Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle, near the northern extreme of Ireland, is a massive ruin with many of its walls still standing. It is situated on a rock pillar, separated from the mainland by a gorge. This is, however, not without its risks. At one point, the cliff gave way taking a portion of the kitchen and several of the household staff with it. Thereafter, the mistress of the manor refused to spend another night in the castle.

Dunluce_3

As I arrived, it was a perfect day for sailing along the coast.

Dunluce_entrance

Dunluce as seen from the approach to the bridge crossing the gorge. In the event of an attack, this funnel leading to the bridge would be filled with cattle which, dead or alive, would foil a cavalry charge.

Dunluce_1

Another view of Dunluce Castle with fog rolling in from the sea.

Dunluce_foggy_1

Providence provided me with this opportunity for a moody view of Dunluce only an hour after my arrival under a clear sky. Thirty minutes later, the weather was again hot and sunny.

Inis Mor

Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands, is a Gaeltacht, an enclave of Gaelic speech and tradition.

Deirdre_sfw

During our visit, we were greeted by Deidre Ni Chinneide, a Dubliner who has taken up island living and the cause of preserving Celtic culture and spirit, largely through music. Her CD, Celtic Passage, is haunting and exquisite.

Inis_mor_old_church

As in much of Ireland, the remains of early churches serve as reminders of times long past.

Inis_mor_jaunty_cart

As a tourist destination, horse drawn carts, as well as bicycles, serve as common modes of transportation.

Blarney Castle

Home of the Blarney Stone and the world’s most unhygienic tourist attraction.
(But then, what’s the point of having an immune system if you don’t use it?)

Blarneygate

Blarney Gate — exit to the Rock Close

Blarney_rock_close

Small waterfall in the Rock Close

Blarney_lookout_tower

A watch tower at the castle

Blarney_stone

This is how the the Blarney Stone is kissed to receive the gift of eloquent and persuasive speech.  It is necessary to sit on the parapet, several stories above ground level, and, hooking your legs on it, lay over backwards, let your head hang upside-down, and kiss the stone.  In modern times, this is done with the help of an assistant who hangs onto the seeker of Blarney.

Blarney_house

And when the castle was deemed too drafty and rustic, a modern manor was built.