Sometimes you just have to do what everyone else does.
We had a plan in our heads to go walking but the weather forecast said more rain and the cloud looked low, so not a great day to be in the hills. We looked at the map. It was time. We instructed Mrs TomTom to take us to Blarney Castle.
There have been buildings on the site since the eleventh century, starting with wood built buildings and evolving over time until it became the castle we see today in the fifteenth century. As castles go, it’s not the most spectacular or interesting that we’ve ever seen, but that’s not why people flock here by the bus load. It’s the Blarney Stone that people come for, specifically it’s to kiss the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone is said to give the kisser the ‘gift of the gab’, ‘the power of flattery’, ‘great eloquence’. In short, kiss the Blarney Stone and never be lost for words again. Dan looked at Rosana. Was this wise?
The stone is set into the battlements at the top of the castle. During the day the queue stretched down the entire length of the steep staircase, out the door and along the approach to the castle. We went for a walk around the grounds. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and in all honesty these were the highlight of the visit. Separated into distinct areas, such as the rock garden with it’s mystical witch, the pinarium, the poison garden with some fairly surprising plants and the fern garden, which feels like stepping back into the land of the dinosaurs. As we walked through the woodland area we found yet more wild garlic. Well, there was still room in the jar of pesto, so we went to work, receiving more curious looks from passers by.
As the day passed, the weather defied the forecast and steadily improved. The queue to the stone subsided as the tour buses picked up their passengers and we headed up. There are just some things you can’t leave Ireland without having done. It would be like not drinking the Guiness. If you stop and think about it, kissing a rock that’s been kissed by thousands, more likely millions of other people is probably not very hygienic. It’s best not to think about it really.
The Blarney Stone is not easy to reach. Getting to it involves laying on the floor, hanging onto some iron bars and leaning down into the abyss while a young chap hangs onto you. But we did it. We didn’t get the official photograph, that would have been a step too touristy.
As we made our way back towards the coast to look for somewhere to spend the night we stumbled across an ancient stone circle at Drombeg near Rosscarbery and stopped for a look. It’s hard to pin down what it is about these circles that draws us in and we’ll probably never truly understand them, but there was no denying that the place felt peaceful. The evening was becoming quite pleasant and the parking by the stones was quiet and out of the way so we decided to stay there for the night.
With another few handfuls for wild garlic, Rosana got to work creating more pesto, while Dan started on dinner.
Betty’s Recipe of the Day
Wild Garlic, Mushrooms and Chicken in Cream
A handful of wild garlic, washed and chopped.
An onion, roughly chopped.
A handful of mushrooms, quartered.
Two chicken breasts, diced
Creme fraiche (or cream, or yoghurt) 125ml
Flour (enough to coat the chicken)
White wine or cider
1. Fry the onion in a little oil for a while.
2. Add the mushrooms and fry for a short while.
3. In the mean time, mix some dried herbs and a little salt into some flour.
4. Coat the diced chicken in the herby flour mix.
5. Add the chicken to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes.
6. Add the wine or cider and the garlic. Not to much liquid, 100ml or so should do it.
7. Continue cooking until chicken cooked through.
8. Add the Creme Fraiche, just enough to bring everything together . Maybe 125ml or so.
Serve with rice.
You can alter this recipe easily by adding a teaspoon or two of something to the cream, Soy Sauce, Worcestor Sauce or Mustard will work.