Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Are we done yet?

A few of the things that are sooooo Ireland and fun things along the way!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Today, we walked our fannies off out and about Kilkenny. We walked throught the ruins of what had been the Jerpoint Abbey. Fortunately we coule climb the stairs because the view of the country side were quite nice. We also stopped at St Canice's Cathedral but did not climb the watch tower. It required youth and stamina. We had the promise of lunch.

And then their was Kilkenny Castle which was built in 1195. I am always stunned when I consider the age of these beautiful buildings in all  of Europe. How they were ever constructed, considering the tools they had then and that they remain in existance.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


I love Waterford crystal and really wanted to see how this beautiful glass was made. The rest of the group didn't want to go but Brenden agree to take Rick and me there. It was a short buss ride south. 

The Waterford factory was very interesting. I learned that Waterford is not just made in Ireland anymore but is also made in other parts of Europe. This factory mostly made the one of a kind trophy glass, which they always make two of...just in case.

We were able to see the glass melting phase, then pouring it into molds, some blowing and the etching which was done by the master craftsman. There was a showroom with some of the pieces that were made for world events. It was truly fascinating.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mount Juliet

We stayed in apartments on these lovely grounds. Walking to dinner through beautiful gardens was such a treat.

 This was my favorite golf course. Perhaps because it was so much like what I am used to. It was Rick's least favorite as he likes the challenge of the rough and wiry Irish links courses.

And then there is the challenge of repacking the van. Stuff seems to grow as we travel. Why is that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Swiss Cottage and the Cahir Castle

Everything about this cottage was delightful. From the gingerbread look to the garden surround. We were able to go inside and climb the stairs to see some of the furnishings and decorations such as wall paper that was installed during the times this cottage was actively used.

Cahir Castle, one of the largest castles in Ireland, is located on an island in the River Suir, in Cahir town centre, County Tipperary. It was built from 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. 

Once the stronghold of the powerful Butler family, the castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland's largest and best preserved castles. Check out their modern toilet operation. Oh my!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Killarney national park and the Cahir Heritage Trail

Killarney National Park near the town of Killarney, County Kerry, was the first national park in Ireland, created when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932. The park has since been substantially expanded and encompasses over 25,425 acres of diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, oak and yew woodlands of international importance and mountain peaks. It has Ireland's only native herd of red deer and the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland. The park is of high ecological value because of the quality, diversity, and extensiveness of many of its habitats and the wide variety of species that they accommodate, some of which are rare. The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981.

Next, we walked along the Cahir Heritage trail for a bit, eventually reaching the Swiss Cottage. It was a lovely park like setting with waterfalls and a river bridge and then of course the shamrocks.

Brandon seemed to know just when we needed to get out and explore and he knows and loves Ireland so much he made it a point to stop at many interesting sites that were not on our itenerary.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Home to mounds, millions of mounds, all creating blind spots, rough roughs, wiry, thick grass and it's redemptive value, the sight of the sea. AHHH!

 Mike missed the group photo as he was out in the rough looking for his golf ball. From then on Bob and Mike held a firm grip on his shoulders to insure he stayed with the program.

Ballybunion was ranked by Golf Digest as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Cliffs of Moher

The cliffs are 320 MILLION years old.

Ancient rivers laid down sediments on the sea bed to form the rocks of the Cliffs of Moher – sandstone, siltstone and shale.

The Cliffs of Moher are 702 feet  high and span across eight miles  along the Wild Atlantic Way. The highest point and the best views are at Knockarden, near O’Brien’s Tower, which was built by Cornelius O’Brien in 1835.

They are not the highest cliffs in Ireland but the Cliffs of Moher are the steepest, due to the type of rocks.

And perhpas most interesting for modern times readers, the cliffs were the site of a few sets from Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sheen Falls and the Burren

We lucky ducks got to stay at this former country estate converted into a lovely hotel near the Bay of Kenmare. The views from the hotel were spectacular. It was a real special respite.

Along the way we stopped at The Burren, which is a striated landscape of limestone. We trekked down the rocks to the oceans edge. The terrain was rough. I am always amazed that vegetation finds a way to set roots among such a rocky outcropping.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Arriving at the Connemara golf course, we discovered a Golf Digest tournament.  We should have had our heads examined (but feared what they might find there) so instead, we participated. Susan did well. She was invited for the second round...in September. For me, the wind did well.

Afterward, on our drive through the town of Connemara, the Millar's shop was spotted. Photo op it was and so we stopped. We also discovered Connemara marble and managed to drop a few bucks on jewelry. YEAH!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ballynahinch Castle

It was really very fun to stay in an old (by someone's definition) castle. The accommodations were truly nice. We had a room with a view of the Owenmore River. This place really made us feel like we were in Oregon. We walked the grounds and got views of the buildings from many different angles.

Dinner was served nightly at the restaurant in the hotel but we always started with cocktails in the Castle Pub and then after dinner we participated in the Irish sing along there as well. Lots of fun here!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Man's Home is His Castle

A small castle :) for the monks to be comfortable while fishing in the winter and an unusual way to fish, juxtaposed against a large castle that makes Downton Abbey look tiny. The large caste was originally built in the 1200's but added to, remodeled, reconstructed and is now a 5 star hotel. The most visitors who stay, come from California. Go figure!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ballymagibbon Cairn

Our very fun driver, Brendan, found many stops along the way that were interesting. This was on of them.

To get here required climbing a wall or at least through a narrow opening in the wall and trudging across a field while dodging cow and sheep dung, then climbing under another fence. Oh my! For me all this was done in Birkenstocks. probably not the best shoe choice but who knew.

Once we arrived, we found this mini Stonehenge of large flat stones sitting in an upright and circular pattern. Then there was the huge rock pile that one could climb if you had proper shoes or were so inclined. They describe it as undisturbed (fool me) and not knowing what was beneath all the stone. I do hope we were not trampling on someone's burial site.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Donegal Golf club and Duncliffe Monastery

One of the nice things about this trip was a chance to play some really tough golf followed by some site seeing. We were really lucky having Brendan as our tour guide. He found interesting things to see and do all along the way.

 Donegal Golf Club was yet one more tough one for me but the weather proved to be favorable. It is ranked 20th in Ireland's Top 100 Courses. Fool me, they are all ranked first. The course architect was Eddie Hackett. I wonder if he is a relative of mine. That is a family name.

Next up was the Duncliffe Monastery. All that remains of this are three stone crosses and a tower. Adjacent to the land is the 19th century church, St Columba. The church grave yard is the burial site of William Butler Yeats, the well know Irish poet.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood. This castle is also the subject of a song named "Dunluce Castle" written by George Millar and sung by the Irish Rovers.

It's really humbling to  be in such old places, imaging how the people lived. In spite of their wealth, their lives were so much more complicated than ours.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Royal Portrush Golf Course

For those who love golf, check out the views first and the sand traps next. Isn't this the right combination for a day at the beach. I definitely got my money's worth here. I am pretty sure I hit more shots than anyone else. Doesn't that make me the winner.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 39 ft high.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Finn MacCool, from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.

We climbed all over it and sat among the rock formations all the while the sea blasted at the edges. Truly a spectacular day!

Friday, February 19, 2016

We had lunch at the Crown Saloon which was a step back in time featuring booths with doors and several floors for dining. I am sure Irish coffee and a Guiness or two was on the menu.

It was fascinating to see all the graffiti and the remnants of the Irish conflict. Union flags fly over parts of the city that show allegiance to the crown. In the end, it’s a lot about the cash that the UK provides these communities.

Our home for two nights. Each of the rooms was named after someone or something. Ours was the McAllister after James McAllister and Sons Old Irish Whiskey. Bushmills had a really nice dining room and so we had dinner here twice. One evening after dinner, we went to the pub and listened to a local sing ballads and other very funny songs. When he saw us walk in, he sang a tune about Obama or is it O'Bama. Truly a fun evening.

Rick and I took a tour of the Bushmills Brewery and found it interesting that most of the whiskey barrels they use come from Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Belfast, Where the Titanic was Built

Belfast City Hall is Belfast City Council's civic building. It is located in Donegall Square, in the heart of Belfast city center. it faces north and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city center. It first opened its doors on August 1, 1906. The interior is gorgeous and includes a rather grand central staircase as well as a lot of public art, including a major number of stain glass windows. One pictured below is captioned “Not as Catholics or Protestants, not as Nationalists or Unionists but as Belfast workers standing together.”

The Titanic Museum in Belfast is a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage. The museum is built on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. Shaped like the hull of a ship, this is a very contemporary museum. We  walked through both the history and story of the Titanic. It was sad but impressive.

Monday, February 15, 2016

King of the Castle

After a round of golf, climb we did  to the top of this castle. The views of Dundrum Bay were spectacular and I could only imagine what life was like in the thirteenth century when this castle
was built.

Dundrum Castle is situated above the town of Dumdrum (imagine that) in County Down, Northern Ireland. Built by John de Courdy following his invasion of Ulster, it sits high on a hill in order to control access to the Lecale region. Today it is a State Care Historic Monument.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


I felt like a postal worker...Through rain or sleet or windy day... the golf game goes on. That pretty much describes the first golf outing. It's saving grace... the most spectacular views ever.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Slieve Donard and the Royal County Down

In Northern Ireland, on the eastern coast, our lodging was this magnificent hotel called the Slieve Donard. It is adjacent to the Royal County downs golf course, which hosted the 2015 Irish Open. We were not able to play here because the Open was the following week and they were grooming it. We walked a bit of it just to see what it was like. Difficult is my description.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Knowth in Boyne county

We visited this place near New Grange in Boyne County, Ireland called Knowth. It is an ancient burial grounds dating back to 2500-2000 BC. We walked the space and climbed to the top. The views were amazing as was the spirituality of the place. We felt at home because it rained and then was sunny and then it poured. Check out my Portland friends huddled beneath the overhang of the mound seeking shelter from the rain. WHIMPS!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Steller, the storytelling app

Steller is a new and delightful storytelling app available for Ipad and Iphone. Did I tell you it's free. It is mostly used for tiny tales. Check out mine and then the site: https://steller.co/

A variety of templates are available. Select the photos that tell your story, write the text and publish it. Easy-peasy!