Saturday, June 9, 2012

What I did on my holiday

May 14-15 - Monday & Tuesday   Other than the fact that air travel takes far too long thanks to all the fuss and bother at airports, the long waits at check points and long drives ( Heathrow ) and walks to terminals and gates we arrived in good shape.      After checking into our hotel, Academy Plaza, in the main part of Dublin we did a fast unpack and walked to the get a bite of food and just enjoy our arrival.     Our hotel room is small as we expected and found it interesting that our key card was needed to call the elevator .. great security feature, and to activate the lights in our room .. great energy efficient feature.

By supper time our whole group had arrived.  Fifteen of us plus our tour manager flew out from Toronto and four others flew in from Vancouver BC.   Already we are sorting out names and personalities.

May 16  - Wednesday    Out to the bus for 9am ( nice sensible start time ) after a filling cold and hot buffet breakfast. Our Dublin tour guide pointed out important buildings and talked of major events as we drove through the city streets.    We paid a visit to St Patrick's Cathedral , drove out to Phoenix Park a huge area of public use land and then back to Trinity College to see The Book Of Kells and the Old Library.   Both truly amazing.

At this point we were free to wander and we took the option of walking back to the hotel stopping for lunch at a pub in Temples Bar.   We crossed the River Liffey and strolled several of the very pedestrian friendly shopping streets.   Picked up some biscuits at Dunnes, a huge department/grocery chain that we continue to see everywhere on our trip with almost corner type shops in little villages.

Dinner was at Taylors, a restaurant entertainment spot were we listened to music and watch a group of dancers.     

Phoenix Park

Farrington's Temples Bar makes great Irish stew

Liffey River.   Dramatic sky but no rain

Busy shopping street.

Taylors.  Dinner and Entertainment.

May 17 - Thursday      Up for an 8am breakfast ( leaving our bags outside our door for pickup ) and then on the bus at 9am.  We have our permanent driver Pat now.   Major M highway for a short stretch and then onto the older roads for our drive south through Wicklow ( the garden ) county.    A bathroom and shopping stop at Avoca at a woollen mill.   In town we passed the pub used in the filming of Ballykissangel and Pat did some major manoeuvring thanks to road construction and a funeral on the very narrow road.     I wandered the gift shop and didn't buy.   A trend that seemed to continue the rest of the trip.  I did however take advantage of every single toilet stop.  


The drive over what to us would be back roads continued til we reached our lunch stop. The  John (Jack) Meade pub has been in operation as a public house since 1705.  Our typical pub lunch .. sandwiches, chips, sausage and beer was served on the second floor where the family lived originally before becoming a funeral parlour during the famine years.    We were entertained by a very good Irish singer after we ate.

Jack Meade

A light misty rain stayed with us as we continued through the unbelievable beautiful scenery into Waterford.   Our hotel, The Granville , was a mouth dropper with  original woodwork and glass.  Our room was on two levels and faced the waterfront.   Not as it turned out a good location thanks to the street noise that woke me ( but not Paul ) during the night.

Our large and luxurious room.

We got settled in then headed out to take a look at the town.  We walked a few streets, wandered into a bookstore where Paul found car magazines that made his mouth water.   Discovering that we were too late for a tour of  Reginald's Tower  we headed back, got cleaned up and went to dinner in the formal dining room.  Some changed into dressier clothes, I didn't even pack dressy clothes.

Reginald's Tower...worth reading the link above

  Me at the small door in the clock tower on the waterfront.  Just a light mist.

May 18 - Friday      Up and out slightly earlier today as our tour of the new Waterford centre started at nine.    The original factory is closed but you can still see the crystal being made and purchase Irish made pieces in the gift shop.    I looked, I did not buy.

On to Cobh  in County Cork to visit the  Cobh Heritage Centre.   We had a quick walked into the building through the first real rain we have had on this trip.   For lunch I had a lovely bowl of vegetable soup ( thick and creamy puree ) and Paul had a healthy serving of Cottage Pie.   We split up to wander the exhibits being interested in different things and I ended up in the gift shop not buying again.

Lucia, our tour manager and Pat, our driver at Cobh

to the Cobh exhibit entrance

Statue commemorating the immigrants at the harbour, Cobh   

The rain lightened as we headed to Blarney and our visit to the castle.   The winding steps to the top were wet and slick and I took my time.   The idea was not to get up to kiss the stone ( the idea struck me as rather yucky ) but to see the gardens and property that surrounds the ruin.

Blarney Castle built onto/into the rock formation

Blarney Castle

Only time I wore my raincoat in Ireland!

Wall surrounding Blarney Castle - I do like my nature shots

stream on the property

Our hotel, The Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel  is on the same property area as the castle Our room was not as elegant as last nights but I slept like a baby. It was beside a two level woollen shopping store.  We wandered in, looked and bought Paul a Bushmills chocolate bar.  The sweaters and shawls and hats for sale were all lovely but not things we would use or wear so once again the credit card stayed in  my purse. 

May 19 - Saturday      The drive to Killarney was again through what we have come to expect of Irish landscape - as many shades of green and as stunning as seen in all the travel brochures.   We stopped at a hotel in town for scones and coffee/tea and then took our Jaunting car ride through a section of Killarney National Park  on our way to Muckross House.

Open Jaunting Car

View from our covered car

Tom, our Irish Draft horse

Sky and mountain view at Muckross threatened but did not rain

Paul and some of our group waiting for the house tour

Some of the many chimneys at Muckross

After our tour of the house we had lunch at the restaurant and gift shop in the gardens nearby.  The food was tasty, ample and very reasonable as has been the case everywhere we have eaten.   Still nothing in my take home bag. Found some small bottles of Irish whiskey,  that we can't buy here.    

The bus picked us up and took us to our hotel, Killarney Towers where once again the key card was used for the elevator and the lights.    Nice room but it was a tad noisy till the bar crowd went home.

Shopping street right outside the hotel.  Narrow as in most places we have been.
After dinner at the hotel we drove to Tralee for a performance at the National Folk Theatre of Ireland.  All the shows are done in Irish.  You get a programme with a story line set out and it is printed in many different languages as the theatre attracts tours from all over Europe.  We saw Oilean the story of the Blasket Islands.

Paul has come down with a fever and congestion.  Both of us have been fighting sore throats for a few days.

May 20 - Sunday     Ring of Kerry today.   It was a bit overcast as we started our drive but it burned away quickly.   

Ruin of a ring fort, high stone work left side in cemetery

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Gorse, an invasive weed all over Ireland

Ring of Kerry.  Stone pasture fences and gorse

Ring fort, many dot the countryside

I can always find a library.  In The Republic of Ireland all signs are in both languages. English and Irish

Ring of Kerry, Dingle Bay

Ring of Kerry, Dingle Bay

opposite side of the road, Dingle Bay

Waterville.  Lunch stop and beach walk

Bridge over the River Sneem in Sneem

Paul found old cars in Sneem, I found a shop that sold ice cream cones. 
Nearing the end of our trip, Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Backup thanks to a tight corner and oncoming traffic. Most traffic we saw all day.
Gorse was introduced into Ireland along the side of roads and planted to define fields.  It worked well to keep the animals in their own place but has since taken over much of the countryside.  The only way to remove it is to dig it out.  Burning it only spreads it.    Rhododendrons are also part of the hedges along the roads and are considered weeds. Very pretty rosy coloured weeds indeed.

Back to the hotel in Killarney.  Paul took a nap before dinner I went shopping. be continued


Jayne said...

I'm loving the tour, thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with us!
The countryside is glorious :)
Gorse was used in the same way here in Oz; they are absolute monsters to remove with great long thorns on them.

Rootietoot said...

Beautiful! I can't wait to read more! Ok, yes,I can wait, but I am eager to read more.

Lib1 said...

It brings back happy memories, Ireland seems remarkably unchanged since 1962, or maybe it's just the countryside! I kissed the blarney stone, remember having to lean backwards over the castle wall to do it, I'm sure that I wouldn't do it now. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your tour.

Kathleen said...

What a read! I certainly appreciate all the links you added to your posts...I haven't yet read them all, but I will! Looks and sounds like you had a really great time.

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