First trip to Ireland, first trip as empty-nesters, first trip abroad with just us two. Starting in Shannon, Ireland, ending with two days in New York City!
  • Day7

    Into each life some rain must fall...

    September 20, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Alll day, with no respite. Made touring very difficult, and most disappointing for the much anticipated Rock of Cashel, which is such an impressive site, but, alas, the rain kept us from the full experience. We took the 45-minute tour and were so miserable, we opted not to explore any further. We also skipped our planned Cahir Castle tour, but did tour the Swiss Cottage which the owners of Cahir Castle had built to enjoy simpler life (think Marie Antoinette's hamlet at Versailles).
    The Irish "tink" (not think), and it "tunders" (not thunders), and things are "lovely," and they want to know how "ye" are; they are warm and hospitable.
    Ireland has been good. (But, I "tink" me heart still remains firmly in Tuscany and France.)
    Blessed more than I deserve and am glad I've seen Ireland (and we conquered the driving!)
    NYC, here we come!!!
    (The fourth picture is taken from entering Cashel, and seeing the Rock of Cashel in the distance over the town, but I'm afraid the rain hinders being able to see it, and certainly to appreciate it!)
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  • Day6

    Go where the wind takes you...

    September 19, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    the wind was blowing fiercely throughout the night, and sure enough we were told that unless you absolutely had to travel to stay indoors. We got in our car and drove over tons of leaves and limbs and saw lots of downed trees, some very large, on our journey to our next stop, which was Limerick, but on the way a tourism lady had recommended a couple of towns we should drive thru, so we detoured a bit for them. They ended up not being anything special, but we did realize they put us within 30 miles of the Cliffs of Moher, something we had said we didn't think we would do. But, it seemed a shame to be that close, so drive on we did, and we're glad we did. The radio announcer informed us that "Storm Ali" had been one of the worst storms in their history, with winds up to 130km/hr, even sweeping one woman over a cliff in the same county we had just come thru!
    We arrived to the Cliffs of Moher just as they opened up, as they had been closed all morning due to the storm, but we did not know that and arrived in perfect time, another act of Providence. The winds were still fierce (and cold), making it very hard (comical) to walk. And, due to this, I'm sure our experience was quite different than most, but we found the cliffs to be beautiful in all their windswept fury.
    From there we drove to Adare with its thatched roof cottages and did a little shopping.
    Hotel in Limerick is lovely, and Limerick is an impressive city, as well, reminiscent of Bayeaux in France or even a little like NYC. Large, but quaint and walkable, with pretty buildings.
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  • Day5

    Unexpected encounters

    September 18, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌬 12 °C

    Today has been more rainy than sunny, but we carried on, doing our Quiet Man movie tour in the rain, but enjoying sunshine while we waited on our bike tour guide, only to be told after an hour that he could not make it. So, we went back to the Lodge and grabbed a couple of their bikes and took off in a period of lovely sunshine to explore the grounds. Hoping to bike on a trail behind Ashford Castle, we were met with a closed gate and another couple on bikes like ours who were studying a map. Thinking they were Lodge guests also, we asked where they were headed, and they said they were trying to find Ashford's "walled gardens" and we explained that they were off limits, only to guests of the castle, to which they replied they were (she was part of the insurance company that had rented out the castle for the top earners and he was a doctor; they were from Nebraska) and after hearing that we were not allowed in, they invited us to tag along on their search with them. Not a rule breaker, I hesitated, but decided to give it a try. The first test was passing the guard at the gate, which he greeted the four of us and we road on. So, we got to see Ashford Castle after all, as after finding the walled garden, they invited us inside for a glimpse, so I got to ooh and awe at the downstairs of the castle, also going upstairs with them on a mini tour of the library and billiard room. (Interesting side note, his name was John and her name was Maureen, just like from the Quiet Man, and they were staying in the same suite that John Wayne stayed in!) They cycled out with us and we said our goodbyes. How cool was that, from disappointment to getting to see something we thought was not going to happen! I love serendipity!
    We are missing our traveling buddies, so the opportunity for conversation and amiable companionship today was a pleasant surprise.
    Dinner was at the Lodge, as it turned very cool and windy with threatening rain.
    Not many pictures today, so I'm including a few of our suite "upgrade." (The one of us by the arbor is from Ashford's walled garden)
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  • Day4

    Rain caught up to us, but didn't stop us

    September 17, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Greetings from County Mayo! We awoke to a soft rain, enjoyed a lovely full Irish breakfast, and after the tyre (that's how they spell it here) finally got replaced by someone they sent to our parked car (again, thankful for full coverage insurance), we sadly left our luxurious castle suite (was informed by our bellman, Tom, that ours was one of their bridal suites), and went in search of that church where one of my favorite Irishmen, Pierce Brosnan, got married, Ballintuber Abbey, with ended up being a very unique church, dating back to 1216A.D. The grounds were very well kept and had a very unique and moving story of Jesus' journey to the cross.
    From there, it was 30 mins to our home for the next two days, Ashford Castle, which is also where Pierce had his wedding reception. Ashford Hotel is a very exclusive (expensive) hotel with rooms starting @ $600/night. But, for us little guys, there is The Lodge on the Ashford grounds, which is supposed to allow you access to view the castle, but alas it is closed during our stay for a private event. When we arrived, I heard some of my favorite words..."we've upgraded you." We were shown to a 2-story suite with a little patio. So much space for two people! However, for those who know me, the decor is sooo not my style, and we had a good laugh but are still happy with our upgrade. Even though the skies were still spitting at us, we took off for the 20-min walk to the tiny village of Cong, famous for the film setting of John Wayne's "The Quiet Man." Bruce is a big John Wayne fan, and has always loved the movie as well. We took an hour walk through the forest outside of town (found an old stone tower, which we of course climbed), and had dinner at one of the the tiny town's restaurants where Bruce enjoyed a big pot of mussels. He was a happy guy. Walked back through the soft rain. Looking forward to our Quiet Man tour walk and 3-hr bike ride tomorrow, hoping the rain I'm hearing outside our window will clear out in the morning.
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  • Day3

    On to the next castle

    September 16, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    After a night of listening to our neighbors talk (I guess insulation was not invented when this castle was built), We woke to a lovely sky of clouds but with blue behind them. As our plan for this day is just to get from here to there, I commented that today was just going to be a leisurely pace, to which Bruce asked if I could handle that 😊 Drove (my goodness, some of these roads are narrow!) two hours to our next hotel, Kilronan Estate. This one is a much better hotel, very luxurious.
    We took their castle loop walk around the lake, enjoying the outdoors. It's 7:30p, so we are going down for dinner. Hopefully also catch up on sleep...
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  • Day2

    First day in Ireland

    September 15, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

    OK, getting the hang of this posting thing, so I will correct my previous little blurb--we ended up with an empty seat between us, of which I took full advantage for about an hour of the 6-hour flight.😀
    Our first day has been good. Arriving to dreary, overcast skies, we picked up our little rental car and headed 15 mins away for our first castle, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, enjoying rain-free skies and cool weather. This castle gives a very authentic glimpse into life in a medieval castle and village. From there we drove 1.5 hrs to our first castle stay, Kinnitty Castle. No rain today (yay!), so we took a walk through the castle's forest and have decided to have an early dinner and get some sleep (3 hrs of plane "sleeping" for Bruce and 1 hr for me over the last 32 hrs is catching up with us and we've got places to go and castles to see!) and aside from the lousiest sandwich we've ever had (can't recommend the tea room at Bunratty) and the flat tire we got on our way into Kinnitty's grounds (thankful it didn't happen on the road, and thankful for renter's insurance, although they could only put the spare on until we get to a larger town, but at least we can keep going!), we are very happy with our first day in Ireland😊 Good night!
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