Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We're on the One Road with West O'Clare

Ireland has been on our "bucket list" for its history, people, music and scenery. It is famous for forty shades of green. So we embarked with anticipation on Pat and Kathleen Kane's West O'Clare Tours "Summer in Ireland".  With their experience and Pat's fiddle, we knew it would be lively travel wherever the road led.

We began in Dublin at Glasnevin Cemetery, where the struggle for independence is honored.  We arrived fresh off an overnight flight from JFK and ready for breakfast.  I quickly learned that a full Irish breakfast means you leave with a full stomach. Refreshed with good coffee and food, we followed our guide as she walked us through an introduction to a good two hundred years of history.

A memorial to the men executed after the Easter Sunday Uprising stands near the entrance as a statement for those who stood for independence.

In addition to Kathleen and Pat, one other ingredient to a great tour is the bus driver. Over ten days, we all came to love Con Collins, and by the end of our tour wondered if there was any road in Ireland that he was unfamiliar with.

Note the light rain on the windshield.  It rarely poured, but was often contributinglightly to the forty shades of green.

We ended our first day with dinner and Irish music at the Arlington in Dublin. To our surprise, the fiddler, Jane Ferrell was from Hammonsport! We settled into a routine of breakfast at 8 and on the bus at 9.

The next morning, we ventured out from Dublin to the Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley.  There, a village church lies next to ancient mounds from the pre-history of Ireland.We arrived in a light mist that soon faded away to nothing.

As we passed the church and toward the mounds, we passed a fresh grave adorned with flowers.  Later, we met the family of the deceased who engaged us in friendly conversation.

Up on the Hill of Tara we paused at the Mound of the Hostages. 

The mounds at Tara produced nice sweeping views, but our next stop was of greater scope. We passed along the Boyne River to the ancient site of Knowth.  From the welcome center, we walked over a bridge with a beautiful country landscape of sheep and green hills.

We boarded a shuttle bus to the site where large mounds spoke of ancient times; they likely provided underground safety in times of conflict and also served as burial safes.


Around the periphery were large stones with petroglyphs resembling those found in the western United States.

While we soaked in the stories of ancient times, around us were rich greens, blooming clovers and swooping birds capturing insects on the wing. Lovely.

Climbing to the top of the largest mound, we took in a rich panoramic view of Irish countryside.

Our small group of roughly two dozen, plus the knowledge of leaders and bus driver, allowed for relatively seamless adaptation to changes.  Our objective for the end of this day proved unavailable, so we returned to Dublin for interesting stops.

First, we went to the Guinness Storehouse at St. James's Gate.  It displays Guinness history and offers a panoramic view of the city while a perfect pint of stout is first drawn to about halfway, settled and then completed.  In between the history and a glass of beer is an abundance of souvenirs.

While Guinness is a top attraction in Dublin, there is much more.  We quickly went to see the Book of Kells, and then the Reading Room at Trinity College.  No photos are allowed in the Book of Kells display, just a lot of awe. We all found the Reading Room equally amazing.

All of this in only two days, and we still had so much away from Dublin on our intinerary.  Pam and I found a nice cafe a block away from the hotel and then retired for a restful night before embarking west to County Cork.


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