Kathleen and Pat have the deep knowledge of Ireland that includes both the Guinness Storehouse and lesser known gems like St. Patrick's in Dublin.
Within the cathedral were very nice statues of important personages set before colorful glass windows, portraying iconic biblical characters. It made for a nice combination of two eras.
Back on the bus, our next destination in County Kilkenny was at the Nicholas Mosse Pottery located beside the River Nore. We learned that the pottery is totally powered by a water turbine. That was just the beginning of the creativity we saw there. As a visitor arrives, the stone bridge over the river speaks of the long history in this village.
The pottery begins with the mining of the clay, and carries the process thru artisan decorating to a sophisticated firing process. The decorating area was a rich combination of technology and artistry.
|photo by Pam Schmitt|
After a satisfying lunch at the pottery we were once again on the road, stopping for refreshment alongside the Castle Cahir. The pleasant scenery just keeps popping up.
Soon, we were in Blarney with both the Woolen Mill outlet to satisfy the shopper, and the Castle Blarney for those wanting to spin their own fanciful yarns. It's a long climb to the top to kiss the mythical stone. There are also nice gardens and a peaceful Blarney River running beside the castle.
We arrived for a two-day stay at the Mills Inn in beautiful Ballyvourney. After a bountiful dinner, it was lessons in Irish step dancing (which thankfully was not video recorded). I came to love these country inns where local musicians and friendly locals made for a pleasant evening.
I was up early before breakfast to stroll around the village, finding some nice little scenes for my camera. There was an ancient stone tower on the hotel grounds, a stone bridge over the river that was similar to the one next to the Nicholas Mosse Pottery and this charming window in the Mills Inn courtyard.
Throughout our travels we saw all sorts of roses, some cultivated and some seeming to be wild cousins. The one below captured my interest on my morning stroll.
The next morning, our trusty driver Con Collins squeezed our bus over a narrow bridge with a kink midway across, and we got to St. Gobnait's Shrine.
|photo by Pam Schmitt|
Exploring these sites brings unexpected discoveries. The sign at the graveyard entrance is unexpected, suggesting burials can still be family business.The graves span centuries for many families. There is a sense of the ages and of strong family ties.
And there is a beauty that can be found just steps up the country road from the statue of St. Gobnait. Wild digitalis is reaching for the blue sky.
Our day was still young as we left St. Gobnait's shrine and toured the green countryside, with a "STOP" in Kenmare for shopping and lunch. It was a bustling town with much to explore.
Onward we traveled with our next rest stop at Molly Gallivan's Cottage and Traditional Farm. Opposite the farm was a wonderful panoramic view of the lush countryside.
The views outside the bus were balanced with narration and song. Next was Gougan Barra where one sees St. Finbarr's Chapel on a small island in the lake.
A longer stop was at the Bunratty Folk Park and Castle. It is a fully restored castle with a mock village to discover. At the village pub we enjoyed a pick-up concert by Pat and sister Terri. The village musician joined them for some delightful music. We had to pull ourselves away to be on time to the bus.
That day ended on the sea at Kinvara. Rising early, I walked to the harbor to find a beautiful scene.
A half mile further was the Castle Dunguaire in the early light.
The day was off to a good start. Our travels the next day will lead us to Galway, and by evening, onto the Aran Islands. This was the most anticipated part of the trip for me.