Trip Of A Lifetime

Monday, February 20, 2006

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

We've just returned from Ireland where we managed to do a whirlwind tour over the week of midterm break. Midterm break... what a fabulous thing!

Anyway, we started last Sunday. Chip and Dale had arrived the night before and picked us up in the hire car. We drove through some absolutely amazing scenery as we wound our way to Cashel, home of the Rock of Cashel which is more like a castle than a rock.

We decided to stay in B&Bs while travelling because they are cheaper and you get to spend some time with the people of the area. In Cashel we stayed at this old Abbey that had been sold off at some point but was a beautiful old building. The lady that ran it was lovely and helpful and made a delicious traditional Irish breakfast for us in the morning.

Monday saw us going to the Rock of Cashel itself. This castle is constantly under refurbishment in some way or another, but it still has small portions of the original frescoes painted on the walls and ceiling. It also has some amazing carvings around the doorways and on the sarcophagi. Faces, dragons, human figures. There is also a cemetery around the main building and people who can claim ancestry can still be buried there.

From Cashel we headed towards Kilarny, one of the most visited places in Ireland. Of course we saw an awful lot on the way there, but I just can't write that much here... you'll have to wait for your invite to our photo marathon. Coming to a loungeroom near you in 2007! Hehehe.

We again found a B&B in Kilarney and again the people who ran it were incredibly talkative. This worked out really well because it meant that we found out all about the best places to eat and to visit.

Tuesday started again with an Irish breakfast. Chip was funny because he saw a big bowl of fruit and so helped himself to a rather large portion. Unfortunately for him, what he thought was pear turned out to be grapefruit. Oops. Maybe I should have warned him.

We started our daily travels with a quick photo opportunity at Ross Castle down the road before heading for the Ring of Kerry. We had also been given the directions to the Skellig Ring which is another scenic route that doesn't allow buses. We found out why. Windy, steep and only enough room for one car! Totally worth it though. We saw some of the most spectacular coastlines we're ever likely to see. We also had the chance to eat in a tiny little pub in the middle of some fishing village with nets and fishing type stuff strewn about the place. I do believe that I had some of the most incredible tasting smoked salmon ever!

After doing Kerry, we headed for Limerick. (I think!?! -will double check) This city was disappointing for two reasons. The first was the traffic! It took us over an hour to get from one side of the city to the other and out. The second was that it's changing too much. Now, I'm all for progress. There's nothing I like better than to have all I need at my fingertips, but every town we travelld in felt like Ireland except Limerick. Limerick had beautiful old buildings and charm with a modern monster plonked next to it. Oh well, it's not my place to complain about another country's progress.

Just outside the city we eventually found a B&B in Bunratty, right near tha castle and Durty Nelly's. Of course we had to go to Durty Nelly's for dinner, even though we weren't particularly hungry. It's apparently the oldest pub in Ireland and was exteablished in the 17th century!?! Adie had been tehre before on another visit and he enjoyed remembering something about camping in a field of cows. Maybe you should ask him about it.

This B&B was the most Catholic, even though our first was in an old Abbey. The lady who ran it was totally devout and told us stories of the friars ermoving the evil spirit of her grandson's grandfather (not her late husband) because he was giving the poor child nightmares. Her belief made me a little nervous.

After another delicious Irish breakfast, we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. In the middle of nowhere there is this path that leads you to the most stunning sight that is the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as remote as all that. They are in the middle of digging a big chunk out of the rock to build a tourist centre. Again, progress hits a natural wonder. The cliffs themselves actually reminded me of the area around the twelve aspostles, except that it was really green, wet, windy and there was a medieval fort built there.

All along the edge were safety barriers to keep people from falling over the edge to their death. Even so, some stupid people climbed over this barrier and inched towards the edge to take photos. Never mind that it was slippery and wet grass that htey were standing on and forget that there were impressionable kids everywhere. It really annoyed me and made me nervous. Selfish I know, but I really didn't want to have to be there if one of them fell off the edge. Who needs that memory!

From the cliffs (focus on the beauty not the dunderheads), we headed to Longford to visit family... and that's the next post.


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