Circle complete

Heading back to Dublin, the colourful sheep adorn the landscape.

sheep 3

sheep 2

Counting sheep could put one to sleep and some of us dose a bit…

Along the way, we stop at a service station. What a great idea for travellers!

laundramat
The rooms at the Maldron Hotel at the Dublin airport are quite small but then we remind ourselves how spoiled we were at Ashford Castle lol

Tomorrow, we are off to another adventure in France.
We are sad to see our travel companions, Jeff and Lucy, head back to Canada but they give us great advice as to what to visit in Paris.

Ireland, beidh muid ar ais! (we will be back!)

A day of rest

A day of rest? At Ashford Castle, there is a school of Falconry,

falconry school

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!

Ashford golf course 3

Even on the course, we see 40 shades of green!

ashford golf course-40 sahdes 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.

ashford csatle dogs

This is our last night at the castle and so we take more pictures lol

at ashford castle

Thanks Mel for the beautiful sweater, just what you need in Ireland…

ashford castle boots

ashford castle decorashfrod castel-jeff and lucy

Connemara National Park to Ashford Castle

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.

bog

-Quaint villages like Oughterard

small town

-A fjord, the only one in Ireland

fjord

-Kylemore Abbey, a mansion built in 1860 by Dr Mitchell Henry for his wife, it became home to Benedictine nuns in 1920.

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-Its impressive gardens

gardens at abbey

-An aquafarm of mussel beds (the mussels take 2 years to get to maturity).

aquafarm

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.

mitchellès

For dessert, Jeff goes into a bakery. Lucy says no. Jeff says YES!

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…

 ashford castle 2ashford castle 3

Exploring Inis Mor

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’😊

Inis Mor 2

Of course, biking is another popular way to tour the island.

Inis mor 1

The island is known for its Aran wool, but really?

bêêêêê

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..

Roger and jeff

Cliff

Then, we follow the coast; we spot some seals, interesting rock formations and piles of rock… inukshuks! Are we back in Canada?

inukshuk 1
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.

Show 2

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.

Ah well, it was all worth it!

 

 

Glenlo Abbey

Glenlo Abbey

To Cliffs of Moher and the Burren Geopark

Ireland is certainly one of the cleanest countries we have visited. Tiny Town Competition… What a great initiative!

Tidy towns

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 🙂

Rainbow

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..

wall

Well, now we know what Johnny Cash meant by his song, 40 shades of Green..

40 shades 2

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.

 

 

sgaghetti seaweed
seaweed spaghetti

Oonagh 1Oonagh 2

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!

oonagh 4

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!

goat farm 3

Last but not least, we travel to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, awarded the ‘Global Geopark’ status by UNESCO.

Cliffs of Moher

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring:)

Ring of Kerry

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.

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Why are the sheep painted? For indentification purposes we are told.

Image result for painted sheep in ireland

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.

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At this point, views of the Atlantic ocean are spectacular.

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Next, we visit the Skellig experience centre. It has information on the UNESCO World Heritage Monastery found on the Skellig Michael Islands.

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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 🙂 Image result for charlie chaplin hat

The ride back to Killarney offers many surprises.

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Tomorrow, we are moving on. We will miss the Killarney Royal. Where else can you practice your putting before going to bed….

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Dublin to Killarney via the Rock of Cashel.

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.

Rock of Cashel

 

Rock of CAshel 2Rock of Cashel 3

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.

Killarney 5

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.

Killarney National Park-1

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’.

Killarney 6

Killarney 4

Killarney 3

Killarney 2

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 ….

bruschetta bread

Needless to say, we did not order dessert tonight. ha!