How We Ended Up in Prison, Oh and Freemasonry

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Didn’t expect to find myself in the Cork Gaol(their spelling of “jail” – pronounced the same), but there I was. Real-human-sized creepy looking mannequin-type characters were set up along the walk through the old gaol, to show how things used to be, like. (In Cork, you say “like” at the end of the sentence, like. Not like in the middle, like Americans do.) Every one of the fake-woman’s names in that gaol was Mary. Makes sense, as Mary’s the most common girl’s name in Ireland(thank female representation in Catholicism). Some of the scenes of the fake-people were rather brutal—a guard whipping a little red-headed boy for instance (only redhead in the whole gaol, as well).

We got out, and headed to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. This was my favorite of all the Cathedrals we’ve been to the past few weeks, just beautiful. Two nights before, some one had thrown a rock through one of the stained-glass windows—not like those can ever be replaced.

In front of the choir, there’s a plaque dedicated to the memory of the only Lady Freemason in Ireland, Elizabeth Aldworth(initiated 1712). There are apparently many links between this cathedral and freemasonry, even today it’s “Alive and well.”

We went to the Loch, a lake in the center of town with swans and ducks. The sky actually cleared for us to enjoy a warm walk around the lake.I made sure to get enough of that Irish liquid luck in me before flying out, think I tried a fair amount for three days there:Guinness, Murphy’s(more popular than Guinness in Cork, Guinness is more a Dublin stout), Beamish, Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, Carlesburg(beer of the soccer team), Bulmer’s(cider…like tangy apple juice), Jameson(in a delicious Irish coffee), and Powers.

Guinness on tap in Ireland is worth the trip to Ireland.


The Gift of the Gab

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“The gift of the gab”, they call it, eloquence. That’s what you get for lying on your back, twisting your neck down and pressing your lips where thousands other lips have been. Well, my picture came out blurry the first time, so I kissed the Blarney Stone twice. Twice more eloquent, or does it backfire and the two cancel each other out?

What you don’t hear about Blarney Castle, is the tunnels. Tunnels and a poison garden. We hadn’t expected the mud-slicked eerie corridors beneath the castle to be open for exploration, but a few of them were, and we would’ve gone farther in if only I had dawned muck-friendly clothes that morning.

But the poison garden was swell, even in the rain. There was a sign for “cannabis” talking about how it actually wasn’t harmful, though I didn’t recognize any cannabis plants behind it. Either the kids had swiped it all or season’s not ripe for weeds yet. Also in the garden was salvia, a hallucinogen Mexican shamans have used(and also kids these days) and Hawaiian woodrose(another plant that makes you see things), among many others. Despite the title of the garden, most of the little signposts actually talked more about how –not- harmful the plants were, the positive affects and all that. Pretty interesting, but it was raining (usual for Ireland) so we bailed.

After Blarney, we headed back into town to ring the bells at St. Anne’s in Shanndon. I attempted Amazing Grace, and Bailey played When the Saints Go Marching In.

We spent the evening pub to pub, and found ourselves in The Corner House folk pub with Kilbeggan irish whiskey and more live blues. It was only their 4th show though, and you could tell. The girl’s voice was great, but she kept her eyes closed the whole time and the band wasn’t fully meshing like you need to, to groove with the blues.

We asked at the next pub what time the buses stop running, and they told us 11:40(yeah, Cork is pretty terrible with public transportation), they also told us to come back if we missed our bus.

Welp, we missed the bus. It stopped ten minutes before we got there. Luckily, another bus was going near where we wanted to be and the driver said he’d take us to the Bishopstown Pub anyway, right where we were the night before.

We didn’t make it to mass the next morning, but that’s okay because only older people go during the week, and we had gone the morning before. That makes third week in a row we’ve gone to mass this trip, also in three different countries (Vatican, France, now Ireland). Felt right going to a solid Catholic mass held in Ireland, something natural about it, like red heads and the color green.

Skipping Stones in Skibbereen

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On our way to Skibbereen, we stopped by seventeen stones in a circle, rare but there are a few of them found in the countryside of Ireland. This one was Liagchiorcal An Droma Bhig, or Dromberg Stone Circle. We couldn’t make it to Stonehenge this trip, but this was free and less traveled by.

The cottage was right on the coast. Green hills rolling into the sea. Peaceful. Quaint. No condos thrown up and stacked like Tetras on fire.

“If you go out into the water, and keep going that way, you’ll hit America,” she said. This is the Atlantic, there’s nothing in between it.

We went for a three-mile walk along the coast and up the hills, past some cows and some goats, and back down for dinner. Potatoes, carrots and broccoli, salmon and red wine.

Apple pie followed dinner, and then Bailey and I walked to the one pub nearby, the Skibbereen Eagle, for a pint of Murphy’s, we’d heard that was more popular than Guinness down in these parts. Guinness is a Dublin thing. We found the pub as expected – a couple farmers down the end of the bar.

In the morning we went into the town of Skibbereen to book our hostels for Amsterdam at a pub with wifi.

We walked to St. Patrick’s, a gorgeous church, altar-ornamentation even made by the local people hundreds of years ago. I knelt and prayed a while, and then we headed to Time Traveler’s bookshop. They had a book of letters of Anton Chekhov which I wanted, but it was pretty big and my bag’s already pretty heavy. They also had a bunch by Emile Zola, and some tiny falling-apart books I’d never heard of.

We headed back to the cottage. Bailey and I walked down to the water to a beach of flat-frisbee rocks – to our delight, perfect for skipping. We skipped stones until dinner (chicken and potatoes, veggies and beans), and then drove on in to Cork again.

First thing, we asked for the pub. The oldest one in Ireland was just down the street from us, called Bishopstown Pub.

The table next to us was full of kids who just finished exams. It was a bit weird seeing 18-year-olds in a bar, as you’ve got to be 21 in America, not exactly freshly finished with high school. One of them called me out on drinking stout. Apparently girls don’t drink stout. But they were drinking Budweiser. Haha.