Crossing into County Cork, we arrived at Blarney Castle, certainly one of the more familiar tourist destinations in Ireland. The extant castle dates to the time of Dermot McCarthy, which is to say about 1446. One of the regular features of castles, and churches in Ireland is round towers. These were originally perhaps bell towers, but they were also where the monks went to hide and protect themselves from Vikings and other invaders, and simply became part of the regular architecture of such structures. Actually, as you will see the castle, and the famous Blarney Stone (which no, we did not stand in line for hours to kiss. A waste of time!) are o.k. but the gardens are spectacular.
The only way to kiss the blarney stone is: 1) to climb to the top of the castle tower; 2) lean over backwards over that hole you see above in the last picture (now with protective railing, but not in the old days); 3) kiss the stone that is hanging out over the hole! Bad for the back, and not worth it at all. Here’s a bit more of the castle and towers.