Doing it for the fun of it.
I took a week away to celebrate my 30th birthday in a place I have always wanted to visit, Ireland. It was my first trip to Europe ever, and I was super excited about it. Everything went great, I had an awesome time, had amazing weather that even the locals told me didn’t happen often. I stayed in Blarney which is just beautiful, rolling hills filled with cows and lush green grass. I spent most of my time there just wandering around.
I of course went to the Blarney Castle, kissed the stone, although I am not sure it worked, still don’t feel very eloquent. The castle and surrounding ground were probably my favorite part. I went back multiple times exploring the trails that wandered around. Spent one day in Cork going to many of the Cathedrals, which were gorgeous. I even went to the Butter Museum. Yes, the Butter Museum. I saw a thing about it online when I was researching what to do on my trip and thought it was so ridiculous I had to go see it. I was very cute and small and had an entrance fee, but was quiet and had some interesting info on how butter really drove the country. The one thing that I didn’t like is that it was showing all these commercials for Kerry Gold butter, but I never saw one tab of Kerry Gold my entire trip. 😦 Very disappointing.
I also had planned to go to Carrigaline a small town south of Cork, to see if I could find Milo DeCogan’s castle. I am one of his descendants and really wanted to see if any part of it still existed. I did a little research online before I left and found the vague vicinity it was in, with the only landmark of a small Church that I knew was down the hill from it. SO I took a bus into Carrigaline and walked to the church, and with a wing and a prayer found this little side road that led to a Cheese Maker’s house. I went up to the door of the “office”, or porch, and a nice lady came out and asked if she could help me. I told her I knew it sounded weird but wondered if she knew where the Carrigaline Castle ruins were, or if I was anywhere near them. She kinda smiled at me and told me yes, they were just a little further down the road, but wondered how I knew about them. I told her I was a descendant of Milo DeCogan and wanted to see if I could find them to show my family when I got home. She just smiled at me and goes “Oh really? My husband is a Cogan.” How weird is that? Not only do I find the castle ruins but I also find family. So she walks me down the road and lets me know it may be hard to get to the ruins since they have let nature take a lot of it back since kids were having parties and bonfires in it. But I told her I would figure it out.
Now a little History. The castle it’s self began construction in 1180 and was finished some time around 1190. Milo DeCogan was a Norman knight under Strongbow and helped during the invasion of Ireland in 1170. He died in 1183 but his family remained prominent in the Irish gentry until the seventeenth century, where they then turned to farming the land around the castle. Some of the family obviously still holds land near it, and there were even a few Cogans in the town who still lived near by. I am not sure how distant we are all related but it is all cool non the less.
SO back to my story I started climbing/forcing my way through the brush trying to get back to the ruins.
Unfortunately for me thorny bramble, and stinging nettle grew up around the grounds and were an amazing 5 feet tall and thick as hell. I had never encountered Stinging Nettle before, and I never want to again. My legs and arms were on fire. I was bleeding from the thorns, and and getting very fatigued with how much pain I was in. But I didn’t give up. I finally made it back through the mess and got to the ruins. I was actually so tired and in pain I started to cry when I reached the stone walls. To think my ancestors built this thing, touched these walls.
It was amazing to see that history right in front of me. Not a lot of the castle still stands, a few outer walls here, and one corner where most of the fire places and chimney are. After just sitting down and taking everything in for a while I started my trek back through the bramble to find an older gentleman waiting, he gave me a big grin held out his hand and introduced himself. Pat and Ann were very kind to me and invited me in for tea. He told me about living near the ruins and playing in them as a child, and how there used to be 6 Cogan farms right around the castle but slowly people moved away, sold the land. His mother was a Cogan, she was born in the very house we sat in and so was he. He also told me one of the other Cogans in the town had taken back the ‘De’ to their name and his first son was named Milo. I hope one day he visits the ruins so he can be stand where the original Milo DeCogan stood and maybe do something amazing and note worthy for his descendants.
I definitely want to go back to Ireland again. See some other parts of the country, maybe visit Pat and Ann again. Take my dad next time, I know he would love it. But its time to get back to work. Come back to the present. Live in the now.