A Travellerspoint blog

Ireland

Ireland Day 3: The High King's Seat

rain 60 °F

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This morning we got up at around seven to meet Daniel's Aunt Jackie at her hotel for breakfast. By coincidence, she was staying just across the street from where we were, and we were able to see her before she flew home. We had a great time and we are very glad that we were able to meet up during our trip.
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After breakfast we walked to a camera store to get some black and white film. When Daniel came to Ireland in 2003 he took a lot of black and white pictures. This time he decided to bring the same camera so that Catherine could take pictures too. We went for a nice walk through Ballsbridge and the city center, and found great customer service and help at Conn's Camera's.
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We saw more Dublin doors.
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We also found a church called St. Teresa's. It seems to be a Carmelite church, and has a lot of side altars beside the main altar. The view in the photo is actually only a side entrance to the church, which is much larger.
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There was a small side chapel that Catherine specifically pointed out, so we went in to it and found out that it had a statue of the Infant of Prague and had a prayer to him on the altar rail, along with a rack of candles. Since we are adopting a baby through an adoption service called Infant of Prague, we said some prayers for the process to go smoothly and lit a candle.
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After the walk, our host called us a taxi to the airport, we checked out, and went to pick up our rental car! Our car turned out to be a Toyota Yaris hybrid, which is very much like a smaller version of our Prius. It is even red! We also tried a couple of the potato chip favors available here.
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The first place we went was the visitors' center at the Hill of Tara in County Meath. In the gift shop we found a familiar hat, and a lot of fairy-based merchandise.
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The Hill of Tara is the complex from which the High Kings of Ireland ruled. There are structures there dating back thousands of years, and evidence of burials and other ceremonies being carried out there.
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The lia fáil, or stone of destiny, was used for the coronations of the kings. The legend is that it would cry out if the rightful High King touched his foot to the stone. Catherine considered finding a hidden location and crying out when people touched the stone, but was persuaded against it.
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It started to rain heavily while we were touring Tara. It's a good thing that we had our hoods/hats. The grass was very wet but it was still a very pleasant walk.
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It was an amazing place to tour. The centuries of history and legend associated with the place are fascinating. We were especially intrigued by the fact that most of the visitors appeared to be from the area (lots of Meath and Dublin license plates). It's intriguing to imagine living in a place where such ancient historic sites are so readily available.
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Daniel standing atop the Mound of Hostages, one of the tombs at Tara.
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Vegetable soup and brown bread! A perfect Irish lunch. And now we can say that we dined at Tara.
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We were planning to go to Newgrange, but the lady at Tara told us it was sold out, so we went directly to Donegal. We had to go through Northern Ireland to get there. Neither of us had been. The pictures above show a beautiful area there with a flock of sheep grazing. Northern Ireland is interesting: the diversity of its population is evident in the different flags/decorations/ types of churches you see as you go through different towns and neighborhoods. One town was plastered with Union Jacks and had a huge banner over the Main Street that said "God Save the Queen." Another had Irish tricolors on every lamppost.
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We drove through Eniskillen on our way to Donegal. It was intriguing, but we didn't end up spending much time there.
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Mountcharles is a great village. We are staying just up the hill from the village, and our hosts have been wonderful. There is another couple also staying here. They are from Michagan, so we talked to them a bit about Ireland and the United States.
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Seumas MacManus, who wrote The Story of the Irish Race, was from Mountcharles. The former village water pump is dedicated to him, as this was where he would sit and read to the children of the village.
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We had planned to eat at the pub in Mountcharles, and we walked there from the house. Unfortunately, when we got there they had just closed the kitchen (we arrived at 9:06). We walked back to the house, got in our car, and drove to Donegal Town. We ate at the Manhattan Steakhouse, which was very good. Donegal Town looks amazing: we can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 17:13 Archived in Ireland Tagged food united_kingdom cars driving pubs sheep tara donegal northern_ireland eniskillen mountcharles Comments (2)

Ireland Day 2: Books, Beetles, Whiskey, and Jail (Gaol?)

"I like touring around in jackets. It makes me feel safer." -Catherine

overcast 63 °F

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We woke up very early, but we rested a bit longer and ended up getting up around seven. We went downstairs and found breakfast in the kitchen. Our host asked if we had everything we needed. We had a delicious breakfast of scones, toast, tea, and orange juice. It was very good. We had the hop on-hop off pass, and so we decided to walk to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and start our tour.
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On our way we walked through the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic Church, which we can see from our room. It's a beautiful building, so we stepped inside to see it. It's over 200 years old.
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Dublin has a tradition of brightly-colored doors all over the city. On our walk, we saw many of them. They are usually dark and solid-colored. Red, blue, and yellow seem to predominate.
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Because we already had a tour booked at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, and it was getting late, Catherine suggested that we take a taxi rather than walk. We found two taxis resting nearby. The one sitting behind the other had a visible driver, the other did not. We approached the one behind, and the driver (an older Irishman) told us that he could only take us if the driver ahead of him couldn't. We approached the other car and found that the driver was lying down in his seat talking on the phone. He agreed to take us. He seemed to be from Poland, but he didn't talk much so we didn't learn much about him. He also didn't want to drive in the chaos near Trinity, so he dropped us towards the back. We toured Trinity, which was a fairly quick but interesting tour. It included a lot of information about famous people who had studied or taught there. We were near a group of people from Oregon. They were loud and they knew everything. The young man said that he was going to go to college to study beetles. Catherine now describes the condition of being a noisy know-it-all as "beetle mania."
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We saw the Book of Kells, which was amazing. We didn't take pictures because the signs were ambiguous about whether or not it was allowed, and the entire book is available to view online anyway at the Trinity College website. It is amazing to see how well the colors and script have held up over the 1200 years since it was made. We then went to the Long Room of the library. Daniel described it as the most beautiful building he's ever seen. The books are beautiful as is the construction of the building.
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This tour couldn't have happened without Catherine's suggestion to take a taxi. We got on the next bus and headed for Teeling's.
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Teeling is a new distillery. It opened in 2015, and is the first distillery to be built in Dublin in over a century. The Teeling family, however, has been distilling since 1792. The founders of this distillery are the sons of John Teeling, who founded an independent distillery called Cooley and then sold it to a larger corporation. He kept a million barrels, which his sons are using to get the distillery started. Their logo is a phoenix, which is associated with Dublin (Phoenix Park, etc) and represents their industry rising from the ashes (literally... one reason why distilling ended in Dublin was a huge distillery fire.)
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The distilling room tour was fascinating. The process is complex, but basically boils down to making beer, then distilling it. At present, because their distillery is new, they haven't produced any actual whiskey there yet. They do market some of the unaged spirit as poitín, or Irish moonshine.
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The copper pot stills are named after Jack Teeling's daughters.
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The tour guide explained how whiskey is aged in barrels that have had other things in them. Rum barrels, red wine barrels, bourbon barrels, etc. Teeling Single Malt apparently ages in all of these barrels and more.
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They gave samples for an organized tasting. We tried three of their whiskers and a cocktail. Catherine really liked the summer cocktail. We also tried a (small) amount of their poitín so that we could say we tried poitín.
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We had lunch at the Teeling's cafe. It was delicious. Then, having tried poitín, we were off to the gaol.
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The bus coming to take us to Kilmainham.
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Kilmainham Gaol (jail) is a very dismal looking building. It was a British prison that originally housed men, women, and children. During the Famine prison food was coveted and so incarceration rates went up.
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The Catholic chapel at the gaol. This is where Joseph Plunkett (a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising) married Grace Gifford hours before his execution.
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Many famous people were held at Kilmainham, including most of the leaders of the rising. It is interesting to see their cells.
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Grace Gifford Plunkett's cell is especially interesting. She was held here for supporting the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War. She drew this image of the Virgin Mary then.
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All of these leaders of the Rising were executed by firing squad at the site where this cross stands.
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Except James Connolly, who had not been imprisoned at Kilmainham and was brought in through the other gates.
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The tour guide noted that Eamon de Valera was held in Kilmainham for approximately 20 years, cumulatively. He returned in the sixties as President of Ireland to open it as a museum.
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The serpents over the door represent the "Five Capital Crimes": murder, rape, treason, larceny, and piracy (though when we were trying to remember them Catherine suggested "wearing socks with sandals" as one of them.
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Catherine's favorite Dublin door.
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Going by the bus drivers' information we thought the Guinness brewery would be open until 7. When we arrived, we found they closed at 6. We asked the cashier for a dinner recommendation, and she suggested Arthur's pub. We went there and it was perfect: we had soup, brown bread, and apple pie for dessert. It seemed like a perfect Irish meal.
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Some pretty churches on our walk back to Ballsbridge.
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A statue of the Virgin Mary with the Dylan Hotel in the background. We came back to our room and rested, then wrote this blog post. Tomorrow: Tara, Newgrange, and Donegal!

Posted by danielcatherine 18:13 Archived in Ireland Tagged churches bus tours gaol guinness library distillery whiskey hop_on_hop_off teeling's book_of_kells 1916 poitín Comments (2)

Ireland Day 1: The Journey

With Service to Toronto, the Basque Country, India, and Turkey

semi-overcast 63 °F

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On Saturday we got everything packed and got ready to head to San Jose to get our flight at the San Francisco Airport. On our way out, we met Catherine's parents and her brother, Fr. Michael. We had dinner at a Basque restaurant in Fresno. We had never had that type of food before so we thought that was a good start to our adventures. We stayed at Daniel's parents' house.
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Daniel's parents dropped us off at the airport.
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Our flight was with Air Canada.
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Catherine had a window seat and Daniel had a middle seat. We had an excellent view out the window. These pictures show the vast deserts in Nevada. We saw the Rockies and the Great Lakes.
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Our flight to Dublin was delayed for over an hour. While this was frustrating, it gave us a chance to have a nice meal at an Indian restaurant in the terminal. Daniel had chana masala (chickpea curry), which is actually one of our favorite meals to make at home.
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Our flight from Toronto left at midnight, and once the sun rose we could mostly just see clouds and ocean.
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Our first glimpse of Ireland!
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More of Ireland from the plane.
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We found a bus to O'Connell Street. Daniel had made plans to meet his friend Adrian, who he met when he was studying abroad in Galway. He called Adrian and they arranged to meet at Wynn's Hotel off of O'Connell Street. We took the bus to O'Connell Street, and thankfully found a Tourism Office where we could store our bags. When we got to Wynn's, we met Adrian, his wife Mikal, and his daughter, Isabella. Adrian said no trip to Ireland would be complete without Turkish kebabs, so we went to a Turkish restaurant nearby. Adrian strongly recommended the shish kebab, so we split that and some curry chips. It was very good, and we had a nice lunch. Adrian had a meeting (which was the reason he was in Dublin) so we chatted for a while with Mikal.
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We were right by the General Post Office (GPO) which was a major location in the Easter Rising in 1916. There is a museum there which we toured. We were very tired so we didn't take as many pictures as we should have, but it was a very informative and interesting tour.
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After that, Daniel showed Catherine the hostel where he stayed the last time he stayed in Dublin, and the pharmacy where he bought a toothbrush and toothpaste because his bags had been lost. After that, we picked up our bags at the tourist office and got a taxi to our AirBnB.
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Our AirBnB is a house in Ballsbridge in South Dublin. According to a letter on the wall it was used as a safe house by Michael Collins in the early 20th century. It is very comfortable, and our room has a beautiful view.
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The neighborhood is beautiful. We are across from St. Mary's Catholic Church, and just down the street from the Dylan Hotel where Daniel's aunt Jackie is staying. We are very excited about our trip. Tomorrow, we will be touring Dublin!

Posted by danielcatherine 20:59 Archived in Ireland Tagged planes airport toronto ireland dublin turkish canada gpo san_francisco shish_kebab Comments (3)

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