Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 9: a long strange trip

I think day 9 was a Thursday. This is not important. What is important is how far we drove. Go to this map. Find Waterford (its at the bottom) now find Kilkenny above that. We drove from Kilkenny to Waterford to just outside Cork then north to Cashel then back to Kilkenny, it was quite a day.

One of the places I had to see was Waterford, the home of Waterford Crystal. This turned out to be a good choice. Chris really liked the tour. We got to see them making crystal from start to finish. It is really fascinating. All the workers apprenticed for 8 years before they could be called master crystal makers and only masters work on the floor. Everyone can do every single job from blowing to engraving. There are no cheat sheets so the cutters have to have every pattern memorized. There are also no seconds. If any piece is not perfect, it is smashed. 
The coolest thing that I think we saw was in the cutting area, there was a guy working with this cabinet/chamber. We asked what he was doing and he stopped to show us. They were using sand blasting to etch very fine snowflakes in a champagne flute. The designer then wanted it acid dipped (what makes it sparkle) and more snowflakes etched after the dip so they would be white instead of clear. He was doing some R&D to see if what the designer wanted could be done. So cool!

In the showroom, were yes I bought crystal even though I was already wondering what to do with all the crystal we got at out wedding.

We then headed on in to County Cork to see Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. It was weird because Blarney only got a tiny blip in our guide book but doesn't every trip to Ireland need a trip to the Blarney Stone. The answer is No! I am not even going to put up a photo. There is not historical tour. There is no learning. You can wait on line for over and hour to kiss a rock that locals pee on at night. No thank you, I want my money back. If you go to Ireland and your friends say, "aren't you going to see the Blarney Stone?" Just tell them "no, it is crap." You heard it from me.

Luckily our foul castle mood was saved by our final stop, The Rock Of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is actually a hill and on it sits a very old monastery and residence. The chapel contains some of the oldest frescoes in the world. It has an interesting history in architecture and residence. It was here that St. Patrick converted the King of Munster so it is sometimes known at St. Patrick's Rock.

 The round tower at Cashel

 St. Patrick's Cross (a replica actually, the real one was moved indoors). Our guide said if you could get your arms around it then no more toothaches for life. Chris made a "that doesn't look hard face", there was a solid 3 feet between my hands.

We had a late lunch so we just stopped off at a store some pastries and ate dinner in our room at the B&B. Day 10 was our last day in Ireland.

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