Kinsale

Day 2. It’s 6am and Sophie, Eric, and I are awake solving all the world’s problems as we sit in the the living room of our airbnb waiting for the others to get up. Little did we know that they wouldn’t be awake for another 3 hours. Megan sleeping in isn’t that unusual but my parents sleeping till 9?! I almost went up to check for a pulse.

They finally emerge and we go for a walk into town to get coffee and breakfast. Leaving the house the house in all black we stroll down the wet streets as if we were a gang looking for trouble. Unlike the states, most of Kinsale is still asleep and our options on breakfast are limited. We split up and Sophie and I find a little fresh little bakery that has pastries and coffee. Grab the others and shortly after we are eating the freshest croissants, quiche, and sausage we’ve ever had back at the house.

While Megan is trying not to burn herself figuring out the shower, Eric takes a walk to the old wine castle to get some culture. Everything is so old and rich with history here. We sit around for a little bit discussing the itinerary which includes the kissing the Blarney Stone and finding a local Brewery.

In the van about to pull out my dad yells “We all in? Let’s go!” as he puts the van in reverse. We all get a quick laugh and the day has begun.

Blarney Castle is located in Cork and the grounds are beautiful. It’s lightly raining as we walk towards the castle and there is a man in full traditional Irish attire playing the bagpipes. This sets the stage for what life was like back then.

On the way to Blarney, Eric gave us a history lesson about the Blarney Stone.

“An early story involves the goddess Clíodhna. Cormac Laidir McCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, being involved in a lawsuit in the 15th century, appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told McCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart ‘the ability to deceive without offending’.”

To get to the Blarney Stone, we have to climb up 100 stairs in a tiny spiral staircase. This doesn’t sit well with my mom who’s claustrophobic. Sophie tries to settle her but then Eric, perfectly timed, says “man if you’re claustrophobic this would be terrifying.” My mom walks out of the castle.

We climb and climb and climb as we get glimpses of different rooms in the castle. Finally at the top and you can see clear across the country side. It’s like look into history. Nothing seems to have changed and you get a sense of what those who lived in the castle saw looking out over their land.

After we get down from the castle it’s lunchtime and we head to a local pub (naturally) for a pint and some warm food.

Heading back to Kinsale, we take a wrong turn and Eric sees a sign for the local brewery we’ve been wanting to checkout, Black’s Brewery. Driving up the place looks empty so Eric jumps out of the car and walk in to ask someone. Sure enough we see him talking to a guy who tells Eric that they close in 20 mins but we can come in for a quick tour and to sip some of the beers. If we had showed up this close to closing time in the states we would have been turned away for sure. Pouring us our first beers, the brewery worker starts giving us our tour and telling us about the variety of beers they make. Not only do they brew beer but they also have their own Gin distillery as well. This place is amazing! During the tour Megan asks the guy “So how long have you been working here?”. He responds “Well since we opened in 2013, I’m Sam Black.” We are all blown away and cracking up now because we’ve been talking to the owner and founder this whole time! Megan pulls out the selfie stick (obviously) and we grab a photo will him.

The next 20mins feel like we’ve been friends for years. Sam is super friendly, giving us all the details about how he and his wife got into brewing, his recent trip to Kentucky to research beer and liquor, and their plans for the future. We finish our Gin & Tonics which Sam made us after we tried all 5 of the beers, thank him and his wife for an amazing time, and get back in the van. There was another couple there when we arrived who walked to the brewery from town and were waiting for a cab. The never arrives and finally Sam’s wife just offers to drive them back to town. The Irish hospitality and friendliness is unmatched!

Pulling out of the brewery, my dad, who abstained at the brewery, looks left and says “I can’t see anything” and before Eric can respond, he says “I’m going” and peels out. Yesterday my dad said he would never want to drive in downtown Kinsale because the roads are ridiculously narrow. Well as fate would have it, their was construction on the way back and we had to take a detour through downtown to get back to our house. We joke that this is his final driving test for his youtube certification. He passes with flying colors and everyone is on a high from this experience. It’s almost as if it was meant to be that a wrong turn turned into such an incredible experience.

Back in Kinsale, we explore some more streets and pop into the Folk House. The bars here are exactly like you’d imagine them. Low lighting, old wood tables and bar, older Irishmen sitting around drinking Guinness and reading the local paper. They have what looks like 25 Irish whiskeys on the menu and Black’s brewery beers on tap. Sitting there an older Irish gentlemen comes by and shares some stories with us about his time here and in the states. He has a son that goes to Vanderbilt in Tennessee and of course he does because Megan went to University of Tennessee so why would we not meet someone with a similar connection.

We finish our round and head towards The Tap Tavern for some pre-ghost tour drinks. Eric found us a guided ghost tour of the town which starts at the pub and goes around the town. The night is foggy and lightly misty which sets the atmosphere you’d imagine from a Sherlock Holmes story.

The tour guide is hilarious, throwing quick jokes in the mix with some “Monty Python flair” as they advertised. As we moved from location to location there was a scare waiting for us. A familiar theme from growing up, I got Megan to jump as she was taking a picture and scared her from behind. The tour ends and it’s late but we hadn’t eaten anything so we make one final stop for some delicious pizza.

Back at the house we reconvene for a nightcap recap. Mom and Megan pull and Irish exit and we don’t see them again for the rest of the night. My dad pours Eric, him, and I a whiskey as we start going through the day. It’s amazing how we started the day with only 2 things on the itinerary and by the end of it, we’ve gotten into some unforgettable moments.

Two days in and this trip on a roll. Can’t wait for another day heading towards Dingle.

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