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Ireland 2009

County Kerry

We stayed three night at the very fine Brehon Hotel in Killarney.  This is a great place from which to be based when exploring the county.  We planned to drive around the Ring of Kerry, but after driving a short distance we decided to abort the mission and spent the day at the Muckross House and Abbey in Killarney instead.  This was a good decision. The following day we toured the Ring by motor coach without the stress of negotiating the narrow roads on the Ring.

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This is downtown Killarney.  There are no tall buildings and the main street has many nice shops and restaurants.

Muckross House was built in the early 1800's and is today  open to the public.  The rich lived very well here.

Muckross House sits on an enormous piece of property adjacent to a lake.

The gardens at Muckross are nothing short of spectacular.

Here is another view of the gardens.

 

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Muckross Abbey was built in 1440 but was destroyed and rebuilt several times.

The abbey can be reached by horse-drawn carriages called jarveys.

Although the roof is gone, the structure is well preserved.

Traffic on the Ring of Kerry.  Drive at your own risk.

Waterville is one of the towns along the Ring.  This is the beach across from the main street.

 

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Ruins of a 2000 year old fort used to hold off the Vikings.

There are several stops along the Ring road for viewing the county's many lakes.  This one is called the Lady's View, and was visited by Queen Victoria.

One of the more interesting towns on the Ring is Sneem.  We stopped hereto see this waterfall which is under a bridge in the center of town.

Every village in Ireland had a Murphy's Bar.  Here is Sneem's.

Ross Castle is in Killarney.  It has been turned into a museum.

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The Dingle Peninsula

The movie Ryan's Daughter was filmed on the peninsula in the 70's and is still being talked about.  We stayed in a B&B that was rented for a year by Robert Mitchum during the making of the film.  Irish Gaelic is the first language for the residents in this region although everyone also speaks English.  Food in the local pubs is quite good and there is traditional music every night.  There is a lot of history here.

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Our B&B was named Milltown House and it was run by a very welcoming family.

The window in our bedroom opened up to a view of part of Dingle Bay.

A flag is raised for the home country of each guest.  The red, white and blue was for us.

Breakfast was served in an bright all-glass attached room.  Everything was fresh and home-made.

Pat is in the entrance to a beehive hut, a hallmark of the region.  This is an example of dry stone construction.

 

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Rock walls and hedges define farm land ownership.  

This is Blasket Island, occupied until the 1950's  Remains of some of its building can be seen in this picture.

We visited the Blasket Island museum which featured this interesting stained glass mural.  The museum has a wealth of information about the former residents of the island.

The Gallarus Oratory is a 6th century church, extremely well-preserved.  It is another example of dry rock construction.

The corner stones illustrate the craftsmanship of the monks who built this structure.

 

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The fort at Dunbeg was built in 500 B.C.

Driving around the Dingle Peninsula is much easier than the Ring of Kerry.  There are many opportunities to stop and see the ocean.

Here is Dingle's Murphy's Bar.  They served Murphy ale on draft, which we liked better than Guinness.

The strand in Dingle Town is ideal for a pub crawl.

Dingle Bay is hidden so there is a large lighthouse on top of the hill across the harbor.

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On to Galway

Leaving Dingle, we drove north toward Tarbert to catch a ferry across the Shannon River.  The only problem was that many of the roundabouts we entered had no highway route numbers indicating where to exit.  We made an unplanned visit to Tralee where we had to ask directions three times.  The route marking was no better north of the Shannon and we made another unplanned visit, this time to Kilkee.  We ended up at a dead end, a good clue that something had gone wrong.  Two more consultations with locals got us on the road to the Cliffs Of Moher, and from there to Galway.

 

 

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The Cliffs of Moher rise dramatically 600 feet from the ocean surface.  

Despite wind, rain,  temperature in the 50's,  and a remote location, there were literally thousands of tourists visiting the site.

This picture was taken seconds before the wind turned my umbrella inside out.

The Moher Castle is located at the highest point at the Cliffs.  You can see part of the crowd making their way to the ruins.

 

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Every city town and village in Ireland has a Murphy's Bar.  Here is Galway's.

The River Corrib dissects Galway and empties into Galway Bay.  It is famous for salmon fishing.

We took a River Corrib cruise and saw this ivy-covered castle.

A short rest on the banks of the Corrib to consult the guidebook.

Galway is a very pleasant town to explore on foot.

 

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This is a shop where they make Claddagh rings.  Orientation on the wearer's finger indicates either looking for love or already found it.

This type of fishing boat is called a hooker.  Galway is the only city I know that has a hooker museum.

Swans can be found all over Ireland, but there is a specially large concentration in Galway Bay.

The Spanish Arch built in the 16th century.  It was part of the city wall.

Our hotel was on Eyre Square.  The bronze statue seen here is supposed to evoke the shape of Galway's hooker boats.

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Limerick and the Surrounds

Located near Shannon Airport, this city does not have a lot of tourist attractions, but several interesting ones are in easy driving distance.  Bunratty Castle was built in the 16th century and has been completely restored.  A folk park has been created on the castle grounds in the style of Williamsburg in Virginia, but on a more modest scale.  The neat little town of Adare merited a longer visit, especially the luxurious Adare Manor and golf course.  King John's Castle is the top tourist attraction in Limerick city.

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The entrance to Bunratty Catle.

The Great Hall at Bunratty.  Feasts are held in this room every evening.

From the tower of the castle you can see the Shannon River and airport.

In the Village, there is an example of dry rock construction.

Visitors are able to browse in the many specialty shops.

 

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Adare Manor is a five star property that is super elegant.

The hotel staff was very friendly and welcomed us to have lunch in the dining room.

The golf course is very scenic and appears to be meticulously maintained.

The exterior of the manor is graced with two color ivy.

The main street of the town of Adare has many neat shops.

 

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While searching for dinner in Limerick, we stumbled upon this reminder of home.

Our hotel was on the River Shannon bank and featured a nice view of King John's Castle.

One of the four corner towers of the castle.

There is a nice view of the river from the tower.

A large Catholic church sits actross the road from the castle.