Ireland Trip – Final days

Crossing the Shannon Estuary

On Thursday we left our hotel in Killarney climbed aboard our tour bus and headed north where we took a ferry across the Shannon Estuary.

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Cliffs of Mother

After traveling through lots of farmlands we headed to the Cliffs of Moher.  These are awesome cliffs that rise 700′ high over the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean.  They are truly beautiful.

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There was a castle built on the cliffs hundreds of years ago.

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Then we traveled through more small towns and farmlands on our way to Bunratty.

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Durty Nellie’s Pub

In Bunratty we pulled into the Bunratty Hotel where we spent the night.  Once I got settled in I headed to the Durty Nellie’s Pub just across the way.  This is a pub that has been there since 1625.  It is a great old wooden building with lots of little rooms everywhere.  This was on my list of the things to do while in Ireland.  I went in and had a pint of Guinness (naturally) and just relaxed for a bit.  Then went across the street to check out the Woolen Mills store.  Lots of great items but expensive.

Bunratty Castle Medieval Dinner Show

For dinner we were treated to  a Medieval Dinner Show at the Bunratty Castle.  It was a great dinner with lots of wine and good conversation.  Then we were entertained by a super bunch of singers dressed in Medieval attire.  I didn’t have my camera so you will have to just take my word that it was a very fun time.  Then it was back to the hotel to sleep it off. HA!

Connemara Marble Factory

Then next day we visited the Connemara Marble Factory in Moycullen on the outskirts of Galway.  It is a family owned Marble Factory that has been in the Joyce family for centuries.  They showed us the different types of marble all found in areas of Ireland.  Much of this marble is very old and extremely beautiful.  They also showed us how they cut it, drill it and form it into many pieces, many of them used in jewelry. We were also treated to lunch at their store across the street.

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On to Galway

We then drove on to Galway and we were able to shop and eat lunch.  Lots of great shops here and very busy.

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After Galway we made our way across to Dublin and our final destination.  We stayed in a different hotel.  A bunch of us got together in the hotel dining room where we had fun talking about our experience in Ireland and our homelands as well.  Then we started drinking wine, wine and more wine.  Nobody was up too late as many of us had to get up very early to head to the airport.

Saturday my flight took off at 7:30am to fly directly to Vancouver B.C. where I landed on Sunday.  Then I got on a short hop to Portland and headed home.  I was dead tired due to the 9 hour time difference.

My Tour

I booked my tour through CIETours and would highly recommend them to anyone interested in visiting Ireland, Britain, Scotland or Wales.  They were very attentive to detail and their drivers and tour directors were the best.  They have modern coaches that were very comfortable and we stayed at 4 star hotels at each stop.  I also got to meet a lot of wonderful people from all over the world.  It was a blast!

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Ireland Trip – Tuesday Day 3

Update on the Day 2 post

I mentioned that after the “Welcome Drink” I had dinner in the hotel.  That was wrong.  Instead we were taken outside of Dublin where we went to dinner at the “Merry Ploughboys Pub”.  It is a huge pub that caters to tours .  They offer a great dinner/show with dinner, wine and a great desert.  The also have the Merry Ploughboys who provide some great entertainment.  They are four guys who play Irish ballads and folk music.  They also have several really good Irish dancers.  It was a blast.  Then we headed back to the hotel.

Left Dublin and headed south

Early Tuesday our tour headed south towards Cork.  We made a stop outside of Cashel to take some pics of the Rock of Cashel.  This next pic was probably a few miles away but I changed to my telephoto lenses to get it.

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I would have loved to tour it but it was not in our itinerary.  It was just outside the small town of Cashel.

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On to Cork

While investigating my ancestry I found out my great great grandfather John Moran came from County Cork.  Most of the Irish immigrants during the potato famine came from this area and got on the boat at Cobh.  The Titanic also stopped here to pick up travelers.

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Blarney Castle to get the “Gift of Eloquence”

We then moved further south to the Blarney Castle in Blarney.  This is where you will find the Blarney Stone.  There were lots of people and it took over an hour to climb the spiral staircase to the top of Blarney Castle leading to the Blarney Stone.

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The Blarney Stone is the section at the very top of the castle.  Once you started up the staircase there is no turning back since the staircase is so narrow.  Once at the top you have to lay on your back, grab the bars on the side and bend backward to kiss the stone.  You also have this guy holding you up.  It is the craziest thing I think I have ever done.  Once you kiss the stone you are sent forth with the “Gift of Eloquence”.  In other words you then have the “gift of gab”.  Ha! I thought I already had that.

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Blarney Woolen Mills

Across from the Blarney Castle is the Blarney Woolen Mills.  They have really nice (and expensive) Irish made goods.  I bought a wool scarf that I can really make use of this winter.  But mostly just window shopped.

On to Killarney

Then we started getting into the mountains.  They are not real big mountains but very beautiful.

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We traveled through lots of farmlands.  It was so beautiful.  They don’t have fences dividing the farms, but have hedgerows and rock walls.

Beautiful Lakes

The scenery in this area is very beautiful with many farms, mountains and lakes.

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Arrived in Killarney

We arrived in Killarney where we stayed at the Killarney Towers Hotel.  We ate dinner at the hotel and I enjoyed a wonderful lamb dinner.  Yummie!!

 

Ireland Trip – Monday Day 2

Hop-on Hop-off Tour

We were furnished with a Hop-On Hop-Off voucher we could use so I did get back on the bus and headed to City Center.  Found the headquarters for the tour company and picked up my ticket and got on the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus.  These tours are great as they tell you a great deal about the city and you can get off any time and then back on again.

Trinity College

Trinity College is the biggest college in Ireland.  I got off the bus here because I wanted to see the Book of Kells.  They are manuscripts that the Monks painted many years ago.  The colors are beautiful and still very bright.  I didn’t get any pics of the manuscripts, but before you leave you enter a huge room called the Long Room.  This is where they house thousands of old books.  It is really something to see.

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Christ Church

I got back on the bus and a couple of stops down I got off at the Christ Church.  The Christ Church Cathedral (founded c. 1028)  is one of the top attractions in Dublin.

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It has beautiful stained glass windows and very beautiful.  I took some pics of the windows but they did not do it justice.

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Guiness Storehouse

The Guiness family produced Guiness Beer which is the main beer of choice in Ireland.  It is a very modern storehouse and tells the history of Guiness beer.  It is very interesting how it is made.  The top floor is called the Gravity Bar and it has great views of Dublin.  You can see the Croke Stadium in the middle of this next pic where I saw the Camogie Finals.

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Another view of Dublin.

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Here I am enjoying my first pint of Guinness beer.

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Outside of the Guiness Storehouse are some of the cabs.  HA!

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I opted for a motorized cab instead as I only had about an hour before the tour started from my hotel.

Cork Championship Team

When I got back to the hotel I sam the Cork team that won the championship.  They were also staying in the same hotel.  Naturally I had to pose with them and they were very nice in letting a old fart like me pose with them.  HA!!!!

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Our Tour Begins

The CIE tour bus picked us up in front of the hotel.  There are 31 people on the bus made up mostly of couples, one single guy (me), and about 5 single women (all but one of them married).  Our bus driver introduced us to our tour guide as we headed out to tour Dublin.

We were taken to Dublin City Centre where we got off to see a park dedicated to Oscar Wilde the famous Irish writer.  They even had a statue of him on this rock.

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There were also many art pieces like this with all the famous quotes from his writings.

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They also pointed out his home as we passed it on the bus.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral

Our next stop was St Patrick’s Cathedral where we got off for a quick photo shoot.  This was built in 1191 in honor of Ireland’s patron saint.  It was raining a bit but cleared up enough to get this next pic.

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Dublin Castle

Then it was off to Dublin castle where we were given a guided tour of many of the rooms.  It was constructed in early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement.  Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.  In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government.

 

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Welcome Drink

Then it was back to the hotel where our group all met in the bar for a welcome drink.  CIE Tours picked up the tab and it was a great time to meet all my fellow travels.  After that we all went into the dining room and had a wonderful dinner (also included in our tour).

Then it was off to bed after getting everything charged up again for a very busy day tomorrow.