Day 16: Elmer’s Kin?

Located on Bantry Bay, Bantry was once an active fishing port, but mussel farming has now replaced trawling as a local industry. The West Cork Chamber Music Festival happened to be in town while Laetitia and her group were there, and they attended several performances. A conversation overheard during intermission of one of the performances provided the basis for the day’s limerick.

A highborn young lady named Gantry
Created a scandal in Bantry
On her dress there were hints
Of flour handprints
That suggested a tryst in the pantry.

Day 15: Sangreal

Kinsale is on the coast south of Cork on the River Bandon near the Old Head of Kinsale. It’s a community of about 2,000 permanent residents. Its population swells to much larger numbers during the very busy holiday season. After dinner at one of Kinsale’s fine restaurants, Laetitia took her group to one of the town’s piers. While they were standing there a thirty-foot sloop motored into the harbor and tied up near where they were standing. The young couple that emerged from the ship was greeted by friends on the pier. Their overheard conversation provided the limerick of the day.

A bride and a groom from Kinsale
On return from their honeymoon sail
Did proudly report
When they came into port
That they had discovered the Grail.

Day 14: Pearls Before Swine

Carrigaline is only a few miles from Cork. It is a picturesque, quiet town with one street and was once famous for its pottery. The Owenabue River runs through it. Laetitia took her group there because it was a nice contrast to the crowds at Blarney Castle. They spent the day doing short hikes on the coast and around the countryside. Some gossip picked up at the restaurant where they had dinner provided the limerick of the day.

A fine lady from Carrigaline
All proposals from men did decline
Said she, “I’m afraid
I’ll end up an old maid
But I fear that I’m pearls before swine.”

Day 13: Blarney

No visit to Ireland would be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle in County Cork, home of the famous Blarney Stone, the bluestone slab incorporated into a murder hole in one of the battlements at the top of a castle wall. Murder holes are a common feature of castle ceiling gates and curtain walls allowing rocks, boiling water, or other noxious substances to be dropped on the enemy.

There are a variety of conflicting legends about the origin of the stone. According to one story, it was a gift from the Scots, a piece of the Stone of Scone, after the local king, Cormac McCarthy, supported Bruce at Bannockburn. There is another story, perhaps created by folks who had kissed the stone. It is that the stone was brought back from one of the crusades from the Holy Land where it had formerly been either a piece of the Wailing Wall, the stone Moses struck to produce water, or the pillow from which Jacob saw his vision.

Whatever its origin, the stone is kissed by thousands of tourists daily, presumably to achieve the gift of eloquence which is the purported benefit of the deed. Visitors pay a fee and allow themselves to be held by Castle staff suspended upside down in the murder hole. There are now guide rails and crossbars to keep stone-kissers from falling through the hole should those holding them lose their grip, but in the early days of stone-kissing there were no safety features.

Laetitia and her group arrived to find a long waiting line to kiss the stone. Most of her group decided to look at the castle and grounds and then move on, but a small contingent stood in line and kissed the stone. When one of the osculators was teased by her husband about how many disease germs she could get from the thousands of mouths that kiss the stone daily, she suddenly looked sick and ran to the ladies’ room to wash out her mouth with soap.

Being a person with a quirky sense of humor, Laetitia wrote the day’s limerick from the point of view of the stone.

Not a lover that this world has known
Has been kissed more than Cork’s Blarney Stone
And though some don’t kiss well
And most kiss and tell
‘Tis endured without ever a groan.