Shannon, Dingle Penninsula, Killkerry, Sneem, Blarney Castle & Stone, Killkenny, Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Limerick
08/30/2010 - 09/11/2010 69 °F
I didn't take notes and I think I am still numb from my Round the World trip in March so this will be short so you can enjoy the pics and videos which tell the story of our 13 day trip.
Ireland is where the color green first set foot on planet earth and its certainly earns it nick name "Emerald Isle". After a 2 hour delay departing Kennedy Airpoint NY because according to Delta "problems with backup power supply which effect ability to air condition 757 cabin and it was a scorcher that day with outside temp approaching 97 F and pretty sure inside temp got close to that before they were able to get problem corrected and on our way. Overnight flight so we arrive in a daze about 11am at Shannon Airport on the west center coast of Ireland. Batt, Mike met us at the airport and we were quickly on our way for some sightseeing on our way to Dingle our first overnight. A great dinner and pub hopping got us off on the right foot. The pubs are a big part of the culture of Ireland and each one unique including some that look more like very small retail stores and in fact Dick Mack's in Dingle was a shoe shop in its past I think. Some are old, very old dating back to the mid 1600's.
A great full Irish breakfast, the first of many on the trip, followed by our first morning group orientation with Batt introducing himself, the history of Ireland. I truly appreciated understanding the historical time line of Ireland and it's fascinating. We learned of the pre-christian periord 6000 to 500 BC and included Mount Sandel (Derry) New Grange (Co. Meath), Dingle Pennisula and the beehive huts, forts we would explore on our way to Sneem for a 3 nite stay to relax, meet the town and pub show and group Galeic song recitile to the pub pattrons. We distroyed the song but had a hell-uva good time time.
Did I mention the roads are very narrow on our route around Ireland for preserving the quaint feel of the countryside but pretty white knuckle for many of us newbies to luxury bus travel in Ireland. With 6 to 8 foot hedges very close to the road side and not much more than 12 to 14 foot roads our 8 to 10 foot wide bus was a tight squeeze to say the least. In fact, shortly after departing Sneem on Day 4 we had a car meets bus accident and the bus definately won. Combination of speeding car, heavy dew on the road and young lady in hurry to do brides hair who was about to get married in Sneem. Mike our bus driver was vindicated of fault after a 2 hour wait for a cop to drive from another local to investigate. The car was totaled and we had a small dent in our lower right front panel but a great story to add to the many we would accumulate on the trip.
This is Viking country and they followed the Christian period that included the missionary work of St. Partrick about 432 AD and Innisfallen Island which we visited by ferry on our south to County Cork. The vikings were not as pleasant a vistor as we were and bagan their looting, pillaging and general manham on the monistaries. The Vikings founded Dublin, our next long stop over on the trip, in 841 AD. They founded one of their last settlements Limerick which would be our last stop on the trip. Know where was I, yeh, we are on our way to one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland, Blarney Castle to kiss the you know what. Now I knew a lot of lips had touched that stone at the top of the decaying castle but I wasn't expecting the hear the comment's about pranksters sneaking in a night and adding their unique body fluids to make sure the tourists got more irish for their money. Honestly, I think it was a sceem to speed up this stop so we could arrive in Dublin at a decent hour. It worked and after a brief stop at another castle, church, cemetary and historically important spot in Irelands long and turbulent history. We got our first glimse of the upcoming ferviour growing around the National Hurling Championship taking place while we are staying in Dublin.
Dublin was crazy with people who were visiting Dublin to attend the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final on Sunday 9/5 at Croke Park. Dad and I watched as Tipperary defeated Kilkenny (the five time defending champs). We were supporting the underdogs and and it made it all the more fun to see them win as the Bleeding Horse Pub went crazy and I grabbed by suvenior poster. A quick city tour of Dublin and stop to visit the Oscar Wilde monument in a downtown park. Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1894 by Lady Jane Francesca Wilde and Sir William Wilde. He finished his B.A. in 1878 from Magdalen College in Oxford. In 1882, he did lectures in Canada and the United States and he eventually resided in Paris by 1883. During the mid-1880s, he was a regular contributor to Pall Mall Gazette and Dramatic View. He married Constance Lloyd and had two sons with her but their marriage ended in 1893.
Wilde’s fame ended when his intimate relation with Lord Alfred Douglas paved the way to his court case on charges. He was convicted to the crime of sodomy and was penalised with two years of hard labour. During his ordeal, he wrote “De Profundis” which was a monologue and autobiography addressed to Alfred Douglas. The last work he did was “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which revealed inhumane prison conditions at that time. Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30,1900 at the age of 46. Next stop Trinity College to view the most famous religous relic in Ireland the Book of Kells . You look up the history but the book was fascinating and I had just seen a program on Ireland TV that talked about the direct link with the early Coptic Christain church in Ireland because of a recent find of a bible that could be linked back to Egypt and from the 4th century AD found in a peat bog.
Next we visited Belfast where we invited a local guide on the bus to give us an insite into the history and current life of residents in this civil war torn city. I had the best ham and cheese sandwich in life and of course another pint of Guiness before we reloaded the bus to Derry for our next significant stop. Now the history hear is heart wrenching. Remember the U-2 song "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"? Well, this is the city where that song came from. We could still see the evidence of the strong division between those that believe in the republic with Great Brittian and those that wish for home rule. I have skipped forward having jumped over the Norman period that marked the arrival of Norman warriors from Wales and crossbows and armor. Tudor Kings like Henry VIII, 1509-1546 and the power of irish-norman chieftains that was broken by Queen Elizabeth 1555--1603. Now we are in Ulter Plantation region in Northern Ireland where English & Scottish Protestants & Presbyterians immigrated to N. Ireland and the beginning of a long conflict with dispossed Irish and the origin of the recent troubles (1968-Present). One can't forget Oliver Comwell 1649, James I 1685 (William of Orange), 1689 Siege of Derry (105 days), Battle of Boyne 1690, Penal Laws 1695-1760, revolutionary ideas from American & French, Wolfe Tone - French Fleet - Banry Bay, 1798 uprising and Act of Union in 1800. By the mid 1800's two camps were addressing the English oppression and growing sentiment for unification and independance from England with self governance. Physical force believers like Robert Gmmett 1803, Young Ireland 1848 and the Fenians 1867 vs the peaceful agatation of David O-Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell. All this while Ireland experience the famines of 1848-49 that killed a million irish and the loss of another 3 million to immigration to Europe and American that dropped the population nearly in half and created further resentment of England.
That fateful Sunday when British troops opened fire on inoccent residents of bog section of Catholic Derry killing 13 that morning on January 30, 1972 including 7 teenagers. Things are improving and many of those who had visisit 4-6 years ago saw less visable evidence of the strong divisions and many fences and barriers have come down. We can at a historic time.
Following a twelve-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public on 15 June 2010, and contained findings of fault that could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings. The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom. We left Derry and N. Ireland with the memories that Mickey MacGinness left us in his haunting song of losing a friend on Blood Sunday who was try shot in the back of the head while trying to help a wounded bystander. I will never forget the image that song left in my soul and that is why I travel.
Next stop fun, festive and delicious Galway! Traveling throught the rocky hills and lake valleys of County's Mayo and Galway and stopped at the Celtic Crystal factory for a facinating crystal cutting demonstration and purchse of 4 whiskey glasses for the collection at home. Ok, I haven't mentioned the party crazed, binge drinking youth we have encountered in the larger cities we have overnighted in and Galway did not disappoint. It seems that we were visiting during the weeks preceeding the start of university and it was Mardi Gras by 2 am everynite. Goodthing I am a heavy sleeper as Dad and I's room were usually right over the main street and all the action in fact I think I saw dad sneaking back into the room about 4am one morning in Galway. Galway is famous for their oysters and I couldn't wait to sample them and was not disappointed. We had just missed the Oyster Festival that would begin the weekend after we left.
Our last major stop was the most visited natural site in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs rise to 700 ft at the highest point and range for 5 miles on the western seaboard of County Clare. We have certainly lucked out with weather on this trip and today was no different escaping rain and have clear views of the majestic cliffs and oceas waves. We could see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay. I forgot to mention one of the most memorible experiences on the trip for me anyway. That was the Riverdance show in Galway. The show was amazing and starred the featured soloist for Riverdance and several of the main dancers, one of the best irish pipes player in Ireland the the 7 straigtht year winner of the best male singer in Ireland Sean Costello. The show was amazing the but to make it unbelievable it turned out that our group which books seats at the last minute ended up being seated with me and dad less that 4 feet from small platform were the dances would jump off the main screen and run down the isle and jump up in front of us and an eye level view of the most incredible footwork. It still feels surreal and honestly feel very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time.
Our last afternoon and night wass spent in the Spokane sister city of Limerick. Dad and I joined the sister city 20th anniversary celebration with dinner with the mayor and local government officials and those visiting from Spokane including Jack Gerrity ex-mayor of Spokane. The wine glass was never empty and the guiness feed steak was delicious and my first taste of the famous Irish steak. It was hard to believe the trip was already over and one last hotel bed and we where back on the Delta 757 that brought us to Ireland 13 days ealier but this time Dad and I had been upgraded to business class and the perfect end to the most amazing trip with my travel buddy, my dad!
Enjoy the Pics and Videos and I will leave you with this famous Irish Blessing.
"May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the palm of his hand."