Family Day

Today, I met up with my brother, Al; my sister-in-law, Daph; my nephew, Ryan; and my niece, Keira. We got together at the spot on the north side of St. Stephen’s Green where the tour buses stop, and tried to get on a Viking Splash tour, but it’s a Friday, halfway through June, and a lot of school groups had booked the tours right up until 5:30. We decided to see how we were doing towards the end of the day, and maybe try and get on it then1 if we were up to it.

So, instead we got on the City Sightseeing Hop On, Hop Off tour. I had been predisposed towards them – there are two companies running these tours in Dublin – and the gentleman running the tour offered me a deal because I had gone on the City Sightseeing tours in Belfast. That made it an easy choice.

We were looking at three stops: Dublin Castle, Dublinia, and the Guinness Storehouse. But Dublin Castle was off limits today, due to some important heads of state staying there – I don’t know who, but it was probably connected to the G8 session starting up in Fermanagh next week.

Dublinia, though, was open for business. Again, there were lots of school groups in there, but we were able to work our way around them.
Dublinia, though, was open for business. Again, there were lots of school groups in there, but we were able to work our way around them.
Dublinia is a wonderful little museum aimed at kids that shows Viking Dublin, medieval Dublin, and the way the information was discovered. Among the things they have is a chain coif and a full helmet that kids can try on.
Dublinia is a wonderful little museum aimed at kids that shows Viking Dublin, medieval Dublin, and the way the information was discovered. Among the things they have is a chain coif and a full helmet that kids can try on.
They also had some slave collars that the kids just had to try on.
They also had some slave collars that the kids just had to try on.
Keira made a new friend who led her astray. They both wound up in the stocks.
Keira made a new friend who led her astray. They both wound up in the stocks.
And, of course, there were helmets, shields, and swords in the gift shop, so the kids had to attack each other.
And, of course, there were helmets, shields, and swords in the gift shop, so the kids had to attack each other.

The next place we went was the Guinness Storehouse. Al and Daph had gone on the tour about nine years ago, with a newborn Ryan on their backs. They had had a wonderful time, and were excited to go on it again.

Have to say, we were all pretty disappointed.

From what I understand, Guinness is no longer Irish-owned, but has been sold to the Italian corporation, Diageo. Al and Daph had described a tour rich in history and story, with lots of interesting facts and cool things to see and do. We all found that the tour was bland, uninteresting, and mainly focused on extracting more money from people. It was also incredibly crowded – we made it all the way up to the Gravity Bar, which was a pretty cool room, but Al and Daph didn’t even want to stay to have their “free”2 Guinness.

Still, there were a couple of cool things.

Here are the kids by the waterfall. They were fascinated by the fact that, in the water overhead, there were coins that were not being washed over the falls.
Here are the kids by the waterfall. They were fascinated by the fact that, in the water overhead, there were coins that were not being washed over the falls.
This was kinda neat. It's a forced perspective room that lets you recreate one of the iconic Guinness advertisements.
This was kinda neat. It’s a forced perspective room that lets you recreate one of the iconic Guinness advertisements.
There's a great view from the Gravity Bar at the top of the tour, but really, not worth it.
There’s a great view from the Gravity Bar at the top of the tour, but really, not worth it.

And then we caught the bus back to Temple Bar, wandered a bit until we found someplace to eat, had dinner, and then I walked everyone back to Merrion Square for them to catch the bus back to where they’re staying.

Have to say, it was a wonderful day. It was great to spend some time with the family, and lots of fun with the kids.

So, thanks to Al, Daph, Ryan, and Keira for meeting me in Dublin, and hanging out with me for the day. I had an awesome time.

Tomorrow is my last day. I’m getting back on the Hop On Hop Off bus, and I’ll try to squeeze in one or two other places I want to see.

Then I’m back on the plane on Sunday.

  1. Spoiler: We didn’t get back for the Viking Splash. We were having dinner around that time, and then it was time for folks to get back to Leixhill. []
  2. Adult admission is 16.50. So, that’s a pretty pricey free pint. []

Postponement

Okay, folks, I’m back from my 12-hour tour today, and I’ve processed all the pictures. But I am very tired. I was out of the B&B by 6:10 this morning, and didn’t get back until after 8:00 this evening. I am wiped.

Thus, I am going to bed. I’ll get up early to do a real post tomorrow. Sorry about that.

Why am I bothering to post? Mainly to reassure my parents that I’m not dead in a ditch over here. I’m alive and well, Mom and Dad, just tired.

Here’s a little something to tide you over.

I was lamenting the other day that, instead of swans, the ponds in St. Stephen's Green were full of gulls. Walking home this evening, I passed the pool and saw not only swans, but cygnets, as well. I am relieved.
I was lamenting the other day that, instead of swans, the ponds in St. Stephen’s Green were full of gulls. Walking home this evening, I passed the pool and saw not only swans, but cygnets, as well. I am relieved.

Tomorrow, after I get the post up and have breakfast, I’m meeting Al, Daphne, Ryan, and Keira at St. Stephen’s Green, and we’re going to do some sightseeing together. That’ll be fun.

But bed now.

Terrible Beauty

Today was a pretty unplanned day. The tour I had booked was canceled1, so I was on my own with nothing scheduled. I slept in a bit, had a nice breakfast at Kilronan House, and then walked down to the big tourist information office on Suffolk Street to see if there was an interesting walking tour I could take.

It was pretty grey when I left the B&B, but the sky was nice and blue by the time I made it down to Grafton Street. I got overly optimistic at that point, and decided it was going to be another beautiful day.
It was pretty grey when I left the B&B, but the sky was nice and blue by the time I made it down to Grafton Street. I got overly optimistic at that point, and decided it was going to be another beautiful day.

At the tourist office, I found a flyer for the 1916 Easter Uprising Walking Tour. That looked interesting, so I decided that would be my morning. The tour started at 11:30, so I had about an hour to kill, which I spent wandering the streets.

The tour guide turned out to be the same fellow who conducted the first guided tour I took in Ireland last trip. I told him that, and he said, “Yeah, I moved on from there. No promotion, and I was looking for something better. I was there five years; longer than some of the prisoners’ sentences.”

The original parliament house of Ireland. Voted itself out of existence in 1801 when it voted to become part of the United Kingdom. To remove it as a symbol for the Republicans, the British government sold it off to the Bank of Ireland, on the condition that the bank eliminate any trace of the building's former function. The bank defied that, preserving the House of Lords, and keeping it open for the public.
The original parliament house of Ireland. Voted itself out of existence in 1801 when it voted to become part of the United Kingdom. To remove it as a symbol for the Republicans, the British government sold it off to the Bank of Ireland, on the condition that the bank eliminate any trace of the building’s former function. The bank defied that, preserving the House of Lords, and keeping it open for the public.

1801 was the first time that Ireland was officially governed by England, and it spurred a lot of Republican sentiment. The trail leading up to the 1916 Easter Uprising was a tangled mess involving promises, scandal, lies, dirty tricks, compromise, conspiracy, and the co-opting of different groups and movements on both sides of the issue.

The actual uprising was poorly organized and rushed, with sixty men riding the tram in from Cork armed to the teeth, paying for their tickets as a matter of principle. Noon on the Easter Monday, they stormed the GPO and set up their command centre.

Trinity College was the staging ground for the British troops. The roof was set up with snipers from the ANZACs.
Trinity College was the staging ground for the British troops. The roof was set up with snipers from the ANZACs. One of the best was on the top of the tower you can see in the upper right corner.
The ANZAC sniper was engaged in a one-on-one battle with an Irish Volunteer sniper on the second green dome you see in the picture. They apparently ignored pretty much everything else and just worked on killing each other. They both survived, and the ANZAC brought the Volunteer sniper tea and biscuits "For auld lang syne." They had tea together, discussing technique and experiences in various engagements.
The ANZAC sniper was engaged in a one-on-one battle with an Irish Volunteer sniper on the second green dome you see in the picture. They apparently ignored pretty much everything else and just worked on killing each other. They both survived, and the ANZAC brought the Volunteer sniper tea and biscuits “For auld lang syne.” They had tea together, discussing technique and experiences in various engagements.
It was exam time at Trinity. The central lawn was filled with grazing horses and drilling soldiers, students had to show ID and submit to a search before being allowed to sit the exams. On the second day, they decided to suspend the exams indefinitely.
It was exam time at Trinity. The central lawn was filled with grazing horses and drilling soldiers, students had to show ID and submit to a search before being allowed to sit the exams. On the second day, they decided to suspend the exams indefinitely.
The statue of Daniel O'Connell took a fair number of bullets from the Lewis gun emplacements on the other side of the Liffey. The British had also set up a mortar beside Trinity College. They couldn't see the GPO, so they aimed "just to the left of Nelson's Column" which was where the spire stands now.
The statue of Daniel O’Connell took a fair number of bullets from the Lewis gun emplacements on the other side of the Liffey. The British had also set up a mortar beside Trinity College. They couldn’t see the GPO, so they aimed “just to the left of Nelson’s Column” which was where the spire stands now.
The GPO was the command centre. There's a statue of Cuchullain in the window that used to be the main door. The mortar was not a very accurate weapon, so most of the entire street was in ruins, especially when the Helga, a British warship, pulled into the harbour and started using it's heavy guns as artillery.
The GPO was the command centre. There’s a statue of Cuchullain in the window that used to be the main door. The mortar was not a very accurate weapon, so most of the entire street was in ruins, especially when the Helga, a British warship, pulled into the harbour and started using it’s heavy guns as artillery.
When things started falling apart and burning (not euphemisms), the surviving men tried to make a run out the side of the GPO onto Henry Street. There was a sniper in a tower down near the docks that had complete coverage of this street, so the survivors had to dash across to Moore Lane. The O'Rahilly, one of the leaders, took a small party onto Moore Street, but that street was covered by a Lewis gun at the end, and they were shredded and pinned down.
When things started falling apart and burning (not euphemisms), the surviving men tried to make a run out the side of the GPO onto Henry Street. There was a sniper in a tower down near the docks that had complete coverage of this street, so the survivors had to dash across to Moore Lane. The O’Rahilly, one of the leaders, took a small party onto Moore Street, but that street was covered by a Lewis gun at the end, and they were shredded and pinned down.
Moore Lane led from Henry Street in an L-shape and connected to Moore Street. The 350 survivors of the GPO, including Michael Collins, were trapped when they got up to Moore Street.
Moore Lane led from Henry Street in an L-shape and connected to Moore Street. The 350 survivors of the GPO, including Michael Collins, were trapped when they got up to Moore Street.
Unable to progress down Moore Street, the survivors started mouse tunnelling, blasting through the walls of these houses to move down towards the hospital at the top of Moore Street.
Unable to progress down Moore Street, the survivors started mouse tunnelling, blasting through the walls of these houses to move down towards the hospital at the top of Moore Street.
The sign is not from the period, but the Plunket sign marks Joseph Plunket's house, where the surviving leaders of the rebellion held their final war council and made their surrender.
The sign is not from the period, but the Plunket sign marks Joseph Plunket’s house, where the surviving leaders of the rebellion held their final war council and made their surrender.

The O’Rahilly, who led the advance party to try and clear Moore Street, was shot several times, and crawled into a pub’s doorway, where he slowly died over 19 hours. A local man tried to go to O’Rahilly’s aid, but the British commander ordered the Lewis gun to fire at his feet to chase him away. When some British troopers protested that they had to help O’Rahilly and not leave him to bleed to death painfully on the street, they were ordered to make sure no one did anything to help the man.

As he died, he wrote a letter to his wife, which was found by a sympathetic British trooper, and hand delivered to Nancy O'Rahilly after the uprising.
As he died, he wrote a letter to his wife, which was found by a sympathetic British trooper, and hand delivered to Nancy O’Rahilly after the uprising. It’s reproduced, including the handwriting, on a plaque near the place he died.
This made our guide a little grumpy. The plaques here show the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation, the document that first declared the Irish Republic. They're attached to the gates of a car park with nothing to direct people there.
This made our guide a little grumpy. The plaques here show the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation, the document that first declared the Irish Republic. They’re attached to the gates of a car park with nothing to direct people there.
Not far from where this happened, at the top of Parnell Street (which used to be Great Britain Street), there is the Garden of Remembrance. It's there as a memorial for all who died in defence of Ireland, in whatever conflict.
Not far from where this happened, at the top of Parnell Street (which used to be Great Britain Street), there is the Garden of Remembrance. It’s there as a memorial for all who died in defence of Ireland, in whatever conflict.
The reflecting pool is cross-shaped to honour Christianity. The mosaic in the pool honours the pre-Christian heritage of the island, showing Celtic weapons tossed down in honour of fallen warriors. There are numerous benches here, and it's a popular picnic spot.
The reflecting pool is cross-shaped to honour Christianity. The mosaic in the pool honours the pre-Christian heritage of the island, showing Celtic weapons tossed down in honour of fallen warriors. There are numerous benches here, and it’s a popular picnic spot.
The statue at the end of the garden is the Children of Lir. These are from a story of children turned into swans for 900 years, and finally returned to humanity. It's meant to represent the emergence of a peaceful nation from 900 years of conflict.
The statue at the end of the garden is the Children of Lir. These are from a story of children turned into swans for 900 years, and finally returned to humanity. It’s meant to represent the emergence of a peaceful nation from 900 years of conflict.

That’s where the tour ended. I wandered back down O’Connell Street, stopped for some lunch, and came out to find that it was raining. Across the street was a theatre, so I went in to watch After Earth2. It was still raining when I came out, so I walked back to the B&B, stopping along the way to grab some sausage rolls and stuff for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning.

Yeah, tomorrow is my tour out to Blarney, Cork, and Cashel. It leaves at 6:50 from the tourist office on Suffolk Street, so I’ll have to leave the B&B by 6:15, well before breakfast is served. So, yeah, that means some picnic stuff.

Thanks to the rain, though, I was able to get a picture of the statue of Wolfe Tone at St. Stephen's Green without a whole bunch of people around it.
Thanks to the rain, though, I was able to get a picture of the statue of Wolfe Tone at St. Stephen’s Green without a whole bunch of people around it.

Bed time now.

  1. The let me know well in advance, so I appreciate that. []
  2. It’s got some good moments, but the movie is mainly full of dumb. []

Castles, Churches, Loughs, and Rain

Up early this morning for another tour, this one of Trim Castle, Glendalough, and Lough Tay. It started raining last night, and continued through much of the day. Sometimes the rain faded back for a bit, and once or twice it picked up a fair bit, but the day was very like a lot of days on my last trip.

I am very impressed with our tour guide, Damien O’Reilly. He was very good at imparting the information of the tour in an entertaining manner, but that was the least of the good things about him. He was excellent at putting things in context, and forming connections between historical and modern events, and generally giving us a bit of understanding about where Ireland is and how it got there. I found it fascinating.

The early part of the tour went north of Dublin, to Trim Castle. There were only five people on the bus, so it felt like a private tour, and that was great. We picked up more in the afternoon, for the Glendalough part of the tour, but Damien was great at making everyone in the larger crowd feel included, as well.

Trim Castle was one of two castles used in the filming of Braveheart. It was the stand-in for York, and the grounds were used for London in the execution scene.
Trim Castle was one of two castles used in the filming of Braveheart. It was the stand-in for York, and the grounds were used for London in the execution scene.
There were donkeys in a nearby field. Apparently, there's a donkey sanctuary nearby.
There were donkeys in a nearby field. Apparently, there’s a donkey sanctuary nearby.
Damien was kind enough to take a picture of me at Trim.
Damien was kind enough to take a picture of me at Trim.
The gatehouse led into the town, and contained the dungeon. It even had an oubliette.
The gatehouse led into the town, and contained the dungeon. It even had an oubliette.
The keep is unusual - it's a square central building, with four (now three) smaller square towers, one attached to each central face. The northern tower, thought to have contained the food stores, has collapsed.
The keep is unusual – it’s a square central building, with four (now three) smaller square towers, one attached to each central face. The northern tower, thought to have contained the food stores, has collapsed.
The outside of the barbican was spruced up to be the gates of York in Braveheart.
The outside of the barbican was spruced up to be the gates of York in Braveheart.
Inside the barbican, you can see where wooden floors have long since rotted away.
Inside the barbican, you can see where wooden floors have long since rotted away.
The river gate opens onto the banks of the Boyne River. The lower sections, where the gate out was, are mostly buried.
The river gate opens onto the banks of the Boyne River. The lower sections, where the gate out was, are mostly buried.
Most of the floors are gone inside the castle. A few have been replaced, and some walkways built.
Most of the floors are gone inside the castle. A few have been replaced, and some walkways built.
The original great hall on the entry level has models of the castle in each of its three phases of construction. The models are white, because the castle was originally finished with plaster and whitewash.
The original great hall on the entry level has models of the castle in each of its three phases of construction. The models are white, because the castle was originally finished with plaster and whitewash.
As is true of almost every castle I've been in, the stairs are narrow, uneven spirals.
As is true of almost every castle I’ve been in, the stairs are narrow, uneven spirals.
This was the solar. At least, during the middle stage of construction, before the third floor was added.
This was the solar. At least, during the middle stage of construction, before the third floor was added.
The little cubbyhole in the chapel wall had a little depression in it that filled with rainwater from the water collection system of the castle. The water would be blessed, and any leftover would be let out a drain in the bottom to return to the earth.
The little cubbyhole in the chapel wall had a little depression in it that filled with rainwater from the water collection system of the castle. The water would be blessed, and any leftover would be let out a drain in the bottom to return to the earth.
Up on the roof, there's a great view of everything. This is the town gate from the roof.
Up on the roof, there’s a great view of everything. This is the town gate from the roof.
From the roof, you can see a bridge across the Boyne and the Yellow Steeple, one of the tallest surviving medieval structures. To the left of that is a house where Jonathan Swift used to live.
From the roof, you can see a bridge across the Boyne and the Yellow Steeple, one of the tallest surviving medieval structures. To the left of that is a house where Jonathan Swift used to live.
The Sheep Gate is the last surviving gate into the walled city of Trim.
The Sheep Gate is the last surviving gate into the walled city of Trim.
One of the river god statues so prevalent in the southeast of Ireland. This is the Boyne.
One of the river god statues so prevalent in the southeast of Ireland. This is the Boyne.
A bog-oak statue called Hunger for Knowledge. It features the salmon of knowledge, and is carved with various mathematical and scientific formulae. Obviously a modern work, but very cool.
A bog-oak statue called Hunger for Knowledge. It features the salmon of knowledge, and is carved with various mathematical and scientific formulae. Obviously a modern work, but very cool.

After Trim Castle, we went back through Dublin, picked up the folks who had just signed up for the Glendalough leg of the tour, and then headed out south of the city into the Wicklow Mountains.

Glendalough had a thriving monastic community from about the 6th century up to the 13th century. These are the gates leading into the monastic city.
Glendalough had a thriving monastic community from about the 6th century up to the 13th century. These are the gates leading into the monastic city.
Just inside the gates is a stone inscribed with a cross. This is the Sanctuary Stone. In medieval times, if you were in trouble, and you could get to the monastery and touch the stone, you were granted sanctuary for up to 90 days.
Just inside the gates is a stone inscribed with a cross. This is the Sanctuary Stone. In medieval times, if you were in trouble, and you could get to the monastery and touch the stone, you were granted sanctuary for up to 90 days.
There are a number of Celtic crosses in the cemetery. This Victorian one is particularly nice.
There are a number of Celtic crosses in the cemetery. This Victorian one is particularly nice.
The main feature of the surviving monastic structures is the 10th century round tower.
The main feature of the surviving monastic structures is the 10th century round tower.
This cemetery, like many in Ireland, contains a lot of yew trees. These were planted here because they are toxic to wildlife, and it kept the shallow graves from being dug up by scavengers. There are few other yew trees in the country - they were depleted by the Anglo-Normans who wanted them for longbows.
This cemetery, like many in Ireland, contains a lot of yew trees. These were planted here because they are toxic to wildlife, and it kept the shallow graves from being dug up by scavengers. There are few other yew trees in the country – they were depleted by the Anglo-Normans who wanted them for longbows.
This church was built around the 10th or 11th century. The windowsill on this wall served as the altar.
This church was built around the 10th or 11th century. The windowsill on this wall served as the altar.
This stone was probably used as a mortar by the pre-Christians who lived in this area before the arrival of St. Kevin. Such a stone would be used primarily for grinding herbs for medicine by the holy men/women of the clan. It was taken to be the cornerstone of the new church here.
This stone was probably used as a mortar by the pre-Christians who lived in this area before the arrival of St. Kevin. Such a stone would be used primarily for grinding herbs for medicine by the holy men/women of the clan. It was taken to be the cornerstone of the new church here.
This is the view of the Glendalough site from across the little river, as I start up the trail towards the two loughs.
This is the view of the Glendalough site from across the little river, as I start up the trail towards the two loughs.
The valley runs a long way down. The name Glendalough means Valley of Two Lakes.
The valley runs a long way down. The name Glendalough means Valley of Two Lakes.
I'm walking the other direction up the valley towards the loughs. There are a few houses on the far side of the valley, despite the fact that this area can get isolated pretty quickly by either snow or flooding.
I’m walking the other direction up the valley towards the loughs. There are a few houses on the far side of the valley, despite the fact that this area can get isolated pretty quickly by either snow or flooding.
The trail up the valley is very picturesque, with the occasional whitethorn tree.
The trail up the valley is very picturesque, with the occasional whitethorn tree.
The bus was waiting for us between the first and second loughs. By the time I got there, it was raining hard enough that I didn't walk up to the upper lough.
The bus was waiting for us between the first and second loughs. By the time I got there, it was raining hard enough that I didn’t walk up to the upper lough.

Damien took us one other place, though he was worried that the clouds and rain would keep us from seeing what he wanted to show us. He needn’t have worried.

Lough Tay is owned by the Guinness family. As a wedding present for one of the women marrying into the family, they bought an estate at the edge of this lough, and imported sand to make the dark lough water look like a pint of Guinness with a head.
Lough Tay is owned by the Guinness family. As a wedding present for one of the women marrying into the family, they bought an estate at the edge of this lough, and imported sand to make the dark lough water look like a pint of Guinness with a head.
This is the Guinness estate. You can kind of see the house in the trees. Apparently, a movie company is getting ready to film something in the area - there were signs of construction down by the edge of the lough.
This is the Guinness estate. You can kind of see the house in the trees. Apparently, a movie company is getting ready to film something in the area – there were signs of construction down by the edge of the lough.
The cloudy day had some benefits. The clouds trailing down the side of the mountain were pretty cool.
The cloudy day had some benefits. The clouds trailing down the side of the mountain were pretty cool.

Then it was back to Dublin. I wandered around Grafton Street and O’Connell Street for a while, having some dinner and trying to decide if I still had the energy to go hear some music or something, and decided that I didn’t, so I came back to the guest house.

Tomorrow, my tour has been canceled. What I do instead is going to depend on the weather. If it’s dry, there are a couple of walking tours I can take. If it’s raining, I can hit some museums or maybe a movie. Either way, I’ll find something to do.

But first, I’m gonna sleep in a bit. Probably until 8:00. That’ll be nice.

The Road Wasn’t All That Rocky

My initial plan was the catch the 8:28 train from Kilkenny to Dublin, but it occurred to me that this initial plan involved me getting to Dublin four hours before I could check in to Kilronan house. So, I decided to sleep in a bit, have a leisurely breakfast, and take the 11:41 train.

The weather turned this morning in Kilkenny. The sky clouded over, and the temperature dropped. I have to say, I found the coolness very welcome after the last couple of days.
The weather turned this morning in Kilkenny. The sky clouded over, and the temperature dropped. I have to say, I found the coolness very welcome after the last couple of days.

Train travel in Ireland is very nice. The coaches are large, the seats are comfortable, there’s wifi on the train, and it’s just a very relaxing way to travel. What it isn’t is punctual. I don’t think I’ve been on a train that arrived or left on time. They’re never very late – only train that was more than ten minutes late was the one that broke down before leaving the station.

So, I got in to Heuston Station around 1:201, got a cab in to Kilronan House, and checked in a  few minutes before 2:00.

I've got a nice, comfy little room at the top of the house. There's a lot of steps - 59 of them - plus five more up from my bedroom to the bathroom. It's a great room, but I'm gonna hate those steps by the time I leave on Sunday.
I’ve got a nice, comfy little room at the top of the house. There’s a lot of steps – 59 of them – plus five more up from my bedroom to the bathroom. It’s a great room, but I’m gonna hate those steps by the time I leave on Sunday.

I dropped my luggage in my room, cleaned up a bit, then went waling for a few hours. My goal was to get a little exercise, scope out where I have to meet the tours I’ve got scheduled, and refamiliarize myself with the city centre.

I made it back to Grafton Street. It was very busy - the weather in Dublin was nicer than it had been in Kilkenny, and everyone was taking advantage of it.
I made it back to Grafton Street. It was very busy – the weather in Dublin was nicer than it had been in Kilkenny, and everyone was taking advantage of it.
Among the buskers and performers, there was one man doing these sand sculptures of dogs. Beautiful work.
Among the buskers and performers, there was one man doing these sand sculptures of dogs. Beautiful work.
I wandered across the street into St. Stephen's Green under the Fusilier's Arch. The park was packed with people today. Again, nice weather that everyone was taking advantage of.
I wandered across the street into St. Stephen’s Green under the Fusilier’s Arch. The park was packed with people today. Again, nice weather that everyone was taking advantage of.
Another picture of the Three Fates fountain for Sandy.
Another picture of the Three Fates fountain for Sandy.
The Famine Memorial at one of the entrances to the park. On the other side is the Wolfe Tone statue - it was crowded with skateboarders, so I didn't get a picture. Next time.
The Famine Memorial at one of the entrances to the park. On the other side is the Wolfe Tone statue – it was crowded with skateboarders, so I didn’t get a picture. Next time.
The central lawn of the park. Nice flower beds, a couple of fountains, and people everywhere. I am astonished that I got so few of them in the picture.
The central lawn of the park. Nice flower beds, a couple of fountains, and people everywhere. I am astonished that I got so few of them in the picture.

Last time, I got a picture of swans in the water here. This time, there were one or two ducks, and they were being crowded out by the dozens of gulls in the park.

Anyway, I grabbed some food, and came back to my room, up the 59 steps, and am going to bed soon. I’ve got to be up before 7:00 in the morning to make it to my tour on time.

Goodnight, folks.

  1. Ten minutes late. []

More Trains

Today was another travel day, so again, not many pictures. I got a nice send-off from Toni and Danny at Larkinley Lodge – seriously, guys, that is THE place to stay in Killarney. Wonderful rooms, great food, and the warmest, friendliest, most helpful hosts you could wish for. Danny even drove me to the train station this morning.

The train ride was suitably boring; the only thing of interest was, after scrambling to get my ticket and onto the connecting train in Dublin, there was a problem with that train’s signals1 and we all had to troop off that train and over to another train, which meant we were delayed about twenty or thirty minutes.

But I made it to Kilkenny and, after one2 wrong turn, I managed to find Butler House, where I’m staying.

The room is huge. Seriously. You could probably fit my living room, dining room, kitchen, and one bedroom in it.
The room is huge. Seriously. You could probably fit my living room, dining room, kitchen, and one bedroom in it.
Here's the other angle on that picture of the room. What you can't see on the right hand side is the big wardrobe and the second bed. Seriously. Huge. And very nice.
Here’s the other angle on that picture of the room. What you can’t see on the right hand side is the big wardrobe and the second bed. Seriously. Huge. And very nice.

After dropping my stuff off, I took the advice of Helen, the lady who checked me in, and wandered up to Kyteler’s Inn for dinner, where they had a music session going.

I am indeed spending more time in pubs this trip, and also hearing more traditional music. These are connected, and that's a good thing.
I am indeed spending more time in pubs this trip, and also hearing more traditional music. These are connected, and that’s a good thing.

There’s a whole story behind Kyteler’s Inn, but I don’t want to ruin it for folks. I’m sure I’ll get a more detailed3 version of the tale on my walking tour tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to share it with you.

Tonight, I’m going to be taking the rest of the evening easy.

  1. Or something. I don’t know. It coulda been signals. []
  2. Well, okay, two. []
  3. Or at least more colourful. []

Bus, Train, Cab, Feet

Today was a travel day. I was up early to catch the bus to Galway, and then the train to Dublin, another train to Mallow, a third train to Killarney, then a cab to Larkinley Lodge. Now, I found out that Larkinley Lodge was within easy walking distance, but my iPhone had drained its battery while I was reading on the bus and trains, and couldn’t use the GPS to find the place. Now I know how to walk from the Lodge to the station, so that’s fine.

But really what that means is that I don’t have a lot of pictures today. Here are a few little things.

I just realized that I haven't shown you the inside of McGann's Pub, except for the musicians. Here's the actual pub part.
I just realized that I haven’t shown you the inside of McGann’s Pub, except for the musicians. Here’s the actual pub part.
This is Larkinley Lodge. Very nice folks here, and a very nice room. Good recommendations for dinner.
This is Larkinley Lodge. Very nice folks here, and a very nice room. Good recommendations for dinner.
The room is lovely. The B&B is new-built, and a nice mix of modern and traditional feel to it.
The room is lovely. The B&B is new-built, and a nice mix of modern and traditional feel to it.

I went for a nice walk around Killarney, found the pub – The Laurels – that they recommended at the B&B, and also found the place to meet for my tour tomorrow.

So, tour tomorrow. More pictures then.

I’m a Rover of High Degree

Short post tonight. Need to get some sleep before tomorrow. Also, nothing much new to report. I’ve spent the day traveling on the buses to get from Belfast down to Doolin. I checked out of the Old Rectory around 9:00 this morning, and got to Doolin around 8:00 this evening. So, not much to show you from the trip – pictures of bus stations aren’t all that interesting. I did manage a few pictures, though:

The bust trip from Galway to Doolin went through the Burren. Normally, I don't even bother trying to take a picture from a moving bus - they turn out mediocre, at best. But this view made me try, and the shot is... well, it's not as bad as I expected it to be. Notice the large limestone mound in the background; that's what tells you you're in the Burren.
The bust trip from Galway to Doolin went through the Burren. Normally, I don’t even bother trying to take a picture from a moving bus – they turn out mediocre, at best. But this view made me try, and the shot is… well, it’s not as bad as I expected it to be. Notice the large limestone mound in the background; that’s what tells you you’re in the Burren.
This is the view from the steps leading up to my room at McGann's Pub. I took it mainly to document the fact that, once again, I've got some good weather in Ireland. Which I have just jinxed. Dammit.
This is the view from the steps leading up to my room at McGann’s Pub. I took it mainly to document the fact that, once again, I’ve got some good weather in Ireland.
Which I have just jinxed. Dammit.
Compared to the Old Rectory, my room here is tiny and austere, but that's okay. It's got a shower, a toilet, and a bed, so I'm set.
Compared to the Old Rectory, my room here is tiny and austere, but that’s okay. It’s got a shower, a toilet, and a bed, so I’m set.
And this is the main reason I came to Doolin. The session got started about 9:30, and the place got really crowded. I had had dinner at a little counter where I couldn't see the musicians, so I wound up standing in behind some folks and in the way of some other folks. By the time 11:00 rolled around, it was hot and crowded and I wanted to sit down. I can still hear them playing from up in my room - they just finished The Butterfly.
And this is the main reason I came to Doolin. The session got started about 9:30, and the place got really crowded. I had had dinner at a little counter where I couldn’t see the musicians, so I wound up standing in behind some folks and in the way of some other folks. By the time 11:00 rolled around, it was hot and crowded and I wanted to sit down. I can still hear them playing from up in my room – they just finished The Butterfly, and started into Beeswing.

All the above pictures were taken with my iPad, because I was too tired to dig my real camera out of my bag at the various times. Tomorrow, when I1 take the ferry out to Inisheer, I’ll have my camera with me, and I’ll bring it into the pub for better pictures.

Bedtime, now. It’s about a two-mile walk to the ferries tomorrow, so I need to get started early.

  1. Hopefully – the forecast is for rain. []

I’m Here!

So, I’ve made it to Belfast. I have to say, if you have the option of traveling business class, it’s pretty awesome. Bigger, more comfortable seat, better food, airport lounge, all that stuff. I really enjoyed it.

The plane got in to Dublin about a half-hour early. It was a little chilly this morning, but not too bad. I just put my rain jacket on to block the wind, and I was plenty warm enough. Irish customs was really fast and easy: “How long are you staying in Ireland? Business or pleasure?” and boom –  I was through. Literally no more than ten seconds.

Once through, I made my way outside and caught the Airlink bus that runs from the airport through the city centre.

Dublin Airport is kind of a cool building. From this angle, it looks like a hamster run, but from other angles, it looks like billowing sails.
Dublin Airport is kind of a cool building. From this angle, it looks like a hamster run, but from other angles, it looks like billowing sails.

The bus ride in to Grafton Street was easy, as was getting my errands done there. The difference in stress levels this trip compared to the early days of last trip are amazing – just the little bit I know about the place from being here before makes everything easier and less frantic. And, of course, I ran into an old friend.

According to the fellow in the right side of the picture, the city is planning some street changes here that would move the statue. I didn't get the full story, though.
According to the fellow in the right side of the picture, the city is planning some street changes here that would move the statue. I didn’t get the full story, though.

From there, once my phone was linked to the 3 network, I called up a walking path from Grafton Street to Connolly Station, where I was to catch the train north to Belfast. It was about a mile walk, but my luggage wasn’t too heavy at that point, so I decided to do it; if nothing else, it would let me stretch my legs after the long flight and also refamiliarize myself a little more with the city.

This is a view down the Liffey towards Dublin Port. I never made it there last trip. It looks like there might be a tall ship there on the left.
This is a view down the Liffey towards Dublin Port. I never made it there last trip. It looks like there might be a tall ship there on the left.

I made it to the station and got on a train, and then had to fight to keep from falling asleep. I nodded off a couple of times on the two-hour trip, but thankfully, a young lady got on and proceeded to carry on a telephone conversation in a loud, somewhat shrill voice that carried through the entire train car, and I didn’t have to worry about sleeping anymore.

In Belfast, I took a taxi to The Old Rectory.

My favourite B&B from last trip.
My favourite B&B from last trip.

Gerry greeted me, took my breakfast order for tomorrow1, and led me up to my room – the same one I’d had last time.

It really is a lovely room.
It really is a lovely room.
Window View
This is the view from my window. You can’t really see the… little mountains? Big hills? Anyway, they rise up behind everything,
There. Now you can see them.
There. Now you can see them.

I saw Mary again this evening, and she helped me get a table at The Barking Dog, which restaurant I hadn’t been able to try last time. It was a bit of a walk, again, both there and back, but at least I’ll be good and tired when I go to bed tonight.

As I was taking this picture, a gentleman waiting for the bus talked to me at some length about Rugby, and a woman from Montreal that he knows that works in a pub near The Crown in downtown Belfast. Everyone is so friendly.
As I was taking this picture, a gentleman waiting for the bus talked to me at some length about Rugby, and a woman from Montreal that he knows that works in a pub near The Crown in downtown Belfast. Everyone is so friendly.

And now the post is done, the first day of my holiday is done, and I’m pretty much done. To bed. Tomorrow, I have tours!

  1. I confessed to him that I’ve had dreams about his full Ulster breakfast since last time. []

Last Night in Ireland

Back in Dublin for my last night in Ireland. I was sorry to leave the Old Rectory – in fact, I spent so long talking1 to Mary and her daughter, I thought for a second I was going to miss my bus to Dublin. I could easily have spent another week there.

Back in Dublin, I checked into the hotel near the airport, and then took the bus into the city centre to do some last-minute gift-buying. When I got off the bus on O’Connell Street, it felt oddly like coming home. I really love this city.

I could live here.

Of course, as I walked down to Grafton Street, the sky was more clear and blue than I think I’ve seen it on this trip. And I hadn’t brought my camera. Oh, well.

The trip has been a lot of fun. I’ve very tired, with a bit of a cold, and am ready to go home. But I’m also really sorry to leave Ireland. This is an amazing place – both countries. I’ve met so many nice people, and seen so many awesome places – even with the few things I missed doing2, this trip has been everything I might have hoped.

So, farewell, Ireland. Thanks for everything. I’ll miss you.

I’ll see you again.

  1. The standard long Canadian goodbye. []
  2. Most notably, seeing the Rock of Cashel and Skellig Michael. []