Sunday, November 29, 2015

Six Days in Ireland

I bet you were wondering where I have been.  Did you miss me? 

My husband does quite a bit of traveling as part of his job.  Most of this is to conferences and meetings here in the US.  From time to time, he does some international travel.  I tagged along last week on his trip to Ireland.  He left a few days ahead of me, on Saturday 11/14, to fulfill his business commitments, and I joined him five days later to extend his trip to do fun stuff.  What made the trip even better is that our friends Kim and Andy came along with me.

It was a whirlwind adventure, put together almost last minute.  I'm going to share it with you in this one long, long post ... 86 photos, so settle in and enjoy the journey.


As we waited at Dulles Airport for our flight, the rainy sky parted and it looked as if the end of the rainbow was squarely on our plane.  I took this as a good omen, considering we were jetting off to the land of Leprechauns.

Great big plane from Dulles (DC) ...

... overnight to London (Heathrow), then onward to Dublin, Ireland.

Hello, Ireland!  It was Friday when we landed in Dublin ...

... picked up our rental car, and drove to Cork.  This was the view from our hotel room.

Our dinner destination.

A war memorial in Cork.

Christmas decorations.

St. Finbarre's Cathedral.

I made a mental note to go back here when it was open.

Finished the first evening at a pub across the street from our hotel ...

... with a pint of local beer.

Does this look like the face of someone who hadn't been to bed in close to 36 hours?  Yes, yes it does.

After a full night's sleep, the four of us ate breakfast at the hotel then hopped into the rental car to head west.  Kim was our designated driver, since she has the easiest time switching her brain to think on the opposite side of the road.

Delicious hotel breakfast buffet.

First stop.

Kerry Woollen Mills.

Yarn!  I wanted it all, but I only bought one skein.

Sweaters, and scarves, and hats!  It was a wonderland.

Grey sky and green Irish countryside, on the left side of the road.

Church in Dingle.  The tree is a Cordyline, native to New Zealand and common along the UK coast.

Interesting building in Dingle.

One can get Chinese carry-out anywhere in the world.

Dingle Crystal.  Founded by a former master artist from Waterford, and it's the only company left in Ireland that produces their product IN Ireland.

Sheep and cottages... so VERY Irish.

Cliffs and coastline along the Slea Head Road, which loops around the Dingle peninsula.

Roadside sheep.

We spent the entire day at Blarney Castle near Cork.

View of the castle itself as we approached.

Stone gate posts at Blarney Castle.

The Blarney Stone is at the top of the castle.

The climb to the top begins with gentle, wide staircase with a substantial handrail ...

... and soon turns into narrow spiral stairs with a rope to hold onto.

View from one level of the tower into a lower room.

Here we are, at the top.  I did not feel the need to kiss the Blarney Stone.  Those who do are said to receive the gift of eloquence.  I have enough of that, thank you very much.

The castle grounds are gorgeous.  This is The Poison Garden, planted with poisonous plants with descriptive plaques.

A tropical border.

Stone gateway.

Herbaceous border.  The wooden arches are planted with rambler roses ... alternating 'Francois Juranville' and 'City of York'.

'Francois Juranville'

'City of York'

Photo of my husband a much-more-rested me, under the roses.

The most photographed tree at Blarney Castle, an ancient Thuja plicata.

The Fern Garden.  The tree ferns in this garden make it feel as if a dinosaur could wander by at any moment.

Blarney Woollen Mills, billed as the largest Irish shop in the world.

Our dinner destination, at the suggestion of our hotel desk clerk.  I had smoked haddock, and it was superb!

Sight-seeing around town in Cork.

Climbing the hill to St. Anne's Church.

Let's see the sanctuary.

Beautiful stained glass window!

Let's climb the tower!

The first level of the tower had a display of figures that were once on the outside of the tower.

Visitors are encouraged to use the song book and play a tune on the church's bells ... not too much, though, out of courtesy to the neighbors.

About the church.

Hearing protection is provided.  Look how narrow that staircase is ...

... and it has the familiar rope handrail for safety.

Next level, and we can see the bells themselves.

We had a wonderful 360-degree view of Cork from the top of the tower.

Singer sewing center in Cork, with all-over floral design on the building.

I couldn't resist photographing this building.

An Aran sweater tea cozy in the window of a yarn shop.

The much-anticipated return to the book store!

There was a small selection of rose books ... nothing that I was tempted to buy, though.

The four of us hit the road in the rental car again and headed half-an-hour south of Cork to Cobh ... which was the last stop of the Titanic to pick up passengers before it headed for open ocean.  Our destination was the Titanic Experience museum.

First stop was lunch at the Titanic Bar and Grill.

The museum recreated examples of passenger cabins.  In third class, I was surprised to see that these were luxurious (by the standards of the passengers) with running water and meals.

As expected, First Class cabins were well decorated and comfortable.

Cobh Cathedral.

Memorial to the Titanic.

Fishing boats in Cobh, tied up for the night.

Time to leave Cork, and head 2 1/2 hours back to Dublin.

It was a grey day, as I took that last look at Cork from the glass elevator in our hotel.



We stopped in Johnstown to fuel the car.  This little lady and her friends were across the street from the petrol station.

Quick snapshot of the cemetery in Johnstown, taken from the moving car.  We didn't have time to spare for me to wander around there.  (I'm okay with that.)

Hello, Dublin!  

We had only the afternoon to walk the town and see a few sights. 

Our main objective was to go to Trinity College to see The Book of Kells.  The exhibit was super, and the book itself was a beautiful thing, with perfect lettering and detailed illuminated drawings, gilt work, and borders, all produced around the year 800.  (No photography permitted, though, dang it.)

Included in admission to the Book of Kells is a walk through The Long Room, part of the library of Trinity College.

The Long Room is an awe-inspiring space!

To finish the day, we wandered through Dublin's city center.


Colorful store front.

Christ Church.

Guinness Storehouse and Factory.  It was late, and we were hungry, and we just wanted to visit their gift shop.  Access to it was only included in the tour price (20 Euros), so we declined.

Dinner was chosen on a recommendation from our cab driver.  I ordered fish and chips, billed as the best in Dublin ... it was delicious!  Ordered peas as my side dish.  Server said, "They're mushy peas, is that alright?"  I replied, "That's perfect!"

Travel Day.  We returned our rental car, and caught the shuttle bus to the airport.

The place was full of big green airplanes.

Our trip to Ireland ended as it began, with a rainbow.

Bye bye, Ireland ...

... and hello, Virginia!

Back at Dulles.

Ireland has always been one of those places that I really wanted to see.  When my husband floated the idea of tagging along on the end of his business trip there, all of the necessary details fell into place perfectly.  We found super affordable air fare, my parents were available to keep the dogs for us, and our daughter looked after the cats at home.  It was an unforgettable adventure.

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