waterford Crystal but it sounds like a full day excursion through the cruise ship to see glassware, which I am positive Wayne will have no interest in.
- Killarney National Park – This looks like a gorgeous park, but…it’s probably going to prove too far for us to get to and enjoy. It’d be the kind of place I’d like to come back to and experience longer.
- Muckross House – A 19th century manor house with a sunken garden. However it’s located in Killarney and is 50 miles away from Cork. That would have to be a tour experience. Sounds too far away to try and get to on our own. (And is likely something we won’t do as the excursion cost is substantial.)
Things to Do: TripAdvisor’s List
Next step was to check with TripAdvisor. A lot of their top Things to Do were what was mentioned on Princess’s recommendations –with the exception of Blarney Castle. (Since it’s not located in Cork. However, the forums did discuss how to get to the castle from Cork via public transportation. It will involve a little work, but is entirely possible –and cheaper than buying an excursion.)
However, a couple of other things caught my eye as well were:
- Ballycotton Cliff Walk – Supposedly a scenic place to take a stroll, but not easy to get to via public transportation. Would be more of a thing to do when you’re spending more than a day in port.
- The Nightmare Realm – A Halloween haunted attraction. Won’t be open when we’re there. (But of course it piqued my interest.)
- Cork City Gaol – Here’s the description on TA: “Corks Most Captivating Experience:A step back in time to see what 19th/early 20th century life was like-inside and outside prison walls. Historical experience brought to life with amazingly lifelike figures, furnished cells, sound effects & fascinating exhibitions.” Not sure if there are ghosts here, but I’m thinking it’s likely. Although I doubt Wayne will be much interested in seeing yet another jail. (He’s trying to escape work on this trip, after all. He’s often heard comparing his job to a prison so…don’t want to torture the poor man!)
- Jameson Distillery – We could chose to look for these kinds of spirits while in Cork. Trouble is we live in distillery territory. We’ve been on several tours. Maybe if we were whiskey drinkers we’d be more inclined. (However, my good friend is. A stop in their gift shop for a souvenir might be in order.)
Cork Tours on Viator
If we didn’t want to take the public transportation, there is a Cork Shore Excursion: Blarney Kinsale and Cork City Tour.
However, at 8 1/2 hours long and almost $100/person, I’m thinking public transportation will allow us more freedom to explore at our leisure. (Not to mention return to the ship when we want too.)
Another tour that caught my eye was the Viking Walking Tour of Cork.
A Viking tour? How cool would that be? Don’t know. Never been anywhere with a Viking history I don’t think. (Though my mind can’t be trusted anymore, so maybe I have and I’ve forgotten.)
At less than $12/person and only 1 1/2 hours, this might be a fun and different option for us.
One we won’t have the option of doing because we’re not there overnight is the Ghost Walking Tour of Cork.
The Blarney Stone: What Kissing It Really Gives You
During my research regarding Blarney Castle for this article, I came across more info about the Blarney Stone and what it’s really supposed to give you by kissing it.
Not luck, as I first thought. Rather, it’s the gift of gab, as in eloquence and flattery (or, as Wikipedia described it “deceiving without offending,” whatever that means.)
Because of where it’s located (in the parapet of the castle) you have to contort yourself to kiss it.
Oh boy. I can just see Wayne being thrilled I dragged him to hang backwards upside down to kiss a rock.