Having a wonderful time..wish you were here.
Okay, corny but true.
Linda and I, along with 41 other fine folks on this Keloland/Holiday Vacations tour of Ireland (many of us “Plus Size”) unfolded from 8 and a half hours sitting in way too cramped airplane seats and hit the ground running in Dublin. I suppose if you’re seasoned travelers abroad, the observations of those of us who aren’t might sound tedious but let’s start with the Euro. I went to exchange 100 dollars and received 68 Euros in return. I didn’t realize that the rate had changed so dramatically. Bottom line is there’s not much bang for our bucks over here.
We’d been fully prepared for clouds, rain and cool but, aside from the cool part, the weather has been glorious. Our tour guide, Teresa (who happens to be a South Dakota girl) is taking some of the credit saying the weather always seems to be good on her tours. She’s guided groups to Alaska three times this summer (including the most recent one hosted by Angela Kennecke) and have seen Mt. McKinley each time; a rarity since the mountain is usually engulfed in clouds.
Noel and Teresa
Our driver, Noel, who speaks with a delicious Irish accent, provides colorful and informative narration along the way. An amazing feat considering he has to concentrate on the challenges of being seated on the right and driving on the left; a practice I could never get comfortable with. He suggested we embrace the Irish night life and have lots of crack (craik) which is slang around here for “fun” not the nasty drug. It’s Sunday morning and we’re about to depart our hotel in Galway and tour a crystal factory and the magnificent Kylemore Abbey and gardens.
Here are just a few photos I’ve taken so far with some commentary.
After a bus tour of downtown Dublin..our first stop was at St. Patrick's Cathedral built in the 14th century. We could hear the boy's choir somewhere in the building rehearsing for mass
Although pretty tired, we still had to check out an Irish pub before calling it a day.
Patrick (of course) our server presented us with a couple pints of Guinness (naturally).
Linda thought that Patrick was all right.
I had similar feelings about my pint.
Day three off to the oldest Christian settlement In Ireland. Clonmacnoise St. Claren's monastery founded in 545. Many who perished in the potato famine of 1840 to 42 are buired on these grounds.
Just a fascinating place along the banks of the Shannon River
Our lunch stop was in the village of Athlone. Once again, we chose a pub that served soup for Linda, chips (potato fries) for me and, of course, a couple of pints.
Then it was off to Rathbaun Farm which has been in the same family for several hundred years. They survive on raising sheep and entertaining tourists.
After a fine feast of homemade scones and coffee or tea..we saw the farmer at work with his boarder collie.
Although they raise the sheep for meat not wool, he gave our group a demonstration on shearing.
The wool ends up in China..most of the lamb is exported to France for use in restaurants.
Sunday brought us to the Connemara Celtic Crystal Company. It's been around 40 years and does amazing work with glass.
It takes years of training to master the art of grinding. Sean, here, is the company's best.
He demonstrated his technique for us turning a lovely design to this small crystal bowl in a few minutes.
It took him 27 WEEKS to complete this huge crystal trophy.
Sean also crafted this beautiful red chalace. He made a simalar one which was presented to and used by Pope John Paul II during one of his visits to Ireland. It's all pretty spendy. I'm not sure if anybody in our group sprung for the big stuff..settling, instead for a few items in the 100 Euro or less range.
The weather couldn't have been much nicer for our next stop; Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. It was built by Industry tycoon, Mitchell Henry in the 19th century as a gift for his lovely bride, Margaret. It was taken over by a group of Benedictine nuns after World War 1.
We have another great group traveling with us; lots of crack..(fun)
Well, it’s time for Linda and I to take a stroll through downtown Galway in search of some traditional Irish music..and maybe a few more pints. We’ll check in again soon.