My favorite picture of the Irish countryside

17 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 4

My two uncles and my dad took advantage of staying at the Blarney Golf Resort and played 9 holes of golf before breakfast. Breakfast was followed by a trip to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone. The Blarney Stone is supposed to give you the gift of gab - the difference between Blarney and Baloney is that Blarney is Baloney spoken eloquently. This was decided by Queen Elizabeth I when the Earl of Blarney would send word back of great flattery, but not do the things she wanted. Dad and I kissed the Blarney stone, but Mom took one look at it and said "No way!" This is because you have to lay down, lean back over the side of the castle, grab two poles while a worker holds your torso, and kiss the stone opposite your head.
We shopped and ate lunch at Blarney Woolen Mills - a massive souvenir shop with very good Irish Stew. Our next stop in Ireland was Killarney. Our first order of business after checking into the hotel was a jaunty ride (a ride in a horsedrawn carriage) through the Killarney National Park to Ross Castle. Our jarvey (the driver) was hilarious! Here are a few of the jokes he told/sights we saw:
Those woods over there are the Monk's Woods. The ones on the other side of the road are the Nun's Wouldn't.
(After seeing a wedding party drive by): There goes another sorry man.
It only rains twice a week in Ireland. The first 3 days and the other 4.
There are two types of deer in the park: male and female.
A trough that was filled with water - that's the leprachaun's swimming pool. The olympics were held there last year.
He also proposed marriage to a girl from the Minnesota part of the group. He asked her what time should he come that night and she responded with "We're going to get married tonight?!" and he said "No, not for the wedding!" He also gave her a boquet of wild irises and one of the other jarveies asked if he could be the best man.
There are three lakes in County Kerry, and the Lower Lake is beside Ross Castle. We took a boat tour of the lake, which was gorgeous.
That night, Ashley, Sarah, Manda, and I walked down to Danny Mann's pub in Killarney and enjoyed live music. When the waiter came to take our drink order, he pointed at me and said "Ok, Heinekin," which I corrected by saying, "No, Guinness." He then came back saying he had missed someone and I said I wanted a Guinness. He came back with the drinks and gave me a Heinekin so I just drank that.

Ireland Trip Day 3

Day 3 we left Dublin and headed to Blarney, via Kildare, Cashel, and Cobh (pronounced Cove). At Kildare, we visited the National Stud Farm. I had my doubts about how interesting this would be, but I was pleasantly surprised. This farm houses many champion racehorses who are now retired and breed more champion racehorses. Our favorite horse on the farm was actually a Pony named Tommy. His nickname - Tommy the Teaser. He was dubbed this because it is his job to tell if the mare is in heat. If the mare stands still, rather than kicking Tommy away, Tommy is led away (or, rather, dragged) and the mare is taken to the stallion. Our guide, Dee, did assure us that sometimes they do have ponies there for Tommy.
We stopped at Cashel for lunch. The Rock of Cashel is a very old monastery and is one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Ireland. We didn't get to go up to the Rock since we ate lunch in the current town (down the hill), but we got good pictures from where we were. This was probably one of the best meals we had on the trip. Ashley and I both had tuna melts while others had Irish stew and Shephard's Pie. My Aunt Diann though it was funny that you could get Shephard's Pie (that has mashed potatoes) with vegetables that included chips and mashed potatoes. Thus, proving that the Irish really love potatoes.
In Cobh, we saw the museum commemorating the emigration of thousands of Irish to the States, Canada, and Australia. The town had been named Queenstown by the British, but once the Irish gained independence, they changed the name back to the original Irish. David told us that the Titanic sailed from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Southampton in England, and on to Queenstown to pick up Leonardo DiCaprio. Outside the museum was a statue of Annie Moore and her siblings. She was the first person to be processed through Ellis Island into America. They also had a lot about the Lusitania, which was a commercial oceanliner that sunk not far from Cobh after being torpedoed by a German submarine.
We then arrived at our hotel in Blarney. We stayed at the Blarney Golf Resort, which was probably the nicest hotel we stayed at. We had a very nice meal, but no dessert so not at the top of my list. :) Each "room" was more like a townhouse and had 2 rooms for 2 people each. After dinner, Ashley, Sarah, Manda, and I stayed at the pub in the hotel since it was fairly far out of town.

09 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 2

The morning of day 2 we discovered that just because Ireland is famous for its breakfasts doesn't mean their hotels serve them. Our breakfasts at almost every hotel consisted of Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Weetabix, and some sort of bread. Tea and coffee were also available (as they were everywhere).
Our first activity of the day was a bus tour of Dublin. We had a day tour guide, Sally, who explained some of the things we saw around the city. We saw lots of Georgian architecture, which is very prominent in Dublin. The Georgian doors are a famous site because of the different colors and knockers of the doors. The reason, Sally claimed, for the different colors was for the men who got "confused" after spending the night in the pub, and confused a different door with their own (along with a different bed and a different wife). The women's solution to this problem was to paint the doors different colors. When the problem persisted, the men claimed they were colorblind! :) We also saw the ha'penny bridge (pedestrians had to pay a half penny to cross the bridge, which spanned the River Liffey), the Molly Malone statue, a.k.a. the Tart with the Cart (a very busty interpretation of the figure in the song Molly Malone), and The Phoenix Park (a very large park that holds the President of Ireland's house, the U.S. Ambassadors house, and the cross erected for Pope John Paul II's mass in Dublin). We stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral and had a guided tour provided by Sally. Some people of interest here were: Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) and the Boyle family (think Boyle's law in chemistry).
Our next stop was Trinity College (my favorite place in Dublin). This was mainly to see the Book of Kells. Book of Kells, pretty, old, cool, but then you go upstairs. The first time I walked in, I said, "It's the Beauty and the Beast library!" It has floor to ceiling books (2 floors), the oldest harp in Ireland, and is simply freaking awesome. George Lucas used the image (without the permission of Trinity, big no-no) in Attack of the Clones for the Jedi Library.
Some had considered paying for a Castles and Cathedrals Tour after the bus tour. Since I knew where the things on the tour were and we'd already been to St. Patrick's, I led people around. First we went to my favorite fish and chips place in Dublin (they give you a bag of fish and chips the size of a small child...Ashley and I shared). We sat on a wall in front of Christchurch Cathedral to eat, and fed pigeons chips throughout that time (I was entertained by the pigeons, as usual). We then proceeded to tour Christchurch where I reminisced about playing in the Cathedral last year and experienced the crypt (very cool). I then walked a group down the street so we could see where Handel's Messiah was first performed. Granted, the building is no longer there, but there is a plaque outside commemorating the event. We then went to Dublin Castle and took a guided tour. I enjoyed the tour partly because I have become obsessed with the movie Michael Collins (great movie) so I enjoyed seeing the actual Dublin Castle. We also saw an area of the original castle structure that had recently been excavated.
Our dinner was at a pub called the Portobello in Dublin. The main problem with this venue was the fact that there was a football (soccer) match between Manchester United and Barcelona. I think there were people hovering behind me just waiting til I left the entire time I was eating. We thought we should of auctioned our seats off! That night Ashley, my Uncle Pat's niece, Manda, and I went down to the pub at the hotel. It was so packed because of the match, but it was fun! Barcelona won, but the ManU fans didn't riot too much. The best part of the experience was a drunk guy who wanted us to come to a karaoke bar with him and his friends and thought Manda was Ashley and I's ma. It was entertaining.

07 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 1

I think I'll put each day of the trip with my family in a different post in order to avoid an extremely long post! Thanks to Diann for sending e-mails to refresh my memory!
I met my parents, my Aunt Mikey and Uncle Terry, and others at the Dublin airport at 7:00am on Tuesday 25 May. We met our tour guide, David, at the airport. He said he was waiting for Mom and I to hug so he would know the right group to meet! David is English, which threw us a little at first, but he was a wonderful tour guide. We waited in the Dublin airport until around 11:30. Four more from Concordia got in around 9:30, Ashley's flight came in at 10:30, and My Aunt Diann, Uncle Pat, and cousins Katelyn and Aidan arrived at around 11:30. We then left the airport and headed to the small monastic settlement of Glendalough (pronounced Glen-da-lock). This settlement was started by St. Kevin and is famous for it's round tower. These round towers were built for the monks to take refuge in during Viking invasions. Each floor was accessible by ladders that could be pulled up, thus preventing intruders from reaching the monks at the top. Some were built with round stone staircases that always rotated clockwise so as to give the advantage to the victims at the top.
One of the buildings at this site was entitled "St. Kevin's Kitchen." This building was actually a church, but after the monastery was closed, the surrounding townspeople thought that only a kitchen could have a tower as high as the church's. Thus, the building came to be known as St. Kevin's Kitchen.
The cemetery here is absolutely massive! There are only seven more people who are allowed to be buried in the cemetery before the grounds are closed to future buriels. It has been open for buriel for the longest time in Ireland - about 1600 years!
We stayed at the Abberly Court Hotel, which wasn't as close to the city centre as was desired, but it was nice. Since everyone but me had jet lag, bed time immediately followed dinner. I think that's the earliest I've gone to bed since arriving in Ireland!

P.S. I changed my last post so Oh Beautiful Sunshine actually links to Oh Beautiful Sunshine rather than the Money Song!

03 June 2009

Home Again

I am officially at home in Concordia as of this morning! I got into Kansas City at 6:00 last night and was met by Abby, Avaree, Dana, Jessica, and Janine! We went out to Abuelo's for supper since I haven't had Mexican (or at least good Mexican) for five months. I nearly fell asleep at the table! I got back to the hotel about 9:00 and Mom, Dad, and Sarah were completely passed out! We left about 7:00 this morning, dropped Dad in Topeka for his meeting at 10:00 and got home about 11:30. We had an amazing nine days in Ireland - I'll write more about that once Diann sends the e-mail compilation of everyone's memories. I think the weirdest thing about being home is that it's not that weird. I'll miss Ireland and Galway like crazy, and I will probably cry for a few days when I realize I can't go to the Crane that night or walk down Shop Street and see all the musicians, but I'll live.