I know I was supposed to blog as I went along on my trip to Ireland, but it was very difficult to get computer access at times. Although we stayed in 5-star accommodations, none offered in-room complimentary wi-fi so I was competing with others to share one or two hotel computers. However, since I was there on vacation, I can’t even complain since the whole point was to try to detach from life back in the States.
Having said that, this was a spectacular trip! We stayed in 3 high quality castles/hotels in 3 cities (Shannon, Kilarney, & Dublin). This was definitely a first-class trip, starting with our airplane flights, and I am so thankful to my mother for including me.
As my first post stated, we stayed in Dromoland Castle in Shannon for the first 2 nights of the trip. The castle and country club sit on 410 acres. One photo is of Mom taking pictures and the second is a small portion of the impressive limestone castle. Ireland doesn’t mine gemstones or gold/silver, but limestone is plentiful throughout the country and many of the castles and homes are still standing or partially standing after hundreds and hundreds of years because of the limestone. In fact, the cows prosper and do very well there because of the amount of limestone they ingest through the grass and water.
As a very small token of my appreciation, I surprised my mom with a gift certificate to the castle’s spa for her to pamper herself with a facial and massage. We arrived in Ireland on Mother’s Day and she received her GC when we checked in at the front desk. Of course, she got me a facial as well, which I enjoyed very much.
By the way, we were with a tour company, Tauck Tours, and there were 34 in the group. Most were couples, but there were a couple of single travelers, some women on girlfriends getaways, a family of four, and a group of 4 friends. I’d estimate the median age of the group to be somewhere in the 60s, so nobody my age, but not an issue anyway.
On our first full day there, the group traveled to the Cliffs of Moher and then we drove through the rugged Burren in County Clare. Very few people live in that area due to the rocky, rocky landscape. In fact, when Oliver Cromwell was going through Ireland taking the land from the indigenous Irish, he declared that the Burren should be left alone because he thought it was uninhabitable. Still, we saw many, many, many cows and some homesteads in the area. The photos below show the Cliffs.
Below is the rugged Burren area. The photo of the stacked rocks is called Poulabrone Dolmen. This structure is (if I recall correctly), 2200 years old (that makes it Neolithic) and it shows the entrance to an underground tomb which held over 20 bodies of adults and children. The opening is facing north, but the dead would not have been placed there all at once, but would have been buried within the cavern over time.
While driving towards the Burren, we passed a small town called Lisdoonvarna which has the disctinction of hosting a Matchmaking Festival every year. It was featured in a small movie about the same thing and starred Jeanine Garofalo. Too bad we couldn’t make a pit-stop and see if the town Matchmaker couldn’t set me up.
After our second night, we left Dromoland Castle and headed toward Killarney, but we made a side trip to the Molanna View Dairy Farm to see a real dairy farm. The owners, Paddy & Margaret, welcomed the group and served us lunch in their home. Before working with the tour company, their home was opened as a bed and breakfast for about 16 years. One of their sons now runs the dairy farm and they are semi-retired, but very sweet people. I was amazed at the number of B&Bs we saw every day. It seemed like every other house had a Bed & Breakfast sign out front. Unfortunately, we did not stay in any B&Bs or get to go inside any on the trip so I was not able to compare Irish B&Bs to American B&Bs. Oh, well.
Part II of the Post Mortem will discuss our time in Killarney and our stay at Hotel Dunloe Castle in County Kerry.