Daytrip to Blarney

Daytrip To Blarney

From bustling city center to deep forest serenity



In Aug 2023 we traveled with a Tour Group on a one-day trip from busy Dublin city to the most serene deep forest splendor at Blarney Castle Gardens. This blog post will include information on the Tour Group provider, the main sites we visited, a few amateur photos taken with our cellphones, and a few trip tips. Please share this on your social media platform. That will ensure that we build a solid visitor base and will contribute to the growth of this Blogging website.

Fern growing out of a rock wall at Athlumeney Castle

Leaving Dublin

Crips morning air washed over my face as we got off the NX bus that brought us from Navan into Dublin’s inner city.

It is just after 6 in the morning, the dawn is breaking, and the streets and sidewalks are buzzing with activity as people find their way to work, a college classroom, or possibly coming off a shift and are now on their way home.


Tristan and I started walking up O’Connell Street to where the Paddywagon would pick us up.

A tram rang its bell in the distance. The Luas clack-clack, clack-clack overhead as it passes over us on its suspended railway tracks. Taxi cabs sporadically stop to drop off or pick up commuters. Busses, motorcars, motorbikes, bicycles, scooters, and a myriad of pedestrians crisscross vast intersections in the most disciplined manner. Cleanup teams moved with a coordinated and committed effort to tidy sidewalks, bins, bus stops, and every nook and cranny in between.


The pace is fast.


Me and my backpack is somewhat slower. Jaw-dropping admiration for the vibrant and iconic city buildings, monuments and my steadfast photo-taking labels me as a tourist.

We joined a small group of ‘early birds’ at the pick-up point where we met the Tour guide, Rory from the Paddywagon Guided Tours provider, and a short time later the group of tourists grew to its full capacity.

The smiles and energy of the group raised the bar of my own excitement even higher as we started to board the vibrantly branded green tour bus just before 8:00 am and found our seats after Rory ticked our names on the list.

Rory then efficiently gave us the rundown of the itinerary, the do’s and don’ts of the trip, and then slipped into the driver seat and maneuvered the double-decker bus skillfully into the busy traffic.


We found the way out of Dublin city and within 30 minutes we were on the open highway as city buildings, business parks, industry, and factory sites gave way and became farmland where cows feed or lazily rest in green pastures.

We drove through the Golden Vale on our way to our first stop in the town of Cashel at the iconic Rock of Cashel. Then a quick lunch in Cork and a two-hour drive to Blarney Castle and Gardens.

While on the road we passed several round structures dotted along the way. Some of them standing in cemeteries amongst grey gravestones and others close to castle ruins. These prominent features in Ireland have their origin in a dark and difficult time of the country’s history. But more about that later.

Rory’s Irish accent, zesty language, innate storytelling ability, and keen knowledge of Ireland’s history gave an added layer of entertainment as the group of tourists often burst out laughing.

It is clear that most Irish take pride in their beautiful country, have strong opinions about the past and the future and are avid custodians of parks, monuments, and their overall heritage, however harsh and troublesome the latter has been.


The Rock of Cashel near the Town of Cashel

The first stop on our trip with the Paddywagon Tour Group was in the town of Cashel in County Tipperary at the magnificent medieval Rock of Cashel.


Rory warned that it is a somewhat steep hill from the parking area to the entrance of the Castle grounds, and indeed it is, but I was grateful to stretch my legs after the long bus drive from Dublin.


The Gothic Cathedral and Castle ruins stand very proud on a rocky limestone escarpment with rolling farmland stretching far into the distance. It was a magnificent misty and beautiful day as we explored the ruins and the ‘newly’ built cathedral also known as the Cormac’s Chapel. Cormac’s Chapel is said to be one of the most well-preserved examples of Romanesque architecture in the Emerald Isle. 

This site is more than a 1000 years old. Walking the grounds is humbling. It must have been a hugely committed and coordinated community that built this place into existence.


According to old legends, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a high mountain located about 32 kilometers north of the town of Cashel when St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, banished Satan from a cave. Satan, in a fury, took a bite from that mountain and spat it out at its current location, which is today known as the Rock of Cashel.


We took a few photos and then sat on a stone wall looking over the landscape. Mist started rolling in again and floated through the gravestones. It then rained softly as we headed back to the bus. The clock was ticking and the visit to Rock of Cashel was over too quickly. Rory had a schedule to keep. There was no time to visit the Wool shop. What a pity!

We moved on to have lunch in Cork and it was fabulous.

Our third stop of the day was at Blarney Castle.


Public Transport in Dublin

Luas is Dublin’s Light Rail Transit system, also known as the tram network. The Luas network is made up of 2 tram lines, the Luas Red Line (21km long) and the Luas Green Line (22km long) which interchange in Dublin city center.

Link to Dublin Public Transport

Paddywagon Tours

We found the Paddywagon Tour Group very enjoyable and their service to be efficient, on time, and offering a wide variety of Day Tours, Multi-day Tours, Private Tours, and cruise excursions.


The Golden Vale

“The Golden Vale is an area of rolling pastureland in the province of Munster in southwestern Ireland. The area covers parts of three counties: Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary. Considered the best land in Ireland for dairy farming, the region has been described as the “heart of the Munster dairying country”.

Link to Wiki


Blarney Castle and Gardens:

As we approached Blarney Castle many other tour busses were lined up already and group after group disembarked and trickled towards the entrance. The misty weather that we had at Rock of Cashel did not come with us to Blarney. The sun was shining bright and warm on the skin. Flower baskets overflowing with color welcome the visitor and set the tone of what can be expected inside the boundary walls.


We had 90 minutes before the bus will depart for the next destination. There were hundreds of tourists making their way into the grounds, many were eager to kiss the Blarney stone and being bestowed the gift of eloquence.

We opted for a quick walk through the gardens and were planning to return to the castle on our way back to the bus.


Neatly tarred walkways lead us into the most amazing of garden splendor. Flower beds and winding waterways teased us to go deep into the lush green park.

When we found the Druid’s cave we were hooked. With hunched shoulders, we explored the cavity of darkness. Only a few strategically placed lights show the way into the various dwellings. It is hard to believe that hundreds of years ago people lived here, probably hiding from Viking raiders or other threats. We tried to take a few photos, but it did not bring the space any representation.


A colorful site map that was given to us at the entrance showed us directions to the Witches Stone, the Wishing Stone, and on the way, we passed over the massive roots of ancient trees, passed numerous waterfalls, moss-covered rock walls, and later ended up in the fern garden.  Trees such as the Yews, Limes, and Spanish Chestnuts – a few of which are believed to be 600 years old and that the lucky visitor might sight the Yay birds or red squirrels pouncing around the tree branches.


As we walked the trail turned to gravel offering a split off into two or more optional routes. Taking us deeper and deeper into the forest. Not many people ventured this deep into the Blarney grounds. Only now and then did we cross paths with other hikers.


The sound of our footsteps was soft on the carpet of … and it felt like I became one with nature.

Much later we stopped for a sip of water and allowed the deep forest serenity to wash over our souls. We lingered there for a long time. Quietly. Stay still to listen to the melodious birdsong. Resisting to move forward. Afraid to let go of this moment, this place, this special time we have together.

In that moment we felt so very blessed.

We hugged and sent a hope to the heavens that this would not be our last Blarney Garden visit. 


Trip Tips

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra


Trip Tips Blog post by Misty Mind

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