S: Celtic Discovery
FC: Ireland September 2008
1: Galway | Dublin | Connemara | Cliffs of Moher | Aran Islands | Blarney Castle | Kinsale | Ring of Kerry | Killarney | Dingle Way | Limerick | Ennis | Muckross House | Cobh
2: Harbour Hotel | Galway | Kirwan's Lane
3: We arrived in Galway in the early afternoon; found our way to an ATM and then had a late lunch of fish and chips at McDonagh's restaurant. Very good but very expensive!
4: Eyre Square | River Corrib
5: Lynch's Castle | Walking Tour of Galway | We skipped dinner and decided to get some rest; after 12 hours of sleep we felt almost human again. Had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel but decided to skip the blood pudding. We met Fiona, our guide, for a walking tour of the city. | Lynch Memorial Window
6: Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas
7: We had free time this afternoon and decided to walk along the Promanade to the Aquarium in Salthill. We saw lots of boats including the famous Galway Hooker. | Fisher woman selling eels
8: Galway Hooker | The Promanade and the Claddagh
10: It was a long walk but we finally arrived at the Aquarium. We had lunch at the Aquarium café. The aquarium was small but very interesting. We were still jet-lagged so we took the bus back to Galway. | Aquarium
11: River Corrib | We returned to Galway and walked along the river to St. Nicolas Cathedral. We were very lucky the day was warm and sunny. | Corrib Canal
12: St. Nicholas Cathedral
14: Connemara | Today we took a tour of the Connemara area and the Kylemore Abbey. Our first stop was the Ross Errilly Friary. It was founded in 1351 and enlarged in 1498 for the Franciscan monks.
15: Ross Errilly Friary | Our tour leader
16: Ashford Castle Hotel | Village of Cong
17: Our next stop was the Village of Cong where The Quiet Man was filmed. We walked on the Cong Nature Trail through the mud to the five-star Ashford Castle Hotel and got to see how the other half lives.
19: Killary Fjord
21: Kylemore Abbey | Kylemore Castle was built in 1867 and is now the home of the Benedictine Order of Nuns.
22: Kylemore Chapel
23: Kylemore Victorian Garden | We returned to Galway around 6:00 and went to Monroe's for a dinner of Irish stew, seafood pasta and a pint of Guinness.
24: Galway Market & Craft Fair
25: Today we had a free morning to wander. We first walked to St. Nicolas' Church to see the weekly market where we bought an Irish fairy. Later we walked through this cemetery and found it very interesting - especially the empty wine bottle!
26: Ennis | We arrived in Ennis about 1:30 and met our trip leader, Daren. Had lunch in the hotel pub The Poet's Corner. We had seafood chowder and Irish bread. As it turns out whenever we had lunch on our own, we ended up with seafood chowder. Each pub had a different recipe but they were good and all fairly inexpensive.
27: After lunch we walked around town - saw lots of McCormick businesses. We met the rest of our group later and then got ready for our welcome dinner - fruit, salmon and chocolate mousse.
28: The Burren | Limestone rocks as far as you can see
29: Poulnabrone Dolmen | Megalithic tomb from the 4th millennium BC
30: Ballyvaughan | We stopped in this small village to see the thatched roofs.
31: Abandoned church and graveyard
32: Cliffs of Moher
33: Cliffs of Moher
34: O'Brien's Tower | The tower is located at the highest point on the cliffs. | St. Bridget's Well | Our last stop of the day was this picturesque village where we could walk along the shore. We returned to our hotel to get ready for our Medieval Banquet.
35: Knappogue Castle Medieval Banquet | This was a fun evening. We were greeted by the Earl's butler and given a goblet of mead. Steve was one of the Irish kings but was in disfavor! He had to bribe his way into the castle. Our banquet consisted of smoked salmon, bread, soup, the chicken that King Steve brought, dessert and wine. While we ate, we had Irish musicians and singers entertain us. A good time was had by all.
36: According to the locals, we had a smooth crossing but I thought it was pretty rough - lots of heavy swells. I spent the entire voyage watching the far horizon.
37: Aran Island Tour | Inisheer | We got off our ferry to find our 'Touring Machine' waiting for us. It looked like a wooden shed, with windows and benches, pulled by a tractor. We had no leg room and hardly any air. Most people toured the island in horse drawn carriages which looked a lot more comfortable. However, it was a novel experience. | Irish fishing boats
38: 1960 Shipwreck | Stones everywhere!
39: Teampall Chaomhan
40: This medieval church is dedicated to the patron saint of the island. | Teampall Chaomhan
41: After touring the church we had lunch at The Tea House - soup, brown bread, cheddar and chutney sandwiches and a brownie. We had time to walk around and talk to some of the locals before we had to catch our ferry. We returned to the hotel about 4:00 and rested before having dinner at the local pub - seafood chowder (again!) and feta cheese quiche. | The Tea House
42: Doneraile Park
43: Today was a 'bit of a soft day', Irish for a rainy day. By the time we got to the park the rain had stopped but the grass was still wet and soon our shoes and socks were too. The grounds were beautiful but the house was not restored so we couldn't visit. | We had lunch at this former manor home. It's now a hotel and restaurant. We ate lunch in the parlor - sandwiches and scones with butter, jam and cream.
44: Blarney Castle
46: The climb to the top of Blarney Castle was a right-hand spiral stairway over uneven steps. After inching our way up, we had to wait in line on a narrow ledge to kiss the Blarney stone. Steve decided to just take my picture and not to actually kiss the stone.
47: After kissing the Blarney Stone, we had some free time to wander around the grounds. We explored the Rock Close, the Bog Garden, Witch's Steps and Kitchen and the Witch's Stone. Somewhere on the way back to our bus, we made a wrong turn and ended up in a private yard. Instead of retracing our steps, we climbed over their fence and started walking on the country roads. Then It started to rain! We couldn't find the castle for the longest time but eventually saw it off in the distance. How we got so far away, we'll never know. We asked a crossing guard how to get to the castle and found we were only a half mile away. Finally made it back to the bus. What an adventure! | Blarney Castle Gardens
48: Kinsale Harbour | By the time we reached Kinsale, the sun was shining. Our hotel was right by the water and we had time to explore the harbour.
50: Saint Colman's Cathedral | The next morning it was pouring. We drove to Cobh where our first stop was this church high on a hill. It was so windy we almost got blown away. The church was lovely. Unfortunately, we had to go back out in the wind and rain.
51: Cobh | Center aisle of the church
52: Cobh | Our next stop was The English Market. At least we were out of the rain. After exploring, we tried to find someplace for lunch. We finally settled on Subway. | Need a castle?
53: Cobh Harbour | After lunch, we met the historian, Michael Marten, for a talk about the Titanic and also the three million emigrants who left Ireland during the famine. | Irish Emigrants | Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic before she crossed the Atlantic.
54: Another 'soft' day. Our first stop was a visit to the 9-11 memorial for 343 firefighters. The owner of the farm has planted a tree for each firefighter who lost his life that day. | 9-11 Memorial
55: It was still raining lightly when we toured Charles Fort. Most of the tour was inside but we did walk around a bit. The colored window panels were part of an art project. Didn't seem appropriate for a historic site. | Charles Fort
56: Charles Fort Walk | James Fort across the harbour
57: Lunch at the 'Fishy, Fishy Café'. We had a cheese tray, beer and wine, smoked salmon and a seafood platter. Yum! | After touring the fort, we walked outside the walls and along the coast. It was still misting but it was a pretty walk and we didn't mind or else we were getting used to Irish weather.
59: We had the afternoon free so we decided to walk to James Fort. It was a lovely stroll along the harbour but the wind was very strong. We walked over a long bridge, up a hill and along a muddy path. The view of the town and harbour were spectacular. The fort itself is in ruins but they were stating to restore it. | James Fort | Kinsale Harbour
60: Kinsale Harbour
61: Home hosted dinner | Maureen and her two sons | That evening we had a demonstration of authentic Irish instruments - the tin whistle and the Irish Pipes. We later went to our home hosted dinner where we had a typical Irish meal.
62: We stopped at this small shop where Val, the owner, let us taste several Irish cheeses, homemade breads, fudge and Irish chocolate. Everything was delicious! | We drove to the small village of Glengarriff where we caught a boat to Garinish Island. The owner has imported many exotic plants and the gardens are lovely. | Manning's Emporium
63: Garinish Island
65: Garinish Island
66: We took the ferry back to the mainland and continued our drive through the mountains to the small village of Kenmare where we had lunch and an ice cream cone. We visited the Holy Cross Church and then drove to our hotel. | Kenmare Holy Cross Church
67: Killarney | Loch Lein Country House
68: Killarney National Park | Another 'soft' day - raining on and off. We drove along the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, better known as the Ring of Kerry. Lovely scenery. Had lunch by the seashore - salmon and haddock with lobster sauce. The rain finally stopped and we saw this beautiful rainbow.
69: The Ring of Kerry
70: Cahergall Stone Fort | We stopped at this stone fort and had to walk up a muddy cow path. Very dangerous footing.
71: Torc Waterfall
72: Raining again! We started our day with a ride on a jaunting cart around Killarney Park and Loch Lein. Even in the rain it was a nice drive. | Jaunting Cart Ride
74: Ross Castle
75: Still Raining! | Boat Ride to Innisfallen Island
76: Innisfallen Monastery | The monastery was built in the 7th century by St. Finian the Leper who first brought monks here to pray in the peace and seclusion of Loch Lein. The ruins we saw today were built in the 12th century - not old at all.
77: After leaving Innisfallen Island, we continued our boat ride (still in the rain) to the other end of the lake to Muckross House and Gardens. | Muckross House
78: Muckross House | View from the front yard
79: Muckross Gardens
80: Sheepdogs in Action! | Later that day, we visited a sheep farm where we saw two border collies herding sheep. The experienced dog stalked the sheep while the dog in training was running hither and yon wasting a lot of energy.
81: The Dingle Way
83: Inch Beach | The sun is shining! Today we explore the Dingle Peninsula. Our drive took us along the coast to this long, white-sand beach. We had time to walk along the shore - the exercise felt great.
84: Dingle Harbour | We stopped at the small fishing village of Dingle for a lunch of fish and chips. Later, we had time to walk to the picturesque harbour.
86: Prehistoric Beehive Dwellings | Blasket Islands | Slea Head westernmost point in Europe
88: Blasket Island & Slea Head
89: Tralee Rose Garden
90: Tralee Rose Garden
91: Daren, our Trip Leader and Mike, our Driver
92: Foynes Flying Boat Museum | We stopped at this small museum for a rest stop and some Irish Coffee. The museum itself was quite interesting - lots of information about the B314 flying boat. | Better behave yourself!
93: An Irish Toast May the road rise to meet you May the wind be always at your back The sun shine warm upon your face The rain fall soft upon your fields And until we meet again May God hold you in the hollow of His Hand | Irish Coffee was invented by Joe Sheridan for passengers who were stranded at the airport one cold, rainy night.
94: Trinitarian Priory (1230) | Adare
95: We had lunch in the small town of Adare at The Blue Door Restaurant. Delicious tomato and basil soup. After lunch, we had time to see the sights - the thatched roofs were especially interesting. | Adare Town Park
96: Bunratty Castle | Castle Gate | This imposing castle was once the home on the O'Briens, Kings of Thomand. It's been beautifully restored and Medieval Banquets are held here every evening. It was built in 1425 and restored in 1954.
97: Dining Hall | King's Bed Chamber | King's Chapel
98: Bunratty Folk Park | The Folk Park depicts rural and urban life in 19th century Ireland. There were farmhouses, a village street and a church. | Traveler's Wagons
99: Farewell Dinner | Our last dinner together was sea bass, salad and Bailey's mousse. Daren insisted we all try to come up with a limerick - some were really good but we couldn't put anything together. | Arcroney Church
100: Our hotel was in the center of town near Trinity College. After our tour of the countryside, Dublin was quite a shock. Crowds everywhere and lots of noise and pollution. | Dublin | The River Liffey & Ha'penny Bridge
101: Trinity College | The Book of Kells is renowned as the most beautiful book in the world. Monks copied and illustrated the four Gospels on 680 pages around the year 800. | The Long Room | The Long Room is over 200 feet long and houses nearly a quarter of a million vintage books.
102: National Museum of Ireland | Molly Malone
103: St. Patrick's Cathedral | The cathedral was built in the late 1100's with a spire 223 feet tall. We saw some very impressive tombs and memorials. | Needlepoint kneeler
104: Kilmainham Gaol | The Five Devils of Kilmainham symbolizing the containment of evil. | The prison was opened in 1796 and housed murderers, sheep rustlers, prostitutes, debtors and later, famine victims. They all ended up here in tiny, cold, stone cells. | Chapel
105: Phoenix Park | After seeing the prison, we took the tourist bus to Phoenix Park which is the largest (about 200 acres) walled city park in Europe. We had lunch here and people watched.
106: The Museum of Decorative Arts and History is located in the early 18th-century Collins Barracks. After seeing the museum, we went to the Jameson Distillery for a tour but decided not to wait 45 minutes. We went back to the hotel to have dinner. | Jameson Distillery | Museum of Decorative Arts and History
107: For our last day, we decided to leave the hustle and bustle of Dublin and visit the countryside. We took the DART to the last stop and worked our way back to the city, stopping to explore four small towns. Our first stop was Bray. | Bray
109: We walked about a mile along the shore to Bray Head. After climbing to the top, we had some great views of the coast and town. We returned to the DART station through the residential area and saw quaint cottages and beautiful gardens.
111: Dalkey | We caught the train to the next town, found our way to the beach and walked along the shore. The ferry to Wales goes right by this beach and generates dangerously large waves. Luckily, no ferry was passing by when we were there. Rock stars and artists live here but we didn't see anyone important. | Our next stop was Dalkey which is a quiet seaside town. We never could find our way down to the beach but walked around the town instead.
112: Dalkey | Dalkey Castle
113: We found this small flower park and ate lunch here. We walked around town, saw the Dalkey Castle and then went back to the train station.
114: Dun Laoghaire
115: We walked along the East Pier where Dubliners go to see and be seen. We, of course,didn't see anyone we knew. We did see lots of sailboats and some fishing boats. We returned to Dublin and had dinner at one of the pubs and then went to Temple Bar for an ice cream. Great day!
116: Irish Pubs
117: We enjoyed Ireland but it was great to be home again.