Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ireland Trip #55: Witches' Garden and Druids

Tom outside Blarney Castle
This is the final blog about our time at Blarney Castle in Cork County, Ireland. After walking though the castle, and covering the ghosts, we walked through the "Witches' Garden."  We'll also tell you about the ancient, native druid peoples that lived there as far back as 200 B.C.
Walking around the gardens

THE GARDENS -  Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations which have been given fanciful names, such as Druid's Circle, Witch's Cave and the Wishing Steps. The grounds also include a Poison Garden which hosts a number of poisonous plants, including wolfsbane, mandrake, ricin, opium and cannabis. Blarney House, also open to the public, is a Scottish baronial-style mansion that was built on the grounds in 1874.
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Rob outside of Blarney
There are several gardens throughout the property, and you could literally spend half a day walking around them. There's the "poison garden," the "fern garden," the Arboretum and Pinetum," the Herbaceous border," the Bog garden," and the "Irish Garden." Of course, there's also the "Witches' Garden."

To learn more about them, go to this website, specifically about the gardens: http://www.blarneycastle.ie/pages/the-gardens 

WHY A WITCHES' GARDEN? -Once we returned from our trip I learned why there was a "Witches' Garden." According to the book "Haunted Ireland," legend has it that an ugly Witch of Blarney gave the famous Blarney Stone to Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, a former inhabitant of Blarney Castle. Apparently, Cormac and the Witch didn't get along because the story goes that the Witch now lies trapped beneath another rock in the castle grounds. Makes you wonder what the witch did!

Druids had their own cave, too!
DRUID HANGOUTS- The Witches' Garden also honored druids, too!  The area was known for druids, so there's even a "Druid's Cave" in the garden. 

Inside the "Witches Kitchen"
WHAT IS A DRUID? -  They were not "tree lovers" as it a common mis-perception here in the U.S. In fact, they were members of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, Ireland, and possibly elsewhere during the Iron Age!!    The druid class included law-speakers, poets and doctors, among other learned professions, although the best known among the druids were the religious leaders. Very little is known about the ancient druids. 
The Druid Csve

THEIR EXISTENCE KNOWN THROUGH OTHER CULTURES - Druids existed before 200 B.C. and they left no written accounts of themselves! The only evidence is a few descriptions left by Greek, Roman, and various scattered authors and artists, as well as stories created by later medieval Irish writers.

WHAT DID THEY DO? - They performed animal and even human sacrifice, believed in a form of reincarnation, and held a high position in Gaulish society. Next to nothing is known for certain about their practices, except for the ritual of oak and mistletoe as described by Pliny the Elder.

NEXT: Behind Bars in Cork City

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next