Ireland is cold and green and beautiful. It is so cold and so green that it seems as if the snow has just lifted off the rolling hills and emerald plains where the cows feed and the horses wander, so rich and steeped in the greenness is the land. These past couple of days I’ve ventured around Dublin with my family, ambled for a short time over at Cork (where the statue of Saint Matthew, patron of temperance, can be sometimes found with a beer in his hand, a trickery the locals occasionally like to indulge in and a perfect anecdote to describe the temperament of the Irish), and visited the Blarney Castle and the Rock of Cashel. I’ve spent the hours on the bus to and fro reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu and then writing for an hour or two at night as I try to adjust to the clock here.

The streets of Dublin.

The streets of Dublin.

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Milling about Cork.

Milling about Cork.

Our tour guide was witty and knowledgeable, sharing with us many Irish-isms such as the poem about the Guinness mouse:

Some Guinness was spilled on the bar room floor
As the pub was closed for the night.
Out from his hole crept a wee brown mouse
And stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the brew from upon the floor
And back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar:
“Bring on the God damn cat!!!

When we left for the Rock of Cashel this morning at dawn, we were met with many tipsy Dubliners who had just watched the big UFC fight a mere few hours before.  Some were hanging out on stoops, smoking and sobering up. Drinking is not just for sporting events however; it is for all events. There is a pub next to a funeral parlor called Sin é, which means “That’s it!” in Gaelic. “So you can mourn your friends and drown your sorrows afterwards next-door,” said my tour guide.

Climbing up to the Rock of Cashel.

Climbing up to the Rock of Cashel.

Inside the Rock of Cashel.

Inside the Rock of Cashel.

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Graveyard at the Rock of Cashel.

Another quick tidbit I enjoyed was one of the legends about the Blarney Stone and how it came to have the gift of gab.

Blarney Castle.

Blarney Castle.

The legend says that there was a witch who was drowning and it was Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, who saved her.  In exchange for his kindness, she granted him a wish.  Unselfishly, he wished for his son’s severe speech impediment to be gone, and this the witch granted to him. This was the gift of gab, the gift all receive when they kiss the Blarney stone.

More pints and pubs await!

A quick detour to a cathedral to stretch our feet after a long drive.

A quick detour to a cathedral to stretch our feet after a long drive.

My treat from the Blarney Castle gift shop!

My treat from the Blarney Castle gift shop!

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