Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Emerald Isle: A Blog in Pictures

Okay people. I really just want to get this blog up. And because I wouldn't be posting it until Christmas if I waited until I had enough time to document stories, funny anecdotes....etc, I've decided to just put my pictures up and let them do (most of) the talking. Let me preface by saying it was truly the trip of a lifetime. My mother was able to travel to a place of her ancestors, with her siblings and daughters. We were able to see a very beautiful section of the country, by means of private chauffeur - who was the best of the best. He told jokes, sang songs and was a wealth of Irish history and culture knowledge. The weather was not perfect, but held out each time we arrived at a location to hop out and explore. I look back at this trip and feel very fortunate to have gotten to participate in such a special experience. Now, for the visuals: 

Our first stop was Kilkenney. To be completely honest, we were all completely jet lagged. This is the only picture I got. Kilkenny Church with the town in the forefront. 

Again, going with the jet lag excuse, this is one of TWO pictures I got of the Waterford Castle (in which we stayed). It was so lovely, trust me. There was even a little fawn grazing outside this window the morning we left. 

The group at the entrance of the castle. 

Onward to Cobh, the port city. This is the station/heritage center in the little town. It was here that most emigrants sailed out of the country (during the famine and otherwise). It was the Titanic's last stop before it sunk...

Cobh still. With St. Coleman Cathedral in the background. 

The street they call the "deck of cards". Each home holds the next one up. 

Mosaic on the floors of the cathedral. It covers the entire floor of the church. 

The Roaring Donkey. Up at the top of the steep, steep hill in Cobh. Got it's name from the dozens of donkeys who helped to haul stones up to the top of the street and were so tired by the time they got to that point, that they were all, well, roaring. 

Palm trees in Ireland. Mom and Marti got a kick out of that.  
Charlesfort in Kinsale. I was feeling a bit.... under the weather, shall we say, the morning we woke up in Kinsale, so I forced myself on a run to this pretty and historic little spot. 


The Ring of Kerry.

Stopping for lunch in Portmagee, Co. Kerry

One of the lookouts along the Ring of Kerry

A beach.... I can't remember it's name, but it's the beach that Charlie Chaplin brought his family every summer to vacation. 

Ring of Kerry

I believe this looked out onto one of the three spectacular lakes near Killarney. Lough Leane perhaps?

These ancient dwellings were amazing. They've been standing for like....1200 years. Standing up against the elements along the Atlantic Coast. 

Beehive Huts. No mortar, just dry stones stacked up on top of each other.

Taken from the bus. Driving over a little stream around one of the many curvy bends along the Dingle Peninsula. 

Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula. The most Southwesterly point of Ireland. 

This little guy really liked his picture taken

More ancient rock dwellings along the road (photo taken from the bus)

Slea Head again, with the Three sisters on the right hand side. 

The Three Sisters (I had to document this, as we have our own Three Sisters in the Cascades)

Mom and Marti and those palm trees :) This was our lunch stop at the quaintest little cafe above a local artist's pottery shop. Gorgeous stuff. Can't remember his name. 

Ancient Oratory (or church). Same construction as the home dwellings, but fixed up a bit.

Legend has it, whoever climbs through the window will be absolved their sins. I am still a sinner. 

The town of Dingle. Adorable. 

Famous pub. 

This ice cream shop: Our bus driver told us about this cow called the Kerry Cow (no picture of it, but it's all black, kind of skinny and smaller than other cows). It's an ancient Irish cow that makes superior milk with high fat content, and a delicious taste. Well, these Irish brothers (who actually live in America, I believe) buy up most of the milk from these Kerry Cows to produce this ice cream. Best ice cream, some would say. 

Dingle Harbor

Dingle town

The famous dolphin who inhabits Dingle Bay (Fungi)

Connor Pass

Why did the sheep cross the road? 
I snuck away another afternoon for a run. I ran from our B&B in Killarney to the National Park. This is Middle Lake. 

Muckross House is inside of the National Park. It is where Queen Elizabeth would stay when she visited Ireland (I think....)

Pretty little waterfall (Torc Waterfall) nearby as well.

Muckross Abbey.

On to the town of Adare. Very cute thatch cottages here. 

Desmond Castle. All kinds of these old castles and towers dotting the countryside.

Inside the grounds at Bunratty Castle

The gate into the castle

Never miss an opportunity to get your picture taken with a princess! I do live with Noella, you know....

The Dungeon.

Tapestry before restoration

After restoration. This one took two years....

The great hall

The staircases were impossibly narrow and windy


The priest's quarters

From the priest's quarters, the next floor up.

The cook's quarters

From one of the towers looking out onto the flag

The King's dining room

Bunratty Castle

Don't forget, we were in Ireland
On the grounds, they recreated what a typical 19th century village of Ireland would have looked like. Here is the school house.

One of the streets. 

The grounds were complete with barns and farmsteads, complete with animals. 

Finally! To the Cliffs of Moher. 

This was kind of creepy. Our driver said there's an average of 1 suicide per week here. 

It makes my butt tingle just looking at these pictures. It is so exposed, raw, windy..... It is very obvious how small and insignificant we are on this earth when you're looking out from here...

See the tiny people top right?

The smaller rock down below is called The Stack.

The Burren (Lunar Landscape). This landscape is caused from erosion basically. All the dirt has washed away from the top layer of earth (no trees to hold the dirt in place)

You can barely make out the rock walls up along the Burren. Some wealthy family, or church (I can't remember!) offered a small stipend and a meal to people starving from the famine to build these walls. They were basically pointless and led to nowhere, but fed a lot of starving folks (and eventually paid some of their ways out of the country)

We were lucky to see a rainbow!

I snuck away for one more run along Galway Bay. I ran from the city centre to a town called Salthill. This landmark was called "Blackrock". Local legend has it, you will have good luck if you kick the black rock while you're here. There is a random high dive here. I saw several locals swimming in this bay. Brrr!

Cute Irish musicians along the pedestrian streets in Galway. 

Ireland is having it's own microbrew explosion. It was fun to try local beers in various towns.

Tea and dessert of course. 

Irish music. 

Mother/Daughter: Marti and Kim.

The lasses who stayed out past dark one night (it stayed light until 11PM!)


And finally, Dublin. Trinity College was most of what we saw here. We were exhausted, but we had to see the Book of Kells. 

Famous "Long Room" at Trinity College. Look at all those old, old books.

Picture from Grafton Street, looking at St. Clare's Cathedral (Dublin)

St. Stephen's Green (Dublin)
Those black statues are actually men posing. Kind of creepy. 

And, finally - the group on the very last evening. Our bus driver, Mike Sheehan - he was simply the BEST!