Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!
Or evening as the case may be.
I have no doubt as you read this you are likely drinking some kind of green-chemically-coloured-food and/or beverage and wearing your greenest best, slurring about in your best Irish accent. Unless you are Irish in which case go back to your normal Tuesday. While I, on the other hand, am wearing a purple hoodie, jeans, and eating sushi in true St. Paddy’s Day fashion.
Now, I can hear you screaming at me through your computer- “You are spelling it wrong! It’s St. Patty’s Day”. No my fine friend, it is in fact Paddy not Patty. It’s not a beef pile you uncultured swine. It is a holy feast day of St. Patrick…cuz he did something with snakes…or maybe he turned water into Guinness. Yeah, that last one makes sense.
Either way it is the high holy day of getting wasted brought to you by the country who recently accidentally legalized methamphetamines for forty-eight hours.
How do I know all this you ask? Well it’s because I’ve been there once. Please considered yourself flipped off in a most bad ass manner.
Ireland is a beautiful country. Lush and green like every Irish wet dream you’ve ever had. I loved my trip there but there were some hiccups along the way.
It was my first year living in England and the school system in the UK is amazing because every six weeks you get a week’s holiday. The first holiday is in October and a friend who also made the trek across the pond suggested we go to Ireland. I said sure. That was the extent of our plan.
I knew we had made an excellent decision as we walked onto the tarmac towards the little double engine plane that looked like it had served in one or both of the world wars. The flight was short and we landed in Dublin just shy of a sheep pasture- not even a joke. For a brief instant I thought we would actually be landing in the field of sheep, before we hit the pavement. From there we tracked down a hostel (ah to be twenty again) and did some exploring.
As we had no plan what so ever we decided after a day or two in Dublin to make our way out to Cork, and from Cork to Blarney. You know, to kiss the stone. So off we went! Cork is a beautiful city and by far the best part of the trip. Other than running into some very friendly and hilarious Ukrainian tourists at the pub, and a man my dad’s age convincing us to come to a second bar with him , it was fairly uneventful (unless you are my mom in which case we definitely did not go to a strange bar with a strange man or accept a cab ride from his strange friend. I was sleeping. At home. Having zero fun)- so we will skip that.
For this next bit you need to know something. I am slightly claustrophobic. Nothing intense. I can do elevators and such with no issue- just not a fan of having my head under sheets, or being in really small, enclosed spaces like any normal person…ish. Also, I am terrified of heights. This is, what we call in the literary world, foreshadowing.
We made it out to Blarney Castle which is, at the end of a day, just a castle- run down, ancient, and built for people who were historically much smaller than us both in height and weight. So pretty much the most comfortable thing ever; and totally not haunted.
Many castles in the UK and area you are allowed, nay encouraged, to go inside and explore their tiny rooms via super small, slippery, worn down stairs.
Blarney was no exception. In fact, in order to wait in line to put your lips on something hundreds of people have put their lips on before you, you have to travel through the castle to its very top via those very same stairs. So that’s what we did. We made it through the rooms, and climbed the worn, slippery stairs.
Now somewhere about mid way up the staircase starts to get really small. Like super small. The stairs are closer together and your shoulders are brushing either side of the staircase. You may even have to turn slightly to continue to walk. It was about this point that I forgot how to human.
I had never had a panic attack before in my entire life and to be honest I kind of blacked out a bit. I remember sitting on the stairs under the lip of a floating room that had, at some point and due to some twisted version of physics, adjoined the staircase. I may have been holding onto both walls chanting in tongues.
Now, you know how tiny those stairs are, as a national tourist destination you can image how many people there were behind me waiting to climb their way to the top. You can also imagine how much patience they had for someone blocking the only way up. As in lots and lots! There was totally no angry yelling making the situation worse and me more confused. At some point I remember begging to be allowed to go back down the stairs, the answer was- from someone rather official sounding- no. There was no physical way to get back down the stairs- not with all those people waiting to get up.
I felt a pair of thick hands shove themselves under my arms and before I could call for an adult I was being hauled up the wall and dragged into the floating room. A deep, burly, sultry, thick, delicious, heroic, herculean, Scottish voice asked if I was okay. To which I answered with a string of gibberish.
After a few minutes I regained most of my senses and my Scottish hero, convinced I was not going to need him to throw me over his shoulder and carry me out (despite my best efforts), moved on. Alas, there was still a quandary. I could still not go back down the stairs. My only options were to rejoin the masses climbing up or else live the rest of my days in that floating room, flailing my arms and making ghost noises to earn my keep. Naturally.
I took a deep breath and spent the rest of the climb with my eyes closed, convincing myself I was not going to die entombed on the stairs that hundreds of people had climbed without indecent.
Breaking out into the open air of open upper level of the castle was possibly the best sensation in my life. I wasn’t dead. The stairs hadn’t claimed me as their own, and I could breath again. Now to kiss the Blarney stone and make it down the “down” set of stairs as quickly as possible and escape from the hellish place.
Where was the stone? Surely it would have been on some dias; or perhaps part of wall. You just walk up to it and kiss it right?
Somehow I had managed to explore the grounds of Blarney Castle, climb it, nearly die on the stairs, to make it to the top without finding out what you actually must do to kiss the stone.
I wish I had found my picture for this moment. My re-telling shall have to suffice.
To kiss the Blarney Stone you must hang, backwards, over a giant chasm that once was the meeting point of floor and wall, with only one metal grip bar and an old man fondling your waist keeping you from plummeting to the ground, and another old man snapping your picture- for the police report later. You lean backwards, grip the bar, dangling head first into the chasm, and kiss a stone on the wall that still remains on the far side of the chasm. ::Foreshadowing::
I had had it. No! I was not going to lean over open air to kiss that bloody stone. Not after almost dying on the stairs.
My friend helpfully pointed out the child who was currently kissing the stone with no issue. I stomped around, cursing the Irish.
Then I got serious.
No. I was not going to leave that bloody castle without kissing that stone. I would not let Blarney win. I wouldn’t let this once in a lifetime moment pass. I shoved people out of my way (being Canadian that means I waited slightly impatiently in line, swearing at people in my mind and then apologizing for it). My courage faltered as I laid on my back at the mercy of a very old Irish man, but did not have much choice as he pushed me back and told me to “hold on”.
I gripped the bar for dear life, laughing hysterically, and pushed my lips against the cold stone wall, hauled myself up and escaped the clutches of the castle as quickly as possible.
The rest of my trip involved travelling to a sea-side village, trespassing to get a picture taken with a large piece of stone, landing on a patch of stinging nettle in the midst of said trespassing resulting in a severely swollen hand, a tour of the Guinness factory, and visiting very old churches and seeing this….