Friday, June 26, 2015

Ireland: Day Two

First thing on our itinerary on our second day in Ireland was Ightermurragh Castle.  This is not one of the well-publicized castles of Ireland.  In fact, the only way I found it was through plotting all the registered castles of Ireland (there's A LOT) on a Google Map and noticing that it was on our way from Waterford to Cork, which was our final destination that day.

On the way to Ightermurragh, we got our first glimpse of the Irish Coast and it was breathtaking.  Although, later views along the Ring of Kerry would blow these views out of the water (no pun intended...), but that's a blog post for another day.


After a brief stop along the coast for some coffee and picture taking, we continued on our way.  Now, Ightermurragh is near Ladysbridge in Co. Cork and is in the middle of a field.  No signs or anything point the way.  We had some general directions based on a blog post I found, but it was still very difficult to find.  We could see it from the road and eventually turned off to park next to a fence that had a well-worn sign mentioning something about a gun club next to it.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about jumping that fence, so I made Chris drive back into Ladysbridge and ask a gas station attendant if he knew whether or not we would be trespassing.  Chris could barely make out words through the nice gentleman's thick Irish accent, but he determined that the man's nodding and excitement at the mention of Ightermurragh meant we could go there.

So go we did, and it was spectacular.  The path there was overgrown and covered with nettles (which we would become much more familiar with in the days to come), but beautiful and so incredibly green.

The path to Ightermurragh Castle

When we got our first view of the castle, we both just stood there in awe.  It's pretty small as castles go and certainly not the oldest we visited (it was built in 1642), but something about the fact that it was just there in the middle of nowhere and that we had it all to ourselves was magical.

Last view of Ightermurragh Castle

Chris and I spent about two and half hours at Ightermurragh taking a ridiculous amount of photographs.  The interior is overgrown and rich with beauty (except for the copious amounts of graffiti, which made me endlessly irritated).  It was difficult to only pick one picture of the interior to show you!

Abandoned but beautiful...

We finally dragged ourselves away from the castle and trekked back to our car (which we were fervently praying would still be was).

The path back from Ightermurragh Castle

Next on our itinerary was lunch in Cork and then to Blarney Castle.  However, on our way to Cork we passed by signs for the Old Jameson Distillery in Midleton.  We made a last minute decision to abandon the itinerary for the day to go tour the Distillery.

Water Wheel at the Old Jameson Distillery

Our guide on the Distillery tour was an amazing, bubbly, and fun man.  I had no knowledge of the distillation process prior to the tour, and I couldn't recommend it more highly if you're ever passing by Midleton.

That's a lovely site...

We got our "free" whiskey at the bar there in the distillery, had some lunch (fish and chips!), and then headed off to Cork and our hotel in Blarney.


We performed what would become our daily ritual of having a beer in our room while freshening up and calling our parents to let them know we were still alive.  Then, off we went for a night out in the city of Cork, where we did a bit of pub-hopping and met some very lively gentleman who we talked with until the pub we were at closed down at around 1 in the morning.  Day Two: Success!


Like the pictures?  Want to see more?  There are loads posted to my Flickr photostream, but to see what I consider the best of them go straight to my Best of Ireland 2015 album.  I'm adding more every week!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ireland: Day One!

Greetings, all!  I know I've been my usual MIA-self lately, but this time I had a good excuse -- I was traveling through Ireland for 11 Days!  I've been back for a few weeks now, and I'm finally working on editing and culling the 2400+ photographs that my friend (henceforward to be known as "Chris") and I took.

So, while knitting is still going on (as it always is), I'm going to divert from my normal topics and regale you with stories of my travels.  Sound good?  No?  Too we go!

Chris now lives in the Detroit area so I flew from Denver to Detroit on Sunday, May 17.  The next day, we headed off to the Emerald Isle with only two carry-on's and two backpacks between us for 11 days (impressive, I know).

Ready to leave for Ireland!

We arrived at the Dublin Aiport on time and with hardly any travel drama (there was some rushing through security and to our gate during our layover in Chicago, but we made it).  Off we went to get our rental car, Chris all the while psyching himself up for driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car.

Pedal to the metal...

After a couple missed turns and some extra trips through roundabouts (but no accidental right side of the road driving!), we got out of Dublin and made our way to Kilkenny.  Our first stop, of course, was a pub where we had our first truly Irish beer (a Smithwick's, which we came to know more fondly as a "Smitty's") and our first taste of Irish food (delicious).

First beer in Ireland

Afterwards, we headed across the road to tour Kilkenny Castle.  Kilkenny Castle has been restored for the most part and is decorated with furniture, art, and tapestries from its golden age.  It's quite lovely, but it was probably my least favorite castle that we visited (I'm a bigger fan of the ruined, not restored except for what safety requires type of castle).

Full view of Kilkenny Castle

Next, we headed off to Cashel to go see the famous Rock of Cashel.  Unfortunately, we had not yet gotten used to the navigation app we were using on my phone (it's called Here and if you're traveling abroad and want a good nav app without having to use your data, you must get's brilliant).  So, we had serious trouble finding the right street to turn on to actually get to the castle.  We could see it, but could NOT get to it.  We finally figured it out just in time to watch them close the gates.  We still decided to take a little walk around the outside (and jump a fence to get some pictures of the nearby Hore Abbey).

Hore Abbey

We also drove a little down the road and parked in an empty lot to capture some shots of the Rock of Cashel up on the hill.

Rock of Cashel

We were lucky enough to even get a shot of the castle with a rainbow going INTO it!  Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Rock of Cashel with Rainbow

And, of course, we had to get a picture of us in front of the castle.  Luckily, we had a tripod with us so no selfies!

We were at the Rock of Cashel!

Then, we headed out to go to our final destination of the day, Waterford.  This was our most adventurous drive of the day during which our app, while trying to find us a legal place to turn around after we missed a turn, lead us through what seemed suspiciously like a farmer's field.  We also encountered some sheep in the road, one of which had gotten its wool attached to a tree.  Fortunately, it escaped (taking an entire branch with it) before Chris had a chance to jump out of the car to save it.  We then tried to turn around next to a fence, behind which were more sheep.  Apparently, our close proximity made one of them very cranky and she proceeded to stick her head through the fence and practically into Chris's window to BAAAAAA! at us angrily.  I was too busy laughing until I cried to pull out the camera and snap a picture.

We did escape, however, and finally made it to our hotel in Waterford.  After a quick freshening up, we headed out to The Reg for dinner, beers, and some good traditional Irish music (Trad).  It was a lovely end to an amazing first day in Ireland!

Happy to be settled in for dinner and a beer

Like the pictures?  Want to see more?  There are loads posted to my Flickr photostream, but to see what I consider the best of them go straight to my Best of Ireland 2015 album.  I'm adding more every week!