Day 7 – Westport

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On our way to Westport, we drove through the Burrens, “. . .a region of County Clare in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. On the Atlantic coast, the precipitous Cliffs of Moher are home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins. Irish: Boireann, meaning ‘great rock’.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren)

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Our first stop was at Kilfenora and the Burren Center. We also went through the Kilfenora Cathedral and the High Crosses.

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One of the crosses!

From here, we drove through the Burrens and stopped at the Caherconnell Fort where archaeologists and workers were digging–one of my secret passions. A docent shared an informative tour with us.

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IMG_0931 Rock WallThe rock walls of the fort fascinated me.

IMG_0940 Wall & Workers.JPGLook at those green fields!

From the fort, we continued through the Burrens and stopped at the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. The tomb was constructed from great slabs of limestone over 5,000 years ago.

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From here, we drove to Cong, an added stop to our day. Lin is a big fan of the movie, The Quiet Man, and it was filmed for the most part in Cong. We toured the Quiet Man Museum, sought out places from the movie, ate dinner and walked through this scenic village.

IMG_1005 John & Maureen.JPGThe playful statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara from The Quiet Man.

IMG_0690.jpgLin and I enjoyed The Quiet Man museum and all the memorabilia from the movie.

We had a hard time leaving this quaint village, but we had to; we arrived in Westport at 7:00 pm–the latest arrival of any of our travel days. We found our bed and breakfast, St. Anothy’s B & B, much easier than the other ones. I had finally figured out the GPS. The house dates back to 1820, when it was built for the Minister of The Presbyterian Church. Our room was gorgeous and spacious–right on the Carrowbeg River. In fact, we opened a window and the river was right there.

Our evening was delightful. We walked around Westport, took pictures, shopped and had a relaxing evening after a busy travel and tourist day. And Lin found a place to buy ice cream–one of his passions!

IMG_1109 Lin best.JPGWe crossed this bridge over the Carrowbeg River on our walk, enjoying the beautiful flowers and all the water.

This truly was a glorious, fun-filled day!

 

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Day 8 – Navan

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We started this day with pancakes (crepes) for breakfast–delicious! I was good to vary away from the full Traditional Irish breakfast for once!

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Our first rainy day on the trip!

Lin spied a church and cemetery on his side of the road in the small town of Tulsk which ended up being the Tulsk Dominican Priory.

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The Tulsk Dominican Priory

The Tulsk Dominican Priory on our rainy day! Thanks for making us stop!

I looked to my side of the street and saw a Heritage Center, so we took pictures and then went into the Center–what a find it was!

We met the manager of the center, Daniel Curley, and he encouraged us to go through the center and then join him on a tour of Rothcroghan ruins. Unknowingly, we had just passed the ruin driving into Tulsk.

The displays were very informative and gave background information for the tour. It also had a great video.

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Lin donned the helmet

Lin donned the helmet and experienced the displays to the max.

Afterwards, we retraced our journey a few miles, following Daniel–we were the only takers for the tour on that damp day.

The Rothcroghan complex is one of the five royal sites of Ireland with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.

Daniel stood in the rain and shared his visual aides (in plastic sleeves) with us. His passion for the site and the tale were evident. He went into great detail sharing “The Tain” from the Irish epic, “Tain Bo Cuailnge.” The display behind him in the picture below shows the path of the tale.

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Daniel Curley, our tour guide

Daniel Curley, our tour guide, shared his knowledge in the rain–before he put on his rain gear!

When it really started pouring, Daniel excused himself and put on his rain coat and pants. I wondered why they were so muddy, but I didn’t ask.

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The actual Rothcroghan ruin

The actual Rothcroghan ruin was never excavated physically but with geophysical survey. “Scientists from the National University of Ireland, Galway, have taken nearly 150,000 magnetic gradiometry readings in the 30 acres around the great mound.” (https://archive.archaeology.org/online/news/ireland.html)

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A replica of Rathcroghan

 

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Sheep Pasture around Rathcroghan

On our trek up to the top of Rathcroghan we were in a sheep pasture and had to hopscotch over sheep droppings. When we finally got to the top, the rain and wind let loose, so we didn’t stay long.

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Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats

Our next stop was Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats–the entrance to hell in Irish mythology.  The rain continued; Daniel continued his lecture telling us people can go down into the cave. I asked how and he said, “Slide down into it.” Now I know why his rain gear was muddy–thank God our tour didn’t include sliding down into the cave.

In passing conversation we told Daniel about visiting a Bog village when we toured the Ring of Kerry. His eyes lit up and he told us that a bog man was found on his farm and that it was in the Archaeology museum in Dublin. I made a note of that.

I have never been so wet in my life!

We returned to the Heritage Center and warmed up with tea and scones.

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Trim Castle

Daniel suggested we change our itinerary and not go to Newgrange and Brú na Bóinne,  prehistoric sites since we had stopped at Rathcroghan and received so much information there. He suggested we stop at Trim Castle on our way to Navan to see a castle, so we did! This is where they filmed Brave Heart. We did a tour of the castle and our guide was delightful. The stone stairway was circular and steep, but it was fascinating. When we topped out on top of the castle we went outside, and the rain poured again.

We made it to Navan that evening in good time to our hotel, Newgrange Hotel. It was gorgeous. We had a delicious dinner and I spent the evening drying my tennis shoes with a hair dryer. I had only one pair of tennis shoes with me for the trip, so I needed the dry for the next day!

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My shoes before I thought of using a hair dryer.

Of all our days on the trip, this day stood out as the serendipitious adventure of a lifetime–Rothcroghan wasn’t on our itinerary. It just happened, and I became one of the highlights of the trip!

 

 

Day 4 & 5 Killarney and the Ring

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As we drove from Blarney to Killarney, I wondered how we would find our bed and breakfast because Ireland doesn’t use street numbers. When we got into Killarney, Lin stopped at a gas station and I went in and asked–no idea where Rock Road was.

We continued down the street and there were no street signs. We slowed down, rolled down the window and asked a man walking by about our destination. He pointed down the street and said you’re on Rock Road. Our bed and breakfast was right there.

Our host, Pat and Mary, at Rathmore House Bed and Breakfast, were exceptional. They welcomed us and made us feel right at home. Lin enjoyed talking gardening with Mary.

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Pat gave us directions to Ross castle and Musross House. Lin asked him to book us a tour of the Ring of Kerry for the next day; Pat agreed with Lin that he didn’t want to drive it because he wouldn’t get to enjoy the scenery.

So away we went and toured the Ross Castle

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and the Musross House.

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Again, the next morning we had a traditional Irish breakfast starting with porridge (oatmeal).

The Ring of Kerry tour was fantastic. Our first stop was at a bog village, a replica of an Irish village. Here’s a traditional thatched roof.

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Our next stop was watching a shepherd (Below) demonstrate how his well-trained dogs responded to a personal whistle signal to bring the herd of sheep down from the upper pasture. You can barely see the sheep in this picture–one dots.

The dogs worked like clockwork to bring the sheep down the hill.

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You can see how eager the dog is to work–he’s ready to go. It was amazing to watch the dogs and their eagerness to perform.

After the demonstration, the shepherd took questions from the audience and my husband, Lin, asked the following question: “Does the training technique you use with the sheep dogs work on wives?” The men laughed; the women gasped. I just shook my head–that’s Lin!

Our lunch time stop had a breathtaking view of the ocean from the Scarriff Inn.

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Here’s a picture of me enjoying this beautiful landscape.

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As we traveled the ring of Kerry, the hillsides were dotted with heather and fuchsia, so the wide variety of green was highlighted with purple and red.

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Our last stop on the loop was the small village of Sneem. I bought a colorful winter wool knitted cap, and Lin ate ice cream.

Here’s Sean Sullivan, our bus driver and us–what a memorable day it was!

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After Sean dropped us off near downtown Killarney, we walked around, had a coffee and spent the evening relaxing. Killarney became one of our favorite spots in Ireland.

 

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Day 3 – 4 Kissing a Stone and on to Killarney

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…go forth with the Gift of Eloquence!

Our wonderful trip continues in Ireland!

The next day we enjoyed our first Irish breakfast at our hotel in Dublin, but we didn’t have explanations for everything yet. That came the next morning in Blarney. After breakfast, we lugged our bags up the hill to the train station. We traveled to Heuston station, then we got a taxi and went to the Hertz car rental.

I could feel the tension mounting for Lin about driving on the left side of the road.  I managed the transaction with the agent while Lin visited with other customers. The agent encouraged us to upgrade to accommodate all our luggage, so we did, but the upgraded car was smaller than the Jetta we originally had rented, so we changed back. We did buy the Super insurance in case of an accident. What would happen with driving on the left side of the road, we wondered?

The car lot was bumper-to-bumper! We needed help figuring out the key and how to get in the trunk, so a pleasant attendant directed us through everything unfamiliar.

Lin’s nervousness about driving rose to a crescendo as we tried to get out of the car lot. My nemesis was adjusting to a Tom-Tom GPS–I’m used to a Garmin. The rental agent set it up for our first destination–Hotel Blarney Woollen Mills. Finally away we went, holding our breaths. Right off the bat, we missed the first turn, but the GPS rerouted us and away we went–on the left side of the road.

The drive to Blarney went smoothly. Quickly we were out of Dublin and on a nice interstate-type road. I was amazed–the gas stations and rest stops were on the left side of the road. When we arrived at our hotel in Blarney, the entrance to the Blarney Castle was across the street.

Now Lin faced the hardest part of driving on the left side–parking the car. It was the most difficult task. After a couple of tries, he parked the car and let out a sigh of relief–something I became familiar with anytime he walked away from the car.

That afternoon, we climbed up a winding staircase to the top of Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.  (See picture above of me kissing the stone.)  That’s not an easy feat for sure. You have to lay down on your back, a man supports you, you grab onto two metal bars then arch your back backwards, duck your head down and kiss the stone behind you.  Wow, I was glad they had a metal grate underneath me, but I could see the ground below through the grate, and it was a long way down there.

Legend says that you receive eloquence after you’ve kissed the stone. We’ll see. We enjoyed several comical plaques around the top of the castle explaining the difference between Blarney and baloney.  This lens and screen cloth I bought highlights some of them.

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After this much awaited event, we walked around the top of the castle and marveled at the beautiful view of the lush green all around.

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I bought a journal in the Blarney castle gift shop and recorded the whole trip.

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That evening we ate gourmet sausage sandwiches in a local pub and drank our first Club Orange soda which became a favorite. We returned to the pub later in the evening because they advertised traditional Irish music at 9:30 pm, but the singer sang country and western, so we didn’t stay long.

The next morning we had another full traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, grilled tomatoes, ham (bacon), sausage, and black and white pudding. The waiter explained the difference between the white and black pudding because I asked: the black pudding comes from the pig’s blood and white pudding is the rest of the leftovers of the butchered pig. I had researched it before we left but forgot.

We shopped in the “Largest Irish Store” and bought mega souvenirs because they would ship home them for us. I loved all the wool yarn–I’m a knitter and the colors were warm and inviting me to create something new, so I bought some.

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We drove to Killarney with a near mishap–I thought I had forgotten my iPad at the hotel in Blarney, so we stopped. It had slid under my seat, so we were set.

The drive through the countryside was a variety of greens. I felt a wall very close to me for most of the trip because of the narrow road.

I had trouble with the GPS and setting the address in Killarney. We found out that Ireland doesn’t use street numbers, so we asked for help and were a couple blocks away from our bed and breakfast.

Pat and Mary were our hosts–what a lovely couple. After we got settled, we toured the Ross castle and the Musross house. Pat booked a Ring of Kerry tour for us the next day; Lin was relieved that he didn’t have to drive it.

In the evening, we walked to downtown Killarney and searched for Traditional Irish music. Delightful Irish tunes filled our evening in a neighborhood pub. We did some shopping and Lin had his favorite treat–ice cream. What a wonderful evening in a fascinating town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Absence!

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I didn’t fall off the face of the earth–trips to our family ranch and then a week long dance activity in the mountains of Colorado, and I’m back. This picture is of Saddlerock to the west of my hometown, Branson. I love sunsets there that magnify this beloved structure!

Also I was silent on my blog because I took a Digital Shop workshop with D’vorah Lanky to help me beef up my Etsy Shop. I started it a year ago and have had no sales. The workshop was fantastic, but I have had to go back and renovate my shop and do some digital productions–it’s up and running. The name of the shop is “Larada’s Reading Loft.” Go check it out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Right now, all I have for sale is paper copies of my books, but soon I will be adding digital copies of each of my books if you are interested.

Before my absence, I was so excited about our trip to Ireland and England and had outlined my blogs about the trip and felt great about my organization–that’s when it all fell apart.

I love blogging and would love to get any comments you might have. I will continue my travel experiences in Ireland and England and other thought provoking topics, so stay tuned!

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Day 2 – A Flight to London and then to Dublin

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Our new flight to London left JFK at 7:30 pm–our original flight was to leave at 7:00 pm, so our travel plans were not compromised at all! British Airways came through for us in a big way.

Lin and I hurried to the gate with our carry-on bags in tow–we had a short wait at the gate. After such a tumultuous day, I had to pinch myself. I could breath now;  relief flooded me as we walked through the door of the plane.

As we worked our way through the first class seating with pods for the travelers, I marveled at the comfort level there. I haven’t traveled on a Boeing 747 since 1999, so I had never seen them!

We arrived at our assigned seats near the rear of the plane–no pods! After Lin situated himself in the window seat, I fell into my middle seat, ready for a great trip.  Lucky us–our seats were located on the side of the plane and had only three seats. We had no one sitting with us, so I spread out.

I wanted to stand up and cheer when the plane took off–London and Heathrow, here we come! Truly my God had managed the whole day.

I enjoyed the chicken curry dinner and relaxed. Lin watched a movie and I played on my iPad and listened to music. Exhaustion hit us after we unwound, and sleep came easily for me. I wrapped myself up in the blanket provided, laid down on the seat with my head in Lin’s lap and drifted off to sleep quickly.

Waking up on the plane felt surreal. I followed our progress on the monitor and saw that we were flying over Dublin which made me chuckle. When we had booked our tickets in January, we didn’t have an itinerary yet, so I bought tickets to London. After much consideration, we decided to go to Ireland first and then to England because of the wedding we were attending on July 28, so here we were flying over Dublin now and in a few hours after landing in London, we would fly back to Dublin–kind of crazy, but it worked!

After deplaning we gathered our luggage, went through customs and checked our luggage for the flight to Dublin. We grabbed breakfast in a food court. The gate assignment wasn’t listed immediately, so we waited and waited. Finally they posted it, so we went to the gate and relaxed. Again we flew British Airways.

Our trip to Dublin was uneventful in a smaller airplane. We got a taxi to our hotel–one I had booked through British Airways. The taxi driver worried about the location of our hotel because it was in the middle of a business park with nothing around it.

We checked in, and the desk clerk, Jessie gave us instructions on how to ride the train into downtown Dublin so we could exchange money. We should have exchanged money at the airport but didn’t.

The room suited us fine. I immediately searched and found the blow dryer. Our travel agent told me that each place would have one, so I didn’t have to pack one. I worried about that needlessly–I needed a blow dryer and there it was! Thank God!

Jessie told us it was easy to catch the train and then it was a short walk from the Heuston station to downtown–yea, right! We learned during this trip that short is a relative term in Ireland and England.

The train station was up the hill from our hotel and a friendly commuter suggested how to deal with picking up our rental car in the morning.  She said, “Catch a taxi to pick up your rental car at Heuston station instead of at your hotel because it would be significantly less expensive.”

After getting off the train, we walked along the Liffey River, marveling at the stone work on the bridges and the people strolling by the river. When we passed the famous Guinness factory, it finally sunk in that we really were in Dublin.

We never did find the place to exchange money that Jessie had sent us to and by the time we arrived downtown, the banks had closed. A waiter at a corner pub/restaurant sent us down the street to an ATM, so we finally had Euros in our hands.

We ate dinner at that pub/restaurant, and I had my first bowl of Irish Stew–delicious lamb and potatoes! After dinner, we enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the crowded downtown streets. We slowly retraced our route back to Heuston station and found the taxi stand.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first night in Ireland, anticipating the drive to the countryside in the morning. I don’t think either of us slept much that night wondering how driving on “the left side” of the road would be.

Driving on the left side of the road–oh, my! Stay tuned for my next blog. Our  adventures begins on the wrong side of the road.

My web site at https://larada.wix.com/author

 

 

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Day 6 – Lahinch

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Our day began again with a traditional Irish breakfast again.  We especially loved it here in Killarney.

Our route from Killarney to Lahinch changed because Pat, our host at the bed and breakfast in Killarney, suggested we go up to Tarbert and take the ferry across the River Sharon. Originally we planned to go through Limerick, so this new plan shortened our travel and gave us a delightful ferry trip. IMG_0599.JPGThe drive through the countryside in Ireland dazzled me with all the variety of greens!

IMG_0607 Lin in the car.JPGLin waited in line to get on the ferry. Yes, he drove on the left side of the road–some say the wrong side, but he did a great job.

IMG_0606 ferry.JPGThe ferry we rode across the River Sharon.

 

IMG_0647 cattle BEST.JPGArriving at the other side of the river, the scenery was breathtaking with cattle grazing in lush green pastures. The hedge fences accentuated the symmetry of the pastures–a magical line drawn around each pasture.

From here, we drove to Lahinch. Again we had trouble finding our bed and breakfast, but Lin listened to his gut and we found it. Susan Harrington was our hostess and provided us a beautiful room.

Susan suggested a great lunch spot a long the way–Vaughn’s, so we stopped and had a seafood platter that was mostly mussels. It wasn’t my favorite meal of the trip for sure, but Lin loved it.

Our next destination was one of Ireland’s most popular:  the Cliffs of Moher and what a sight–gigantic vertical cliffs plunged down to the Atlantic ocean abruptly.

IMG_0717 Weeds Focused BEST.JPGI loved to focus on trees or plants in the foreground on a picture like this.

IMG_0721 Close up.JPGThe beautiful cliffs unobstructed.

IMG_0737 w:sunflowers.JPGAnother one of my pictures with something in the foreground.

Lin and I hiked the path that wove its way near the edge of the cliffs, but we didn’t walk the other direction because he was dealing with plantar fasciitis the whole trip. It was here where the pain affected him the most! And thank God–I couldn’t have hiked the other side of the cliffs anyway (the direction of the above picture).

IMG_0797 Several Paths.JPGThe path we walked to arrive at the sheer cliff below.

IMG_0804 Far Edge with bird.JPGThe birds soaring between the rock face and me highlighted this view. This was our destination. Standing on the edge of this cliff overwhelmed me–usually I’m OK with heights but the sheer drop off took my breath away.

IMG_0830 green grass shocked.JPGOn the walk back, I marveled at the cattle grazing on such lush green grass and tried to get this picture. Being a rancher’s daughter, I’m always captivated by green grass and cattle. I reached down to focus on the grass and touched a hot wire and was electrocuted, screamed and blacked out for a second. The pain was piercing!

IMG_0829 Lin.JPGLin rested his elbow on the fence that electrocuted me! He didn’t touch the hot wire like I did!

IMG_0832 cow on the hill.JPGOne of the cows that caused me to reach across the fence and get shocked!!

We spent a restful night at Lahinc reading and relaxing. Our hostess’ children played in the backyard which added a familial feel to our stay–this truly was a bed and breakfast in someone’s home.  The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast to send us on our way!

Coming up next – a drive to Westport through the Burrens!