Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

The Blarney of Blarney Castle


When I began planning to go to Ireland the first thing that came to mind was that I MUST go to the Blarney Castle and kiss The Blarney Stone. As an oral storyteller this was a true pilgrimage. So I chose a day and booked myself on the Cork/Blarney Tour through Irish Day Tours and chose a Saturday to go. I had been in Ireland since Monday and it had rained on and off everyday. That’s really not a big deal if you are prepared for it but to climb up stone spiral stairs and walk along the upper battlement to lie on your back to kiss a stone while it’s raining—well can’t do anything about it.

As it turned out, Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day and now here I was looking up a spiral stairway with only a thick rope running down the center of it to hold onto. I slowly made my way up, stopping at the “Young Ladies Room” then the “Priest’s Chamber” above it and finally the kitchen. On the forth floor there are some modern stairs that take you to the battlements where the Blarney Stone is located on the south end. The interior of the castle has long rotted away so from this height you can see to the first floor of the main area as well as the countryside around it while you wait in line to The Blarney Stone. It’s a beautiful view.

Finally on my back, with my hands holding tightly onto two metal bars, a nice young man helped me lean all the way back to the area of The Blarney Stone for the kiss. The Blarney Stone was rather rough until you reached the part where you kiss it. There at the bottom lip it was smooth all across.

This intrigued me.
IMG_2021smallLater I asked a friend about it and was told that it was from all the kissing.   “Well,” I pointed out, “it was smooth all the way across not just where you kiss it. It’s like there was a lot of liquid that passed there at one time.”

“Oh,” she said, “I did hear that it is located where the toilet was.”

“Oh great.” I thought. “I kissed the arse of a stone lion in Girona, Spain so I will return there and now I kiss the bottom of a stone that was once a medieval toilet.”

I needed to find out the truth.   So I asked another friend and he told me that he had heard that the young men liked to climb up there at night after a good night’s worth of drinking and relieve themselves at The Blarney Stone.

Okay…this was all beginning to sound like a bit of Blarney to me so I did some research…Historical research.

The Blarney Stone that is kissed today is actually located on the south end and the medieval toilets or garderobe are located on the north end where the spiral stairs and rooms are. The Blarney Stone is actually a part of a machicolation, which is an opening where rocks, burning objects or hot liquids were thrown or poured down upon attackers. Ah, my lips are safe.

There is also a bit of confusion through history as to where The Blarney Stone is actually located. Some historical reports place it high up in the tower where it was rather difficult to reach, others place it on the highest north-east part of the castle, and still other reports place it on the face of the north-east wall.  All of which are difficult to reach. Wherever the true Blarney Stone is located, its magic of the gift of gab has permeated throughout the castle.

I should know.  I kissed it and that’s no blarney.


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Ha'Penny BridgeHa’Penny Bridge on the River Liffey

Night photography is more about color and light than the sunlight we work with in daytime photography.  At night we work with different spectrums of light giving off various colors that both lights our subject and reflects off of the environment around it.  Photographs taken at night show off the light in so many different ways because it is contrasted against the dark so much more and because there are so many different types of light coming at us.


O’Connell Bridge & Aston Quay

 At night I see so much more with the light than just illumination.  The colors, glare, contrasts, reflections, and textures:  photographing at night, for me, is more abstract.  It brings out the rebel in me.  I always love the opportunity for night photography.  Yet I have few opportunities because, well, it’s at night and walking around with a camera, passing dark streets and alleys is not a really safe thing to do–especially if I am not familiar with the city.


Grand Canal Dock

So with this in mind, I was thrilled when I found out that there was a guided Night Photography Tour of Dublin offered by www.Dawn2Dusk.ie.  Not a workshop where someone would be teaching me what to do—no—rather a tour where the guide would take me and others out into a central area of Dublin and show us the best spots to take photos of different points of interest.

DublinConvention Center Dublin Convention Center


Ha’Penny Bridge

The tour takes place by the River Liffey, where one can take advantage of the reflections and textures of the river.  Another plus that we had that night was that it was raining.  Rain adds to the mood of the photos with reflections on the streets and pavement.  It saturates the environment.  A raincoat to protect yourself, an umbrella to protect your camera and a soft cloth to wipe it down if it does get a bit wet are all you need.  I have a water resistant camera that can take some dampness.  I also used a tripod.  It’s a must if you don’t want camera shake and want to experiment more with exposure.


Graffiti on U2 Studio

The Dublin by Night Guided Photography Tour is the brainchild of David Cooke and Yvonne Costello of Dawn2Dusk that offers various photography tours throughout Dublin.  They began the night photography tour in the beginning of 2013 and have done a lot of footwork looking for the best spots for great photo shoots of the different bridges and buildings that are along the River Liffey.  David also gives interesting historical information about the areas that the tour stops at.


Reflection on Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Dublin has a lot to offer with its long history and development to what it has become today.  This Night Photography Tour is a plus giving visitors the opportunity to take night photos of this interesting and vibrant city.

Samuel Becket Bridge

Samuel Becket Bridge


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