Ireland 2010

Ireland- Day 1-Chicago

So with the exception of leaving my cell phone charger plugged in next to my bed, which of course means that my cell phone is now dead, today was a smooth as silk day.  Rob dropped me off at the airport on his way to class, just a little early and I checked in with American Airlines.  Treated myself to a Cafe Mocha, Yum Yum, which I drank before I cleared security and then settled in to wait for boarding.  No problems, a short flight and I was landing at O'Hare airport in Chicago.  I'll have to say you really get your exercise at O'Hare!  A long walk down the concourse, down an escalator, another long walk to luggage.  Yet another long walk to an elevator going up one floor to catch the hotel shuttle.  I'm grateful I can follow symbol directions!  I did get lucky, the shuttle pulled up just as I did!  After check in I spent a quiet afternoon and evening.  I don't have to be back at the airport until noon, hope it's as smooth as today was.

Ireland- Day 2-New York City and beyond

I left the hotel about 10:30 via hotel shuttle to O'Hare.  It was a couple of hours before I needed to go but I wanted to look for a phone charger to replace the one I left at home.  I found one five minutes after I cleared security!  I think it was the first shop I came to, sigh.  So I wandered around and got lots of exercise!  In my wanderings I found a charging station and you guessed it, charged my phone.  Caught up on all the messages waiting for me, sent texts and so on.  Then wandered some more, read some, now I am looking out the window at all the activity.  Lots of planes-this is a very busy airport.  In addition to planes on the taxi ways there are shuttle buses and cars coming and going, very strange.  It was quite cloudy but is beginning to clear, that brilliant, hard blue sky that we have in the fall and winter.  Boarding time for Kennedy airport New York soon.  More later.

It's later!  I am sitting in a different airport, JFK.  New York is a BIG busy city (I can't see a bit of it!) and it's airport, JFK, is busy and big as well.  It is 6:25 pm at home and 7:25 pm here.  We leave for Shannon about 10:15pm New York time and fly for about 7 hours before landing at 9:50am Irish time.  I'll never know what time it is!

Sorry, this post and the last one have been photo free, the camera's packed in my backpack and it seems too much trouble to get it out!

Ireland- Day 3 Killarney, County Kerry

We actually landed an hour early in Shannon, 8:30am here 2:30am in Independence.  I fail to see the value of flying at night as there was no sleep to be had!  Too crowded, plus, just as you are about to finally drift off the pilot lights the seatbelt sign (accompanied by a "ping") or someone calls a steward, again accompanied by a "Ping".  All the lights were off but the individual lights are so bright they invade the space of many others so reading is out (forgot the book light and Kindle's are not backlit!)  I finally gave up and played video games on the back of the seat in front of me.  It was pretty neat to fly into the sunrise and I could see egrets along the coast as we did our final approach.  Got my first stamp in my passport, sweet!  Our team leader, Mark-who is 22 and cute as a button- and coach driver met us and we were soon on our way to Killarney, Co.Kerry.  After a short stop in Adair I fell asleep.  I get to see it again though, so no worries.  Killarney isn't a very large town, population 14 and a half thousand (in the Irish way of saying things) but it is lovely--painted buildings and doors and many windows adorned by flower boxes and baskets.  The center of town is a regular warren of streets and alley-ways and the whole driving on the left side of the road is going to take some getting used to!

 One of the side streets in Killarney, it's so cute!
 This was in the window of a pub!  After all the time Larry spent with the American Legion I had to take the photo.  It's the charter to American Legion Post 2 named the Fr. Francis P. Duffy, dated 21 September 1951.  Think this must be because Ireland was neutral in World War II but many men enlisted in either the British Army or the US army.
 All the street signs (all signs really) are in both English and "The Irish" (on top)  Irish is a Gaelic language.
St. Mary's Church of Ireland steeple.  There is also a St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral here.  Confusing.

I had my first glass of Guiness (I did promise Scott I'd try it in Ireland,  I've tried it in the States and thought it a lot like tar.)  It is as advertised better here, especially with black currant juice added!  (Thanks Bri for the tip!)

On the menu for our first dinner in Ireland (among others) Southern Fried Chicken!  Too Weird!

Ireland- Day 4-The Ring of Kerry, County Kerry

It started out with a forecast from the Irish weather guessers for rain and fog etc.  At first it was only spotty rain and clouds, punctuated by amazing rainbows!  So clear that all the violet was visible and they hung in the air for such a long time.  I don't ever remember one at home lasting as long. Our guide for the day was Dennis Kissane, who was very entertaining. We stopped first along the road for photos (yes, that's what we were told) there was a young man waiting beside the road with his burro with his tiny dog atop selling peat bricks.  We had been passing the blanket peat bogs along the way, while heating oil has replaced peat for most people the high cost of oil means that some are returning to cutting and burning their own peat.  Each family has a plot of peat that they cut, the landscape looks odd with the straight walls where peat has been cut.

Caragh Lake is just visible off in the distance and the Caragh River is right next to the road.  You can see the mist coming in.

When I turned to look the other direction this is what I saw, a beautiful rainbow!

Our next stop is Rossbeigh Beach.  It is mostly empty this time of the year.  This is one of the "Prove you are in Ireland" photos taken on the beach.

We stopped in a small town just down the road, I think it might have been Glenbeigh, and I had my first encounter with a pub.  There were US license plates hanging behind the bar so I wandered over to look at them, two gentlemen who where having a pint (before lunch) asked "Are you on holiday, then?"  Yes, I am.  "Would you be from the States then?"  Yes, I am (really all I have to do is open my mouth and speak to make that apparent!)  "Where in the states?"  I am from Missouri.  Long pause and blank stares.  "Would that be close to Arizoniay?"  Not really.  It would take two days to drive there.  Missouri is in the middle (this soon becomes my standard)  "Well, it is a big place, America."  It really is.  "Enjoy your holiday!"  I will!  Another cool thing was that they had their black and white collie dog with them in the pub!

We stopped for photos one more time before lunch between Glenbeigh and Kells for the ocean views.  You can tell the weather is getting worse.

Because it was raining and we couldn't see much we had extra time and stopped in at the Daniel O'Connell Church in Cahersiveen.  It was pouring down rain by then so I hustled inside!  Beautiful stained glass windows behind the main altar and also behind the two side altars.  I doubt my pictures do them justice!.

Then it is off to Waterville for lunch, along the way we pass Valentia Island where the trans-oceanic telegraph cable first landed in Europe.  Couldn't see it at all but Dennis told us all about it!  Waterville's claim to fame seems to be that Charlie Chaplin vacationed there with his family and eventually bought land there which the family still owns.  The hotel where we eat has many photos of him and his family and there is a statute of him on the walkway.  I imagine it was a lovely little town but it was so cold and wet we didn't see much of it.  Here and everywhere there are huge hydrangea bushes and hedges of wild fushia.  There are sheep and cattle on the hills everywhere.  There are 4 1/2 million people in Ireland and 8 1/2 million cows!  Beef and dairy products are two of their principal exports, all grass fed and "gate to table."  The road from Waterville is narrow and twisty and we couldn't see a thing for the fog!  Mark entertained us with music on his traditional Irish flute and tin whistle, Dennis made us all sing "Molly Malone!"
The river at Sneem, swollen from all the rain in the mountains.

 We arrived in Sneem, winner of the coveted "Tidiest Village" award, where we stop for ice cream.  The rain had stopped and as we drove further north the sky lifted and some sun appeared-it was still quite windy!

 Next stop is Ladies View.

for a look at a glacial valley inside Killarney National Park.  Parts of these valleys didn't have electric lights until the 1960's!  Dennis remembers vividly the day electricity came to his family farm in 1957!  The whole of the day we have been circling the MacGillycuddy's Reeks which contains many of the highest mountains in Ireland.  It is very green but very few trees,  the exception there being the Sitka pine farms which are being subsidized by the government. There are ruins of houses all along the way,  dating to the great potato famine which holds a place in their collective memory much like the War Between the States does in the US.  Ever the builder's daughter I asked what the houses were made of,  the old buildings are made of native gray limestone and the newer ones of cement block both are stuccoed and painted so it is very hard to tell how old a house is!  Each house is ringed with pavement on three sides-no plantings like we have- the  town houses and some country houses all have a short wall around the front.  I asked Dennis about the why of that, I don't think he really knew as his answer was "It's traditional."

Arriving back in Killarney we are free for the night and I was invited to walk with Merry Lee and Jenni into the National Park, more on that tomorrow, then we dined in town on Fish and chips, yummo!  Later I joined a group bound for a pub for traditional music and had my second Guiness!

Ireland- Day 5-Killarney and Castle Island, County Kerry

Today began with a walk from our hotel to Killarney National Park. The largest of Ireland's National Parks and home of the largest stand of old growth Yew and Oak remaining. On the way we saw another Irish rainbow, this one actually touched the ground nearby-I've never seen that before!  I did ask who had the shovel but there was no little man so no pot of gold!  (Really, we just kept on walking.)  We picked up a naturalist for a guide who talked about the history of the park and the problems they currently have with invasive species.  Mostly, a subspecies of Rhododendron which is threatening to take over the park.  In an effort to stop this they are injecting the bad guys with Roundup, it takes three years to completely work and they leave all the dead in place to stop soil erosion.  There are many non-native trees and plants in the park as it was once an English estate and they liked to "collect" plants.  The tree above should look familiar to the west coasters as it is a Monterey Pine.  After a short lecture we took a hike The next three photos are views of the park lands.  There is a paved walkway throughout the park and it was being well used  by the locals and their dogs (not leashed.)  Isn't it beautiful ?  

 On our hike we passed a holy well, which isn't exactly a well, just a stone with two very circular holes.  It is said a monk knelt here and prayed for 400 years.  The Irish version of  Rip Van Winkle.
 Beyond the well we walked through the forest, learning about the difference between fern and bracken:  "Bracken is a fern but not all ferns are bracken"  Bracken has a distinctive single stem and grows fairly tall.  It grows where other plants have been disturbed and it was all over the Ring of Kerry.  I also learned that holly bushes/trees only have the sharp, pointed leaves until they grow high enough that the deer can't reach them then they become rounded.  I don't think we let ours get tall enough!
 From the woods we saw a herd of Irish Red deer.  I think they will be hard to pick out as most are lying down and a fair piece off but the view is still pretty.

In the afternoon I went shopping, bought only post cards and stamps.  Wrote the cards out to Brayden, Kolby and Alayna and mailed them-maybe they will get them before I get home!  I also bought a gift bag for the things I brought for our hostess that evening.  I didn't notice until I got back to the hotel that it was Hallmark, Corporate Headquarters Kansas City, Missouri!

In the evening we got back on the bus for Castle Island, a nearby town, where we were to dine with Irish families.  I was lucky and drew the home of Tomas and Nita (see photos below).  Tomas is a school principle.  He began this school with only two students and now has over 200.  All courses are taught in "the Irish" except English which is taught as a second language.  He has also been a general contractor, building homes and selling them.  Right now he's not doing that as the economy is "gone to hell."  (I had noticed a number of empty homes, apartments and store fronts.)  Nita is attending school, changing her career again.  They have four children; their oldest is away at Oxford (or maybe Cambridge but you get the idea) studying law, one of the twin girls is in England studying radiation therapy and the other is finishing up her teaching credentials, the youngest son is still in high school.

Tomas got out his guitar and sang with and for us.  He sang a song in "the Irish" which was just so lyrical!  Also John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and Garth Brooks' "The Dance,"  both are very popular in Ireland although the songs sounds quite different with an Irish accent!  We were having such a good time that we were late for the bus, OOPS!

Ireland- Day 6- The Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry

 The day started out with a bit of rain, followed by a brilliant rainbow, but by the time we got the the beach at Inch the sun was full out.  The tide was way out.  Very hard sand, in fact a glider club had landed on the beach and loaded up their trailers and pulled out driving on the sand.  I love the pattern the tide left on the sand.

 Tourism is one of Ireland's biggest industries but it is late in the season and many stores and inns are closed for the year.  That doesn't change the beauty of the place and we have only time for a short stop.

Even in Ireland there are delays for road construction!

 As we travel west we climb upward and away from the sea for a while and  take a few moments for a "photo stop."  Don't the fields remind you of a crazy quilt?  Apparently, in the summer each of the fields will be different colored depending on what is growing but this late in the year it is all grass.  It's very restful on the eyes and stunningly beautiful in person.  Also damp.

 We soon enter the Dingle Gaeltacht-an official Irish-speaking region.  Here the signs are in the Irish and the Irish!  Mark tutors us on a few phrases, I mostly forget them as soon as we quit repeating after him!  The next stop is the town of Dingle.  There is a good harbor here and so there is a fishing fleet.  Some of the boats are flying both the flag of Ireland and another flag which I learn is the Basque flag.  The waters off the west coast of Ireland are some of the richest commercial fishing areas in the Atlantic and have been fished by Spain, England, Germany etc as well as Ireland for centuries.  I walk the pier looking at the boats, some have laundry hanging to dry on deck!

One boat is just in and is unloading the fish,  they filled this rig at least twice!  That's a lot of fish!

I found these piles of nets quite fascinating!  All the color and texture!

This is the view from the wharf towards the main street of Dingle Town.

 This "Dog House" proclaims itself to be the "Farthest west dog house in Europe"  I have no idea if that is true.  

 The buildings of Dingle are brightly painted, as they are everywhere in Ireland, but I love the details!  The dolphins playing on the storefront are surely in honor of "Fungi" the Dingle Bay's resident dolphin.  Tour boats are for hire to go visit him.
 I think this must be a mermaid's hairdo!
 Even the smallest home on the tiniest alley in town looks freshly painted and is decorated with flowers.
 I have fish and chips for lunch,can't seem to get enough of them and this is water to cook top fresh.  I had a nice chat with our driver,  Jimmy, while we ate.  Just questions asked and answered back and forth.  I guess we all learn from these tours.

We pick up our guide, Bernard Groggin, and head west again.  It was obvious that he knew a great deal about the area's history and so forth but he was boring in his presentation, yawn.  He pointed out a dirt ring fort as well as a stone one.  Also beehive house ruins.

 The Blasket Islands are just off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, were once home to a few hardy families but no one lives there now.  You can see the ruins of their homes in the second photo.  It is possible to get a boat out to the islands and I think there is hiking.  One of the islands is privately owned as a male bonding place.

 The Dingle Peninsula has been used for on location shooting of several movies, most notably Ryan's Daughter and Far and Away. You can look here for information on more moves filmed in Ireland.  We stop at a beach used in Far and Away for "Wave action" and it is pounding ashore as the tide is coming in!

 Our last stop of the day is at the Gallarus Oratory a very old monastic site, the building is made of dry fit stone and does not leak!  Behind the Oratory is Mount Brandon (and further north there is a town called Brandon),  I wanted to be sure and mention that just for my son, Scott, who uses his middle name.  His first name is Brandon.  I'm collecting places named for him, Grin.

After the Oratory it's back through Dingle town and on to Killarney--to pack.  Tomorrow we go north to Galway.

Ireland- Day 7- Traveling to Galway, County Galway

 Today we said goodbye to Killarney and headed north.  Passed through Castle Island again and hit a highway, lots of round-a-bouts here.  They make me nervous whenever I'm on one and this is worse, 'cause of the driving on the left side of the road.  In the end I just close my eyes!  We stop at Lahinch, Co. Claire, for lunch and another beach.  This one reminds me of La Jolla Shores in San Diego, maybe because of the surfers?  As we were standing on the walkway a bus pulled up and off loaded several teenage girls, dressed in their school uniforms.  Cute, I thought.  They walked over to one of the vans where surfing lessons were advertised and soon began pulling their clothing off!  After I picked my jaw up off the pavement I realized they had swim suits on under their uniforms and were donning wet suits for a surfing lesson!  Here's another "Prove I was in Ireland" photo! 

 After lunch it was off the the Cliffs of Moher.  Along the way we passed this ruin of a church complete with graveyard, a bit sad.  The second photo is of the beach at Lahinch and the stone walls used to divide fields.
 The Cliffs of Moher just take your breath away!  Today that was literal, it was extremely windy.  It's a long  walk up a lot of stairs but boy is it worth it!  That's a light house over there, so answering my own question Bri-Yes there are lighthouses in Ireland!
 I think these are all fuzzy as the wind was blowing my camera around, even though I mounted it on the Unipod!

 For once we were back at the bus and our driver, Tommy, and Mark, our general get us there on time guy, were late!  We gave them demerits!  A short drive later and we picked up our guide, Shane Connolly, for the Burren.  It looks like the moon or a desert but it is a Karst limestone formation and it may look bare but even this late in the year some of the alpine-like flowers are in bloom.  In the past locals have grazed their livestock on this and have picked plants for their medicinal properties but this is a protected area now and that is no longer allowed.

 Shane found many, let us taste some ICH, and told us their stories.  There are some wild goats and rabbits living here but not enough to keep the plants down .  Shane said that it would revert to pine and oak forest in 2 generations!  We even saw places where it is happening.

 Shane spoke of the changes in Irish west country life around the burren, villages that were once 2,000 with small fishing fleets are now about 200 (down to 2 pubs, those.)  The main causes being the Great potato famine, Tuberculosis and that "the girls are off having their nails done in Galway and Dublin."  Himself being a single farmer and quite vehemently against Sarah Palin! 
 Shane grazes his cattle on the low ground near the sea in the summer as the grass there falls over in winter.  Then in November he moves them up onto the hills for the winter.

There are stone walls everywhere, some have been dated back  1200 (or was it 12,000?) years, some 700 years and some Shane made yesterday.  Most walls are single dry fit walls, where strength is needed they are double (or if you want to show off or make work for someone--think WPA during the great depression.)

The tide is coming in, an extremely high tide causing flooding all along the way.

After a long day we finally arrive in Galway City, saying goodbye to our driver, Thomas-who had to drive back to Castle Island!

Ireland-Day 8-Galway, County Galway

Today a local professor and archaeologist, Paul Gosling, took us on a walking tour of Galway, especially showing us medieval sites.  Part of the anciet city walls are inside a shopping mall!  I was especially taken with the details of the buildings, so i was always at the end of the group as I was busy looking up!

 This is a medieval castle belonging originally to one of the ruling families.  Galway was not a castle city, I mean it didn't have a central castle with a ruler and a city that grew up around it, but one built by 14 merchant families (often called the 14 tribes of Galway) like a cartel so to speak.  All of the designs have meaning, usually something to do with the family or honoring a marriage.

This wall is only that a wall moved from it's original site, probably more than once as it has parts that can be dated at different times.  Anyway, one of the magistrate's sons had killed someone and his life was forfeit but he was extremely popular so a mob gathered to demand his freedom.  His father, supposedly hung him from the window.  That's wrong though as the window is the wrong time period!  That's the story though.

 The Hall of the Red Earl is a archealogical dig of the customs house of medieval Galway.  Completed but left visible and covered.
We ended our tour at the city gates by the river.  Theses gates were actually for tossing rubbish into the swamp just beyond.

After the tour we had a free afternoon, I had lunch at McDonnas-fish and chips again!  Then I went walk about.  I returned to the Protestant Cathedral where Columbus worshiped-at the time there was only the one church.  Apparently his visit prior to "discovering" the new world is recorded in historical documents.

Gorgeous window, eh?

After rest and a pain pill for my aching left leg we went to Glenlo Abbey for dinner and a discussion on the "Big Houses" of Ireland as well as W.B.Yeats and Lady Gregory.  Our speaker for the evening was Sean Ryder Head of the English department at the university in Galway.  Interestingly enough he was born in Montana and his family returned to Ireland when he was 13, what a shock that must have been!  I must admit I didn't have a clue when it came to Lady Gregory nor did I remember much about Yeats from those long ago English Literature classes at Baylor!

Ireland- Day 9- Inis Mohr, Islands of Aran

Off early on a cloudy and gray day, no rain but no sun either, bummer.  Heading to the island of Inis Mohr, population 900.  Because it's an island we had to take the ferry and it was a fairly rough ride over, this following a rough bus ride-had to haul out the sea bands and my I-pod or it would have been ugly.  We walked up the hill from the ferry to a pub for a talk by Maureen O'Flannery (I know the Maureen is right but Mark kept talking about her Irish name and her English name and I got confused, nothing new there!) a local woman who its a retired archeologist, she spoke about the history, archeology and life of the island and it's people.  Very interesting.  Afterwards, we took a van ride to the end of the island to Dun Aonghasa, (sounds like dun angus.) a ring fort part of which dates to the bronze age.  Much of the island looks like the burren as it was a part of the burren in pre-history, here cattle still roam over it.

 The long way up Dun Aonghasa! What a walk,  the view is spectacular.  The ever present stone walls seem higher here. 
 This is the view from about half way up.
 The stone walls of the outer fort.

 The walls of the fort from inside the first ring

 The Long way down from the top, sure am glad I bought and used a Trekking pole.
More stone walls and a house inside. There are many more ruins here on the island, the locals are reluctant to destroy the homes of their ancestors.  Everything made of stone and standing roofless, all wood gone in fact.  Our guide said the houses must be painted every 5 years, even using the best latex paint.  On our way back to the ferry he took us by the seven churches site with it's ancient cemetery.  The cemetery while holding ancient graves is still in use and where our guide "will land one day" as many of his family are buried there.  Then we saw the lighthouse, from afar. Just made Mark's 4:40 deadline!  Another very rough crossing on the ferry and bus ride back to Galway.  I am so tired I cannot eat and so am off to sleep quite early.

Ireland-Day 10- Killibegs, County Donegal

Leaving Galway for Killybegs today.  I would have liked another day here.  The countryside reminds me of the gently rolling plains of home, despite the stone walls enclosing small plots.  As we travel north there are not as many stone walls, more fences.  Our first stop today was Sligo, for lunch and a walk about town, it's Sunday so most things are closed but Ruth and I took a walk along the river and saw these lovely swans.  Also a local man noticed our cameras and asked if we would like our photo with Yeats, so here we are.
Then it was on to St. Columba's church site at Drumcliffe where W.B.Yeats is buried.  Ben Bulben looking spectacular behind the church where Yeats' grandfather once served as minister.  There are two graveyards-a Catholic and a Protestant and I found "Regan's" in both (sure to be kin but too late for near kin) and one mentioned inside the church as serving in World War I.  In the Catholic side there is a tall cross with Bible stories carved on it.  This was used to tell the stories of the Bible to the people.
After rambling thru the church and stones we began the final leg into Killybegs.  We arrive about 3:30 and I took a walk around, it's a small village, once home to the largest fishing fleet in Ireland.  It is more industrial than the other places.  More on that tomorrow.

Ireland- Day 11-Killibegs and Glencolmcille, County Donegal

Beautiful sunny morning, not a cloud in the sky!  First clear morning we've had the whole trip.  Killibegs is a town of 1200 people, home to the best natural harbor north of Dingle in the west of Ireland.  Most of what is left of the fishing fleet is out to sea but it is a lovely place.  I went out early to hunt down a laundry, I really need clean clothes!

These were both taken yesterday but I thought you's enjoy seeing how lovely it is.  I always wonder if the people who live in those lovely homes appreciate the view every day?

Our morning began with a talk about Ireland's fishing industry given by Tony O'Callaghan, a local journalist.  Here's a bit of what I learned:  the Atlantic just off the west coast of Ireland is one of the best fishing areas in the world and many countries have been fishing there for centuries.  Spain, England and Germany to name three.  When Ireland joined the European Union they submitted to a quota system on the amount of fish they could take based on historical takes.  So Spain has a quota and Great Britain has one, Ireland has one too but because of the English occupation their historical take wasn't as large so their quota wasn't as large.  For a while each year Irish fishermen would take more than their quota and the Irish government would pay the fine imposed by the EU, then someone decided to begin charging individual fishermen (or boat owners) for taking excess fish so now the government can't pay the fine and the fishermen can't fish as much.  None of those charged have as yet been brought to trial but the fishing fleet is quite small compared to a few years ago.
Life is complex no matter where you live.  After his talk he took us on a bit of a walk, I dumped the laundry off and it will be washed and returned to my hotel tonight-cool.  After the walk we had a very nice lunch at Number 22 (a local restaurant) then we loaded up the bus for Glencolmcille.

Another Photo stop!  I love the way the fences seem to go right into the Atlantic!  Notice these are fences not walls.

 This photo on the right is of the Peat bogs.  You can see the darker strips which are where recent cuttings of peat have been made.

These are photos taken of Glencolmcille one of the base of St Columba (one of Ireland's three patron saints.)  I think this may be my favorite part of Ireland.  It is fairly remote and very quiet-I think it might be a 2 pub town.   The obelisk seen on the hill is part of Columba's Turas, a pilgrimage site. From here we go a short distance to walk in a farmers fiield to view Megolithic tombs.

The capstones of all these tombs have fallen off but they are massive.  Can you imagine the work involved to first set the side stones upright and then put the capstone on?  All done by prehistoric man, without the aid of bulldozers!  Our guide tells us that this valley is full of these tombs.
On our way back to town we notice a sad sign of the times, a little housing division of new homes all standing empty save one.
This has been a busy day and it's not over yet!  After dinner in the hotel bar (a light dinner as I've been eating far too much on this trip!) and hard cider, a new taste for me. We got to watch two young ladies dance.  They both have made it to nationals in their age group and travel all over to dance.  We got to see them do both the heavy dance and traditional soft shoe dancing, it was quite amazing.  Neither had taken ballet but there were ballet moves in there.  They were cute and interested in us as well.  After that we had a lesson on the Tin Whistle.  I'm not very good, although it is quite similar to the recorder.  Mind you I gave my recorder away because it hurt my ears!  In the end we played a whole song accompanied by our teacher on the concertina and Mark on the Irish flute-it was only half bad!

Ireland-Day12-Enniskillen, Ulster Northern Ireland and Dublin

We left the lovely Killibegs bright and early for Dublin.  We just crossed a bit of Northern Ireland on the way, no check points or passport viewings as you'd expect when you travel into another country.  Before this we had been in the Republic of Ireland but Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom.  Most of the fighting/bombing there now is between those who want to stay in the UK and those who want to join the Republic,  maybe still along religious lines or maybe because they are used to fighting each other.  Our first stop was in Enniskillen at the Integrated Primary School.  In the late 1980's there was a bomb blast in the fighting in Enniskillen that killed several.  A group of parents decided to start an integrated school,  they raised all the funds at first and only three years ago the state built them a new building.  They turn away students every year.  It is integrated from the Board of Govenors to the 4yr old like this: 40% Catholic, 40% Protestant, 20% Other.  The children begin the year they turn 5 and most are only 4, so my grandson , Brayden, would be in school there.  They attend here until they are 11 then they move to the next level.  There are 31or 32 students in each classroom with one teacher and one aide who teach everything, including PE, Art, Music and Spanish!  Even recesss has directed play.  It was an amazing place where 7 year olds do computer graphics.  Our visit there just wasn't long enough.

Next stop was the Ulster American Folk Park.  This was a nice outdoor museum depicting the mass migrations from Ulster to the States (mostly) including Irish cottages, etc of the period, a full ship display and then full sized displays of the States,  It was pretty neat the was they did the ship--you walked on the wharf in Ireland, got onto the ship and the walked off the ship onto the wharf in the States, very clever.  I was particularly taken by the birthplace of Robert Campbell (the very Robert Campbell of my research on the Town of Kansas) as well as some museum displays involving he and his brother Hugh.

The birthplace of Robert Campbell, Mountain Man, Millionaire and one of the owners of the Town of Kansas.
 This panel is inside the museum, they got it right as far as they went.  Always a problem for museums, not enough space to really cover anything.
 I think this was the Pennsylvania homestead.  The way it's situated looks  like it might be in Pennsylvania, or Missouri.
This is the Irish cottage, the thatch on this and the other buildings must be a foot thick!

Here at the park they also have a building dedicated to the study of those who left.  They are building a database of names so I went over to check on our William Hickham who left Belfast, Ulster, Ireland.  He wasn't on their database as it doesn't have much before 1800, I believe he left in the 1770's.  I did learn that there where a lot of  Ulster Scots-Irish that left Ireland for the States then so that fits.  They were kind enough to give me some internet sites to visit.

After our visit we got back on the bus and headed to Dublin, arriving late, tired and hungry.

Ireland-Day 13- Dublin

So first thing after breakfast we met in the lobby of the hotel and started out on a walking tour of sites associated with the book Ulysses by James Joyce.  Our guide was a professor who had obviously spent a great deal of time studying the man and his works.  He was fairly interesting but I came away thinking as another tour member said-"If I have to study it that hard, keep a map of early 1900's Dublin to understand what he's talking about I'm not reading him."  I had been reading another of his books Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it wasn't too bad but I don't think Joyce wrote for history if he intended for all his readers to work as hard to get his meaning.  Maybe it's the same feeling I have about poetry:  Why can't the author just mean what he said?  English teachers seem to want to tear everything into little bits and take all the enjoyment out of it, I don't know maybe that is their enjoyment.  (They'd probably wonder the same about me and my interest in early KC.  To each his own.  I like poetry, I just don't want to pick it apart. I think liking Joyce may be beyond me now.)  Anyway, we ended up at Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street for lunch (a terrible mushroom soup) and a short theatrical work about life changes and the confusion they create which I liked very much.  Mark had given us maps of Dublin and we had free time after that so I started off walking to the Medieval part of Dublin.  I got a little turned around so I walked farther than necessary but I ended up at the fabulous Christ Church.
After walking all around it, I crossed the street and went to the Viking museum.  Dublin was a Viking city, set up at first as a place to tie up their boats it was eventually a permanent town with walls and a castle.  The Northmen became part of the Irish people by intermarrying over time.  It was called Dvblinia.  I enjoyed the museum very much, at the end you walk over the street and into Christ Church, very unique.  Then I walked over to Dublin Castle, just a short ways off.

The tower looked older than the rest of the building.  The part in front is the Chapel Royal and it was gorgeous inside (but they didn't allow photos!) It seemed like there where a lot of offices in all the buildings of the chapel.  It was pretty late in the afternoon so I didn't take a long tour.  I did buy a patch for the memories quilt and a dainty Christmas ornament there.  Then I hiked back to the hotel, a lot shorter than the way I came!

I'm getting tired and I miss talking to my children, closing in on time to go home and I think I'll be ready.

Ireland- Day 14- Dublin

Our second day in Dublin Mark took us on a couple of walks.  The first was through Trinity College on our way elsewhere,  Mark is a recent grad of Trinity College so he told us a few interesting stories about the school.  One was that and early Dean said that the only way women would enter Trinity was over his dead body.  He died in 1904, women entered Trinity in 1905, they reburied the dean under the floor behind the main entrance to the college so the women where actually passing over his dead body.  I don't know if that's true but it sure makes a great story!  After passing through the college we walked to No.29 Lower Fitzwilliam St, a Georgian row house that has been restored as a museum.  I think there were 4 flights of stairs in that house!  The servants truly got a work out!  Life for them, the servants, was incredibly difficult.  I was intrigued by the small things, glove stretchers, boxes to store peat logs by the fireplaces, a piece of furniture designed to hold dirty plates, etc.  Also by the doll houses.  They had a visiting exhibit of bonnets made by women and girls who had migrated to Australia, some by choice, some by force.

After that it was on to the National Museum of Ireland for a look at the Bronze Age gold work and a look at the "Bog people."  The gold was interesting, the earliest was very thing and frail looking and it got heavier over time.

Then we had free time.  I first visited the Hugenot Cemetery as it was close by.

While my Hugenot ancestors did not come through Ireland it was interesting to see that some had gone there as I had not read that.

After that I headed back to Trinity College and The Book of Kells.  I purchased an audio tape of the exhibit and enjoyed it very much, illustrated manuscripts are amazing!  At the end of the Book of Kells exhibit you enter the long hall which is filled with early printed books and manuscripts from floor to ceiling on both sides of a center isle.  The shelves are open for two floors.  They had books and manuscripts important to Ireland's history on display there.  The University library is like our Library of Congress in that it holds copies of all books published in Ireland.

After that, I went shopping!  I had a mental list of things I would like to buy while there when I left home-I didn't get them all :(  I did buy a small linen and lace tablecloth in the west of Ireland but had not found any of the other things.  So I went to the House of Ireland store and finally found some woolen things I liked:  an Aran knit cardigan sweater, a shawl and a scarf (everyone wears scarves there.)   I didn't get any more crystal as Waterford is in receivership and so has become a collector's item (the price has gone UP) I just couldn't justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on a bowl I would never use!  There was other crystal but nothing I liked.  I was happy with what I bought so I hauled by loot back to the hotel!

It was only about 4pm so I thought I'd take a walk to the River Liffy and look at the bridges.  Dublin has some amazing bridges and I'd only seen them as we passed the day we came to Dublin.  I was walking down Moss St, next to the hotel (and the garda headquarters!) when I saw an amazing thing.  There was quite a lot of traffic and it was stopped at a light, I wasn't really paying any attention to the cars but a man came round in front of a panel truck (think mid-size U-Haul) lifted a blue and yellow bat and banged it against the drivers window!  Just shattered the glass.  He shouted something at the driver then walked back to his little red car threw the bat in, closed the hatch and got in.  The truck started to push into the car, trying to get him to pull over, then the light changed and they roared off down the street that way!  It happened so fast I was still picking my jaw up off the ground and it was over, otherwise I might have taken photos!  Of course, there wasn't a cop around.  After that I just went back to the hotel!

Ireland- Day 15- Dublin

Having the whole day free after breakfast I was off to Glasnevins Cemetery.  Scott and Bri having told me all about it after their trip last year I had been looking forward to visiting there.  This was a true adventure as my map did not go as far north as Glasnevins!  Mark had looked up the bus I would need to take (the 13A) as it was too far to walk.  First, I had to find a news agent to buy a day pass for the bus.  The one the hotel directed me to no longer sold them, hum what to do?  After consulting the map I decided to walk to O'Connell Street which wasn't all that far, just over the River Liffey!  I found a news agent selling passes before I got there, then found the proper sign to wait by for the 13A.  It seems that all the buses come to O'Connell street, there a lot of possible signs to look at.  When the 13A arrived I sat down next to a young lady and asked for her help for where I was to get off,  had no idea about that.  She was unsure but helpful.  Riding north for a while on the left side of the road (after two weeks I'm still not used to that!) she thought we had gone past it, maybe.  I thought we had as well as I saw a sign for the Botanical Gardens and I knew the two were fairly close together.  Across the aisle another lady (who was about my age) was helping another gentleman so I asked her how to get there.  "Well," she said, "you've gone past.  So what you'll have to do is get off this bus, cross over the street and catch the 13 back towards the city.  The 13 mind you, not the 13A. Ask the driver where to get off."  After thanking her, feeling about 10 years old after the Mind you thing, I did as she said.  The driver put me off about two blocks away so I got to walk by this sign and the tower it speaks off.

The Cemetery was founded by Daniel O'Connell (remember him from the Ring of Kerry?) and it is neither a Catholic nor a Protestant cemetery.  The Glasnevins Trust is attempting to conserve the thousands of headstones by pulling them up out of the ground (without footings they sink at least several feet and some completely), repairing as necessary and re-paving 9 miles of footpaths.  It is a long and expensive proposition.
This is the inside of the tower which is over the O'Connell family vault, the tower walls are 8 feet thick and there was once a stairway inside but someone set a bomb off in there and destroyed them, didn't hurt the tower itself though.  I'm told the view from the top is fabulous!  There are many famous and infamous folks buried there; Michael Collins (whose grave is never without fresh flowers left by the people-not the cemetery), and Eamon de Valera whose grave is the most often vandalized.  He was arrested by the Brits with a number of others but not executed with them due to the fact that he held an U.S. passport!  He went on to be President of the Republic of Ireland-but not a very popular one!  This cemetery also allows the burial of infants who have not been baptized,  Irish Catholic cemeteries will not allow these infants to be buried on hallowed ground.  I think they said there are over 9,000 babies buried there.  The trust is also re-habbing one of the gate-keepers houses to be used as a school for graveyard conservation,  a much needed skill throughout the world.

After an interesting tour through the cemetery and the museum associated with it I caught the bus back to O'Connell street without all the excitement of the ride out.  Once there I caught the bus for the Guiness Storehouse.  It's hard to tell when to get off the bus, sigh.  This time I got off too soon and walked a lot farther than I needed to, ah well.

I took the tour of the museum which is several stories high.  It tells the story of how the ale is made from the choice of ingredients on.  You can taste roasted hops, even, tasted like burnt nuts.  There are exhibits of all kinds- history, advertising etc.  One which took my interest was around this sign
I actually took this photo in Sneem, remember the tidy village on the Ring of Kerry?  At some point in time this was their slogan and people actually believed it.  I don't know why I find that surprising-Americans believed the advertising around soap. OOPS off subject!  Anyway, the storehouse was interesting but had a clear glass escalator between each floor out in open space (kind of don't look down space) and I have vertigo.  I took it for about 7 escalators then I'd had enough!  Found an elevator and got out of there.  Went back to the city center on the bus again with much less excitement and went shopping again.  I looked at  lots of stuff but nothing reached up and said "Buy Me" so I left empty handed.

For our last night in Ireland we had a farewell dinner at the Brazen Head pub.
The food was good, the conversation better.  Back at the hotel we gathered one last time for a group photo, that some crazy Irishmen crashed--too funny!

Then it was off to pack for home.

Ireland Days 15 and 16 - Home

Awoke at 6:15am Dublin time (that's 12:15am Independence time) in order to dress, finish packing in time for the bell hops and have breakfast.  Part of our group left really early, like when I got up, but most of us took the bus together for one last time to the airport.  At the airport we collected our luggage and said goodbye to our driver, Darius, who had been with us since we left Galway.  Then the lines began.  First came check-in, here to discover my bag was too heavy and I had to take out all my newly purchased goodies (luckily I had packed the shopping bag the shop packed it in.)  Next came goodbyes to Mark our cute little "make sure they are all here and where they need to be at the proper time fella."  Then it was SECURITY which wasn't too bad as they didn't make us take our shoes off!  They did open all the umbrellas though, I'd never seen that.  Once inside our terminal I had to hit the House of Ireland to leave the paper work for my value-added tax refund, done.  I had some Euros left and having fallen in love with Jameson's and gingerale I stopped at the duty free shop for a bottle of Jameson's, managed to fit that in my backpack but was instructed to put it in my checked luggage in New York.  Then it was get organized again, get the passport out and fill out the paperwork for customs before getting in that line.  Once through there it was wait in line for US customs officers.  There was a sign out front saying how they would be courteous etc as the first face of America - hogwash.  No hello, welcome home, nothing, granted I didn't have everything as she wanted it but really I'd never done it before!  Finally, making it through there I bought a drink(non-alcoholic darn it) and found a seat at the gate for my flight home.  The flight left Dublin right on time, a 767 this time and much more comfortable (note to self:  book this next time.)  Arrived at JFK one hour early.  Earlier in the week I had asked  a lot of questions and  had discovered that my "very tight" layover of 55 minutes was not going to let me clear customs etc.  Road Scholar's travel service had booked it to Chicago and I had booked my flight home from  Chicago based on that, they booked me on a later flight to Chicago which meant that I'd miss my flight to KC.  Once I had gathered up my luggage and cleared customs,  a snap, I headed for a Delta ticket person to try and change back to the original flight since we'd arrived early (or to any flight that would get me home on time.)  She insisted that I would make the connection in Chicago-I was skeptical-and while I could make the earlier flight my luggage didn't have the required 1 hour to make the flight and US federal regs now require your luggage to be on the flight with you, urgh.  (Flying used to be so much easier.)  Basically, I had no choice but check my luggage and hope for the best (oh yeah, I put the Jameson's in the suitcase.)  Left the terminal I was in, finally found the right terminal and had to clear SECURITY again, sigh.  This time they did make me take my shoes off.  There were three other ladies heading to Chicago so we took a deep breath, I got a cafe mocca, and tried to figure out where our gate was.  We had a long walk to the gate where we waited.  Boarding went okay, and the flight wasn't full but we sat and sat and sat at the gate.  Turns out we were waiting for the luggage guys to load our stuff (which they only got partly right as two of the ladies got there without their luggage!  So much for Federal Regs!) After the door was closed, we sat some more and with every minute my chances of making that flight were lessening.  Finally, we took off and two hours or so later we landed in Chicago at 10:00 Chicago time (4:00am the next day in Dublin.)  I had to find the charging station to call Expedia to get another flight as my phone was dead, of course.  Once I had a little charge I started walking towards baggage claim, remember it's a long walk from the gate at O'Hare.  Got there to find my luggage in security and had to dig out the actual claim check (how often does that happen?)  All while listening to the Expedia guy find me another flight--tomorrow.  I had to buy a new ticket, but I had travel insurance so I should recover some of the extra.  Having finished all that I pulled my suitcase over to the Hilton and got a room.  A room I would have to leave at 4:00am Chicago time the next morning to catch a flight that boarded at 5:30am.  Called Rob with the new flight info only to find them almost to KCI, darn it.  I fell into bed having been up and traveling about 22 hours!  I was so tired I could hardly see.

My 3:30am wake up call came and I packed up and headed back to O'Hare,  at least it was only walking.  The ticket people finally opened and I checked in, only to find my luggage over weight, again (that bottle of Jameson's) when it was finally light enough it was on to clear SECURITY, which I did with no problem.  Once I found my gate I then found a Starbucks, coffee was required!  Flight loaded and landed no problem. I was finally home.  I was so glad to see KCI I seriously considered kissing the ground.  No Joke.

Tomorrow, will be a wrap up entry and photos of my goodies.

Ireland Wrap-Up

Okay it's been two days, I was busy.

I had a terrific time in Ireland, I got tired and homesick for my kids and there were places I would have stayed longer (Galway and Donegal), things that weren't really my bag but I learned from anyway but overall the experience was amazing.  Road Scholar puts on a great tour in Ireland and I got to do things outside the norm and things I would never have known to do on my own.

I will never see another rainbow without thinking of Ireland.  I saw so many, so perfectly clear (one even followed alongside our bus for miles) that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it.

I will miss the Irish people.  So open, so friendly, so interested.  Everywhere we went we met with wonderful people, willing at a moments notice to open a conversation with the Yanks.  Children in Dublin waved to the old people from their bus or as they walked by us on the street with huge smiles on their faces.  Strangers on the street would offer to take our photo.  I can not imagine a warmer, more welcoming people and I will miss them.  One more thing, Mark's family has extended an open invitation to all 24 of us, if we ever return to Ireland we can stay with them or on their boat, how cool is that?

Things I learned about traveling:
1.  Always make my own travel arrangements!  Go a couple of days before the tour begins to let my body begin to acclimate to the time change-it's a real beast.  Try to book a 767 aircraft.
2.  Pay the up-charge to have my own room, then if I can't sleep I won't disturb anyone else.
3.  Never travel without my laptop or a netbook,  and possibly an internet card,  Internet was available everywhere I went but there was not always a computer available.
4.  Never travel without an international phone plan!  That way I can talk to the kids when I need to, and they can talk to me.
5.  Pack less.  I wore nearly everything I took and did laundry once, but the suitcase was almost to heavy to begin with. But take spare tips for the Trekking pole!
6.  Learn a bit more about the places I'm going and what I'm going to see before I go.

My goodies!
First, a  lovey wool and alpaca scarf.  So very warm and soft, I'm sure to enjoy it this winter and for many winters to come.
 Next, patches for my memory quilt and a couple for the boys quilts.  A lovely and very delicate tree ornament, snowflake like in design.  I doesn't show very well in this photo, sorry, but I don't want to take it out of the box yet.
 This is my lace and linen tablecloth, it is already on my bedside table although it will eventually have a colored cloth under it and glass on the top.
 I looked and looked at sweaters, Ireland is famous for Aran knit sweaters and I really wanted one.  It wasn't until I saw this cardigan with it's collar that I found one I liked, it has the added benefit of having arms that are not too long!  I'm short, the Irish are short, yippee!  Made of 100% wool (very hard to find in the States) it is wonderfully warm.

Last, but maybe my favorite is this knit wrap also made of wool.  I found it in the same shop as the sweater and for about 2 minutes I tried to decide between them then I thought "Well, just buy them both!"  so I did.  I keep it on the back of the rocking chair in my bedroom and can slip it on when I get chilly.  It also looks great when I wear it out.