My luggage wasn’t waiting for me at Heathrow as British Airways said it would be Friday morning; it got sent to Helsinki instead. But BA flew it back from Helsinki and it finally caught up with me last night in Cork, Ireland. It was so good to change into clean clothes!

This morning I visited Blarney Castle (pictures below) in the nearby town of Blarney. The castle was originally built about 800 years ago and rebuilt after it was destroyed in the 1400s. It’s most famous for its Blarney Stone, which visitors kiss so they can say they “kissed the Blarney Stone.” The stone is on the side of the castle about 100 feet off the ground. To kiss it, you have someone hold your feet and you lean backward over the wall of the castle. (They actually have a man at the top of the castle whose job is to hold you as you lean over.) The phrase “kissing the Blarney Stone” comes from what they used to do to interrogate prisoners. If a prisoner wouldn’t talk, they’d take him to the top of the castle and hang him over the edge by his feet so he was “kissing the Blarney Stone.” If he didn’t talk, they dropped him. Having hung over the side now myself, I can say without hesitation that I’d sing like a bird.

The Irish countryside is beautiful, and the castles that dot the landscape only make it more so. (One thing we definitely lack in the U.S. is castles!) Microsoft’s Clare Dillon was gracious enough to give me a personal tour of Cork and even introduced me to Irish pubs, where we watched Ireland beat Wales 1-0. She also educated me about the history of Ireland. Apparently Ireland has endured many revolutions over the years, but most of them failed because the revolutionaries couldn’t resist stopping by the local pub for a pint or two on the way to battle.

The more I learn about Ireland, the more I fall in love with it. Microsoft should hold more events in Ireland!

Blarney Castle (1)Blarney Castle (2)Blarney Castle (3)