Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home Again

So we arrived back home safely from Ireland this past Wednesday via Aer Lingus & Sunshine Taxi!

I have a few comments about the trip.  First & foremost is, the hospitality of the Irish is everything I heard & more!  They are wonderful host & hostesses to their country & very welcoming, friendly folks.  If I came across anyone who was not, they were most likely another tourist.  Okay so there was one incident of sorts in Dublin that was a little odd, we just kept walking though ( some young girl allegedly need 2 Euro for a hostile & about that time a couple of others about the same age started down the side walk.  We didn't stick around to see what came next.

@ Newtown Farmhouse B&B, Ardmore County Waterford

Driving was quite an adventure!  Narrow roads with tour buses coming at us & sometimes while navigating the outside lane on the mountainside above the Atlantic Ocean or along a hairpin turn, & then you may have one or more pedestrians or bicyclers in the mix.  And the cars parked along the roads were turned every which way to boot!  Never a dull moment driving in Ireland...

The view from the passenger side dashboard! This road was wider than most...

One of the not so wide roads - on the edge of the Atlantic in many places too!

Oh can't forget about the GPS we were using:  sometimes the coordinates were a little off & we were sent down a farm road like this:
Sometimes the GPS sent us on a wild goose chase & we ended up in the boon doggles or we would be going down the motorway & it would be telling us to turn - turn where who knows but it wanted us to turn...
Or it was telling us to go through a round about in 1 kilometer but totally missed the one in 200 meters...
Or it was lost -or should I say it openly admitted to losing it's connection.  It was still a very useful tool to have to navigate with though I would still use the map!

We were even stopped by the Guarda (Irish police) at one point - an actual police road block where they were looking for someone.   The officer started to ask Antonio for his license & some other question when he saw the rental sticker & then waved us through.  My husband muttered something comical about being profiled... He made me laugh!

The car - that was something - in spite of the initial concerns (broken passenger side mirror, the dents, the dead battery on the key less fob) it ran well.  By the time we turned it in Tuesday evening, we had figured out the why of the mirror, dents & scrapes on the car.
The car from the driver's side (yes they go down the other side of the road in Ireland).  I have to say, my husband did a great job getting us around in this car.  He swore though that he would have his "abs of steel" from driving alone by the time we turned the car in at the end of the trip!

We didn't see or here anything that was a discernible ghost though if the one that was known to wake "guest" up at Ballyseede had knocked on the door at night when I got up to use the bathroom, the whole place would have heard me scream as I climbed out the window.
The lower window was where our room was located in the castle.  The entire upper floor in the wing is a banquet hall.  It was set up for a wedding party of 160 the day we left.
Side entry to Ballyseede Castle

We enjoyed the various locations we stayed at & the staff & owners do want you to enjoy your visit & have a wonderful time.  All would help in finding locations, tickets or making enquiries into just about anything for us.  I am grateful to Gerard & Tom at Avalon in Carlow, Theresa at Newtown in Ardmore, Darra & Niall at Sea View in Doolin Clare County, the staffs at Ballyseede Castle Tralee Kerry County, Castle Hotel Dublin & HI Express Dublin for the wonderful hospitality while staying with you!

Another Castle in County Clare - Leehman Castle I believe.  It was on private property so we couldn't walk up into it.  There are a lot of castles & lookout towers all over.  Many built during the Norman invasions though there are a few attributed to as late as Napoleon & even WWII.

Many of the many birds living on the Cliffs of Moher!  One of the things I found absolutely fascinating was both the number & variety (species) of birds lining ON the cliffs.  Each species, with the Puffins being the best known, had it's niche in the cliffs - the Puffins used the grassy areas while one of the other species made it's own cement (the white stuff in the picture is the cement they make not doodoo) & stuck their nest to the cliffs.
Saw this in Kilkenny - had to take a picture (I wonder if I'm related to them???)

Had some wonderful meals with different folks from various walks of life all of this planet ( Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Dallas, Philly, Boston & even some Steeler fans!) 

Yes - I would go again!  Enjoyed the country & loved the folks along the way!
Anyway I'm signing off for now.

Slan! Rita

Friday, June 17, 2011

On to Dublin & Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle near Dublin is one of the oldest castles of Ireland with the oldest part of the castle dating back to the 12th Century.  It was occupied primarily by the Talbot family until it was sold in 1975 to the State of Ireland by Rose Talbot.  The only period that the Talbots did not occupy the was from 1649-1660 when Cromwell awarded the estate to Miles Corbet.  Corbet was hanged after the demise of Cromwell & the estate was restored to the Talbots.  We did tour the inside of the castle, though we were not allowed to take pictures.  The woodwork & borders along the ceiling amongst other things (like a huge copper tub, some beautiful tables with inlaid woodwork, & gorgeous massive dining table & chairs) were all there to be seen.  The castle is haunted with the most notorious ghost being the murdered jester "Puck".

Garden walls at Malahide.

The church & cemetery at Malahide.

In the stable yard at Malahide

Lilies blooming on the castle grounds.

After visiting the castle here, we then went to check in to our last overnight stop, unloaded the rental car & return it.  Right up the road from the rental place too, so we only had to walk about a kilometer back to the hotel.  One last Guinness while Ireland to toast our stay as we head home to Chicago tomorrow!

Slan to Ireland but I bring home some wonderful memories, good times with my daughter & husband, many wonderful acquaintances along the way - even the four legged ones, many many pictures & a a few trinkets, sweaters & other gifts!

All in all in was a great adventure & we were blessed with safe travels!

 beannaithe taistil  cách!


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Burren of Clare County & Doolin Shore Line

Fisherstreet Doolin with Gus O'Connors Pub - where we ate dinner for 4 nights...

Yesenia & one of her favorite treats...

The rare catch on the rocky shores by the Ferry dock in Doolin.

One of the horses out on the Burren - Clare County Ireland. I was trying to get a oicture of the donkies but this guy nosed his way in...

The Doleman - a 3000 - 4000 B.C. burial site located in the Burren

In the Cemetery of Church Carren - in the Burren

My husband - on the shores by Doolin!  Never quite grew up - he enjoyed himself climbing on the rocks along the shore.

Water spray on the rocks

Guess what made it's way back to me?
It's the trip binder with all our papers - including the car rental info!  The folks at Ballyseede Castle mailed it to me at the Sea View.  Not to complicated to find me as all the travel plans were right in the binder... Happy to have it back!

Dinner again at Gus O'Connors - They actually new our family name & I felt a little sad to tell the bar tender that took our orders that it was our last night there.  I have to say, he barely asked any of us what we wanted to drink - he already knew...  Started my Guinness then then ask if that was what I wanted...
This is Lucy - she lives at the Sea View House B&B.  Loves to play ball & warn off the other dogs.  She is a friendly Border Collie.

Oíche mhaith duit!, Rita

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Very Rainy Day in Galway

So we headed to Galway the 3rd largest City in Ireland.  We drove along the coast line around the bay & up into Galway.  It was a scenic drive but with all the rain, we didn't stop along the way.  We went into the town center & walked down through the pedestrian area in the pouring rain.  In and out of the little shops along the path to the Spanish Arches on the inlet from the ocean.  We headed back & stopped for hot chocolate/coffee to warm up.
Spanish Arches - part of the ancient city wall of Galway.

Looking out over the river inlet through the pouring rain.

Yesenia's giant ice cream cone!  Actually this is pretty good soft serve ice cream.  It is in many of the little snack shops in the area.

Some of the musicians at Gus O'Connor's Pub.  A banjo, guitar, accordion pictured here.  A couple of flute players were also in the mix as well as some singing & dancing.

This man has a beautiful voice & sounded wonderful singing a song of Ireland.  His son, sitting at the bar stopped to ask me where I was from & asked about his dad's singing.  When I said he has a wonderful voice, he informed me that he didn't thinks so when he was a kid & he was telling it was morning & he had to get out of bed!

Antonio & Yesenia outside the pub.  We ate dinner here again.  It was a fun musical night as it was Sunday so the music starts early...

Hope Yesenia sleeps OK - she has a bad belly ache tonight.  Maybe too many chips.  We have the PICOT though.... (favorite Mexican remedy)

Slainte - Rita

Inisheer & the Bottom side of the Cliffs of Moher

The ride out to Inisheer - Antonio & Yesenia enjoying the ride out.
The Aran Islands are primarily 3 island near Galway Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean - Inishmore, Inishmaan & Inisheer.  The Irish Gaelic language is spoken by those that live on these islands.  We took a ferry out to Inisheer, the smallest of the 3 islands & packed with history to B.C. something to the not to distant past.  It has a population of about 300.

The recent history 0- this is a shipwreck on the rocks on the shore of Inisheer.  It was about 1960.

This was our ride out to the shipwreck & around the rural area of the island.  I don't think this horse like his job at all.  He didn't want to go faster than a slow walk though would with some encouragement. 

This is the castle built in the middle of the B.C. something fort on the island.  The castle dates back to the early 15th Century (before Columbus discovered America).

St. Chaomhan's tomb.
St. Chaomhan's Cathedral/Church.  It is shored up as the sand drifts over it.  It is surrounded by a cemetery.

The view of some of the Cliffs of Moher from the Atlantic.  It really shows the character of the cliffs with all the inlets, caves & various birds (Puffins included) flying about.

The cliff wall going up near the tower & the sea stack rock.  The whitish coloring on the rocks is where one of the many species of birds "cements on" there bird nest to the rock walls.  The Puffins actually nest in the grassy areas & various other bird species fill in the nooks & crannies.  The waters are full of all types of fish, sharks, jellyfish (Yesenia's favorite) & even the occasional dolphin.

We actually walked out to the dock (about a 3 K walk) so needless to say we walked back & after all the walking on the island, riding the swell on the ferry rides, we, with our sunburned faces, treated ourselves to ice cream cones at the local snack shop in Doolin.

Dinner was again at Gus O'Connors pub.  This was a short night there though as we were quite tired from all the walking & my face was red without blushing...

Sonas ort! Rita

Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher Topside & on to Doolin

So we set out for Bunratty & our next stop over - the Musical town of Doolin.  The drive was mostly National Roads & Motorway.  About the time we arrived at Bunratty, I realized that I'd left the travel binder back on the desk at Ballyseede, ho-hum...  We dug around to see if we had anything with there phone number on them so we could "ring them up" when we arrived in Doolin.

Antonio & I at the Northeast tower of Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle - does not look that big... until you start walking around inside.  Up & down winding stairs then you walk into the Earls Quarters, a great hall with a fire pit in the middle of the room, a dining hall, a library like room with fancy wood work ceiling, out onto a tower.  The place has never ending rooms to accommodate the Earl & family.

The keep area of Bunratty

This is one of the ceiling fixtures in the castle.  It had some very interesting artwork.
We also walked around the castle grounds were there are bars, barns, stores & homes from depicting various time periods.

One view of the top side of the Cliffs of Moher.  These are absolutely amazing & needless to say, my fear of heights was in full force.

Yeah, these two really like to get on my nerves... There isn't much behind my husband except the Atlantic Ocean from where is standing.  I had to walk away!

Another view - going north.

A look out wall at the cliffs.

On to Doolin, when we arrive at the B&B, we find out that the staff at Ballyseede Castle have already contacted the B&B about our notebook for the trip.  She ask what we want to do about it.  I asked if they couldn't send it to us, could they at least fax us a few specific pages.  We would send them money if they post it to us or they already have our charge info as well.  Low & behold, when we call them back, they already posted it to us (& charge the post as well). Irish hospitality has been wonderful & the Irish do love their visitors. We should have the book back by Monday.

We ate at O'Connor's in Doolin for dinner - enjoyed the company of a couple on Holiday from south of Berlin & some music.

So the adventure continues...

Slán Rita