Home » Kissing The Blarney Stone

Kissing The Blarney Stone

“May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
An Irish toast

I arrived on the Emerald Isle by ferry in the port town of Dun Laoghaire. There was a little shack outside the terminal offering assistance with accommodation. The lady working the stand was named Mary, and after a short discussion she offered me a room in her house for “15 punts.“ It was a cold winter night in an unfamiliar town, so I wasn’t about to go wandering around to save a few punts (especially because I didn’t know what punts were) so I took her up on her offer.

She drove me to her nearby house, and quickly put on a pot of tea. She introduced me to her dentally-challenged husband Chris and a friend he had staying with them. I took a nice warm bath, soaking in the tub and thinking about how interesting life is. “An hour ago, I’d never met Mary, and now I’m taking a bath in her house.”

As part of the whole B&B agreement we struck the night before, the next morning she served a decent breakfast of eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, and a weird meat patty that resembled a beverage coaster. I talked with Chris’ friend who was in town to see a rugby match. He told me that Chris was quite an academic.
“He was the Dean of a college in Limerick before retiring.”

As soon as he said Limerick I immediately started composing one in my head. “There once was a Dean named Chris, who’s full set of teeth were a miss…”
I took a bus into Dublin where I strolled along the River Liffey to the famous Ha Penny pedestrian bridge that you see in every “Visit Ireland” ad or postcard. Next to the bridge was a busker playing Barry Manilow‘s “Copacabana” with a hand saw and bow. I didn’t have a lot of money, but a street act that great has to be rewarded with a handful of funny looking coins!

I toured the Dublin Writers Museum. Beckett, Joyce, Wilde, O’Casey, Shaw were all from the same little section of Dublin. You can’t pack more famous writers into a few neighborhood without a literary shoehorn. After viewing the museum, and as a tribute to the Dublin writers, I visited the Guinness Brewery (because booze and Irish writers are synonymous).

I learned about how they roast the malt to create the dark Guinness coloring. After completing the tour they gave you a pint of the product, which is just enough to make you want another. Luckily there are one thousand pubs in Dublin, so it wasn’t too difficult to find a place to self-embalm. I started at the Wild Ass Inn, where I ordered a pint of Dublin’s black blood. The bartender poured the beer, scraped the foam with a straight edge, let it settle for what seemed like fifteen minutes, then topped it off with another pour. When he finally placed it in front of me it was foamy, creamy, and delicious. I noticed that others at the bar would order their next Guinness when they were just halfway through with their current pint. “Ah-ha!” The light bulb over my head went off, and I clued-in on the timing of how to order Guinness in Dublin. There were quality life lessons in those pints of stout. Good things come to those who wait. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Celebrate the small blessings in life. Enjoy the present, but plan for the future. And you thought I was just drinking beer!

The next morning as I was preparing to leave, Mary asked me to sign her guest book. “All my guests sign my guest book,” she said, “even the Italians scrawl something.”

I traveled by train to Cork City in the South, which is striking distance for a daytrip to the Blarney Castle. It was a cold and misty morning when I caught the bus to Blarney Castle, one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions. Each year over three hundred thousand visitors kiss the Blarney Stone, which puts it in the same smooching class as Family Feud’s Richard Dawson.

I climbed up the 127 steps of the skeletal castle where an old man assisted me with my bucket list goal. I laid on my back and bent over backwards hanging upside down while holding onto some iron bars and kissed the oblong block of limestone known as the Stone of Eloquence. The stone was cold, wet, and a little slimy, but still far from the worst kiss I ever had! Whether I was given the gift of eloquence, as legend promises, I graciously relinquish to your discretion, dear reader, so Erin Go Brah!