Ireland Pilgrimage 2018 – The Eighth Day

Today’s journeying started at a leisurely pace containing one expected thing (i.e. it was on our itinerary), one not so expected thing (i.e. it wasn’t on our itinerary), and one event that fell into both categories. When combined together this was a day that truly wonderful and inspirational – and enjoyable to boot!

Leaving our hotel in Cork, we boarded our coach for a visit to the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork, which is known locally as the North Cathedral. We were meant only to pay a quick visit because there was a Mass scheduled, and we didn’t wish to intrude. But as things go, we changed arrangements at the last moment and so stayed for the celebration of Mass. We weren’t the only group of pilgrims either; there was a group from Sydney also present, and also composed mostly of teachers.

The celebration of Mass was an interesting experience. Quick. No nonsense. Containing a number of things that set my liturgist’s radar off. But it was Mass, and it was wonderful to join with the local community – and school children from nearby schools – to celebrate this highpoint of our faith. To do so in a building that beautifully constructed and adorned was a bonus. The light in that place, both artificial and natural, the latter strained through stained glass, gave the place a sense of warmth and Godliness that can so often be missing in religious buildings.

Leaving the Cathedral, we wandered through some back streets until we could rejoin our coach, and in the process learnt a little more of the history of that particular part of Cork…and discovered a small sweets manufacturing operation owned by father and son. Needless to say, they may have been able to have closed up for the day after we had made our purchases!

Rejoining our coach, we commenced our journey to our next scheduled stop: Blarney Castle. This is, of course, one of those places most tourists will visit when they come to Ireland, and we were both no exception and not alone in that place. We had the better part of a couple of hours in Blarney – both Castle and village – and were free to wander and explore both. The opportunity to ‘kiss the Stone’ – the Stone for which the Castle is famous – was embraced by some members of the group but not all. Others were more than content to wander the grounds of the Castle and enjoy the stunningly beautiful gardens and features.

It was the latter option that I availed myself of, and readers will eventually be rewarded with the photos, the many many photos, that I took in and around the gardens of Blarney Castle. They were breathtakingly beautiful, and I could have spent days in there exploring and photographing…and I may just have to come back and do exactly that.

After doing some shopping (well, watching while Mum did some shopping) and grabbing some lunch, we were back on the bus, heading to our overnight destination in Tralee. We are actually here for three nights, so it’s an opportunity for some washing, for taking stock, and for rearranging one’s luggage to make it more efficient.

After an early dinner, however, we boarded our coach once again for the quick journey across to Killarney. Why were we out on a Friday night? Because we had decided to avail ourselves of some cultural education in the form of Celtic Steps: The Show, a performance of traditional Irish music and dancing. And it was certainly worth the effort in doing so; the performance was fantastic, and the appreciation of Irish cultural heritage contained therein and communicated to the audience was something that the performers lived and breathed. They were enjoying themselves, they were immersed in their history, and the audience was privileged to be admitted to that for a short time. Even though this event wasn’t on our original itinerary, I’m glad it was included.

The show concluded, we boarded our coach one more time to return to Tralee, and to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s day trip.