We parked our motorcycles outside Cahir Castle, admiring the ducks in the river outside the castle walls as the rain came down hard.
Built in the 13th century as a defensive castle, it was purchased in 1375 by the Butler family, who owned much of this area of Ireland, including several other castles. Because the family surrendered to Cromwell in 1650, the castle was spared destruction and was remodeled and renovated several times over the years.
Some of the rooms inside the castle have been recreated as they might have appeared around 1600. The banquet hall features an impressive set of antlers high on the wall.
We ate lunch in the Shamrock Lounge just down the street from the castle, because how could you go wrong eating in a place called the Shamrock Lounge? The food didn't disappoint, and we had a friendly chat with our waitress and the owner.
As you can tell from the photo, it started to rain again as we finished lunch, making it difficult to take pictures of the countryside as we rode along on narrow paved roads with hedgerows so close I could reach out and touch them - if I wasn't worried about thorns.
The rain held off as we pulled into the parking lot of Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone.
A wooden structure was built on this site in the 10th century, followed by around 1200 with a stone structure. The current castle was built in 1446 on the foundations of the stone structure. We walked through gardens of brilliantly-colored flowers on our way to the castle.
The guidebook wasn't exaggerating about the steep, narrow, and slippery winding stone staircases necessary to climb up to the top of the castle to reach the Blarney Stone. It didn't help that a misting rain was falling, making the stones even more slippery. The climb, however, was worth it.
We continued our ride south to the town of Kinsale, located on the southwest coast in County Cork, and the official start of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way that we'll be traveling for the next 2 days. We're hoping for less rain!