I never anticipated going to Ireland; at least not on this particular trip. I was supposed to head straight into Germany right after the Netherlands. One day while still in Ede, I received a message from a friend I met while in Las Vegas of all places. His name is Ciaran and I met him and two of his fellow Irish lads while we were on route to skydive. He invited me to come visit them in Cork, Ireland for awhile before I headed to Germany. I had no good reason not to. I’ve always wanted to see Ireland and this would be a perfect opportunity! “I’m in!” I responded. Little did I know that I would be heading to Ireland to visit these three people in just about a months time.
The flight from Amsterdam to Cork was just over an hour. I was out cold the entire flight from the lack of sleep I’ve been getting lately. I was so out of it, that I didn’t realize we landed until I woke up and looked out the window. Man, that never happens. Of course since I had a US passport, I had to stand in the immigration line with all the other Non-Europeans. It was a pretty quick moving line…that is…until it was my turn to present my passport. The man at the counter was an old one, with bushy gray hair that sprang out from the sides like he was the Wolverine. He had a legit full on Irish accent. “What brings you to Ireland?” he said. “Just visiting some friends.” Could I even call them friends yet? I just meant them briefly in Vegas.“How long are you staying for?” he asked as he flipped through the filled-up pages of my passport. “For about a week.” I responded. I actually have no idea…whenever I feel like leaving. “Do you have a return ticket?” he asked. That is the horrible question that always gets me stuck in airports. “No, I planned on booking a flight out once I settled in.” He looked up at me, still riffling through my passport. I think he was just checking out all the different stamps of all the places I’ve been. “Where does your friend live?” “I have no idea” I said. “I’ve never been to Ireland.” “How do you know him?” That’s the question where I knew I was going to be stuck here for awhile. “I met him in Vegas.” “In Vegas eh?” he responded profusely. “Yup, I met him and his friends while skydiving there! He’s actually probably waiting for me. He’s picking me up from here.” “Do you have his number so I can call and confirm your arrangements?” he asked. Umm, actually I don’t think I did. I can’t make calls outside of the States and we’ve only been in contact through social media messaging via Wi-Fi. “Actually, no I don’t have it but I can text him and ask for it.” “Do that otherwise I can’t let you go through yet.” he said. I connected to the airports Wi-Fi and messaged Ciaran telling him of the squabble I was in and that I needed his phone number. No response. So then I messaged his friends, Shane and Amie, asking them the same thing. Still no response. I sat there for a few minutes and still no luck. “Still no response?” asked the Irish Wolverine. “Not yet. But eventually he’ll wonder where I am and he’ll have to check his messages.”
Irish wolverine continued to flip through my passport as time went by with no response from Ciaran or the others. “How much money do you have? he asked. “On me? About 40 euros. “How much do you have access to from your bank?” I was a little taken back from the question. I never had anyone ask me how much money was in my bank account. Are they even allowed to ask that? If I told him how much I actually had, he’d think I’ve been smuggling drugs or something, especially with all the different stamps I had from the most random places in the world. “I have enough” I responded starkly. “It’s just difficult because you don’t have a return ticket” he said. I went on telling him about how I was visiting friends throughout Europe with no concrete plans in mind. And just as I was starting to convince him, Ciaran finally responded with his phone number. Soon enough, Irish Wolverine called him and confirmed everything I just told him. “Alright, enjoy your time in Ireland!” he said as he stamped my visa in my passport. Why does your stamp have to be so big Ireland? I’m running out of room!
Ciaran scooped me up and we went back to his parents house in a part of Cork called Douglas. There I met his dog Spencer and his pet
catbunny rabbit. That rabbit was free to hop around the house and had all the qualities of a typical lazy house cat. I met his folks afterwards who had really thick Irish English accents. It was actually really difficult to understand them, especially when the three of them conversed amongst each other. They speak so fast, it’s as if they were speaking an entirely different language! They were very pleasant though, even if it was hard to make out what they were saying.
We spent a chunk of the afternoon debunking many of the Irish stereotypes I’ve heard of back home. Meanwhile, Ciaran was planning where to show me around first. There’s a place called Kinsale nearby where Fort Charles is held. It sits near the shores of the Atlantic and we thought we go there first. A couple of his friends joined along and that’s when I realized, whenever he spoke to me, he slowed down his speech. His friends speak as lighting fast as his parents do. All of their words blend together, its almost as if they were mumbling really fast. Throw in all of those Irish-specific articulations and then I’m all sorts of baffled. “We’ll train your ears” Ciaran would say. Anyhow, onwards to Kinsale!
I have a fascination with castles and forts. They’re just so cool looking and rich with an unknown history of wealth, wars, and stories of kings and queens. Fort Charles was a fort built back in the day to protect the lands from an English fleet.
We walked around the fort, going through all of the quadrants and dark, mossy rooms. You could tell just by looking, a lot of the fort has been blown to smithereens by cannonballs launched from the Atlantic.
The next day, Ciaran and I went to Blarney to do what it’s known to do there: kiss the Blarney Stone. I completely forgot that was here until Ciaran brought it up. At the very top of Blarney Castle, there lies a stone embedded with the high walls. It’s said that whoever kisses this stone will be embraced with eloquence. I want to be embraced with eloquence!
Blarney isn’t all about the castle and stone kissing. It’s a large area of land with fabled forests of fairies, caves, and a river trail that lead to small waterfalls. The forest was interesting, not because of the fairies, but because there were certain areas where witches would reside. There was a huge tree in the forest and at the base there was a kitchen area carved out where witches would stew a brew.
There were even giant stones placed in a particular fashion where witches would…perform? Who knows. One of the things I found interesting about Ireland before even coming here; I knew it was filled of myths and stories of leprechauns, witches, and castles galore. Throw in the random woman playing a harp and flute near the pathway and I felt like I went back in time. It sounds silly, but really that’s the vibe I was getting. And I liked it!
Don’t even get me started on the food. So far, Ciaran has not disappointed with his suggestions. First there were the chicken rolls near his house earlier, but after Blarney, we went to a special place in Cork called K.C. & Son & Son’s. It’s the only place in Ireland where you’d stand in line for nearly an hour just to order some carry out food. Not just any carryout, a king creole and chicken bombay. It’s a thick pita made with magic ,filled with battered chicken, cheese, lettuce, some special sauce, and more magic. It’s the only place in Ireland you can find it, and there long queues every single day to prove it.
You can’t it eat there, you have to take it home and chow it down!
It looks messy but I promise you that it’s the best thing ever! It was the perfect way to end our night. Tomorrow we would head to the west coast of Ireland to walk the extraordinary Cliffs of Moher!