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An Unexpected Garden in Cork

Today’s blog was written by choir member, Megan Malone-Franklin.

After our concert at St. Fin Barr’s Cathedral in Cork today, we visited Blarney Castle & Gardens. About a 25 minute bus ride away, the grounds were absolutely exquisite. We didn’t do any research into the history of the castle or gardens before visiting, which is very uncharacteristic for me… trying to lean into “the music of what happens” as Mother Kate talked about earlier in the week.

We admired the imposing castle from afar (we opted out of kissing the famed Blarney Stone) and spent several hours wandering around the grounds. I was caught off guard by the stunning beauty of the gardens. Lush forest, picturesque creeks, and dozens of shades of green were all around us. 
Although the gardens had a few directional signs here and there and we were given a little (vague) map when we arrived, we felt quite lost much of the time. As someone who loves knowing where I am and how to find the most direct route to where I’m heading, moments of uncertainty like not exactly knowing where I am always bring a chance to practice breathing into the unknown and finding peace in the moment. I was gifted with many such moments today – and magical ones at that.
We stumbled upon breathtaking sight after breathtaking sight. From a hidden waterfall to a luscious garden bursting with 80+ varieties of ferns to a charming fairy glade, it seemed that every curve of the winding paths brought more delights for the eyes and food for the soul.
My favorite sights were in the Rock Close. There was something magical about the ancient rock formations, hidden staircases, and curving paths – all surrounded by glorious greenery. There is something so deeply fulfilling about being outdoors surrounded by beautiful plants. Our contemplative afternoon on was topped off by a light sprinkle of rain which seemed to make all the greenery glow somehow. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this inspiring site, all thanks to the music at St. James’ I’m so lucky to be part of.
Looking forward to what is to come in Galway!