Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ireland at a Glance

After drafting this post a month ago, I believe it is time to put it out of its misery.  I was very honored when I was asked to blog about my brief trip to Ireland, and to share some of my photos from the Emerald Isle.  My trip to Ireland lasted 10 days.  I drove an automatic car the whole way, left side of the road, roundabouts and all.  My mother and I began our journey in Dublin, making our way to cities like Boyle, Sligo, Galway, Killarney, Cork, and Kilkenny.

I've never been a big fan of cities in general, but when I had to drive on the left side of the road (on top of juggling multiple lanes and more roundabouts than I care to remember) I found that my displeasure for cities increased quite a bit.  I also happen to be a history teacher with a penchant for the historical.  Therefore, the places I sought out tended to be on the 'castle ruins, natural formations, and scenic views' side of the spectrum-- but I don't think that's much of a problem here though, is it?


After a fair bit of freaking out in Dublin, not being able to find our hotel on the TomTom, we were able to hop over to Trinity College in Dublin, where entrance admission was like extortion... I can say that other photographs of it do it more justice, and the Book of Kells was overcrowded and not that big of a deal.  Overall: meh.  But we had to do something in Dublin.  I'd suggest you go to Kilmainham Gaol or the Guinness Factory over Trinity College.


Trim was our first castle.  Part of Braveheart was filmed here.  A guy got thrown out of a window or something.  I also learned some pretty disgusting things about medieval bug spray (just let your clothes hang over the toilets-- if I were a bug, I'd stay away from that too).


This was easily my favorite spot in Ireland, the Rock of Dunamase.  For a lot of these sites in ruins, there is no entrance fee.  They are kept up by the government, so there's no admission.  If there ever was admission, it was normally just 3-4 Euro.  The Rock of Dunamase, getting back to that... Since it's open to the public, and it is just so randomly placed in that small town, I put my kid hat on and thought about what that would mean for kids living around it.  You have access to the COOLEST playground ever, and it's so out of the way in Ireland that when we visited, it was just me and my mother there.  For a good 20 minutes.  So those lucky twerps literally get to climb around on a castle in their little town without much risk of being bogged down by tourists.


Still the Rock of Dunamase.


No trip to Ireland would be complete without a trip to Castle Blarney.  The line to get up to the stone wasn't very long actually, and all I had to do was stand for 15 minutes in a spiral staircase.  So yes, I put my mouth on possibly the germiest tourist attraction in Europe (and believe me I am glad I had wet wipes with me).  Do I regret it?  Nope.  Have I been given the gift of gab?  Probably not...


I tried to be artsy with my little Canon PowerShot, but I don't know how it turned out.  These Celtic crosses really are everywhere, and in most cemeteries.  I don't know why, but I was surprised by that.


And this is quite possibly my favorite photo I took in Ireland, at the Priory of Kells.  To get out there you have to avoid sheep poo land-mines and walk down a fairly large field, but once you get there it's massive.  If you are wondering what the yellow is in the back, my best guess is that it's canola flowers, used for canola oil.

The Stone of Destiny... which is now covered in bird poo.  Also, the pictures I took there are all of one angle, because not three feet away from the stone there is a grave stone.


Ireland isn't always known for just its castles.  It happens to be home to many a Megalithic stone structure (think the time of Stone Henge).  Most of these stone structures are dolmens, or funerary structures.  This one, which we had to traipse through privately owned farmland to get to, is Drumanone Dolmen, suggested by our B&B owner.


Just outside Sligo, my mother and I climbed the Bricklieve Mountains to get to Carrowkeel, another Megalithic funerary site.  The structures weren't worth the climb, but oh man, the view was worth it three times over...


See what I mean?


One thing I learned is that castles and abbeys pop up everywhere.  Brown signs (which are used for tourism) aren't always up.  So we had to do a fair bit of backing up to go on an impromptu exploration of all the abbeys.


I found the warning signs quite humorous.  Don't worry, guys, I don't plan on climbing on the rocks surrounding the Cliffs of Moher...


The Cliffs of Moher.


In sum, Ireland was amazing, and I really only hit the tip of the iceberg with my 10-day trip.  The coastline alone is a two-week trip, and the interior of the island its own trip as well.  I tried my best to combine the two.


1 comment:

DesignZombie said...

WOW, those are great pictures. My favorite is the Bricklieve Mountains one (living in Oklahoma, anything bigger than a three story building is HUGE to us lol).

Since I play Irish music, I would consider a trip to Ireland as music Mecca for me!

Thank you so much for sharing!