Oct 4 Dublin

Today being my last full day in Dublin I decided to go exploring. Most places I had targeted had an entrance fees, St Patrick, Christ Church, so decided to look at them from the outside.

Visited a beautiful parc called St Stephen Green, it reminded me of High Park.

Went to the Archeology Museum, very informative, but the building itself is very beautiful and was wondering what it was originally and was told it opened in 1880 as the Museum of Science and Arts. I find that in most museum the main lights are not well lit but over the exhibition they have direct light shining on objects, I have a hard time with this, my vertigo wants to come out, so I dont usually stay long, but found the pre-historic era facinating

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

I was told that I had to go to Trinity College, may be because by then I was tired, it did not talk to me like Queen University in Belfast. In their main library the have the Book of Kells. It is Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. The 9th century book is a richly decorated copy of the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ, the line up was too long so did not make it

Also went on Grafton St where shopping is done along with Henry St where I went for a stroll yesterday. Was really surprised that most woolen things are made in China, Ireland had enough sheeps to do their own wool, go figure. My shopping lasted a whole 10 minutes of walking up a block or two and returning, lots of strore and lots of people

Two policemen

Playing classical music on Grafton Street

Also went in the Irish Museum of Emigration, it is a very modern building and the main floor is a food court that was extremely busy, too many people for me.

Irish Famine Monuments just like we have in Toronto

I had come to walk the Irish Way and when I realise that it was not for me I switch to plan B. All in all very happy with my discovery of Ireland. The weather was not too bad, you just get use to it. Much preferred the south west of Ireland with its quaint villages, very friendly people always trying to help you, the hills (I call them mountains) of Ireland were a shock because did not expect so many and following the Atlantic from south to north was great. Did lots of tours because not having a car I was limited and saw many places that I heard about and now could see with my own eyes. The place I like the most was the Killarney area, big cities were not my favorite except for Belfast, I really could relate to it, may be because not as many tourists as in Dublin, the city was very clean whereas Dublin is not. The people of Belfast are proud of their city, you could see it everwhere and people were super helpful

These days what is on everyones mind is Brexit and how it will affect both the north and the south, they are afraid that the borders would go back up again and this would be disastrous for both countries.

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Oct 3 Tara and Newgrave Archeological Sites

Stand on the Hill of Tara, the ancient Royal site of the High Kings of Ireland… 142 Kings were crowned here. You will see 23 of Ireland’s 32 counties on a clear day, saw lots of land but how many counties…..It was a political and religious centre from the early Celtic Times and they erected some spectacular ceremonial monuments, the remains of which you can see

There is a church andba cemetary where people are still burried today. People still being burried today.

St Pat associated with this site, he was summoned to Tara by the king because he built a fire and this was against the rule.

Please notice the way he is dressed. The original statue was falling apart so they commisioned a new one, he had a loin cloth but people gor really upset so got this statue instead, the vestments that he is wearing came much later but people did not care now he had clothes on his back.

Mythology, gods and godesses, kings related to old testament, monks keen to find corroletion to the bible. Tara is often mentioned and most visited. Archeology – British and Israelite were looking for the Arch of Covenant and started an unsuthorized search but never found it, but found evidence of roman artificats while history said they never came to Ireland.

County Mead is the Royal County because of Tara and its association with kings.

Tara is the capital of fairies, farmer very surpistious, so they preserve the lands.

Here is what you see when you go to Tara

The Stone Of Destiny on top of An Forradh (the King’s Seat) at the Hill of Tara, pictured at sunset.

 

The Stone of Destiny

Sitting on top of the King’s Seat (Forradh) of Temair is the most famous of Tara’s monuments – Ireland’s ancient coronation stone – the Lia Fail or “Stone of Destiny”, which was brought here according to mythology by the godlike people, the Tuatha Dé Danann, as one of their sacred objects. It was said to roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.

Sunset over the Mound of the Hostages, on the Hill of Tara.

 

The Mound of the Hostages

The “Mound of the Hostages” is a megalithic ‘passage tomb’ and is the oldest monument on the hill of Tara, dating to about 2,500BC. The name “Mound of the Hostages” derives from the custom of overkings like those at Tara retaining important personages from subject kingdoms to ensure their submission.

One of the legendary kings of Tara was named Niall of the Nine Hostages in recognition of the fact that he held hostages from all the provinces of Ireland and from Britain.

The passage at the Mound of the Hostages is short, and is aligned on the cross-quarter days of November 8 and February 4, the ancient Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc. Just inside the entrance on the left is a large decorated orthostat.

The passage of the Mound of the Hostages. This picture shows the short passage at the Mound of the Hostages at Tara. As a solar construct it is not as accurate as other passages, which are notably longer, but according to Brennan (The Stones of Time, 1994) the daily changes in the position of a 13-foot long sunbeam are more than adequate to determine specific dates. The passage would, without any doubt, also capture the light of the Full Moon at certain times in the 19-year cycle, specifically the minor standstill rising position.

Hill of Tara

Newgrange is a 5,200 year old passage tomb located in the Boyne Valley in Ireland ancient east.

Newgrange was built by Stone Age farmers, the mound is 85 meters (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 meters (15 yards) high, an area of about 1 acre.

A passage measuring 19 meters (21 yards) leads into a chamber with 3 alcoves. The passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the winter soltice.

Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones called kerbstones some of which are engraved with megalithic art; the most striking is the entrance stone.

Newgrange, located in the Boyne Valley is one of an exclusive group of monuments known and recognised worldwide. A UNESCO World Heritage listed site, Newgrange is a Neolithic Ritual Centre and Passage Tomb, home of some of the greatest pieces of art of the European Neolithic, Ireland’s most significant prehistoric monument and among the world’s earliest great pieces of architecture.

This monument is a thousand years older than the Pyramids and the oldest astronomical observatory in the world, completely intact since the Stone Age. Its decorated entrance stone and corbelled inner chamber display the most impressively executed examples of abstract Stone Age art of the early farming communities in Western Europe.

An Astro-Archaeological, Archaeo­astronomical Tour of Prehistoric Ritual Sites

These sophisticated early farmers were Astronomers who incorporated a light box and solar calendar into the passage. This was done to illuminate the cremated bones of the dead in the inner chamber during the Winter Solstice. It was also a symbolic technique to celebrate rebirth in the afterlife and the dawning of a new year.

The entrance, I went in, the passage is narrow and you have to bend down so that you dont hit your head and then you get to the main chamber and then you come back, takes about 5 minutes

The Battle of the Boyne

is located within Ireland’s most important battlefield. Learn how in July 1690 on the north and south banks of the river Boyne a battle occurred that was a turning point politically in Irish and continental affairs.

Amidst a welter of family intrigue, dynastic succession, civil war, Grand strategy and religious conflict, two Kings took to the field with 60,000 troops and changed the course of history.

Newgrave receive at least 1000 visit a day and they keep a tight schedule because they give guided tours. It is the place where kings were burried.

The place is phenomenal, mysterious, exciting, mystical well worth the journey. Our tour guide was very good, he is an historian by profession and has worked for a number of years in the Museum of Natural History so he knew what he was talking about.

Oct 2 Tour of Wicklow

Forecast for today cloudy, but got a bit i of rain. We are about 35 on this tour, hopefully they will be as good as yesterday and will all be on time

Just a bit of info, in Ireland professional drivers have breathalizer machine on board their bus and every time they stop thet have to test themselves, they take this very serously in Ireland.

County Wicklow is a region south of Dublin in the east of Ireland. It’s known for its namesake mountains, Irish Sea coastline, country estates and the Wicklow Way. The 129km walking trail traverses the county, passing through Wicklow Mountains National Park. Within the park are glacial lakes, rivers and Glendalough, the remains of an early medieval monastic settlement in a forested valley.

Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. Was impressive to see these buildings still standing today.

Glendalough

We are lucky our bus driver is not a chatter box like yesterday and he is not playing music as yet, if you are sitting in the front it was loud.

The Sugarloaf is a mountain in west County Wicklow, Ireland bordering the northern edge of the Glen of Imaal. It should not be confused with the better known Great Sugar Loaf and Little Sugar Loaf in the east of the county. We drove at the bottom of it

Sugarloaf

The Wicklow Way Trail is in this National Park and I walk about

7 km on it, loved it because mostly flat and did 2km on a boardwalk. We stayed here 1 1/2 hour and everybody was on time, now a drive along the Wicklow mountain for a photo shop only problem the weather is not cooperating, very misty so you see nothing, so no picture. The St Kevin’s way is also around here. Some movies were made in this area Brave Heart, a Scotish movie, with an Australian actor on Irish soil.

We drove pass a vilkage named Hollywood, historically known as Killinkeyvin, is a village in west County Wicklow, Ireland. It is situated on the Wicklow Gap road, near its junction with the N81 national secondary road. It is located approximately 30 minutes from Co. Dublin, by car.

Hollywood, Co Wicklow

Very small village thay was here long before before Hollywood Ca

Next we went to Kilkenny, a medieval town in southeast Ireland. Its grand Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by Norman occupiers. The town has deep religious roots and many well-preserved churches and monasteries, including imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory, both from the 13th century. It’s also a crafts hub, with shops along its winding lanes selling pottery, paintings and jewellery.

Kilkenny Castle

St Canice’s Cathedral

Saw both of them, very imposing and almost impossible to take picture because of size. Very good day.

Oct 1 Tour of Cashel and Blarney Castles

I was told to be at a certain corner at 7:50 and were leaving at 8:00 but at that time 8 were missing and had to wait, their excuse was traffic.

Henry St is where Irish shop and Grafton St is where tourists shop, the difference between the two is prices.

Saw connemara ponies here but did not see while I was there.

Small cars because of taxes. Insurace 7000 to 9000 for 18 years old. The drive took us inland and there is a lot of agriculture in these parts, wheat, lots and lots of Barley

To get to Cashel Castle the hill is 45 degree, this told by our guide, it was an exageration, it was barely 15 degree.

The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland. The round tower at the Rock of Cashel dates back to 1101.

The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, and is a spectacular and archaeological site. A collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. The 12th-century round tower is of the oldest surviving building on the Rock, also include a high cross, and the ruins Romanesque chapel – Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest,and finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles built between 1230 and 1270. Also a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall houses the museum where the original Cross of St. Patrick can be found

It looks like sleeping beauty’s castle, very beautiful from afar.

Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446.

At the top of the castle lies the famous Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle

The Witch Stone

It takes little imagination to see who is imprisoned here. The Witch of Blarney has been with us since the dawn of time. Some say it was she who first told MacCarthy of the power of the Blarney Stone. Fortunately for visitors, she only escapes the witch stone after nightfall – and we close at dusk.

The Estate

Visitors to Blarney Castle should bring a picnic. The true magic of the location is revealed to those who venture out into the numerous walks around the Estate.

Wishing Steps

Within Rock Close, you come across an archway of limestone rocks. Step through and you find yourself on the Wishing Steps. If you can walk down and back up these steps with your eyes closed – some demand that this be done walking backwards – and without stopping for one moment to think of anything other than a wish, then that wish will come true within a year. Some say that the granting of this wish is the witch’s way of paying for her firewood. We say only that the steps can be slippery and that we take no responsibility.

Witch’s Kitchen

We believe that this was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers across the mists of time. If you arrive early enough in the morning, you will still see the dying embers of a fire. This is lit every night by the Blarney Castle witch, as she fights to stop shivering on her nocturnal escape from the Witch Stone.

The Lake

Legend tells us that the treasure of the MacCarthys was thrown into the depths of the Lake. Despite one of the ancestors of the current owner having almost drained the lake in the search, we cannot confirm the truth of this. But then if we could, we’d hardly be telling you now, would we.

The Unexpected…

The grounds of Blarney Castle are magical acres in a timeless Ireland. What you see may depend on how hard you look and how willing your eyes are to see. Ghosts of salmon can be seen leaping in the Martin River for ghosts of flies. And they say that at times of impending danger, a herd of enchanted cows walks from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the Castle. While walking I heard them calling.

Get in touch with your Celtic past at the Rock Close, a mystical place where majestic yew and oak trees grow around an ancient druidic settlement. Follow the trail through giant gunnera leaves and bamboo and you’ll find a giant dolmen stone, a set of ‘wishing steps’ and a witch’s kitchen. The water garden and waterfalls create the perfect backdrop to a magical experience for visitors. The place was enchanting and your imagination just took over

After exploring Blarney Castle Gardens, there are more walking trails to follow along the banks of the River Martin, in which the castle can be seen beautifully. The trails were wonderful to walk, the time we had to visit two and half our, not enough.

When I decided to go and visit the castle did not know what to expect, I thought that there was a stone and all you had to do was kiss it, how naive can this be. Our guide explainef the procedure, you had to go up 74 steps, the equivalent to 4 stories high. See the picture of what you had to do, you have to bend backward, there is a man that helps you and another that takes your picture for 10 euros, our guide told us to give our phone to the person behind you and they will take the picture but you have to be quick. Imagine me and my vertigo in this position I would never had been able to get up. Also to come down the stair where spiral and very narrow.

After being told and when we got to the castle our bus plus 2 others that got there at the same time, well you can see the picture, many many people all going up these stairs and very slowly, saw them and walked out, that was it for me, no way, Carrick-a-Rede was much easier because it only lasted seconds, while this walk up those stairs would have taken much longer instead I walked the grounds, they were spectacular, took many many pictures and cannot put them all here, the internet in this hotel where pictures are concerned not good on blog, but ok on Facebook

Well time for bed, it has been a long day, up at 6:30 and returned to hotel at 8:00 and another early start tomorrow