I make no apologies. I am a die-hard U2 fan and will be until the day I die. I recently saw them in concert in San Jose (California that is) and would jump at the idea of seeing them again and again. I have tickets to see the thirtieth anniversary of the Joshua Tree album tour in May. I follow them on Facebook and Instragram and about anywhere else they let me follow them without a restraining order. Suffice it to say I was not one of the people angry about the band providing me with their new album for FREE on my iPhone. I couldn’t have been more thrilled thank you very much.
When I first went to Dublin in 1999 U2, or “The Lads” as they are sometimes referred to in Ireland, were spoken of with a reverence generally associated with royalty or some Irish rebel historical figure. Anything that could be associated with U2 or its members was a tourist attraction then.
The Liffey-side Clarence Hotel which is owned by members of the band and its “secret night club” were constantly strangled by tourists and cameras, fan girls sat outside of Bono’s house in Bray, the U2 graffiti wall outside of the band’s studio in the urban dockside area was covered in young people gooning out for the camera, and Slane Castle’s grounds were still humming with the memory of the band’s famous concert there in 1983.
These days the band and its fans are getting older myself included. Their music is more introspective harkening back to a time of punk and family memory with a sense of sentimentality and sensitivity. I am not sure today’s young people are as in to the band as they once were. Some are instead enamored with Kardashians and ill-behaved Miley Cyruses. Tourist bus stops that used to stop by the docks or the Clarence either don’t stop there anymore or no one hops off of the bus. It makes me sad to think that the band is not as popular as it once was and their presence in the City that belongs to them is not as strong as it has been in the past. But, at the same time perhaps this is just the next chapter in the art and lives of us all?
While attending a class at Trinity College in Dublin back in 1999 we experienced a solar eclipse above the bell tower. I didn’t own any fancy photo equipment at the time so this photo was taken whilst holding my sunglasses over my camera lens as a filter!
For part of our trip to Ireland in July we stayed at a lovely little B&B in County Clare. We took many day trips in all directions from a village called Tulla. On one of our trips back to our base we passed through the town of Quin and came across the Abbey there. It was a charming quiet and peaceful scene with locals walking their dogs. We had to pull over and have a look.
We continued down the road following a sign that said Knappogue Castle and Walled Gardens. This led us to a lovely restored castle and gardens used for events. One could certainly imagine weddings, parties, or work events in this lovely venue surrounded by rolling green hills, cattle, and horses.
This is the real and rural and lovely Ireland that you will not find in your guidebooks. You must drive or walk or explore and you will be rewarded every time in this magnificent country.
Saint Kevin’s Monastery in Glendalough holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first places I visited outside of Dublin on my first trip to Ireland. I visited here with a group of people from the college class I was taking and was really moved by the place. I have taken my brother here, my husband here, and my parents here all on separate trips. It is charming and beautiful set in the hills of the Wicklow Mountains. The monastery sits on a peaceful lake said to have medicinal properties that visitors can have a nice walk around. Saint Kevin lived much of his time in a cave above the lake in contemplation. As is the case with most monasteries I can certainly see why. (Remember Kylemore Abbey?) The site also boasts many lovely buildings to explore along with several tall crosses and the iconic tower.
It is a beautiful drive here from Dublin whether you drive up over the bog-filled mountains or via Avoca and Powerscourt through the more direct route. If you are traveling the countryside I highly recommend staying the night in the area at one of the many lovely bed and breakfasts and enjoy some food in the quaint town of Laragh.
I hope you aren’t tired of Ireland posts yet! I still have a few more up my sleeve. I am sure as soon as I finish writing about it I will be itching to go back so I keep saving a few…
Ross Errilly Friary is a fine example of one of my favorite things to do when traveling. I love to find the random unplanned locations that come up between Point A and Point B. After spending the day driving in and around Kylemore Abbey we were headed back to Clare and decided to follow one of the brown historic markers that dot the roadways throughout Ireland. I looked at them and asked if they had one more stop in them. My parents are good sports about going anywhere and doing pretty much anything so they were game. The sun was setting, no one was around, and we had a blast checking out the interesting angles of the remaining architecture.
Ross Errily Medieval Franciscan Friary can be located in County Galway near the village of Headford. You can see it from the main road and can follow the well signed roads. It is worth a few minute visit for sure.
Ireland has this great competition called the “Tidy Towns” competition. Visitors know that if a town is listed as a current or past “Tidy Town” winner there is a good possibility that they will enjoy a visit or a pass through that town. Adare is on Ireland’s list of tidy towns. I could look up the parameters of making it on this list. But, I can tell you right now that it is because of historical buildings, lots of flowers, little traffic, and brightly painted exteriors among other things.
The Cliffs of Moher are iconic and wild. They are windswept and amazing with a sense of fear and magnificence that reminds us that Mother Nature if greater than us. Ireland and the sea are deeply connected. Her history with the sea both brings life and so often has taken it away. If you sit quietly, among the crowds here at the Cliffs, you can listen to the ocean tell Ireland’s story. It helps make me understand why the Irish have such a way with words and music. So many places like this serve as artistic inspiration.
My nephew really enjoyed running around up and down the stairs while the rest of us caught our breath. 😉
A view of O’Brien Castle. The first time I was here it was a gift shop. Now they make you pay a small amount to walk to the top for a superb view. I wouldn’t recommend it though because it is hard to see over the large bricks. Also, my brother and I were able to go out on that platform you can see below in this photo and dangle our feet at one time. Now a fence prevents you from doing so probably keeping people far safer than when I first visited.
Puffins roost here but one needs binoculars to see them.
The amazing new visitor’s center beautifully tucked in to the mountain. I was relieved to see that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb and is more like a hobbit visitor’s center.
Has been playing music for visitor’s for some time.