Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ireland 2008

Video is from 2008 when the five of us took a wonderful 10 day trip to Ireland.
We spent a couple days in Dublin before joining a group to do a large loop of Ireland.  We stayed in Dun Laoghaire at the grand old Marine Hotel, we found this hotel quite by random internet search and what a special place.

 We arrived very early after coffee & tea in the lobby we walked into town for lunch.  Later that night we traveled into Dublin on the DART and did the Literary Pub Crawl actors stop along the walk acting out pieces from famous Irish novels.  We all highly recommend it if you get the chance to do it.

The following day we walked all along the Dublin Harbor with a temp of 65 we were surprised to see a number of swimmers in the Irish Sea.  Taking the DART back into Dublin we toured Trinity College and then took a walking history tour with one of the students.

Lunch at "Leo Burdock's" was a highlight, we got our fish and chips then walked over to Christ Church garden area to eat.  We then moved to the Mount Herbert Hotel in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin where we would join our group tour.  After meeting up with them we toured Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park, and the Guinness Factory. 
 After dinner at Bellamy's Pub we walked around the Ballsbridge area past the US Embassy and a concert Hall where Mark Knopfler was performing.......boy we wish we had known that sooner.  Waking early we traveled from Dublin south through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendolough Monastic site connected to St. Kevin of Glendolough who was born in the 6th century.

We then traveled south through Enniscorthy and on to Waterford where we stayed for the night.  We toured the Waterford Factory, having a fascination with glass making I loved this tour.

We left Waterford heading southwest driving along the coast we stopped at The Castle Country House in Dungarvan for tea and scones.  After  relaxing with our tea we wandered through the gardens and around the farm, a really lovely spot.  When you sign up for a tour you look for the tour that covers the majority of the things you want to do and there are always things on the tour that wouldn't have been our your list either because you just didn't think about it or you weren't really interested in it.  I have to say I wouldn't have thought about just stopping for tea and scones, we would have missed a really nice visit in the country.  As we travel we find when we get home some of the most memorable moments are when we are just visiting with the people.  As we go through our photos they are also some of our favorite pictures.

We traveled on through Youghal a fishing village famous for the filming of "Moby Dick", on through Cork and then arriving at Blarney Castle for the obligatory "kissing of the stone" after the climb to the top.

What had been a bit of a cloudy day became a rainy day rather quickly and as we got to the Castle it was a driving rain.  Not deterred we climbed to the top to explore every nook and cranny of the place.  Although you have the tourist hype of the Blarney Stone it is a unique place to climb through and imagine how it must have been so long ago.

We left the Castle happy to be in a warm vehicle and drove on to Killarney where we would stay for a few days.  We spent the following day driving the Ring of Kerry, a circular drive famous for its landscapes.  The coastal scenery from Dingle Bay, the Atlantic and the Kenmare River along with the Mountainous scape's are breathtaking.
We stopped along the way for coffee, photo stops, and a quick climb at some spots.

When you see the sheep coming up the road at your vehicle like this you have to think this is a set up for the tourist industry but no that is the Shepard there just moving his flock.  We had this happen several times throughout Ireland and it brought excitement every time from all of us.  The sheep are so fun to watch and certainly move at their own pace.
At the end of each day we enjoyed Irish music in the local pubs which were all warm, cozy & had good food.  We left Killarney early and traveled north taking a ferry across the River Shannon heading up to the Cliffs of Moher.  

looking north

looking south
Notice the sheep in the grassy area in the distance.

Galway Bay we then arrived in Galway staying at another grand old hotel right on Eyre Square.  Hotel Meyrick was built in 1845 and has been preserved with such care but yet with modern ammenities.  We toured Galway on our own seeing Galway Cathedral, walking along River Corrib, and seeing their newest Naval Ship (they only had 6 ships we were told).  Galway being a college town was very active.
We drove on through Connemara famous for its marble, stopped at Celtic Crystal, had lunch in Ballina, County Mayo (a lot of our ancestors were from this area) arriving at "The Downhill Hotel" along the river Moy.  Spectacular location with fly fisherman in the river, a wedding taking place and picture perfect weather.

 We then traveled on now headed southeast across Ireland back toward Dublin stopping at  Strokestown Park House in County Roscommon, to visit the home, the Famine Museum and the beautiful gardens.  The home was built in the late 17th century and it is as if they just closed the doors and left the home as it was when the last of the family lived there.
Strokestown Park House

We arrived just north of Dublin for our last night in Ireland staying in Malahide at the "Grand Hotel".  We went into Howth for a traditional Irish music and dinner show.  Having got to know some of the others on our tour it was fun to laugh and have a good time with them.  We said goodbye to our tour guide Frank Foster with CIE Tours who did a spectacular job the whole trip.  If you want to visit Ireland and do a tour we highly recommend CIE Tours.  I had gone back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to rent a car and do this on our own or tour.  We made the right choice wanting to see as much as possible the tour makes sure you get to see everything you want to see.  We enjoyed the few days before the tour on our own in Dublin and then joining the tour worked well for us.