May, 2013 Archives

Killarney

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Next stop on the tour brings us 3 hours south of Galway into the city of Killarney. Killarney is a hybrid town straddling the line of National park and cosmopolitan city. Nice balance here as you can rent a bike in the city and head into the park that features the famous lakes of Killarney as well as numerous castles.

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Headed to Muckross House at the base of lake Leanne. Stunning scenery.

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Plus we attended our first mass of the trip with all the catholicism and all. Not a bad church.

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Killarney

Cliffs of Moher

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These cliffs are staggering. While not the tallest seaside cliffs in Ireland I could not imagine a more impressive sight in this context.

Cliffs of Moher

Galway

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Galway is a refreshing little town when compared to the dinginess of the main city of Ireland. We arrived after a 2+ hour bus trip. The weather is as nice as they get so all of the students are out along the bay. The main street is a haven for sidewalk bars. Ireland and England had a soccer match in the afternoon so the bars are packed.

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Quaint little cobblestone streets are off limits to traffic so finally I can cross the street without an almost certain fear of being blindsided by a car coming from the opposite direction from which I am expecting. We are hitting the cliffs of moher tomorrow so we will get to experience the coastal beauty of the western region.

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The weather was as good as it gets during our two day stay in Galway so the locals were out in full force to take advantage of the occasion.

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While we were here we also visited the Galway cathedral. While I am not a religious person I can certainly appreciate the power that certain places convey and I was genuinely moved by the experience inside the church.

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Galway

Dublin – Day 2

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On the second day we hit the big boys as far as the sights go. Still on an unbalanced sleep schedule so I woke up at 4am for some reason.

Started the day off at the Kilmainham jail which is an extremely important structure in Irish history. The guide took us through the numerous uprisings and detailed the key locations that played a role in the Easter Rebellion including the shooting galley where James Connolly was infamously put to death by firing squad while tied to a chair in order to prop him up due to injuries caused by an earlier gun battle.

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The prison, while remodeled, still has a cavernous, empty feeling that really transports your thoughts to the time of its operation. The guide felt passionate about the key Irish leaders who were brought here so you can tell that the insurgent blood still runs deep in the culture. It won’t be too long before a modern day uprising occurs.

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I learned a little bit about Robert Emmet who is honored at the prison with a face sculpture in the wall of one of the larger cells afforded to those prisoners with money. According to the guide he have a speech that, much like King’s ‘ I have a dream speech’, managed to rally his fellow patriots to levels that were never believed possible. This speech has been quoted by Mandela, Ghandi, and even to a lesser extent Obama. I will learn more about this down the road.

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Guinness Time

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After the prison it was time for the frivolity. We visited the must-see destination of Dublin, the Guinness Factory. This operation encompasses over 50 acres in Dublin. I truly wish my camera had smell-o-vision because as soon as we neared the brewery the sweet smell of malted barley had eminated down to the street below. The brewery beckoned. I swear it was just like the technique the fast food companies use by sending the smell of burgers and fries to passing cars through their exhaust system.

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The self guided tour was wildly informative and even though Guinness is far from my favorite beer it was hard not to get caught up in the groundswell of positive vibes. After the tour you make your way to the 7th floor for your complimentary pint as you take in the best views Dublin has to offer from the 360 degree glass penthouse.

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Off to Ireland.

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Slept for zero hours on the overnight flight to Dublin. Location of the apartment is extremely central. Located just down the street from the Viking district where the overlords first settled when they arrived from overseas.

Started off the first day with a Guinness and lunch at a 400 year old pub. From here we went to Trinity College which was home to many of Ireland’s very own notable authors and playwrights. Saw Ireland’s national treasure, the book of Kells, which is an intricate and decorative book penned by monks just after the Viking arrival in 800 ad. Impressive to be in the presence of such a revered piece but could have done without the humongous crowd that decided to join us that day at the exhibit.

Tired from the flight so I slept a good portion of the afternoon only to awaken feeling invigorated for the night. Ran out to a grocery store to bring dinner back. Passed Vikar street concert venue where a block-long line had formed around the block. Scalpers were everywhere outside the venue so I was curious. Turns out Lana Del Ray was performing that night. I continued on home, ate, and looked up some music of hers. Reminded me a bit of Amy winehouse so I was intrigued. Ventured back out to the sold out show to inquire with the Scalpers. The guy came down from his initial offer of 80 Euros to a much more reasonable 30 so before I knew it I was in the show. Wound up being a great choice as the intro music began playing as I grabbed a beer in the adjoining bar. I wandered into the venue and was wildly impressed by her music and the layout of the show. I am now a fan.

Off to Ireland

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