A day of rest? At Ashford Castle, there is a school of Falconry,
a Spa, an Equestrian Centre, a Zip-line, Archery….There are boat cruises and bikes for hire, etc. etc. etc. But we decide on golfing😊.
Congratulations to Lucy and Roger who manage to get the only pars. Jeff and I will have to pay the round. Ha!
Even on the course, we see 40 shades of green!
We walk to the town of Cong where there is a museum dedicated to the movie The Quiet Man (John Wayne and Maureen O’hara). The movie was filmed in Cong and at the castle. Oh, and did I mention the castle has a cinema. The film will be playing tonight. We smell popcorn 🙂
At 11 every morning, to the guests’ delight, these two wolfhounds visit the castle.
This is our last night at the castle and so we take more pictures lol
Thanks Mel for the beautiful sweater, just what you need in Ireland…
For a second day in a row, William greets us in the morning. Today however, he will be our driver-guide to explore Connemara National Park. He is very knowledgeable and also very witty. When we ask him if he can sing us a song, he answers…The only singer we had in our family was a singer sewing machine lol
Today, we see :
Bogs : basically wetlands that accumulate dead vegetation, harvested for fuel.
-Quaint villages like Oughterard
-A fjord, the only one in Ireland
-Kylemore Abbey, a mansion built in 1860 by Dr Mitchell Henry for his wife, it became home to Benedictine nuns in 1920.
-Its impressive gardens
-An aquafarm of mussel beds (the mussels take 2 years to get to maturity).
At William’s recommendation, we have lunch at Mitchell’s, a seafood restaurant in the town of Clifden. Needless to say, the food is excellent.
For dessert, Jeff goes into a bakery. Lucy says no. Jeff says YES!
The highlight of the day for Roger? We meet a dozen classic cars…Where are they off to? What are the odds?
The highlight for all of us? Tonight, we are staying in a 1200 century castle, The Ashford Castle. At one point, it was owned by the Guinness family. It is now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.
Is this heaven? For certain, once in a lifetime experience…
Today, we toured the island of Inis Mor, population, 900. It is the biggest of Aran Islands, a group of three Irish speaking islands located in Galway Bay. Here, traditional farming methods are still used, including mixing sand and seaweed to create a layer of fertile soil on the desolate land.
How peaceful it is to explore the island with Sammy (the horse) and Patrick (our local guide). Lucy says:
‘This is the way to go’😊
Of course, biking is another popular way to tour the island.
The island is known for its Aran wool, but really?
We visit Hillfort at Dun Aengus. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Europe. It dates back to 1100 B.C.
How far is it to the top Roger??? Didn’t Denise say it was around the corner..
Then, we follow the coast; we spot some seals, interesting rock formations and piles of rock… inukshuks! Are we back in Canada?
Although the boat ride to the island from Rossaveal was quite choppy, (after all you are on the Atlantic Ocean) the return trip is much smoother.
Tonight, we are in for a treat as we enjoy the Trad on the Prom Show 😊
What talent! The uilleann pipes, the accordion, the violin are all played by very renowned artists. The tap dancers are all winners of international awards.
When we are ready to get back to Glenlo Abbey however, things are complicated. Our taxi is confiscated by Peter…and then we wait and wait and wait. Where is UBER? lol.
Ireland is certainly one of the cleanest countries we have visited. Tiny Town Competition… What a great initiative!
This morning, a rainbow appears as we are driving along. Roger wants to follow it to the end to find the leprechaun holding the pot of gold 🙂
Everywhere in Ireland, the houses are surrounded with either hedges or walls. Why? It is a strong message to those who might want to take away their land, like in the past..
Well, now we know what Johnny Cash meant by his song, 40 shades of Green..
On the way to the Cliff s of Moher and the Burren Geopark, we stop to spend some time with creative chef Oonagh. What a special environmentalist. Thanks to her, we discover local ingredients from the land and the seashore that she forages to prepare exquisite dishes. Salads, pesto, seaweed treats, etc.
The best is, she prepared a picnic basket that we get to bring with us 🙂 All the containers and spoons are made of Corn starch!
At St Tola, we visit a goat’s farm and learn about the sustainable farming practices used. This is followed by a cheese-making demonstration and tasting. Succulent!
Last but not least, we travel to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, awarded the ‘Global Geopark’ status by UNESCO.
This is an exceptional day! First the sun comes out. Then, we have a wonderful guide, Caroline.
Winding around the mountains, we go through farmland.
Why are the sheep painted? For indentification purposes we are told.
The Kerry Bog Museum gives us the opportunity to enjoy a step back in time to the 18th century. We recapture the way life would have been at that time. Peat, or turf as it is usually called in Ireland, is harvested from bogs and is still used as domestic fuel.
On Valencia island, we visit a slate quarry. This special slate was used in the building of the opera house of Paris and is now a favorite by many architects.
At this point, views of the Atlantic ocean are spectacular.
Next, we visit the Skellig experience centre. It has information on the UNESCO World Heritage Monastery found on the Skellig Michael Islands.
On the way back to Killarney, we pass a river where Charlie Chaplin regularly came to fish in Waterville. The town holds a Charlie Chaplin festival every year 🙂
The ride back to Killarney offers many surprises.
Tomorrow, we are moving on. We will miss the Killarney Royal. Where else can you practice your putting before going to bed….
The Rock of Cashel is about 2 hours from Dublin. Perched on a high outcrop, it is a powerful landmark as it served as the seat of ancient kings. This is also where St Patrick baptized Ireland’s first Christian ruler. In the 12th century, it was given to the Church. This led to the building of the Gothic cathedral.
It is then a very picturesque drive on very narrow roads to get to Killarney. We manage to arrive before our scheduled jaunting car (horse and buggy) ride.
Maggie (the horse) and Cal (our guide) are fantastic. We tour the National Park which is the biggest in Ireland. Of the 3 lakes in the park, one is 400 ft deep. A day license to fish salmon or trout will cost you 50 euros.
There is a 75 km biking trail in the park. We see many deer. Cal keeps us laughing with his jokes and anecdotes. He reminds us that often in trying to make sense of what happens in the wild, we just have to admit that ‘that is the way nature walks’.
We already know that the Irish always give you two scoops of potatoes and ask if you want more 🙂
We already know that their fish and chips and Irish stew are exquisite.
But tonight, when Jeff asked for liver and onions, they answered ‘what on earth is that? lol
When you order bruschetta bread, this is what you get per person ….
Needless to say, we did not order dessert tonight. ha!
It was decided that none of us would be driving on this holiday. But now we have to remember what is the passenger side and what is the driver side of the vehicles:) Our drivers are quite amused by our confusion…
The Irish do want their tourists to come back and so, before crossing the street, you will be advised to either look left or look right lol
Our walking tour of Dublin brings us to Trinity College. It is the home to Ireland’s largest collection of manuscripts produced in Britain or Ireland.
Would you like to be the one to climb a ladder to reach one of those manuscripts?
The book of Kells, written on vellum (calf’s skin), is early Christian artwork, written by monks in 800 AD.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture, built on the site of a well used by St Patrick. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s travel was dean here for 30 years.
No visit of Dublin is complete without a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. So we just had to go and enjoy a pint… Of course, the storehouse alone, made a profit of 30 million euros in 2016. Lucy suggests we buy shares in the enterprise 😊
Tonight, we joined a group tour, the literary pub crawl. Led by a team of actors, the tour offered an original introduction to the city’s literary greats such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. It gave us the opportunity to visit four famous pubs; there are only 800 in the city, ha!
This statue of Oscar Wilde is formed from marble, jade from British Colombia, pink thulite and blue pearl granite from Norway.
By the way, congratulations Lucy for getting all the quiz questions correct. Will you share your winnings? How many ml in that tiny bottle of whiskey lol?
Arrived later than expected but still were not able to check in to our hotel. Took a walk to Grafton St., a wonderful pedestrian zone and shopping area.
What is this young artist singing?
A Justin Bieber song, lol.
Who are these three tired souls walking this incredible mall?
Can you spot Roger, Jeff and Lucy?
We just had to stop in this establishment.
Jeff says : Let’s start with dessert. I agree. That sticky toffee pudding sure will be scrumptious.
Of course, the Fish and Chips is delicious as well!
Tonight, we are entertained by Michael, the storyteller and two musicians/comedians at Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head. What better way to familiarize ourselves with the history of the country, including the Great Famine, and the beliefs of the people at the time (fairies like the mischievous leprechauns). What an unforgettable way to spend a first night in Dublin:)