Posts tagged ‘Ireland’

Past tips to Ireland

In 2005 R. and I went to Ireland for our second trip. Below are some of my observations on the Irish road system and happenings in the Dungeon Bar.In November Robert and I returned to Ireland. We stopped in Dublin, where we saw a play at the Abbey Theatre, toured Dublin Castle and generally roamed around the city.

We then ventured down to Kilkenny, which is a beautiful, artistic town with a really big castle.

From there we traveled through N and R roads to Kinnity Castle, which is near Birr. According to publicity about the castle there are several ghosts as permanent guests. That night at the bar we saw several people in medieval dress enter. Robert asked them if they were in fact corporeal or were they the resident ghosts. They thankfully replied that they were employees of a telecom company in Dublin staying at the castle for their Christmas party. There was also a wedding reception going on as well. That night at the Dungeon Bar we partied with the medievals (including lords and ladies, monks and friars, jesters and cross dressers), refugees from the wedding reception, people from nearby towns, and musicians playing at a traditional music session. A good time was had by all. There are some photos of the festivities below.

A trad session in progress

That night combined medievals, musicians, castle visitors, townspeople, and refuges from a wedding in interesting combinations.

Merry dancing!

From there we went to Galway and toured the Connemara, which many folks say is the “real” Ireland. It was certainly scenic.

Some observations about driving in Ireland. Roads are classified according to their proximity to the sheep population. “M” roads are usually at least four lane “dual carriageways.” For M roads sheep can hardly be seen due to highway speeds and their distance from drivers. “N” roads are usually two lane roads with pavement markings. On these roads you are very near to the sheep. “R” roads are sometimes two lane roads but are likely to become 1 ½ lane and then one lane roads. You really, really hope that you don’t run into another car coming towards you. On R roads you are really, really close to the sheep, as they are sometimes wandering along the roadside munching grass. Roadside safety features include rock walls, castles, cars parked on the side of the road and/or sidewalk, and/or sheep. We managed to avoid all of those.

Also, all Irish roundabouts have names, even some of the mini-roundabouts. They are  not close to sheep at all. Howver, we were always having to pay attention where we were going while driving on the timpeallán that I didn’t take any pictures.


July 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

On to Dublin

We left Cork and traveled to Dublin via Waterford and County Wicklow. We stopped at the Waterford factory for some quick shopping, stopped at Cobh,  and then cruised through the garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. We saw a number of small towns we have put on our list for the next trip and finally made our way to Dublin, where we quickly dumped the car and prepared to be city people for a few days. As city people we did lots and lots of walking. We checked out the shopping on Grafton Street and then took several walking tours (heartily recommended). our first was a history tour of Dublin by a graduate student of history at Trinity. He truly had the gift of gab and we enjoyed the 2 hours of Irish and Dublin history. We also went on the Easter Uprising tour, which was a highlight of our trip. We met at a pub off of Grafton street, got a pint and retired to the basement where Malachy, our guide, started off with some history of the uprising. We then took off for a walking tour of Dublin, hitting the places where significant encounters occurred. One interesting fact Malachy told us was that Dublin was a predominately Protestant city but tolerated Catholics. He pointed out a Catholic church hidden in plain view, explaining that the Catholics didn’t want to bring attention to themselves. He mentioed another similar church off Grafton Street. We ended up at the Post Office and Malachy recommended that we visit Kilmainham Gaol.

In Gaol

When we got toKilmainham Gaol we were given timed tickets. Since our time was more than an hour away and we hadn’t had lunch we popped into a local pub to grad a bite. One old fellow at the bar regaled us with stories of the owners, staff and most of the others at the bar. After a good story and some lunch we went back to experience the gaol.  I recommend this tour to anyone who has an interest in Irish history and the tour continued the story of the Easter Uprising well.

Irish flag at kilmainham gaol

Irish flag at kilmainham gaol

July 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

Old and new Cork City

Before we leave Cork and travel to Dublin, I thought I’d post some photos illustrating the contrasts between old and new Cork. Cork, more than any ohter city we’ve been to in Ireland, embraces the new as it still preserves much of the old. Cork is a compact city. It’s downtown (or An Lár) features lots of shopping (and the English Market), wide boulevards and narrow streets, lots of churches, and many bridges over the river. Intermixed with all this, much of it old, are modern buildings and urban spaces. Take a look.

May 29, 2009 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

Kinsale, Fishy Fishy and the Wine Geese

Out of Cork we took a day trip to Kinsale, which is known as the  gourmet capital Ireland. the day we were there it was incredibly windy, so no going out on the boat that day. There was a good chop in the water in the harbor so I was glad we couldn’t go sailing. We did explore the town and ate lunch at Fishy Fishy. Since it was April and way off season we walked in and were seated. I’ve heard about 2 hour or more waits in the tourist season. The food was soooo good and it certainly lived up the hype.

Afterwords, after visiting churches, we went to Desmond Castle and the International Museum of Wine, where we did learn of the “wine geese.” The “Wine Geese” was the name given to families who migrated from Ireland in the 17th to the 19th centuries. Some of them went to France and into the wine trade and are often referred to as the “Irish Wine Geese” Ever wonder how a French cognac got a name like Hennessy? Or why French Bordeaux is called Lynch-Bages?

Then a visit to Charles Fort with a look over the harbor.

May 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

Pogue’s ancestral home

After Robert played a round of golf we headed towards Cork. But first we had to stop at Knappogue Castle. Besides being my ancestral home (not!) it now serves up Medieval buffets. And, there’s a whiskey named after it.

Knocking on the door

Knocking on the door

Collecting admission

Collecting admission

Many bedroom and all mod cons

Many bedrooms and all mod cons

After visiting the old home we walked around Bunratty and had lunch in what looked like a real pub, and not just a tourist trap – Durty Nellie’s. Then it was on to Cork. Cork reminded me of Baltimore; it combines the old and new, college and gritty industrial. It’s hard to find your way since streets are not always marked, there are lots of roundabouts, and, as we heard, students keep changing the signs. On one roundabout a driver in another car eve shouted out his disfavor with another  driver who yelled at Robert. After much driving around lost we finally made it to Hayfield Manor where we were taken on a tour by a fellow in a top hat and tails and the deposited in our room just as the bellman was putting down our luggage.  Hayfield Manor was an oasis of calm in the middle of the city, close to the university. The grounds were lovely and the breakfast was one of the best we’ve had. We spent a day in Cork taking the bus tour, visiting the English Market and lots of churches, and topping off our days at a pub. Next, Kinsale and Fishy Fishy.

April 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

Dromoland and the Cliffs of Moher

The next morning after a hearty Irish breakfast (I had the fish of the day!) since the weather was lovely we thought we’d go north to the Aran Islands. When we passed the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Doolin, we impulsively decided to stop since the last time we were there we didn’t get to see much since it was raining cats and dogs (and I don’t mean kittens and puppies but really fat, aggressive cats and dogs). We also wanted to see the new visitors center which replaced a nondescript concrete building in the parking lot. The new visitors center is an earth covered building with a tea shop, exhibit and shop. We took a walk on the newly refurbished walkways and then decided to make our way to Doolin to catch the ferry. Unfortunately, we weren’t there in the high season so the ferry didn’t run as often. We had missed the boat! Fortunately there was another boat that sailed to the Cliffs of Moher and we were in time to catch it. It was worth every Euro. We took lots of photos from the boat and when we disembarked one of the crew asked us if we had seen many “bards,” which I was then able to translate to birds, as there is a rookery island near the cliffs.

After driving around the Burren we headed back to Dromoland and treated ourselves to dinner in the main castle restaurant. After dinner we visited the bar, adorned with Staffordshire dogs on shelves on the wall.


The new visitors center

The new visitors center


April 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

Thinking back and Dromoland

It’s been almost a year since Robert and I got back from our last trip to Ireland in April. This time we stayed 2 nights in Co. Clare at Dromoland Castle, 3 nights in Cork, and 4 nights in Dublin. We usually go to Ireland in the fall, but since we took this trip after I graduated from library school we went in the spring. Spring was beautiful this year in Ireland and we were delighted with the sunny weather. Robert even got a bit of a sunburn. We tried the new direct flight on Aer Lingus from Dulles to Dublin and then took a short flight to Shannon.

I made the mistake of getting a map from Shannon to Dromoland on Google Maps, which indicated Dromoland in a place it could not be. But, we asked at the car rental office and they steered us to the right place, which is about a half an hour from Shannon near scenic Newmarket-on-Fergus. The public rooms seem to go on and on forever, but you are rewarded with pleasant dining rooms and a clubby bar. Robert played an excellent game of golf in the challenging course. If you stay there make sure you avoid running over the ducks in the driveway.



April 10, 2009 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment