After three days in Dublin, enjoying local food, history, architecture, and landscape, it's time to hit the road. Departing the city, the 242-horsepower, 443-pound-foot twin-turbodiesel canters along smoothly and powerfully. For most driving, the torquey V-6 uses the larger turbo independently to reduce fuel consumption. When passing maneuvers are called for, however, the secondary turbo kicks in at 2500 rpm to deliver the full brunt of the Rover's power. This diesel is quite the refined workhorse, muscling through the miles with seemingly little effort.
Only an hour or so southwest of Dublin, among the rolling green Irish countryside, sit the ruins of Kells Priory. This monastic site of worship, built in the late 12th century, is a serene collection of stone ruins nestled on three acres of lush fields dotted with grazing sheep. The gothic arches of the now-roofless church captivate me for hours, as I can't soak up enough of the lichen-stained rock walls and grave markers.
I relish the history and simplicity of these ancient ruins, but also delight in returning to the modern comforts of the Range Rover as the afternoon becomes chilly, and I switch on the seat warmers. The sky has grown dark by the time I reach Cork, but the Rover's new LED-ringed bi-Xenon headlamps have illuminated the road like a searchlight.
The most appealing part of Cork, aside from the English Market and the town's seaside location, is in the nearby town of Blarney whose castle is the home of the famed Blarney Stone. After climbing 100 stone steps up the narrow spiral staircase that leads to small rooms and corridors as it travels upward, a visitor is rewarded with the experience of lying down on the stone floor at the top of the castle and hanging his torso backward over the edge to kiss the Blarney Stone, which claims to offer the gift of eloquence. As I hang upside down off the edge to kiss the smooth, rain-moistened stone, I try not to pay attention to the four-story drop to the ground below. Thank goodness for the tour guide holding onto my legs!
The gardens surrounding Blarney Castle are as interesting as the architecture and history of the castle itself. The grounds seem to go on forever, as the castle sits perched on 60 acres of lush greenery, forests filled with witches' lore and Druid circles and gardens that played host to fairy rings. I could easily spend the entire day here.