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.
|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.
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.|
|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|
|Only time I wore my raincoat in Ireland!|
|Wall surrounding Blarney Castle - I do like my nature shots|
|stream on the property|
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 house..it 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.|
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.|
Back to the hotel in Killarney. Paul took a nap before dinner I went shopping.
...to be continued