“You know that feeling you get? You feel you’re older than time. You ain’t exactly sure if you’ve been away a while.” – Noel Gallagher.
It felt like I had warped myself back to the 90s when I did this excellent day tour with Irish Day Tours and Extreme Ireland. Despite growing up in Northern Ireland, I hadn’t spent this much time south of the border since I was a teenager. So, I got booked onto the Cork and Blarney Day Tour and off I went. Not only would I be kissing the Blarney Stone so that I can blag anything I want, but I would be visiting the town of Cashel, Cashel Castle, Blarney Castle and Cork City itself. All this would have the bonus of a 20 year long Oasis pilgrimage back to place where it all began – Pairc Ui Chaoimh. This was a textbook spot of Irish touring from an Irishman himself.
Where to Stay in Dublin and Cork
First up, if you are travelling in the Republic of Ireland, you will need somewhere to stay. Most tourists stick to the big cities – it’s just easier. Village life and countryside cottages have their charm, but for most of us, a few days in Dublin, Cork and Galway has become the norm. If you need a place to stay when backpacking in the Republic of Ireland, I’d go for the Abbey Court Hostel in Dublin and the Kinlay House Hostel in Cork. Remember, I try to separate all my articles and countries on here, so all posts on Northern Ireland will be in a different section to the Republic of Ireland (Eire).
The Tour Timeline from Dublin to Cork
Here is an overview of the tour itself, a highly recommended and easy way to cover a lot of prime Irish tourist spots in one day. I arrive at the meeting point for the tour, at 6.50 am by the Molly Malone statue in central Dublin, not far from Temple Bar. Malone is easy on the eye, even in her statue, she was a fish monger with large breasticles. The unshy statue showing most of them in their morning glory.
Our driver is a Dubliner called Derek, a great guide and most of my fellow tourists are Americans. It’s a big blue coach and very cosy.
7.20 am – by now our bus has filled up and we leave Dublin behind on the journey south west. Irish countryside is as green as they told you.
On the entire journey, Derek serves us anecdotes on Irish history and facts, a few of which were new to me and I have mentioned them towards the end of the article.
8.30 am – after a journey through some textbook Irish countryside, we arrive at a service station and petrol station in Laois. This is a perfect place to grab a quick bite and a morning coffee to take on board the bus.
During the journey we watch a documentary about Irish history. This is very informative to the Americans on board, as it delves into the politics of it, and the reasons for the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
9.09 am – we arrive in the town of Cashel. This is a famous town in the county of Tipperary. There is a huge castle here overlooking the town. The walls of this castle have never been breached. The sun is shining and it’s a nice day here in Ireland. The tour price includes our entrance into the Rock of Cashel.
Inside the Rock of Cashel, we tour the Cathedral, Graveyard and admire the countryside. Derek reveals the history of St. Patrick and its relevance to the Celtic Cross of Ireland. A symbol so synonymous with Ireland the world over.
We also learn that the Queen of the UK, Elizabeth II visited here in 2011 and we see photos from her visit. There’s a smaller church and a museum here too.
We are given an hour to enjoy the rock of Cashel and this also includes time to tour the souvenir shops. While Derek is here, on this tour you are free to roam on your own. I liked this element to it – no need to be tied down to following a tour guide round the place.
10 am – At 10 am we drive out of Cashel and are heading straight to Blarney next. Again, the journey down there has tremendous views and typical Irish countryside.
11.17 am – We arrive at the world famous Blarney Castle. Most of us on the bus are here to kiss the Blarney Stone, but there is so much more to do here, it’s incredible.
On arrival, Derek tells us we must be back at the bus by 2pm, so we have over 2 and a half hours to explore, grab lunch, do some shopping and enjoy Blarney. Here are the pick of my photos and the adventures I got up to, the highlights being kissing the Blarney Stone itself and making a wishing on the “Wishing Steps.”
2pm – We drive out of Blarney and are now heading to Cork. Cork is the second biggest city in Ireland, and often deemed the real capital city. I’d personally agree that it’s the real capital of the Republic of Ireland as I’m not a big Dublin fan, but Cork will still come second to Belfast City to me on the whole island. On arrival in Cork, we are given two hours here to tour the city at our leisure and grab some food.
I loved touring Cork, a really cool city. Cork’s city centre itself is on an island, linked by over 20 bridges.
You can get to ring the famous Shandon Bells at St. Anne’s Church, drink in the many bars, relax by the harbour and try some local food. You get about 2 hours here to see the city and we parked by the river Lee.
I enjoyed some drinks with my tour buddies in Thomond Bar in central Cork.
4pm – The tour ends and the bus heads back to Dublin City, getting back around 7pm. It’s a fantastic 12 hour day tour.
Here are some unusual things I learned on the tour, I won’t give away all the answers 😉 :
– The reason for the circle on the Celtic Cross.
– Why people use the phrase “Dead Ringer” when referring to a doppelganger.
– Whether or not St. Patrick really chased the snakes out of Ireland.
– How to tell if Potcheen is good or not (Potcheen is an Irish alcoholic drink made from potato skins – it’s illegal).
– That Croke Park is the third biggest sporting stadium in Europe.
– The the other half of the Blarney Stone is actually in Edinburgh Castle!
– What the phrase “blind drunk” means.
Here are the details of the tour I did and how to book it:
Tour – Cork and Blarney Tour
DEPARTURE TIME : 6:50AM ( Arrive 10 mins before )
DEPARTURE LOCATION : Suffolk Street – MAP HERE
€50 Student – Senior – Youth 13yrs / 16yrs
€27.50 Child 5yrs / 12yrs
Children under 5 free
THIS 1 DAY TOUR TO CORK INCLUDES PRICE YOUR ENTRANCE INTO THE BLARNEY STONE AND ALSO THE ROCK OF CASHEL; THE ONLY COMPANY IN IRELAND TO OFFER THIS AND 2HRS FREE TIME IN THE GREAT CITY OF CORK!
Here are my videos from the entire day out: