Friday, June 10, 2011


Come take an imaginary trip to Ireland with me. Hero and I are still in our “staycation” mode, so I’m sharing photos and comments from a couple of past vacations to Ireland. If I could only visit one country outside the U.S., it would be Ireland, one of the friendliest countries Americans can visit. So many Irish emigrated to the U.S., that we’re treated as cousins coming back home. In fact, if Hero and I are able to travel there again, we want to rent a cottage, get a rail pass, and stay for a month.

Ireland from the plane's window
Arriving in Ireland, we looked from the plane’s window to the most verdant landscape we’d ever seen. The unique soil and climate make Ireland’s landscape varying shades of dark green. They still cut turf for peat fires in some areas, although the peat is being depleted.

Cliffs of Moher
One of our first trips was to see the Cliffs of Moher in County Galway. In fact, this was the site of the imaginary village mentioned in my time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.

Connemara cottage
Nearby, the famous Connemara marble quarries are still in business, although some colors of the marble no longer exist. We saw a lot of stone fences, and wondered if the stone was unpolished marble.

Adare Village home

Adare village in County Limerick is regarded as Ireland’s most picturesque village. The original village was destroyed repeatedly by conquests, wars, and revolutions. The Gaelic name is Ath Dara, meaning ford of the oak for its location in woodlands and on the Maigue, a tributary of River Shannon. Most of the village was laid out in 1820 and rebuilt to the then Earl of Dunraven’s design. He rented the houses to tenants working his estate.
Hero and me in a jaunty cart,
that's us at the back.

In Killarney park, we rode in a jaunting car, or jaunty cart. It was fun to view the beautiful park slowly from the horse drawn cart. It reminded me of the courting cart in the movie “The Quiet Man.” Hero and I have watched that movie so often we know the dialogue.
Which brings me to one of our stops. In the village of Sneem, we ate lunch at the bed and breakfast where Maureen O’Hara stayed during the filming of “The Quiet Man.” The owner turned a small closet into a private toilet and shower for Ms O’Hara. The bathroom was so small a person could barely fit inside. Great food and excellent service made us want to linger.

                   Irish Castles

Blarney Castle

Famous for its gift of gab, the Blarney Stone is at the top of Blarney Castle--120 steep, steep steps up a very narrow, winding stairway. You can see the battlements, which is where the stone is located. The castle now standing is the third on this site, built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster. Allegedly, an earlier King of Munster, Cormac McCarthy, supplied 4,000 soldiers to aid Robert The Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Legend has it that The Bruce gave half of the Stone of Scone to McCarthy in gratitude. This portion of the famous Stone of Scone, the seat for the coronation of kings, is now known as the Blarney Stone and was incorporated in the battlements where it can now be kissed. Of course, there are shops and a cafeteria beside the castle now to cater to tourists. (Guess which I chose.) Hero made the trek up to kiss the Blarney Stone.
Dunguarie Castle
 Supposedly the most photographed castle in Ireland is Dunguarie Castle in County Galway. The tower house was built in the 16th century.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle is a typical example of an Irish chieftan’s stronghold in the Middle Ages. Probably built in the late 15th century by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftans, the furnishings are 16th and 17th century oak.

Dublin Castle in Dublin City
Dublin Castle looks more like a seat of government, which is what it is, than a castle. It was built in the 13th century on a site previously settled by Vikings. It was they who named the city of Dublin, meaning Dark Pool. Now Dublin Castle is used for state functions and presidential inaugurations. Parts of the castle are open for visitors unless a government function is scheduled.

Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel looks like a castle. It’s a group of medieval buildings set on a limestone outcrop and the various buildings date from the 12th through the 15th century. The tall tower is the group's oldest structure. These towers are seen throughout Ireland, and were used as both watchtowers and shelters during invasion.

Waterford Crystal Factory,
a stop on all tours

Some fun movies about Ireland are “Leap Year,” “The Quiet Man” (which is nothing like the book, by the way), and “The Matchmaker.” Also of interest because of its relation to Blarney Castle is the movie "Stone of Scone."

Stone Fences minus the sheep
 Hero and I feel drawn to Ireland for clean air, stone walls, picturesque cottages, historic stone circles, friendly people, and all the many other enticements the country has to offer. When the sunlight hits that rich green grass, we become one with the land. Why is that? Perhaps it’s racial or ethnic memory that draws us to Ireland. Many of our ancestors came from/through Ireland to immigrate to the United States. Whatever the reason, we hope to return one day and enjoy the warmth of Irish sun on our faces as we tread on green, green grass and shamrocks.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for's been a dream of mine to travel to Ireland one day! Loved the pictures.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Lovely glimpses of a lovely land, Caroline. Thank you so much for sharing such a special place. (and your memories) Enjoyed the Scotland piece, too. Great blog.. I'll definitely be back. :)

Elaine Stock said...

Caroline, what an adorable blog entry!! So creative & original :) Thanks so much for taking me on a tour and showing me some of your hero and your favorite places.


Alina said...

Ireland offers activities to enjoy no matter how long you stay. enjoy spectacular scenery, bush walking, exploring the villages of the cedar route ,cycling, Bird Watching, swimming, taking a tour, eating, golfing, flora & fauna discovery, camping, drop into the Killarney Historical Society and don't forget to relish the serenity! bed and breakfast in killarney