Cill Airne

I didn’t post on the blog yesterday, because we spent the day taking the train from Galway to Killarney.It all looked kinda liked this:

We got into Killarney in the mid-afternoon, and went to my favourite place to stay in all of Ireland – Larkinley Guest Accommodations. We got a warm greeting from Toni, and she took us to a laundromat to get the laundry done that we completely failed to do in Galway.

She also made some recommendations for tours and restaurants, and offered to book us on the tours we wanted to take. After we settled into the room, we walked down to the town centre to scout it out, get some dinner, and pick up some groceries. Then, back to Larkinley for the night.

This morning, we got on the Red Bus, which gives a hop-on-hop-off tour of some of the main sites in the Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle is a favourite of mine. We got off here, and took a boat out to Innisfallen, another of my favourite spots, where there’s the ruins of a twelfth-century monastery.

Here’s a view off the back of Innisfallen, looking out across Lough Leanne at the mountains.

This is a section of the monastery wall with a big ol’ yew tree beside it.

A cool looking doorway in the wall, looking out at a different yew tree.

After we got back to the castle, we got back on the bus and went to see Torc Waterfall. It drains the water from a spring, called The Devil’s Punchbowl. The story is that the devil was so angry with the Abbott building an abbey in the area, he bit a piece out of the mountain and spat it at the Abbott, who was fishing in Lough Leane. The devil missed him, of course, but the piece of the mountain landed in the lake and became The Deviul’s Island. And the bite mark in the mountain filled up with water which flows down through the Torc Waterfall.

It’s not a huge waterfall, but it is very photogenic.

After that, we crossed the road and took a ride in a horse cart along the lakes to Muckross Abbey.

A view of Muckross Lake. Muck is Irish for pig, and Ross is Irish for peninsula. Apparently, the area used to have a lot of wild pigs there.

After the abbey, the cart took us back to Muckross House, which was closed for renovations. So, we walked around the gardens, had a bite to eat in the tea room, and caught the bus back to Killarney.

Now, we’ve had dinner, heard a little bit of live music, and are settled in for the night. Tomorrow is our tour up the Gap of Dunloe.

Apparently, there’s going to be rain.

Catching Up

No blog post yesterday, because I didn’t make it back to the guesthouse until midnight, and that was too late for me to do anything coherent. So, today you get a double-dose of my Irish adventures.

Yesterday started with a bus tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.I’ve been on this tour before, but I always enjoy it. And, of course, it was Penny’s first time, so that was cool.

First stop of the day was Dunguaire Castle, which is said to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. Here’s my contribution:

Tide is out in this picture. When it’s in, the water comes almost up to the base of the3 walls.

Next was the Poulnabourne Dolmen, a prehistoric tomb where they found twenty-two bodies of men, women, and children.

Lunch stop was at McGann’s in Doolin. I stayed here for almost a week about ten years ago. They don’t rent out rooms anymore, but the place is still friendly and welcoming with great food.

The main stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Again, I’ve been here several times, and climb up and down to the various viewing spots has gotten rough on my arthritic joints, so I didn’t wander all that far. Got a nice picture of the sculpture at the front of the visitor centre, which is the same as last time, but a little more weathered.

Driving down, there was some worry that the fog would be too thick to give us a good view of the cliffs. It cleared up enough that we were able to get a good look at them, but lingered enough to make things look weird and otherworldly. This is a view down the cliffs to Hag’s Head, at the far end.

At the other end of the cliffs is O’Brian’s Tower, which gives some of the best views of the cliffs, especially from the top. It was more of a climb than I felt up to, but I told Penny to make sure she went for a look.

Last stop on the way home was a bit of shoreline with the rocky terrain that the Burren is known for.

Gary, our tour driver, gave us some recommendations for places to check out for music and food back in the city, and we ran into a lady at one of the places that Penny had met a couple of nights previously. We all went to dinner, then back to Taafe’s, one of the music pubs Gary had recommended. There, a young German couple named Matthias and Kristina wer kind enough to let us share their table, right next to where the musicians would be setting up’

These folks – whose names I never got – were amazing. They started out with a fair amount of traditional Irish stuff, took requests, and ended the evening playing c9vers of Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, The Cranberries, Lee Earle, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and others I didn’t recognize. Things got rowdy and dancey, and my voice got sore from singing.

And that’s why there was no blog post yesterday.

This morning, we got a little bit of a later start. We didn’t have a tour to go on, and planned to spend the day just walking around Galway and seeing stuff.

We started with the train station, getting tickets for our trip tomorrow to Killarney, and spent an inordinate time looking around for someplace to get out laundry done. We had lunch at a really great chip restaurant called Prátaí, which is Irish for Potatoes. We went and saw the Red Earl’s Court, an archaeological excavation in the city centre, and then the Spanish Arch.

The area to the right of the arch is the oldest preserved section of the city walls.

Just past the arch is the Galway Museum. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff in it. Like this Galway Hooker hanging in the gallery.

After this, we sat for a bit in The King’s Head, resting and having a drink, then walked along the Corrib river walk to the Galway Cathedral. I’d visited here on my last trip to Galway, but there was a confirmation service going on, so I didn’t want to intrude by taking pictures.

This time, no service, so I took some pictures.

The cathedral. If you look closely, you can just see a wild Penny in the left foreground.

So, the cathedral is stunning and beautiful. It’s a more modern design than most other cathedrals, having been opened in 1965.

Then there was the walk back, and dinner, and then back to the guesthouse, and here we are now.

Tomorrow, we catch the train to Killarney.

Back to the Big Island

Hawai’i isn’t the only big island. Inis Mor is one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland, and its name means Big Island.

I went there last time I was in Ireland, and it was great, so I suggested to Penny it would be a good day trip. As soon as I said, “Bronze-age hill fort,” she was totally onboard.

(It’s an island. You get there by boat. See what I did there?)

The ferries at the quay in Kilronan, the largest village on the island.

The high cross in front of The Bar.

Okay. Story time. According to our guide, this used to be called The American Bar, because the fellow who first owned it in the 20s or 30s was an American, and that’s what he called it. But as tourism became the main industry in the Aran Islands, it started to lose custom, because the American visitors didn’t com3e all this way to drink in an American bar, y’see? So, they changed the name and are still in business.

Harp seals off the shore of the island. With my cataract, I couldn’t actually see them down in the water, so I took a few pictures just out of pure optimism. You can kinda see three of them in the upper right of this picture, and this is the best of the lot.

The next stop was for the walk up to Dun Aonhasa, the hill fort I mentioned. I opted out. I went up on my last visit, and it was a pretty challenging climb for me. Now, I’m six years older, my arthritis is six years stronger, and I’ve got that cataract. So, yeah. Decided not to die on that hill.

Penny did go up, of course. And it was foggy so, looking at her pictures, it seems like a very different experience from the crystal-clear weather I had when I visited.

But anyway, no pictures of the fort from me. Sorry.

Instead, I give you a few pictures from the Seven Churches, centuries-old churches and monasteries that were destroyed by Cromwell.

Then it was back to the ferry, and back to Galway.We’ve booked another tour for tomorrow – Cliffs of Moyer and the Burren – and then we went and got dinner.

I had this delicious bowl of lamb stew. I note it because it’s the first stew I’ve had on this trip.

And now, I’m done.

Surprise! Ireland trip!

So, I haven’t posted any itinerary or plans, but I’m back in Ireland.

I’ve actually been planning this trip for a couple of years, but what with one thing and another, I had got out of the habit of blogging about my plans. Something that factored into that is that I’m not here alone – my friend, Penny, is with me. And talking and planning with her kind of scratched the same itch that blogging did, solidifying things and making them real.

We landed in Ireland yesterday, after a very long day of travel, and had a very long day again. We had tried to book accommodations in Dublin to start our trip there, but apparently, there was a traditional dance festival [[Or something similar.]] and there wasn’t a room to be had in the city. So, we took a taxi to the train station, then a train to Galway, then walked through Galway to our guesthouse.

I lay down on the bed for a minute to rest, and pretty much immediately fell asleep. Penny went out and did some scouting of the area, and came back after a few hours, woke me up, and we went out to see stuff. We walked down to a restaurant and had some lunch, then walked back the other way to the Eyre Square area to find the Galway Tours office, and booked a tour of Connemara for today.

And, seeing as we were right there, we took a walk through the Latin Quarter, which is the touristy/nightlife area of the city, and sat down for a rest in a cafe.

After that, we made our way back to the guesthouse and, being exhausted, decided to watch some TV and go to sleep.

This morning, we went on our tour of Connemara. Here are some pictures.

Kylemore Abbey. It’s always the feature of the tour, and I’ve taken lots of pictures of it. This is one more

A Connemara pony in a field up near the Kylemore walled garden.

A nice view of Killary Fjord.

Looking down at Lough na Fuaiche.

The sheep hospital (i.e., a cottage now used to store gear and equipment for the locals to look after their sheep) near Lough na Fuaiche.

A famine wall above Lough na Fuaiche.

A statue of Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne in The Quiet Man, which was filmed in and around the village of Cong.

Inside the old church in Cong. A wild Penny lurks in the corner.

High cross in the old church in Cong.

The ruined Cong Abbey.

After that, it was back to Galway. We had some very nice pasta at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter called Freddy’s, then went looking for the docks of the Aran Island Ferry company, because we’re planning to head down there tomorrow and see about taking a trip out to one of the islands.

Then, back to the guesthouse. I’m pretty done with walking, so I did this blog post, and Penny went out to check out a pub called Darcy’s.

And now, I’m done.

Dublin Farewell

This was my last full day in Dublin. I was kind of lazy, and just spent the day wandering around Grafton Street and Temple Bar. Apparently, the bank holiday that I thought was last weekend is, in fact, this weekend, so my comments about how busy it was on Monday seem kind of quaint after going out today.

Nothing really special to report, except that I stopped in for some ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream. I’d been walking past their shops in each of the cities I’ve stayed in this trip, and finally broke down to give it a try. The young man offering samples convinced me to try Dingle Sea Salt ice cream and Caramelised Brown Bread ice cream, which were both pretty tasty, so I got a cup with a scoop of each, and I gotta tell ya, they were awesome together.

I also completed the last little bit of shopping I wanted to do, and came back to the flat by a roundabout route. This evening, I’m going to get most of my packing done, so I’m ready to head out the door moderately early tomorrow morning. I don’t want to have to rush at the airport.

Tomorrow’s going to be a long day, with a long1 layover in Toronto, and I’m not looking forward to that bit. I’m going to miss Ireland – I’ve had an awesome vacation here, again – but I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.

Slán leat, Dublin.

  1. 6-7 hours. []

By the Sea

Today was the last tour I have scheduled for this trip. When I woke up1, I was tired, and it was raining, and I thought long and hard about whether I actually wanted to go. In the end, I realized that I was all dressed and ready to leave, so I figured I might as well go.

There’s this area around Trinity College that is just a nightmare at rush hour. I’m not a nervous passenger, most of the time, but the cab driver I had was… let’s call him daring. Weaving around buses and trams, cars and cyclists, talking the entire time about how the Liffey was low today because of the tides, and how that made the smell terrible.

But I made it to the tour office on time, and made it on to the tour bus. It was a tour of Malahide Castle and the coastal area of Dublin, including the fishing village of Howth. Maybe it was the fact that it was an early-ish, half-day tour, or maybe it was the fact that it was raining, but there were only ten of us on the tour. I like the smaller group tours.

There was a bit of a mad rush from the bus to the Malahide Castle welcome centre, and again from the welcome centre to the castle itself, because of the pelting rain. Malahide is, according to our guide, from the Irish phrase Mullach Íde, which he said meant “By the Sea.” 

This is Malahide Castle. It took some time standing out in front of the castle to get the picture without a bunch of people in it during a lull in the rain. The woman standing there? Yeah, all her friends said, “These people are trying to take a picture, so let’s stay out of the way,” and she walked right to where she’s standing and stood there, waiting. I gave up and just took the picture.

The Oak Room is part of the medieval section of the castle. It’s a dark room, with everything done in oak wall panels. There was a time when, due to a dream of the Virgin Mary, who said that the room should be decorated in ivory, that the columns were all painted white. That didn’t last long, because they decided that it made the place look too much like a candlemaker’s shop.

There was a panel with a carving of the Virgin Mary over the fireplace that apparently disappeared for ten years when Oliver Cromwell seized the castle and gave it to one of his favourites, but it returned when the rightful owners2 reclaimed the castle. It was touted as a miracle, and apparently no one suggested that the Talbots might have taken the carving with them when they surrendered the castle and replaced it when they reclaimed their ancestral3 home.

This is the drawing room, decorated in Georgian Style. A lot of the furniture in the castle, and most in this room, is original to the castle, and the Talbots. It was mostly auctioned off in the 70s, but several years ago, National Gallery (which had purchased most of the furniture and art) returned a lot of it for display here.

Toys in the children’s room upstairs. I just thought they were cool.

The library, off the great hall. It used to hold all the records and accounts for the castle, but those have been moved to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. These are substitute books, correct for the Victorian decor.

There are, apparently, extensive and impressive gardens at Malahide Castle, but the rain convinced me to skip them.

The bus tour continued, and our next stop was the fishing village of Howth, on the peninsula sheltering Dublin Bay. The rain had stopped by the time we got there, and we had a little time to go for a walk on the pier.

This is the lighthouse in Howth harbour.

Ireland’s Eye is an uninhabited island off the opening to Howth harbour. I like the notch in the rock.

And then it was back to Dublin, just in time for me to get rained on again, so I decided to go see a movie.

Tomorrow, it’s a free day, and my last day in Ireland. I’m going to spend some time looking around the neighbourhood, and maybe walking through the Temple Bar area.

  1. Much earlier than I really wanted to, because I had to get down to O’Connell Street before 9:00. []
  2. The Talbots. []
  3. Apparently, the Talbots held Malahide Castle for 788 years, less the ten years of Cromwell’s buddy’s residence. []

Phoenix Park Fail

My plan today was to head out to Phoenix Park, and visit the Dublin Zoo.

I failed in that attempt.

See, I caught the City Sightseeing bus on the route that would take me to Phoenix Park. And, when we got to Heuston Station, the driver said the bus wasn’t going to the park, but there was a shuttle bus just over a bridge by the station that would take us in to the Bloom festival that was going on right now, and was the reason the sightseeing bus wasn’t going in to the park.

The park was packed, and it became very obvious why the sightseeing bus wasn’t going in. But the site of the Bloom festival was quite some distance from the zoo1, and the shuttle bus didn’t stop at the zoo. I got off the bus at the Bloom festival, with some thought about walking to the zoo, but that would mean I’d also have to walk back to catch the shuttle bus. So, I thought I’d go take a look at the Bloom festival, seeing as I was here. Then I found out that tickets were over 20 euros, and I had no real interest in the festival, so I got on the next shuttle bus and rode it back to the sightseeing bus route.

I figure I’ve got a free day on Saturday, so I may take a cab out to the zoo that morning.

Anyway, I got off the bus on O’Connell Street, and went to check out the General Post Office. Since my last visit to Dublin in 2013, they’ve added a really impressive little museum, called GPO Witness History, that commemorates the 1916 Rising.

There are a lot of informational displays, including several interactive screens that take you day-by-day through the Rising. The coolest thing is a short movie that dramatizes the Rising. It tells the story well2 and does a great job of showing how the Rising was not a popular move amongst the population, how most of the damage was inflicted on civilians, and how both sides were rather ruthless and unrestrained.

Basically, it shows what a mess3 the whole thing was.

I also had promised a friend that I’d send her an actual postcard via the mail on this trip, so I bought a card in the gift shop at the GPO. The woman who sold it to me asked if I wanted a bag, and I said, “No, thanks. I’m going to mail it right away. I hear there’s a post office nearby.”

She looked at me strangely for a second, and said, “Yyyyyeeesss, just through the… Oh, thank god! You’re joking!” And I immediately felt guilty for trying to be funny to someone who has to field stupid questions all day.

And then I went and had some lunch and went home.

So, no pictures, but at least some stories.

  1. Like, 2-3 miles. []
  2. Though it stops at the point where the GPO is abandoned – and pretty much destroyed – and so doesn’t tell some of the cool stuff that happened afterward. []
  3. I debated using a different term: a compound word that incorporates the word “cluster,” but I chose not to. []


It’s getting near the end of this trip, and you can tell. I’m starting to run out of steam, and I’m starting to miss my own bed.

Today, I thought I was being very slow to get moving. But I was out the door shortly after 10:00, and walked down to St. Stephen’s Green to catch the City Sightseeing bus. I had a ticket for Glasnevin Cemetery tour, so that was my big plan.

The bus timing worked out perfectly. By the time I got to the bus stop, the right bus was just leaving, and it was a nice trip round through the city and all the way out to Glasnevin. And the weather was bright and sunny, again, but it was a little cooler today, and nice and breezy on the top of the bus.

Timing was not perfect at the cemetery – I got there just after one tour started, but had two and a half hours to wait for the next one. It was sub-optimal, but I didn’t have any real plans, and it was a nice sunny day, and an interesting place to wander around, so I decided to wait.

I’m really glad I did. The tour was fantastic.

It started with a re-enactment of Patrick Pearse delivering the eulogy for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, which was very well done. This was one of the sparks that roused people for the 1916 Rising a year later.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, by the way, was a big name in the Fenian movement. He started the Phoenix National and Literary Society, which had more to do with dynamite than books.

This was pretty much the way things went on the tour: we walked to various graves and got good stories.

This is the grave of Charles Stuart Parnell. He was an Irish MP who almost twice got a Home Rule bill passed. But then a scandal forced him to retire from politics. He gets name-checked in Come Out You Black and Tans1. Any way, he wanted to be buried among the poor that he had spent his life trying to help. There are about 11,500 people in this grave; it’s a mass grave from a cholera outbreak.

There was a lot of discussion about last wishes for burial. My favourite is when the guide told a story about the chapel in the cemetery2 – it was very expensive to build. The archbishop who oversaw the construction wanted to be buried in an unmarked grave in the poorest part of the cemetery, with no record of where his body was put to rest.


He had chosen as the architect to design the chapel a man with a rather bitter rival, who stewed over the perceived sleight for six years, until the archbishop died. Then he convinced the Glasnevin council to allow him to build the (second) biggest, most impressive tomb in the cemetery. And to put it right in front of the chapel, so that it blocks the view of the chapel from the street.

The is the biggest, most impressive grave in the cemetery. It marks the tomb of Daniel O’Connell, known as the Liberator in Ireland. The tomb is under the mound beneath the tower, and you can climb the stairs to the top and get an amazing view of the city3.

Daniel O’Connell’s final wishes were, “My body to Ireland, my soul to heaven, my heart to Rome.” His friends, being ever the literalists, brought his body back to Dublin for burial; trusted that his soul would find it’s way to heaven; and cut his heart out, put it in a silver box, and shipped it to Rome, where it was promptly stolen and never seen again.

Glasnevin Cemetery was Daniel O’Connell’s doing. After he managed to get the Penal Laws repealed, granting Catholics legal status and the right to practice their religion, he established Glasnevin Cemetery, because there hadn’t been any (legal) Catholic cemeteries in Ireland for years. But O’Connell set down the rules for Glasnevin that said anyone in Ireland could be buried there, regardless of religion, or lack thereof.

This is the most visited grave in the cemetery, possibly in all of Ireland. It’s the grave of Michael Collins.

One last little story I got as I was leaving the cemetery: There is a pub called John Kavanagh that’s up against the cemetery wall. The wall was important, because of the prevalence the Sack-’em-up Men, which is what they called the local body snatchers. So, big walls, seven watch towers, all to prevent the corpses being stolen and sold for medical research.

Anyway, Kavanagh’s got to be called the Gravedigger’s Pub, and there was a hatch cut in the wall so that the gravediggers could buy beer while working. But Kavanagh’s cut off the practice, because the gravediggers weren’t very good about returning the glasses. So the gravediggers started bringing their own jars to be filled. And thus the Irish slang of referring to drinks as jars.

My timing for the bus worked out perfectly, again. I was able to walk from the end of the tour pretty much right on to the tour bus again, and it took me right back to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is right across the street from where I’m staying.

Tomorrow is another City Sightseeing day. My objective is to see the Dublin Zoo at Phoenix Park. Now that I’ve activated my 72-hour ticket, I can just catch the bus back at St. Patrick’s, so that makes everything easy.

  1. Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell, when you taught him well and truly persecuted. []
  2. No picture, because it was in use. []
  3. I did not do this. You can tell, because I am not dead. []

Boyne Again

This morning I was up early and down at the Molly Malone statue before 8:00 for my tour of Newgrange, Monasterboice, the Hill of Tara, and the Hill of Slane. On my first trip to Ireland, I took a tour of Newgrange and the Hill of Tara that you can read about here, but this tour offered a few more stops, and the weather was much nicer this time.

There were so many companies picking up tours at the statue that I thought for a while  that I had missed mine, but our guide showed up right on time. Apparently, he had planned for earlier, but there was a real traffic tangle because of an accident on one of the Dublin ring roads.

I am glad I hadn’t missed the tour. On my last trip to Ireland, I used the same company to take a tour to Trim Castle and Glendalough, and it was one of the best tours I’ve been on, thanks to the very excellent guide. I had booked this exact tour last trip, but it got canceled because of not enough people signing up for it.

Anyway, off we went to Newgrange.

It was a bright, shiny day, and that made so much difference to the way Newgrange looked. The white facing of the wall practically glowed.

I still love the threshold stone at Newgrange, with the megalithic art on it, and the symbolism of having to climb over it to enter the underworld of the passage tomb.

This is one of the 90-odd curb stones ringing the base of the Newgrange mound. I’ve tinkered with the contrast and stuff to try and bring out the patterns etched in the stone. Apparently, true megalithic inscriptions consist of these types of abstract, geometrical patterns. There’s lots of disagreement about what they actually mean.

From Newgrange, we went to Monasterboice. I had heard about this place – a monastery that had faded when the Cistercian Order came to Ireland, and didn’t leave much in the way of records. Left a lot of high crosses in the graveyard, though.

This is the tallest high cross in Ireland, at about 7m. The damage at the base was apparently done around the time of the famine, 1845-1850, as locals who were emigrating chipped bits off to take with them as they left home. Also, that’s one of the tallest round towers looming in behind it.

From Monasterboice, we went to the Hill of Slane.

The Hill of Slane features the ruins of a Franciscan abbey and school. The story is that St. Patrick violated the rules of the High King at Tara by lighting a fire on Slane Hill on Beltane – Easter – to announce the arrival of Christianity. The King didn’t punish him, and allowed Patrick to begin his mission to convert the pagans to Christianity.

Apparently, each Easter, the church re-enacts this, lighting a small fire on the Hill of Slane. I asked about whether or not they have someone watching for the fire over at the Hill of Tara, where the High King had seen Patrick’s fire, and was told that the fire is now to small.

But, my guide said, several years ago, RTE1 conducted the experiment: they lit a large fire on the Hill of Slane, and apparently it could be seen very clearly from the Hill of Tara, 15km away.

And the Hill of Tara was our next stop.

This is the view down from the central mound of the Tara earthworks. You can see the rings of berms and ditches, and the outer ring way down near the flowering blackthorn trees.

And, of course, the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, which was used to crown the kings in ancient Ireland. Apparently, it used to sit on the high point of the Hill of Tara, the passage tomb called the Mound of Hostages, but was moved here after the Battle of Tara in the 1798 rebellion.

And then it was back to Dublin, back to the flat, and catching up on the blog. Tomorrow, I get on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. One of the things I’m planning on seeing is Glasnevin Cemetery, which I haven’t visited before.

  1. The national television network in Ireland. []

In Dublin’s Fair City

This post is a day late. By the time I got back to the flat last night, I was tired and went to bed almost immediately, because I had to get up early today for a tour.

Yesterday, I was kind of lazy in the morning, doing some laundry1, and generally taking it easy. I left around 11:00, and went for a walk.

My first destination was the Molly Malone statue. That’s where I had to meet my tour this morning, and the statue wasn’t where it was five years ago. But I found it.

After that, it was a short walk over to Grafton Street, grabbed some food, and headed down to St. Stephen’s Green.

I think it was a bank holiday yesterday, and the weather was perfect, so the park was very, very full of people. It was a lovely day.

After lunch, I headed over to Dublin Castle. I’ve been there before, but what with one thing and another, I never got a chance to take the tour. This time, I changed that.

Because it was such a beautiful bank holiday Monday, this place was also packed, and I had an hour’s wait before I could get in on a guided tour.

I spent the hour sitting in the courtyard. This clock tower is where the drawbridge used to be when the castle was an actual castle and had a moat. It also used to house the crown jewels, but they were stolen in 1907, and haven’t been recovered.

One the coolest parts of the tour is going down into the remains of the medieval castle structure. This is the base of the Powder Tower, which was destroyed in a fire in the 17th century. They actually detonated some of the powder stored here to destroy the tower and extinguish the fire.

This is a section of the surviving castle wall, also down below the ground level. Down at the bottom is the remains of the River Poddle, which was diverted in the middle ages to act as a moat to the castle, and eventually was completely covered over.

We went across to the Chapel Royal, as well. I’ve got some pictures of that over here, but I learned something kind of interesting.

Okay. The lofts around the Chapel Royal have all the crests of the Viceroys of Ireland, along with the dates they started their terms of office. But, see, the Bishop can’t sit behind a political crest, so they put St. Patrick’s crest up in front of the Bishop’s Seat. And (this is the part that amuses me) they put the date that St. Patrick began his mission to Ireland – 432.

From the Chapel Royal, we went over to the rooms of state at the castle. Again, very busy, very crowded. I managed to get only one picture that didn’t have a bunch of other tourists in it.

This is the drawing room. It gives you an idea of the sumptuous decor of the rest of the rooms of state. The administration rooms aren’t nearly as opulent.

After the tour, I walked back to the flat, and had to leave again in about 45 minutes to get to the Irish House Party. This was a really nice2 evening that involved a good dinner and an evening of traditional Irish music and dance. I met a very nice family from Missouri, got a copy of the band’s CD, and made it home around 11:00, where I posted my excuse for no post, and went to bed.

  1. I love having a washing machine in this AirBnB flat. And that’s a pretty good clue that I am old and boring. []
  2. If a little touristy. []