Monday, August 17, 2009

Cliffs of Moher (Final Day in Ireland)

We spent our last day in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher.

Alex with the Cliffs of Moher behind her.

We climbed up O'Brien's Tower to see the cliffs.

This lady, named Tina, was an incredible harpist. I think she made our visit to the cliffs all the more wonderful. I could have set and listened to her for an hour. (And, I bought her CD... her music is like a beautiful lullaby.)

Now we're on the side by the cliffs and you can see the tower we climbed earlier. Nana & Papa had been here a few years earlier and things have changed a lot. It is much safer! They have moved the walkways back from the edge and there is practically no way you could fall off if you stick to the paths. There were paths marked "Private Property: Do Not Enter" that weren't near as safe.... and you wouldn't believe how many people were taking those paths! (My librarian is from Ireland and she'd warned me that quite a few people have been blown off the cliffs by strong gusts so she'd warned me to keep Alex away from the edge... I was so glad they had made this view so much safer!)
Alex saw this adorable little mouse on our path. He's about the size of a ping pong ball. Papa picked him up twice to move him off the path... he blended in so well he was in danger of being stepped on! (Oh, and Alex named him Cheddar!)

We also took this boat to the base of the cliffs. Here it is coming to get us with an island in the back. I hadn't noticed the ancient ruins (to the right with the flag) while we were there!

Alex and I started our trip at the front of the boat. What a mistake! :-) We got SOAKED in just a few minutes... it was quick and we were trying to get towards the back when the drencher came.

Unfortunately, Nana got sick and I wasn't feeling very good myself. My camera also got wet in the "drencher." And, the boat was going up and down so much I was really surprised any of my photos came out. Anyway, you can see the tower we'd climbed earlier (a little to the left of center). The main cliffs are on the right, not in the photo at this time.

I loved how this feature was sticking out of the water.

And, a short video of Tina Morrissey's (was Mulrooney) beautiful music. She's been playing at the cliffs for more than 20 years! (Great video at this link - includes Tina playing part of Danny Boy.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula (Day 12)

I'm almost done blogging about our trip to Ireland & Scotland. I really appreciate the comments that have been left on these posts and the people who have told me in person that they're enjoying this virtual trip. This has taken a lot of time and it encourages me to finish posting. Thanks!

In the hotel we stayed at in Dingle, Ireland, there were windows in the roof (like there are at most houses in Ireland.) When I asked the lady at the front desk if there was a way to close the shade, she told me to look for the remote by the TV. Of course, I was looking for something like a TV remote... I was surprised to find this long pole like they use in the US in clothing stores! You could pull the blind closed or push it shut and also open and close the window with it.

This was probably my favorite day in Ireland. We drove around the Dingle Peninsula on the Slea Head Drive. It follws the coast and has incredible views. I posted a lot of photos today (23!) because there are just so many amazing things to see!

Here's a goat that was just "loose" by one of our stops.

And, a sheep... I was just amazed at how they can climb up steep slopes! Can you see the red spot on his back? The sheep in this area are branded with various colors of paint in various places on the sheep's body.

A beautiful view...

We stopped at the beach a few times. It was so beautiful!

This is Alex at Dunbeg Fort. It was built in the Iron Age. It was a ring fort and parts of it have fallen into the sea. It was amazing to see that this fort, built several THOUSAND of years ago, was put together without any kind of mortar... and it is still standing strong!

Some of the cliffs near the ring fort.

This is a beehive hut. These were built 4,000 years ago!!! They were used as family dwellings. Again, they were built without any type of mortar and are so solid!Most of the beehive huts no longer had a roof. (There were 4 or 5 huts here.)

I took this photo from inside of the one hut that did have its roof. The roof are just much larger stones.

This sculpture of Jesus was along the Slea Head Drive. We saw another very similar sculpture somewhere else in Ireland... I don't remember where, though.

Just another place I had to stop to take a photo.

Another stop at a beach.

Along the Drive, there were tall shrubs that had been planted. Mostly, there were fuschia, which I love. These shrubs were about 10 foot tall and I think one purpose was to warn you when you got too close to the edge of the road. :-) These roads were very narrow!

An old church and cemetery on the drive. Again, we were surprised that the tombstones we saw weren't very old!

Part of the drive goes up a place called Connors Pass. You drive almost into the clouds!

And the road is very narrow... and it was so cold and windy! I had trouble bracing myself to just take some of the photos.

Some sheep loose right next to the road.

This man and his donkey were way up near the top of the mountain. Like I said, it was very cold and windy up here. I wondered what this man's story was...

Some people got out and were climbing even higher. You can see we're almost to the clouds!

On the way back to Limerick, I stopped to take photos of these thatched roofs I'd seen on the way to Dingle. I saw a few houses that had thatched roofs, but this is actually a little store. I wonder what it looks like from the inside?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Driving to Dingle (Day 11)

On Monday, Nana, Papa, Alex, my nephew, and I headed for the town of Dingle. Dingle is the starting place for a scenic drive around the Dingle peninsula.

We had to keep stopping the car so I could take photos. Isn't Ireland beautiful?

Hydrangeas are one of my FAVORITE flowers. And, they are everywhere in Ireland and Scotland. I couldn't believe how many blooms would be on each bush! You could hardly see the leaves!!!
We stopped at this windmill on the way. There is a museum attached which is mainly about the Irish Potato Famine.

Alex LOVED grinding wheat inside of the windmill.

More of the beautiful countryside!

Alex had complained of being carsick on our drive and she "proved it" (if you know what I mean) right when we parked in Dingle. So, she messed up her pullover and it was REALLY COLD out. I let her wear my jacket as we searched for a store. We found these cute matching pullovers at Kerry Woolen Mills. (Not at this outlet, but we posed here when we saw the sign.)

We had planned on going further this first day, but since Alex was sick we decided to stay the night in Dingle. I'm so glad we did! Dingle is a port and we found a hotel right by the water. We went walking around that evening. Here, Alex is posing on a statue of Fungi. Fungi is a bottle-nosed dolphin that lives in Dingle Harbor and enjoys playing around people. Unforunately, I didn't realize you could take a 45 minute boat trip out to see him and you are guaranteed to see Fungi or get your money back... and they've never had to give a refund! You can also rent wet suits and go out and play in the water near Fungi.

Another view of the harbor.

The town of Dingle.

That night, we spent some time in the pub area of our hotel listening to live local music. It was so much fun!!! About half of the people there were kids and many of them were dancing. People were welcome to get up and play an instrument with the band or sing with them and several people did. I loved this Irish music and it was a wonderful evening.

This is the electric water heater at our hotel. I think every place we stayed had hot water like this. You push the "start-stop" button and you have hot water! We always left them on "medium" flow and left the temperature dial alone. It was a great shower! In the house in Limerick, you had to turn a power switch on in the hallway before you could turn this heater on.

And, I'll leave you with just a very short taste of some live, Irish music.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book of Kells & Dublin (Day 10)

On Sunday, we spent some more time exploring Dublin before getting on the train to head back to Limerick.
Alex with a statue of Molly Malone.
Alex's daddy had been teasing Alex about finding a leprachaun while in Ireland.
Well, we found one! He's pretty big, though.
We split into 2 groups for part of the day with my father-in-law and I heading to Trinity College for a tour of the college and do view the Book of Kells and a museum about illuminated manuscripts. The others went shopping and exploring Dublin. We got to go in the college's library... the largest single room library in the world! It was amazing. The books are almost all in Latin! And, students at the college can check them out for free, but they rarely do. Partly because they're in Latin, but also because it is hard to find the book you want - they are only arranged by SIZE!!! (The architecture was amazing, too.)

I was so sad that photos weren't allowed in either the museum or the library!!! The museum about the manuscripts was so interesting. There were even videos showing how they wrote in the books and how they bound them.

I actually saw this "statue" getting in position. Yes, it is actually a man! He would tap people with their umbrellas and startle them. He looked so real!

I really enjoyed listening to this group. The man on the left is playing a tin whistle or pennywhistle, in the middle is a hammered dulcimer, and on the right is a fiddle. (I think I identified these correctly.) I almost bought their CD and wish I would have!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dublin Zoo & Kilmainham Gaol (Day 9)

Saturday was our only full day in Dublin. We spent most of the day at the zoo (in the rain) and touring the Kilmainham Gaol (jail) which is now a musuem.

Here is a beautiful wild heron that was walking around the zoo. I was able to find a bird book at a store and identified this heron, but I don't remember it's name!

We enjoyed watching this sea lion and her nursing pup. The Daddy came by and started "barking" at the mom and she dutifully left her baby and followed theDdaddy. Well, a juvenile sea lion jumped up on this platform and was being pretty rough with the baby. The Mommy swam back and chased off this young sea lion and laid down again with her baby... until Daddy came back and barked again so she left again. But, this time the baby was left in peace.

We were amazed at these HUGE leaves! I grabbed one to look at the underside of the leaf and was poked by some pretty big thorns!
Alex playing at the zoo.

This is the Kilmainham Gaol. The tour was WONDERFUL and we learned a lot about the history of Ireland. The gaol is now closed, but it was in use during the Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800's. Over a million Irish people died during the famine. Many were homeless and, of course, starving. People, including children, would purposely steal to be put INTO this gaol... at least that way they'd have a roof over their head and food to eat. They were packed into the gaol and even slept in the hallways... with no beds and horrible conditions.

This is a large room in the gaol. It has been used in several movies. Back to the history... Ireland has had many uprisings as different groups tried to gain freedom from England. One of the most famous uprisings was the Easter Rising or Easter Uprising. 16 of the leaders of the rebellion were housed at this gaol and later executed.

In the "big room", they had doors open to many of the cells and we were free to walk in and shut the doors to see what it was like. Alex and I went in this cell. No, we didn't want to spend the night!

This cross is in the enclosed yard and marks were some of the Easter Rising leaders were executed.