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Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

california
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Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

My husband and I loved our visit to Ireland and would like to thank all of the nice people on TA who helped to make this trip so great. I'll post each new entry as a reply and mention people who helped me with specific issues. If I forget anyone I apologize in advance, please know your input was very valuable.

I have photos posted on my blog: http://sandydtraveljournal.blogspot.com/

The blog entries contain historic and general info on the places we visited because most of our friends and family have not been to Ireland. I plan to gear my trip report more to the traveler perspective.

I'll also share some final thoughts at the end. Here goes:

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Ireland
Ireland
Europe
california
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1. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

DAY 1:

We arrive in Dublin! Our flights were on time, we actually arrived about 30 minutes early. It was overcast but not raining, just a few drizzles. Mike had his first Irish Stew....and actually liked it! :0 (He's a rather picky eater.). We took it kind of easy the first day because, in typical fashion, I didn't sleep on the plane - sooooo I was going on 30 hours without sleep.

We went to the National Museum of History and Archaeology-very interesting, especially the bog bodies. We also went to the Natural History Museum, which was just "okay". I was expecting some displays showing the animals in their native habitat, but they were all just crowded into large glass cases. Rather disapponting, actually.

We stayed at the Shelbourne Hotel near St. Stephen's Green. It was a very good location for shopping and restaurants, and the HOHO bus stopped just across the street. Our room was very nice and the bed was wonderful, very comfortable . We turned in about 8pm and had a great night's sleep.

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Dublin
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Dublin, Ireland
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St. Stephen's Green
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california
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2. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Day 2 in Dublin

We utilized our hop on- hop off (HOHO) bus tickets today. They were very handy for getting around, especially to Kilmainham Gaol- it would have been a long walk. Kilmainham Gaol was an excellent tour, quite somber but very informative and thought-provoking. Our tour guide, Grace, was quite compelling, and presented the information and history in a very engaging manner. Kilmainham is a must-see in our opinion, we were both very glad we went.

Next we went to Christ Church Cathedral but it was closed for the 3 days we'd be here, we then walked down to St. Patrick's Cathedral and took the tour there. St. Patrick's has beautiful stained glass windows, a carved pulpit, and banners of the Knights of St. Patrick displayed along the sides of the nave. We plan to go back tomorrow for the Evensong service,it's supposed to be very good(@KthSch).

We spent some time later this afternoon picking up a phone to use while we're here (@Tony2phones) and I bought a scarf at Avoca because my neck has been a little cold. It's been raining most of the day today, not drenching, just a soft rain/drizzle. One thing we've noticed is that Dubliners all seem to be power walkers! The only ones walking slowly are the tourists. :)

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Dublin
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County Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol
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Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral
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Saint Patrick's Cathedral
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Avoca
Avoca
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california
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3. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Day 3 in Dublin

We woke up this morning to blue skies! It was windy and chilly, but great to have some sunshine. We headed to Trinity College to get in line for the Book of Kells exhibit. A couple of tour groups showed up after us and what happened next was a real shame. The tour guides for the group hurried their people right through the part of the exhibit that explains the details about the manuscript. They just herded their group straight up to see the book and then pushed on to their next destination. Those poor folks had no idea what they were really looking at. That is one of the biggest reasons we decided NOT to go with an organized tour. We took our time looking at the manuscript exhibits and the Long Room. The woodwork and architecture were excellent.

This evening, we went to Evensong service at St. Patrick's Cathedral. They have a specially trained boy's choir that was just wonderful. It was really profound to sit in a church service and worship in a place where God has been worshipped for hundreds of years.

Tomorrow we leave Dublin for Kilkenny, stopping at Powerscourt Gardens,Wicklow Mountains National Park, and Glendalough along the way. It will also be our first day driving!

Edited: 01 June 2012, 05:29
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Kells
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Saint Patrick's Cathedral
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4. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Great start . . . thanks for sharing with us! (Now to go check out your blog/photos!)

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5. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Thank you Cals.

It sounds like a wonderful trip.

california
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6. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Powerscourt Gardens were beautiful. The azaleas were just finishing and the rhododendrons were beginning to bloom. Mike has decided he wants a tower in our yard, complete with canon just like the one here. :) Terraced gardens slope away from the house toward the man-made lake, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background. There's also a Japanese garden and a pet cemetery! We spent a couple of relaxing hours there just walking around and admiring the gardens. We didn't envy the poor guy who has to cut all that grass though!

We purchased a loaf of cheese soda bread and some smoked Gubbeen cheese in the Avoca shop at Powerscourt and made that our picnic lunch for the next few days. We are seriously in love with this combination, and the Gubbeen....I wish I could have brought some home. No, I wish I could have brought a LOT of it home!

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Avoca
Avoca
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Dublin, Ireland
california
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7. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

After leaving Powerscourt, we took part of the old military road through the Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap to the monastic site of Glendalough. The drive took us through some ruggedly beautiful areas, very popular with long-distance walkers and cyclists.

The ruins are located in an incredibly beautiful, peaceful valley. There are high crosses, the remains of several buildings, and a round tower. After looking around the ruins, we hiked up to the Poulanass Waterfall, which is a nice waterfall coursing through groves of trees.

We wanted to hike the Spinc trail, which takes you up to a hill overlooking the valley, the lakes, and the monastic ruins. It's a steep, wet hillside so wooden timbers have been laid in a series of steps to the top. I think I'm in decent shape, but I had to stop 4-5 times on the way up to catch my breath! (Don't feel bad KthSch, I had a hard time too!) The view was great and I'm glad I did it, but I honestly don't know if I'd do it again. Mike took a series of video shots on the way down, and they just keep going and going..and going...I posted pictures on my blog so you can see just how high we climbed in a very short distance, 2-3 km I think. We really liked Glendalough and decided it's a place we would visit often if we lived nearby. The setting is so beautiful and peaceful, it's a really special place.

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County Wicklow
Province of Leinster, Ireland
The Glendalough Hotel
The Glendalough Hotel
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california
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8. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Mike is doing a fantastic job of driving, I haven't had a chance yet because I'm the master navigator. :) I just have to keep saying "stay left, stay left". We had a moment's slip-up when we tried to enter the driveway at Glendalough's visitor center on the right-hand side, so we had to regroup! We didn't feel too badly because we turned around and came back to find someone else had tried the same thing and was actually executing a 3 point turn in the road trying to get in on the left side, holding up traffic in both directions.

california
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9. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Kells Priory, Kilree, Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny

We spent the night at Newlands Lodge in Kilkenny. Jimmy and Mairead were very friendly and the room was really nice, quite large actually. Breakfast was very good, especially the eggs. I don't know if Mairead does something special to them or if they're local eggs, but they were delicious and I'm not usually a fan of eggs.

We started out right after breakfast and headed to Kells Priory, some ruins not too far from our B&B near Kilkenny. This is a really cool spot but not advertised at all, you have to really be looking for it. Actually, that's one reason why it's so cool, you can go there and literally be the only people there. There were two other people there when we arrived, but we soon had the place to ourselves, except for the sheep of course. There's a gate you have to sort of climb through, you can't open it cuz the sheep might get out! The priory has a large outer wall, and several ruined buildings inside, some of which are blocked off to access because they're unsafe. It's really huge when you take into account the amount of land within the walls.

After spending some time there, we were leaving and saw a sign for a high cross and round tower at Kilree, just 2km away. So we said, what the heck? Let's go! We got to the site and found a step-over wall and a gate with a bright yellow sign that said, "Caution, bull in field". So we looked at each other and you know, we have cows, so over the wall we went! We checked out a ruined chapel and the round tower, then realized the high cross was across the field where several cows were hanging out. We looked but didn't really see one that looked big enough to be a bull, so down the wall we went and across the field. Well those cows couldn't have cared less about us and, with no bull in sight, we checked out the high cross. All in all, a worthwhile diversion. And we didn't get stomped by an angry bull!

We then headed to Jerpoint Abbey, or meant to anyway, but kinda got turned around. So we stopped the car to ask one of the local guys who was standing alongside the road talking to another guy in a car. He was happy to help and when he asked where we were from, I said "California", to which he replied, "Ah, God bless ye, ya brought the sunshine." We had a pleasant little conversation and when we asked about directions his reply was, "Well, if I was ye, which I'm not, I'd turn right here..." So of course we turned right there and found our way to Jerpoint Abbey. This is also a ruin but many areas are still partially intact and a lot of restoration is being done here. We spent about an hour here and then headed back to Kilkenny to check out the castle and see if we could climb the tower at St. Canice's Church.

I had read you can climb the tower and see for miles around. We were lucky and got to climb the tower! Now my legs weren't all too crazy about this climb after the workout they had the day before at Glendalough, but I wasn't going to let that stop me! Up we went, little narrow wooden steps with one iron railing to hold onto. And the tower is not completely round, it's conical, so every level higher you go, the tower gets narrower and narrower. We each had a backpack on and, by the top, we got to the last set of steps, and I was sandwiching myself between the wall and the railing just to get to the steps. At this point I had one hand on the railing and the other on the step above me, like climbing a ladder basically...and just about that steep. Well the last set of steps was really the capper, you had to squeeze through a narrow opening between the stones of the floor at the top of the tower. Once on top, the wind was absolutely deafening, but the view was great, you could see for miles and miles. Now if climbing up was an adventure, guess what climbing back down was like? Right! We both thought the whole thing was great, but we're a little crazy like that. ;)

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Kells Priory
Kells Priory
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County Kilkenny, Ireland
Jerpoint Abbey
Jerpoint Abbey
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The Glendalough Hotel
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10. Re: Trip Report - Ireland May 2012

Cashel

We drove from Kilkenny and spent the night at Bailey's Hotel in Cashel. It's located right ion Main Street and just a short walk to the ROC. They're doing some renovation, so we couldn't see all of it, but it's still quite impressive. Not just in size, but there is a lot of surviving detail in the buildings themselves. The view out over the area is really something, and you can see the ruins of Hore Abbey from the Rock. The day started out sunny but very windy, and soon we had rain showers so we didn't stay too long.

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Kilkenny
Kilkenny
County Kilkenny, Ireland
Cashel
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County Tipperary, Ireland
Hore Abbey
Hore Abbey
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Cashel, Ireland