Sunday, April 3, 2011

An Irish Holiday

March 31st, 2011
1:35 P.M.

We left the sunshine of West Michigan and landed in dark and dreary Newark, New Jersey for our layover before our flight to Ireland, our own land of adventure.  The weather CANNOT dampen my excitement about this trip I’ve begun, though.  This is a beginning, a first step toward my exploration of the Emerald Isle. Life is definitely good! 

We left on an express flight (i.e. a small jet) and after an almost a two-hour flight we are here in Newark waiting for our connecting flight to Ireland.  We ate at a nasty Chinese place for lunch in the terminal and now have a LONG lay over, but that’s okay since I’m doing some catch up on my journal and will do some knitting as well.  I am off to read my book, or rather listen to it.  I will add more later.

April 1, 2011
Dublin Airport.  We got our luggage and went through customs and are now sitting and waiting.  For any of you who have traveled with a tour you know it is much like the armed forces – you hurry up…and wait.  We are waiting for the rest of our group to come in as we’ve all I have to admit it is good to be able to actually stretch out aver an almost 6 hour flight from Newark, New Jersey. 

The skies are gray and dark, but it isn’t raining.  Ah, but the trees are green!!   After leaving the browns of Michigan where there is still an abundance of dirty snow it is good to see some spring colors abounding.  We were shuttled to the Calaghan Davenport Hotel near Merian Square and got a chance to freshen up after being “on the way here,” from 10:05 AM on the 31st.  

We’re resting and having a bit of recouping.  We will tour a bit of Dublin this afternoon visiting Trinity College, St. Steven’s Green, the Famine Memorial, and O’Connell Street.  We’ve really hit the ground running!

April 2, 2011
We started this day with a ride around the city with a fascinating bit of history thrown into the mix.  Dublin Castle was a fabulous place and the history lesson we had was done extremely well and was really interesting.  The one thing I have discovered the wonderful wit and friendliness of the people of Dublin.  We learned some of the sad history of the very resilient Irish people.  We’ve also of past visits by the British monarchy and that of some important visits to come this month as well.  They will be entertaining the Queen of England first, and then our own president, Barak Obama. 

One of the many favorite lines from our guide that kept us laughing was, “We don’t dislike the English – we hate them!”  But it was said in fun, as was almost everything our guide told us.  He enjoyed joking with us and was terribly irreverent toward almost everyone from history!

  Does this building look familiar?  
 It should! The man who designed 
it also designed the White House!  
This is the Irish President's residence 
in Phoenix Park in Dublin.
We continued on through a very small section of Phoenix Park, which is a HUGE park within the city.  This fabulous recreational area is larger by far than Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London!  And besides being a park that many local people use it houses the homes of The President of Ireland, the home for the ambassador of the United States, and Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It also is home to the Dublin Zoo!  There are soccer fields and lovely green lawn areas with small-forested areas within its borders, too. 
This statue of justice is at the gate to 
the castle's inner court.  It faces 
toward the castle and the British 
government's representative and not 
the outside and the people who he had 
represented. It was said because of 
the that that justice had turned her 
back on the Irish people.

 Many of the rooms in the Dublin 
Castle were similar to those you 
would find in any castle.
 But unlike in times past they are 
used to welcome visitors both royal 
and presidential to the Irish 
government and it's people. 
The symbol of Ireland is of course the 
Irish harp.What was interesting for 
me to learn was that the 
color for the country was not 
green, but deep blue.
 The Waterford chandeliers
were fabulous!  This one illuminated 
one of the fabulous paintings found 
on the ceilings throughout the 

This is St. Patrick's cathedral in 
downtown Dublin.  It has the 
most beautiful park all around 
it and along the brick wall on 
one side there are relief 
sculptures of all the literary 
men who put the Irish on the
map.  Men like George 
Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde 
and so many more.


We also were given an historical
background on the Irish potato
famine and those who suffered
the horrific while visiting the
Famine Memorial.  This part of
Ireland’s history still touches many
Irish families who lost members
so long ago either because of death
from starvation, or from immigration.

The staues for the memorial are all gaunt and
really emphasize the worst that happened to the
Irish people during this most difficukt time in their
history.  The sister memorial found in New York
shows the poor that came to our country in less
dire straights and with smiles on their faces.

FitzWilliam Street is a real piece of the past near the heart of this grand city that is lined with many of the original gas lights as well as early Georgian row houses with their multitude of chimneys on each and every roof (One for every room in the house).  The colorful doors often with brass knockers and knobs that truly adds to the beauty of this area of Dublin.  From there we passed the Shelborne Hotel a very old and historical, Trinity College where the book of Kells is and more than a few pubs as well.  We ate dinner at O’Neil’s Pub that evening and had some of the very best fish n’ chips I have ever eaten!  This small pub with it’s dark wood interior was a real find for dinner with a wonderful feel of touching Dublin’s past.

These two Georgian Mansions were fabulous and there were at least 15 to 20 on each block.  There were many with red and roayal blue doors that added to the elegance.  This is the really saught after parts of town to live in for the wealthy and was even in the 1800s.  Writers like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw use to live here! 

Note those chimneys.  Each single one in the large 
chimneys were for individual rooms in each house.

April 2nd was a jam-packed day filled with all sorts of places to enjoy.  We started off the morning early with a trip outside of Dublin to Glendalough Monastery a monastic settlement that dates back centuries to the very beginnings of Christianity in Ireland. The Solid stone church (Roof and all!) and cathedral were awe-inspiring and the huge cemetery continues to add new graves for the Irish up to today.

From there it was back to Dublin and a free afternoon which many of us filled with visits to the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, and the Trinity College Library to view the ancient Book of Kells.  The evening was a huge part of the tour with a trip to a thatched dinning establishment called Taylor’s.  Here we had a fabulous meal and such a treat after that included a group if Irish singers who treated us to rousing songs of Ireland both old and new as well as some extremely talented Irish step dancers.  Tomorrow will hold many more excursions and a change of hotel too, but for now we are off to bed.


Anonymous said...

It's good to hear from you. I'm happy that you arrived in Ireland without any difficulties. It sounds as though your tour is off and running!

Ciss B said...

We're having a wonderful time! The weather has been cool but mostly sunny until today when it rained, or as our tour guide told us a soft rain is a, "soft day!" We went to Kilarny and the wonderful coast of Dingle - it was beautiful!

Ciss B said...

More pictures to come!

walk2write said...

I'm used to thinking about Dublin through the eyes of James Joyce. Time to update my thoughts!

I hope you have lots of fun on the rest of your trip.

Jo Bryant said...

great post