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Monday, July 9, 2012

Ireland

We just returned from a visit to the emerald island. We went to Dublin for a conference and decided to stay a few days to see more of Ireland. Here are some pics and a few stories about our trip through this beautiful country.

We enjoyed a couple of days in the capital city, Dublin (province Leinster). The conference was held in a nice setting at the Dublin conference center, which is situated near the harbor where the river Liffey meats the sea.  Dublin is a pleasant city with lots of modern buildings but also nice old cathedrals and castles, Trinity college (one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland), the Guinness brewery and lots of nice cosy pubs – with lots of Guinness (more on this later).
Dublin, Liffey River
Trinity College where we saw the impressive Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells (the four gospels written by Celtic monks, dating from ca. 800)
O'Neill's Pub, Dublin
Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin
Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

Following the conference and the few days in Dublin we went on a “railtour”. The first part was a visit to the southeast of Ireland, including the Blarney castle, and the two cities of Cork and Cobh  (pronounced Cove) in the province, Munster. The Blarney castle is a lovely old castle just outside Cork, dating from the 1400, built by the MacCarthy clan. The castle is famous for the Blarney stone, which according legend endows the gift of eloquence to people that kiss the stone. The stone is built into the battlements on top of the castle and to kiss it you have to lean yourself over a gaping five story drop and kiss it from underneath. It’s still a bit scary even though today the gap have a grid of steel bars covering it (apparently, quite a few people have lost their lives in the endeavor). Below are pictures of the castle and kissing adventure and also the “poison garden” and the “witches’ cottage” near the castle. Quite a dangerous place it seems…

Approaching Blarney castle
Ronnie at Blarney castle
Exploring the castle
On top of Blarney castle, people queing to kiss the stone
Kissing the stone
People kissing the Blarney stone, view from the ground
Poison garden
Witches Cottage

After Cork and the Blarney castle we visited the picturesque harbor town of Cobh. Cobh has quite a prominent, though a bit grim, place in history. It is the port where millions of Irish people left Ireland for America during the great Irish potato famine in the years 1845-1852. It is thus a popular destination for many American tourists tracing their roots. It was also the last place where the Titanic docked and also the place where the American passenger ship, the Lucitania, was torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War, playing a role in the US joining the war. But in spite of its ominous history it is a very nice little port city with a beautiful cathedral overlooking the harbor.
Cobh cathedral

Leaving Cork and Cobh, we traveled to the southwest of Ireland and stayed in the city, Killarney. Killarney is also a very nice town with lots of nice pubs and small shops. It is situated in the county Kerry and is close to the “Ring of Kerry”, an awesome panoramic coastal route around the Iveragh Peninsula. Below are some photo’s of Killarney and the “Ring of Kerry” tour. During this tour we also had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of how a sheppard with three sheep dogs herds his sheep on the hills of Ireland (we may have a post on this).
Navigating in Killarney main street
I just had to put this one up for the people of a certain town in SA
Touring the "Ring of Kerry"
Touring the "Ring of Kerry"
Touring the "Ring of Kerry"
Touring the "Ring of Kerry"
Sheep dog demonstration

We also travelled to the north-west of Ireland (province Connacht) and visited the city Limerick, the awe-inspiring “Clifs of Moher” on the West coast and the beautiful Galway Bay. On the way we visited Bunratty castle. What is nice from this castle is that the interior was restoured with furniture from the same time-period that the castle date from and the surrounding old town has been converted to an open air museum with shops and home dating form the Middle Ages:
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Bunratty castle
Bunratty castle - the lords chair
Bunratty castle - Sleeping room
Restored farm cottage in small village surrounding Bunratty castle 

While travelling through Ireland there are a few things one immediately notices:

Lots of livestock on green hills.


Some funny trees standing in the middle of the field – These are “fairy tree’s” and apparently no one in Ireland would dare to cut these trees down. An old legend says that a life of bad luck will follow. Apparently the tree/bush in the lower photo cost the government 50 million euro’s because nobody was willing to cut it down and the highway needed to be re-routed.
"Fairy tree" in middle of field 
50 million Euro bush

A frequent feature of the landscape all across Ireland are deserted stone cottages known as "famine cottages". These were cottages that were deserted by people who left Ireland or died during the potato famine.


In some most parts of Ireland the whole landscape is a patchwork of small fields divided by stonewalls. These were the small farms/holdings that farmers worked in the past. The farmers paid taxes to a lord of the county who offered them protection. The lord usually lived in a stone fortress.

Lots of old deserted stone fortresses and castles. Some of them have been restored and are in use again.

Lots of rainbows, pot o’ gold’s and leprechauns :)



Thanks Ireland for a wonderful visit :)

C&R

2 comments:

  1. ek sien die blou bul eet nie van die vloer af nie ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice pics,Its looks like heven.........
    I must visit...


    holidays in killarney

    ReplyDelete