S: Ireland March 2009
BC: From Blarney Castle to the Cliffs of Moher, through the quaint towns going to the Giant's Causeway and back to Dublin, Ireland is one phenomenal country. It was like a dream to have been able to experience such a mystical world. Absolutely breath taking scenery surrounded us throughout our travels in this historic land. Our excursions took us places that I've only seen in the movies. Driving on the "wrong" side of the oh so narrow streets was definitely a little nerve-racking to say the least but adventurous & fun at the same time. With blue skies and brisk temperatures, the wind was our only hindrance, though it could not stop us from experiencing everything Ireland has to offer. The friendly and inviting locals made every day a pleasure. Our dreams took us to this magical world called Ireland, hopefully our paths will lead us back again one day.....
FC: Ireland March 2009
1: On March 21, 2009 we began our journey to a magical world known as Ireland... and fell in love!
2: Waiting in OIA for our connecting flight to Atlanta. | An hour lay over in Atlanta then a 7 1/2 hour flight over the Atlantic.
3: ...across the high seas. | Here we go......
4: At Dublin Airport trying to fit 9 pieces of luggage into our rental car. Look at the size of that trunk!! That's why I have this view. --> Then onto our hotel in Bray. We loved our room on the 2nd floor.
6: We began our journey immediately after we unloaded our suitcases at the hotel. This is the Bray coastline near our hotel. | Don't let us fool you....it was extremely cold. We couldn't believe how beautifully clear the water was.
7: Wicklow Mountains Nat'l Park (Co. Wicklow) Established in 1991, the 400 million year old mountain range extends over most of County Wicklow, in an area of nearly 20,000 hectares. Located on the east coast, it is owned by the people of Ireland. Open vistas are interrupted only by forestry plantations & the winding mountain roads. Fast-flowing streams descend into the deep lakes of the wooded valleys & continue their course into the surrounding lowlands.
9: St. Mary's Church, Gowran (Co. Kilkenny) Teampall Mhuire Built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier monastery, it was served by a "college" (clerics who lived in a community but did not submit to the rule of a monastery.) The church was a large structure w/ an aisled nave & a long chancel. A massive tower was inserted between the nave & chancel and in the 19th century it was incorporated into the parish church which was built in place of the chancel, which now takes up about half of the building.
12: Jerpoint Abbey (Co. Kilkenny) Founded in the 2nd half of the 12th century, it is regarded as one of the most interesting Cistercian ruins in Ireland. The monastery included it's own gardens, watermills, infirmary, cemetery, kitchens, granary, stables & other buildings.
13: Just some random pictures taken along the way, so far.
15: Kilkenny Castle Caislean Chill Chainnigh Strongbow constructed the first castle, probably a wooden structure in the 12th century. It was remodeled in the 18th & 19th centuries. There are expansive green lawns & beautiful gardens surrounding the castle.
17: Rock of Cashel (Co. Tipperary) Carraig Phadraig Also known as "Cashel of the Kings" & "St. Patrick's Rock," the word "cashel" is an anglicized version of the Irish word ciaseal, meaning "fortress." The legendary origin of the Rock of Cashel dates back to approximately 432 A.D. The Rock of Cashel rises as a giant circular mound 200 ft. above the surrounding plains & meadows.
18: One of the largest & best preserved castles in Ireland, it was built in 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. Cahir Castle was originally built on a site of an earlier native fortification called a "cathair"(stone fort), which gave it it's name. Granted to the Butler family in the late 14th century, it was enlarged & remodeled between the 15th & 17th centuries. It fell into ruin in the late 18th century & was partially restored in the 1840's. In 1961 the last Lord Cahir died & the castle reverted to the state.
19: Cahir Castle Co. Tipperary Caislean na Cathrach
20: Blarney Castle (Co. Cork) This is the 3rd structure erected on this site, the 1st being a wooden building in the 10th century. Around 1210 A.D. it was replaced by a stone structure, which was demolished for foundations and in 1446 the 3rd castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster of which is still standing today.
22: Making our way to the castle. It was such a beautiful day. Could you ask for anything more perfect? Lee just couldn't help himself, he had to touch the water everywhere we went.
24: The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of the castle in 1446. It is believed to be 1/2 of the Stone of Scone, which originally belonged to the Scottish. Legend has it that kissing the stone endows the kisser with the "gift of gab" or eloquence. | PJ WAS | THE ONLY | KISS IT | ONE TO
27: Some neat sites along our way. Jackie "on the edge" of the Ladies View. This was an interesting ruin.
28: The gorgeous waters of the South-west coast. | C A R R O L L' S | C O V E | R i n g o f | Kerry
30: The Cliffs of Moher (Co. Clare) Aillte an Mhothair aka Cliffs of Mohair The cliffs rise 120 meters (394 ft.) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head & reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft.) just north of O'Brien's Tower 8 km away. The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale & sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs.
31: The cliffs are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland. The most interesting being the famous Atlantic Puffin, which live on isolated parts of the cliffs & on the small Goat Island.
34: This is O'Brien's Tower, the highest point of the cliffs. | It was built by Cornelius O'Brien to impress female visitors.
36: It was pretty cold and the wind was really whipping...... | ......but there's no denying the beauty of the cliffs, they were breath taking.
37: The pictures just don't do the Cliffs justice. I've personally never seen cliffs anywhere and I couldn't get over how amazing they were. It was our worst weather day in Ireland, but despite the "gloom" they were definitely worth the trip. They would be breath taking in any weather.
38: On the west coast on our way to Galway, we saw some of the coolest ruins, some cows and stopped off again to check out the water at a neat spot we found.
40: The Finn MacCool Story Finn, a renown warrior, was going about his daily duties on the north coast when one of his adversaries, a Scottish giant called Benandonner started ridiculing Finn's fighting prowess. This angered Finn who lifted a lump of earth and pelted it to Scotland as a challenge to the giant. The Scottish giant retaliated with a rock back to Finn, shouting that if he could get his hands on him, he would make sure that Finn would never fight again adding that unfortunately he could not swim the short distance across the Channel, so Finn would be spared that fate. Finn got enraged by this & tore large pieces from the cliffs, he worked for over a week, pushing them into the ocean bed making a sturdy causeway to Scotland. When he finished he shouted, "Now you'll have no excuse to come over and do your best." Fearing to lose his own reputation & pride, the Scottish giant had no alternative but to come over the causeway. Finn was tired, having not slept for the week he worked on the causeway & didn't feel ready for fighting. He thought about how he could buy some time & recuperate to face the Scottish giant & came up w/ an ingenious plan. Quickly he made a large cot & disguised himself as a baby....and waited. The Scottish giant arrived at Finn's house shouting, "Where is that coward MacCool?" Finn's wife said he was away but sit down & have a cup of tea, he'll not be long. The tea arrived with a cake in which Finn's wife had placed some stones. Benandonner took a bite & broke one of his teeth, & thought to himself, this Finn must be a tough guy to eat cakes like this. Not to be outdone, he finished off the cake & tea, breaking 2 more teeth in the process. He noticed the baby cot & the baby inside it & his eyes widened in fear, he thought, if this is the size of the baby-what size is the father? He reached his hand in to touch the sleeping baby, half out of curiosity & half as a sign of affection, Finn bit the tip of his finger off. Benandonner was shocked by this and thought to himself, if this is what the baby is capable of, what must the father be capable of? This thought terrified him, the fear got the better of him & took to his heels & ran like he had never ran before, back across the causeway to Scotland destroying it as he want. Well....that's one version.
41: The Giant's Causeway (Co. Antrim) Clochan na bhFomnarach In 1693 news of the "discovery" of an amazing natural phenomenon broke on an unsuspecting world. The Causeway is a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot & disappear under the sea. Some 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal but some with 4, 5, 7 & 8 sides can be found. The tallest are about 40 ft. high & the solidified lava of the cliffs is 90 ft. thick in places.
42: Going thru Belfast in Northern Ireland, aka the UK.
45: Lee checking out the water, yet again. He was absolutely in heaven here.
46: The beauty was so overwhelming. | This was Lee's & my favorite day.
51: We couldn't have ask ed for anything more. . . . | This was a perfect day.
52: The "Giant's Boot"
53: Top left: the "Giant's Head" Above: the back wall of the causeway <--:an "Irish" dog playing Below: me & the "Giant's Head"
54: Mystical - that's the first word that came to mind when I saw this magical place. Breath taking is another. I got "all misty-eyed" a couple times just looking around at all the amazing scenery that was created for us to explore. I probably thanked God a million times for allowing me to take it all in. We were truly blessed to have been able to make this journey. I hope the paths we choose lead us back here one day.
55: PJ was the only one to take the path to get a closer look at the "Giant's Head" This is what he saw........
57: HOLY CRAP!!!! This was hysterical. The look on their faces was priceless. The water touched Lee this time. Lee was soaked from the wallet down. They drove with their shoes off and the heat blasting on their feet & legs to dry them. Despite being cold Lee loved it... Classic.
58: Follow your dreams, you never know where they will take you. Until next time.......
59: Some more of the north coast & the North Atlantic Ocean.
60: We HAD to have some Fish & Chips in the UK. Very appropriate I think. Lee & I ate at The Hip Chip and PJ & Jackie ate at Flash in the Pan.
61: Dunluce Castle (Co. Antrim) Dun Lios - literally translated as "Hill Fort of the Fairy Fort" In the 1200's Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster built the first castle at Dunluce. Located on the edge of a basalt outcropping, setting 100ft. above the ocean & isolated from the coast by a 20 ft. chasm, it must have looked very formidable to it's attackers. It's one of the most extensive ruins of a medieval castle in Northern Ireland.
63: This was probably my favorite castle that we went to. It's indescribable the feeling you get walking into a castle like this. It had a lot of cool nooks & crannies.
65: The views of the sea were amazing. The views of the castle with the ocean behind it were spectacular. Being able to explore the "Mermaid Cave" under the castle was so cool. It was so surreal being there and there was so much to take in, I just feel very lucky.
66: It took us forever to find this stupid rock formation, and it wasn't even the right one - not even close. Oh well, it was an experience, if nothing else. | ------> Some of the sites we saw in Northern Ireland/UK. We only spent a day there and I know there were other cool things to see, we just didn't have the time.
68: Some of my favorite pics of the towns we saw.
75: Sights of random things that pasted us by.
76: More Giant's Cause-way
77: Blarney Castle... & some refreshments &...rolaids?? Something's not right.
78: May your day be filled with blessings like the sun that lights the sky, and my you always have the courage to spead you wings and fly! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May the raod rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.