Rock Close ~ Druid’s Cave ~ Wishing Steps ~ Witch’s Kitchen ~ Witch Stone ~ Fairy Glade ~ Where Two Rivers Cross

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

If you look closely you will see me peeking from through the doorway. Another enchanted forest lies beyond this wall. This post is going to be terribly long but it was impossible to edit it down any more than I have. 🙂

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

There were paths and stone steps leading every which way between boulders and gnarly trees. Following the map provided was more than a little confusing.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

But an occasional sign would sometimes give us a clue as to our whereabouts.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Druid’s Cave
Said to once be the home of a religious hermit who was fed and cared for by the Jefferyes family… it may well have sheltered many others through the centuries.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ entrance to Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ inside of Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ window at the back of Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking at the window (looks like a black hole near the bottom of the picture) from the outside of Druid’s Cave

The roots of the trees, I think most of them were Yews, were growing around the stones, and their branches made huge canopies over the rock formations.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Wishing Steps

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking down the Wishing Steps

For hundreds of years, the Blarney Witch has taken
firewood from our Estate for her kitchen.
In return, she must grant our visitors wishes.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ at the bottom of the Wishing Steps

If you can walk down and back up these steps with your eyes closed — some suggest walking backwards — and without for one moment thinking of anything other than a wish, then that wish will come true within a year.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking left from the exit of the Wishing Steps

We say only that the steps can be slippery and that we take no responsibility…

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ cannot remember what this was…

Witch’s Kitchen

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

Historians will tell you that this was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

But if you arrive early enough in the morning,
you may still see the dying embers of a fire.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

Firewood, paid for by your wishes on the Wishing Steps,
is lit every night by the Witch of Blarney,
as she fights to stop shivering on her
nocturnal escape from the Witch Stone.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another leprechaun bridge!
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another friendly robin

Witch Stone
It takes little imagination to see who is imprisoned here.
The Witch of Blarney has been with us since the dawn of time.
Some say it was she who first told the MacCarthy of the power of the Blarney Stone.
Fortunately for visitors,
she only escapes the witch stone after nightfall — and we close at dusk.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch Stone

Fairy Glade

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

The faerie folk of Ireland are famed the world over for their mischief and charm.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

They have of course been here longer than any of us and it is
our duty to keep them safe in this special glade.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

They do, however, have a native cunning.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ we just missed seeing the fairy who darted inside and firmly closed the door

So if you spot one, don’t let it be fooling you.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ more tempting paths to follow

There is so much to see at Blarney Castle & Gardens! Of the 14 things we could have seen here at Rock Close we saw only 5 of them. Elsewhere on the castle grounds there are more gardens, arboretums, woodland and riverside walks, the Blarney House… I could go on. There’s no way to see all this in a single day. I do hope I get to return here some day.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ so many majestic trees…

On our way out something else caught our interest:

Where Two Rivers Cross

Prior to 1870, the River Blarney joined the River Martin near the Rock Close,
but the course of the river was altered and the gradient was changed
to increase the outflow of water when Inchancumain Bog was drained.
The River Blarney was re-directed under the River Martin,
which was channelled overhead via a short aqueduct.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ where two rivers cross

At the point where the River Blarney emerges can be seen
the remains of an old flax mill.
It is a rare occurrence really in that one does not often find
a place where one river passes under another.
As a matter of interest,
the River Martin was known as the River Aumartin in the 1600’s
while the River Blarney was known as the River Whey.

Larisa picked us up and we headed back to her home. My cold by now had reached the runny nose phase and I went to bed early. Later that night Tim’s brother Josh arrived from England to visit with us for a few days. But this is the end of my photos.

The next day we went into Cork’s city center and spent the day shopping and visiting different pubs. It’s all a blur to me now because I left my camera at home and spent the day blowing my nose and feeling miserable. But I did manage to find some connemara marble for my sister!

And the day after that I stayed in bed while the others went to the Titanic Experience Cobh and saw Josh off at the airport later that day. That night Tim & I spent our last delightful evening with Katherine and her wonderful au pair, Anna, while Dima & Larisa went out on a date.

We arrived home on a Thursday and flew down to Georgia on Friday. Not pleasant flying so much with a clogged head! As it turned out Shannon had a sinus infection so we sat around talking ~ misery loves company. Tim and Nate were puttering around tending to techie projects and bringing us food. One afternoon we got ourselves out to a flea market and then a nice dinner out. And it was good seeing Julius and Dominic again ~ I cannot believe how much they have grown!

We flew home on Tuesday and I had my final radiation treatment on Wednesday. Phew! That was quite a vacation!

Today old man winter came back for a morning visit and left us 4 more inches of snow. A perfect day to snuggle in and finally finish these posts about our trips to Ireland and Georgia.

Okefenokee Swamp IV

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

In a swamp, as in meditation, you begin to glimpse how elusive, how inherently insubstantial, how fleeting our thoughts are, our identities. There is magic in this moist world, in how the mind lets go, slips into sleepy water, circles and nuzzles the banks of palmetto and wild iris, how it seeps across dreams, smears them into the upright world, rots the wood of treasure chests, welcomes the body home.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
sandhill crane ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
great egret – bill appears orange when breeding ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

As darkness fell we headed back through the swamp to the visitor center.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

photos by Tim Rodgers

It was too cloudy to see the full moon, but as we learned on this trip, we often didn’t get to see what we expected see, but what we were granted to see was more than enough to fill us with gratitude.

Okefenokee Swamp III

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To me, Okefenokee Swamp felt like a sacred place in the twilight, with Spanish moss hanging down like stalactites, and cypress knees rising up like stalagmites, like the ones often found in caves.  I grew up playing in Cedar Swamp, another mystical place, in the woods behind our house.  But this southern swamp is very different from, and much larger than, the swamps we have here in New England!

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

The swamp’s water is black, due to vegetation decaying in the water and leaching out tannin which stains the water in much the same way as the tannin in tea color the water in a teacup.  After the swamp exploration our skiff turned out into a marsh, where we could view the sun setting and see what wildlife might come near.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

One last batch of pictures from Okefenokee Swamp tomorrow!

photos by Tim Rodgers

Okefenokee Swamp II

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Cypress knees (above) are woody projections sent above the normal water level in the root of a cypress tree, usually seen in swamps. They may help to provide oxygen to the trees and may help to support and stabilize the cypress trees in the soft, muddy soil.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Not the best photo of a dragonfly (below), but enough to make out how different it looks from most of the dragonflies I see up here in the north…

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Spanish moss (below) is a bromeliad that hangs from oak or cypress trees. The plant has no roots and absorbs nutrients and water from the air and rainfall.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Spanish moss hangs from the cypress like old lace-pewter veils.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

photos by Tim Rodgers

Okefenokee Swamp I

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

If there were Druids whose temples were the oak groves, my temple is the swamp.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

On the night of a full moon, April 6, we took an enchanting sunset cruise on a small skiff into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. There had been a natural fire, started by lightning, about a year ago.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

In southern Georgia and northern Florida there is a very special place, one of the oldest and best preserved freshwater systems in America. Native Americans called it Okefenoka, meaning “Land of the Trembling Earth.” Now this place, where earth, air, fire and water continuously reform the landscape, is preserved within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1937 to protect wildlife and for you to explore.
~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Can you spot the alligator eyeing us in the next picture?

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

photos by Tim Rodgers