Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dublin-Day 3

Today after our "Full Irish Breakfast", we loaded on the coach and headed south of the city to Wicklow which is called the Garden of Ireland. As we left our hotel, it was raining. It was a rather dreary ride along the Irish Sea. Every once in awhile on this trip we would spot a Martello Tower. These were small defensive forts built in several countries in the British Empire in the 19th century. Some are quite well preserved. Our first real stop of the day was at Powerscourt Estate. Powerscourt is a large country estate with gardens covering 47 acres. The house was originally a 13th century castle. It was extensively altered during the 18th century. In 1974 a major refubishment occurred so that the house could be opened to visitors. November 3rd was the grand opening to the press and on the morning of November 4th a fire broke out on the top floor and by morning the house was left as a roofless shell. Below is a picture I took of a picture of the house after the fire.It wasn't until 1996 that the house was again restored. Most of the house isn't open to visitors but the gardens are.The gardens were beautiful. Although it wasn't raining, it was gloomy so the pictures are kind of dark. I do wish we had had more time here. We didn't have nearly enough time to see all of the gardens and to stop and smell enough roses!After Powerscourt, we headed to Avoca Weavers. Avoca handweavers was established in 1723 and is Ireland’s oldest business. It is also family owned and has several branches throughout Ireland. We had an interesting tour before lunch and some shopping in their giftshop. After lunch and some shopping, we headed on to Glendalough (pronounced Glenda lock). Glendalough was a early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. It was destroyed in 1398 by English troops. Boy those English sure did destroy a lot of stuff didn't they??? Again, it was dreary and the "midgies" (the same thing as no see ums on Sanibel) were horrible but we had a fantastic guide. I'm going to steal a bit of information from Wikipedia now. "The Gateway to the monastic city of Glendalough is one of the most important monuments, now totally unique in Ireland. It was originally two-storied with two fine, granite arches. The antae or projecting walls at each end suggest that it had a timber roof. Inside the gateway, in the west wall, is a cross-inscribed stone. This denoted sanctuary, the boundary of the area of refuge. The paving of the causeway in the monastic city is still preserved in part but very little remains of the enclosure wall."The Round Tower was very impressive. It is about 30 meters high, with an entrance 3 1/2 meters from the base. The entrance was so high so as not to weaken the structure at the bottom. The roof was rebuilt in 1876 using the original stones. The tower originally had six timber floors, connected by ladders. Round towers were landmarks for visitors. They were built as bell towers, but also served on occasion as store-houses and as places of refuge in times of attack.Other ruins included the cathedral and St. Kevin's Church. Again, we didn't have nearly enough time. I would love to have roamed around the graveyard and read the many interesting tombstones. We headed back to the Hilton after a long day to have a great meal, enjoy some entertainment by Alex, and then to pack since we are moving on to Cork tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dublin-Day 2

Ok, so I didn't take this picture but I had to show you how every morning of our trip began. This is what is termed a "Full Irish Breakfast". Strange--it looked very similar to a "Full Scottish Breakfast" and I'm pretty sure it must look like a "Full English Breakfast". All of the hotels where we stayed had buffets but they had all of these items on the buffet. Between these breakfasts and the amazing dinners we had--well, I did gain a wee bit.

Anyway, back to the tour. On the second day, we headed north of Dublin to Malahide Castle. It was a very interesting place having been a fortress and private home for nearly 800 years. The Talbot family lived there from 1185 to 1973. One sad story was that the morning of The Battle of the Boyne in 1690, 14 members of the family sat down to breakfast. None of the 14 returned that evening, all having been killed in the battle. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the castle so I can't show you the beautiful furniture, portraits etc.After our visit to Malahide, we headed back into the heart of Dublin. Along the way, we did travel along the Irish Sea and saw some beautiful scenery. We were dropped off again in crowded downtown Dublin for lunch. We avoided Grafton Street and didn't stray too far from where we were to get the coach again. We were finding, though, that it was either eat or shop. We didn't have time for both. After lunch, we loaded back on the coach and headed to the Guinness Storehouse. I am not a beer drinker and especially not a Guinness drinker but the Storehouse was very interesting. It is Ireland's #1 tourist place. The building was originally built in 1904 to house Guinness'fermentation. It closed in 1988 but opened again in 2000 as a museum of sorts. Here is Chuck in front of a display of Guinness bottles. We were waiting for our tour to start.There are 7 floors of displays of how Guinness is brewed. Along the way there is a place where you can taste Guinness. One taste was enough for me! On the top floor is the Gravity Bar where everyone who is of age is offered a free pint of Guinness. I opted for the free glass of Diet Coke instead. But Al and Chuck didn't decline their pint. Of course Guinness has The Store where you can buy anything Guinness.
While we were waiting for the whole group to assemble, we decided to take a group picture of those of us who were there. We headed back to the hotel to rest a bit then we loaded on the coach again and headed for Taylor's Three Rock Pub. We had kind of thought that we were heading to a Pub where we would enjoy some Pub Grub and some traditional Irish entertainment. We didn't expect that we would be herded into a huge hall with tons of other Tour Groups. I think Alex was a bit disappointed and did tell me that he wouldn't do it again next year on his tour. The meal was ok but nothing spectacular. After dinner we were treated to some great entertainment though. They had a comic who was hysterical. They also had Irish Dancers and a couple of vocalists--one of which was an Irish tenor of course. He really was very good. This was a very long day and most of us were ready to head to bed when we got back to the hotel. I did hear the next morning that a few of the group did go down to the Barge for a nightcap--or two!

Ruby Tuesday-Irish Reds

We recently spent 11 days in Ireland. It is amazing how when you are a blogger, your idea of picture taking totally changes. I looked for yellows and reds and windows etc. Here are a few of my reds.OK, I know you are all busy checking out everyone's Ruby Tuesday but take the time to bookmark me and drop back to check out my blog. I am a retired Special Ed teacher who now spends most of her time on Sanibel Island, Florida which is a Sanctuary Island for wildlife. I volunteer for a wildlife hospital. I am also the proud grandma of 5 wonderful grandkids and brag about them often!! I also have a blog called Branches and Roots where I talk about genealogy and my ancestors. OK, enough about me. So if you really want to see red go to Work of the Poet

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mellow Yellow-Yellows in Ireland

Several blogs that I follow participate in Mellow Yellow every Monday so I thought I would give it a try.

We just got back from 11 days in Ireland. You think of Ireland being Emerald Green but the other colors are amazing--especially the yellows.