SOUTHERN GEMS TOUR - DUBLIN to Waterford, Kinsale, Dingle, Ennis
Sunday morning, 26 October we left for Waterford and then south to the ancient port of Waterford.
Our first stop was at New Ross, birthplace of the Kennedy Family.
Wording on the monument to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on the 50th Anniversary of his official visit to New Ross, Ireland.
The eternal flame
Replica ship to memorialise Ross as an inland port of note in its early days
At the House of Waterford Crystal we watched skilled craftspeople blow and cut crystal to create special trophies. The work is very time consuming so it is little wonder that the pieces cost so much.
The new Waterford Crystal Factory and Showroom
Glass blower at work
Shaping the crystal
Colleen with a specialised one off trophy piece
By mid afternoon we reached Kinsale.
We had a short stop at Charles Fort, a star shaped fort built as one of two to guard the harbour at Kinsale following the capture of Kinsale by the Fourth Spanish Armada of 26 ships in 1601.
View from Charles Fort inland to the inner harbour and town of Kinsale.
Map showing the old walled town of Kinsale
A rainy afternoon walk through the narrow streets of Kinsale.
The oldest pub opened in 1690.
The shops are very colourful.
On Monday 27 October we visited Blarney Castle to kiss the famous stone and shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills for quality Irish goods.
The gardens around Blarney Castle. I took this scene from this spot 5 years ago when we visited.
Blarney Castle built in 1446 was the ancestral home of the MacCarthys, Lords of Muskerry.
Sign at Blarney Castle. There are 128 stone steps that are circular, narrow and steep.
View from half way up
Colleen kissing the Blarney Stone with 70 foot drop to the ground.
David at the top
View from the top of Blarney Castle
The Blarney Woollen Mills and store
All of the roads around here are narrow as are the bridges. Many of them are canopied by trees like this road.
Later we travelled to Killarney to take a horse-drawn jaunting car ride through Killarney National Park to Ross Castle.
The Jaunting Cars are these horse drawn vehicles that took us to Ross Castle in the national park.
Ross Castle was built in 1410 and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and then restored shortly after.
Colleen and I dressed for the cooler weather at Ross Castle.
Later that afternoon we drove along the Dingle Peninsula and stopped for an Irish coffee at the South Pole Inn before continuing to our hotel in Dingle which is a lively and attractive town. Luckily we had two nights there.
The Ship Inn is in the village home of Tom Crean, Antarctic Explorer, who ran away from home at the age of fifteen to join the navy.
Memorial to Tom Crean, Antarctic Explorer who had three expeditions to the South Pole. Firstly with Captain Robert Falconer Scott in the Discovery 1901-1904 and again with Scott in the ill fated Terra Nova 1910-1913. When Scott and his party failed to return from their journey across the ice, Tom Crean set out alone in a 36 mile trek and found them frozen in their tent. He returned with Ernest Schakleton in the Endurance 1914-1917.
Tuesday 28 October was a late start as we had two days in Dingle.
We drove up Mt Brandon to have a look over the Dingle Peninsula. We had to imagine the scene as the fog was too thick to see more than the road in front.
Mostly sheep farming around Dingle
Our coach took us over the Dingle Peninsula to enjoy mountain and shoreline views and stopped at a jewellery store that specialised in Ogham, the ancient language of this area BC.
The Ogham language
Mountainous headlands with narrow twisting roads with sheer drops
Stone bee hive huts from centuries ago are still in existence
The Blasket Islands are rocky outcrops off the coast that were once inhabited but we're evacuated in 1953. They were leased by a family around 1290 from the Earl for a yearly rent of two Hawks a year. The islands provided a rich literary bounty with more than 30 books published over the last century.
We visited the Blasket Centre in Dunquin to learn about the offshore Blasket Islands, inhabited until 1953 by hardy farming and fishing families.
The Blasket Centre
A very apt sculpture outside the shelter - windy, squally and inhospitable weather.
Very good displays of people and a talented group of writers in the Gaelic language.
Boats used over the centuries were very much unchanged till recent times.
Display in the Blasket Centre
We stopped at the Boatyard Restaurant for the traditional fish and chips lunch
As we had a free afternoon, we walked back to our hotel and found there was a Curran's Bar just up the road. James Curran is the proprietor.
I kid you not, J Curran Bar is on Goat Street, Dingle, County Kerry.
The bar - note the Bundaberg Rum bottle and the framed and signed photo of Robert Mitchum who was here forty years ago for the filming of Ryan's Daughter.
James Curran and I in the bar on Tuesday night. The bar is largely unchanged from 1870 when James Curran, to his son John, then to his son Joe and now to the current owner, James Curran.
Day 6 of our CIE Tour of Ireland is Wednesday, 29 October where we said goodbye to Dingle and visited the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, which recalled air travel in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
The very green countryside of Ireland around Limerick
The Foynes Flying Boat Base is on the Shannon River. Flying boats flew from this base that was identified by Colonel Charles Lindburgh in the 1930s. The last flying boat was flown by Captain Blair, husband of Maureen O'Hara, the movie star. Miss O'Hara has a home in Ireland and is the patroness of the base. She has just turned 94 years of age.
The flight deck of a replica Boeing 314 Flying Boat.
The nose of the Boeing 314
Inside the replica show some of the passenger comforts of the time -a dining room, honeymoon suite, sleeping quarters, galley and flushing toilets.
Displays inside the centre. in the foreground is the wreckage of an engine from the only flying boat to crash after it hit Mount Brandon.
Advice from Pan Am re the use of alcohol
After checking into our hotel in Ennis we had lunch and then departed for the Cliffs of Moher, a dramatic wall of rock that plunges to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Cliffs of Moher 700 feet high sea cliffs
The weather was reasonably kind with some chilly winds but no rain.
Viewing castle built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O'Brien to allow viewing of the cliffs
The Cliffs of Moher looking north
The cliffs from the southern side of the viewing castle
View near the Cliffs of Moher
A monument to himself Cornelius O'Brien an infamous landholder of this area in the 18th century had this monument built to himself to offset many stories about him at the time.
Tonight we drove a few miles to 15th century Knappogue Castle for a medieval-style banquet with entertainment. The castle was built in the 15th Century by the McNamaras.
The welcoming committee
The entertainment and table servants
King Brian and Queen Kristin
Tomorrow we leave for Galway.