For the first week we stayed at The Heritage Golf and Spa Resort near Killenard about 25 miles west of Dublin. It is a 5-star luxury resort with more amenities than you could ever use. I think they were feeling the pinch of the economy and the extras were included in our travel package at a very reasonable rate. We had what they called a "2 bedroom self catering on course suite". A couple steps up from our camper.
Yes, we did see some new birds. This is what they call a Robin. A little different than our Robin, but a Robin none the less.
Each morning our tour guides went over the day's itinerary and off we would go. There must be more castles in Ireland than any other place in the world. Some small and some gigantic. A short review of Ireland's history will explain why all the castles were needed. The Irish have been fighting the Vikings, Normans, Romans, English and themselves for centuries. Lots of blood spilled on this island. This is a very poor shot of the Bunratty Castle on the west coast near Limerick. Built about 1400 it was a stronghold of the O'Briens of North Munster.
Associated with the Bunratty Castle is a folk park which was constructed beginning about 1950. The small village of old buildings, farm houses, working shops such as blacksmiths and coopers, and other small shops depict rural life in Ireland between 1850 and 1900. All the buildings were made of stone. By 1900 all the large trees were gone. The pile of "stuff" behind me in the photo is peat bricks which they used to burn for heating and cooking. The Irish still use peat today.
Even the fences were made of rock. The fields are surrounded with stone walls and fence rows.
The country side is full of old stone churches. Most have a long history and are still in use today.
At Newgrange, north of Dublin, there is a burial mound that dates to 3200 BC. That's 5000 years ago!!! It wasn't fully excavated until 1960. We were allowed to enter the mound through a narrow underground passage and see the burial chamber. The Newgrange site is located on a hill over looking the surrounding country side.
You have to wonder what this area looked like 5000 years ago. This is how it looks today.
Another new bird for us. The Bullfinch.
And the Blue Tit
The inside of some of the restored castles are almost hospitable. I bet in the 1400's with no electric lights and heat they weren't so cozy.
I really enjoyed the doors. This one is about 3 inches thick, made of Irish Oak and looks like it could withstand quite a bit of abuse. It is the main entrance to Cahir Castle
A lot of the castles like this one, The Rock of Cashel, were located on a high hill. Best to see who is coming and from what direction. It was very windy and cold here. Can't imagine living here in 600 AD when it was the home of the King of Munster.
Some of the roof was gone but the walls were still standing. No wood used in this construction.
In Ireland they drive on the "wrong" side of the road. Lucky for us Bob did all the driving.
It wasn't bad in the country but in the villages and small towns driving would have been a nightmare for me. As Bob said, "the center lines and directional arrows are only "suggestions". They have very few stop signs but a zillion round-a-bouts.
For the last 4 days we moved to a hotel in Dublin and parked the car. Our main form of transportation was the "Hop on and Hop off" bus. It took us everywhere.
Typical street in Dublin with shops lining the streets and apartments above. Many of the buildings were painted different bright colors.
Dublin is a very beautiful city but not a place I would want to drive.
Grafton Street was for pedestrians only. Lots of neat little shops, coffee houses and pubs line the street.
These life-size sculptures depict the Irish people during the Great Famine of 1845, 1846 and 1847. The potato crop failed because of the potato blight and over 1,000,000 people starved and another 1,200,000 emigrated, many to the U.S.
We toured both the Guinness Brewery and the Jameson's Distillery. Very interesting and we got a free glass of Guinness.
At the Jameson's Distillery both Bob and I were selected out of a group of about 25 to be "official" Jameson's tasters. We had to compare the taste of Jameson's with Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker. I can honestly say that the Jameson's was the best.
This was one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever seen. The Samuel Beckett Bridge crosses the Liffey River which flows through Dublin. The national symbol of Ireland is the harp and at the right angle the bridge looks like a harp.
The bridge from a different angle with Marjie holding up the hand rail.
We ran into Molly Malone selling cockles and mussels and ????
This door is one of the main entrances into Trinity College, in down town Dublin. Trinity was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
Most of the Georgian houses in the city look much the same. Built of brick and 3 or 4 stories tall. The people seem to take pride in their front doors, some of which are very colorful.
Another front door.
The pub is the meeting place for friends and neighbors across Ireland. Each little village has several and the streets in Dublin are lined with small pubs. This would be a typical pub in Ireland.
And, of course, no trip to Ireland is complete with out several pub stops and a pint of brew. Guinness is the drink of choice. We had a great time on our very short visit and didn't begin to see all of Ireland. Even in March the weather was fine. We did have some rain and a little snow but also several warm sunny days. Put Ireland on your bucket list for sure.