"Do you know the Liffey?"
In June of 1999, we travelled to Ireland for vacation and also to attend the wedding of our friends from UGA, Rik and Hettie.
While in Ireland we visited Dublin, Youghal, Dunmore East, Kinsale, Waterford, Kilkenny and saw much of the Irish countryside.
We flew into Dublin late on a Friday night and after checking in at our bed and breakfast, we immediately took a taxi to
Leo Burdock's Fish and Chips. It's a take-away, so at 11:00pm, during our first minutes in Dublin, we sat on the windowsill of
a nearby building and devoured the most divine fish and chips the world has ever known. Really, really outstanding.
Our first night we stayed at Kilronan House--the rooms were small, but the breakfast was INCREDIBLE--Lou had his first
taste of porridge. The first day was spent in Dublin. We began our tour of the city at Trinity College where we watched a
film about the history of Ireland and toured the campus. Trinity College proudly houses the Book of Kells and the famous
Brian Boru harp. The old library itself is steeped in history and the college provided some lovely photo opportunities.
After the college, it was on to lunch at Bewley Cafe and then a tour of
Merrion square, which is famous for its traditional townhomes with distinctive front doors. We walked down to the National
Gallery of Ireland, which was our last stop before we had to pick up the rental car and drive down to Youghal.
Youghal is a small fishing town in the south of Ireland. The distinguishing feature of Youghal is
the clock tower in the middle of town which spans the main street. We stayed at Aherne's Bed and Breakfast and enjoyed a
wonderful meal of lobster. They also had a huge Irish breakfast available in the morning before we headed down
to Blarney, Cork and Kinsale.
In Blarney we did the obligatory stop at Blarney Castle and took a look around the grounds. We did not kiss the
Blarney stone due to 2 factors: 1)the line was VERY long and, 2)Lou was quite sure they weren't using Lysol on the stone
between kissings. We also shopped a bit at the Blarney Woolen Mills to pick up some authentic Irish woolens and linens. Cork,
however, was the main stop for linens at a store called "Forgotten Cotten".
After that, it was on to the gourmet capital of Ireland,
Kinsale. Also a seaside village, Kinsale was our furthest Eastern destination (very reminisent of Cape May, N.J.).
We toured the town, taking pictures of the harbor and a hotel that was hosting an antique car show. We ate at Max's Wine
Bar (thank you Eyewitness Travel Guide for the suggestion) where we met a couple of gentlemen from England who were in
Ireland on holiday and were showing a car at the show. We ended up chatting awhile and deceived by the long June days in
Ireland (it was light from 4am to 10pm), we were very late getting to our accomodations near Waterford. Luckily someone
was still awake at the old farmhouse and let us in. After breakfast Lou suggested I settle the bill while he finished
packing. While settling the bill, I was chastised for arriving so late and received a lecture on how we might have ended up
sleeping in the car. Thanks, Lou.
Dunmore East was just a tiny seaside village whose main attraction was a cluster of traditional thatched cottages and a
gorgeous park by the water. See pictures below.
The next attraction was an ancient cemetery in Ahenny which was home to two of Ireland's High Crosses. The crosses date back to
the 8th century and are very ornamental, carved with interlacing patterns and spirals similar to those used in Celtic metalwork
and jewelry. Somewhere in this timeframe we even had a moment or two to stop in Waterford to see the crystal factory.
Finally, we settled in at the Blanchville House which was to be our homebase for the next few days. Here we hooked up
with the others in Rik and Hettie's wedding party. In between catching up with old friends and the rehearsal dinner,
we found time to get in a round of golf at the beautiful Mt. Juliet resort and golf course. And we even had time to sqeeze in a couple
of trips to some of the local pottery outlets. Nicholas Mosse Pottery in particular has outstanding hand painted designs.
When we weren't at Blanchville House or touring around County Kilkenny, you could find the wedding party at a nearby pub
called "M. Connolly". Not only did we convene there in the evenings, but Hettie and the bridemaids even stopped in for a
pint the day of the wedding--just before heading off to the church (an Irish tradition).
The wedding was, of course, beautiful and after the nuptials, the whole wedding party headed off for a private tour of
Kilkenny Castle. Hettie's ancestor's once lived in the Castle, so we got the "royal" treatment (so to speak). The picture
below was taken in the Castle's garden.
Our last day in Ireland we toured the Rock of Cashel, a very old castle/church/fort south of Dublin, which rises dramatically above the Tipperary plain.
From the 5th century on it was the seat of the Kings of Munster. The angel below is a decorative wood carving from the Vicars' Choral, the
chapel adjacent to the Castle. On the way back to Dublin we saw actual gypsies in a horse-drawn wagon at the side of the road. It seems
as though we saw everything.
In reality, after spending 7 jam-packed days in Ireland, we only had the opportunity to see a fraction
of the countryside. We can't wait to return to Ireland to explore what we missed the first time around. Maybe we will even