Day 40 – Monday, 29th May, 2006

This morning we left on time and made our way to the Irish National Stud at Kildare. Russ and I had no interest in seeing the horses (the weather was bitterly cold and overcast) so we took the opportunity to see the Japanese Gardens laid out in another part of the Stud farm. This is truly beautiful, and tells a story of life as you wander through the various by-ways – the hills of learning, the tunnel of enlightenment etc.

We took lots of photos and then retired to the obligatory shop for scones with jam and a cup of tea. The souvenir shop did not open until 10:00am, and was very expensive in comparison to prices for the same thing at other places.

We then left the stud farm and continued on our way to the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. Coincidentally, this is also the place to find the largest Blarney Woollen Mills complex, where you can purchase Waterford crystal, Aran sweaters, cashmere shawls and heaps more.

Russ wanted to go up the stairs to kiss the stone – I didn’t think my back would handle lying down on a stone slab, – employee holding legs to weight you in place whilst you leaned back over a drop (amazing spectacle), and kissed the stone. They take your photo in this ridiculous position and then charge you €10 (Euros – Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union) to see yourself. This is after you have paid €8 per person to get into the grounds of the Castle itself.

However, Russ enjoyed the experience, did not pay for the photo of himself, and I got to take lots more photos of the surrounds which were beautiful. If you were out of the wind it actually felt warm.

Because it took so long to do this first I thought that Russ and I would have to go without lunch. The line of waiting was very long, the soup was very hot, and time was at a premium. We made it with two minutes to spare.

We then made our way through very pretty countryside and finally arrived in Killarney where we stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Muckross Road. Quite a few of us had signed to go where Ian had organised for a couple of Irish singers to entertain us at a local pub. They were not up to the standard of the singers at Jury’s Cabaret, but sang more traditional folk songs and it was good.

Dinner was put back to accommodate this visit, so we went straight to the dining room when we got back to the hotel. The rooms are very good, clean and spacey, and it is the luck of the draw whether you get a big or little bathroom.