Kinsale and Southern Ireland Sunshine

Bob Ross used to speak of “happy accidents”.  When planning a trip to Ireland a few years back my brother suggested visiting Kinsale because a co-worker of his thought it was the best part of Ireland.  The idea of trying a new city appealed to me so we set off.  Kinsale is located in far Southern Ireland due south of Cork City.  It is nestled in a beautiful bay with the tiny village built directly on the water.  Kinsale is an idyllic Irish village full of energy, food, bars, music, and life.  I enjoyed the city so much I made sure to take my parents to the city on our recent trip.  When we arrived we joined a local Farmers market, visited some antique stores, walked to the castle, enjoyed some ice cream, and walked around the marina.  All things that are done on a perfect day in the perfect place…

Nearby Charles Fort is a lovely way to soak up the Southern Ireland sun with a view of the Old Head and Kinsale Village.  Guides are helpful in describing the history of the Fort and even Titanic history as this was its last stop before meeting the famed Iceberg.

Kinsale is a splendid place to spend several days and make day trips around the region.  The roads in and around Kinsale are not for the faint of heart but are arguably some of the most beautiful vistas and scenery in all of Ireland.  Take the southern road both East and West or head north to Cork and Blarney.  I would highly recommend visiting Drombeg Circle and even a day trip to Clonikilty.

I am grateful to my brother’s un-named friend for introducing me to a region of Ireland that has proven to be one of my favorites.  Has anyone else gotten a random tip that turned out to be a really happy accident?

 

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Would you paint your house this color?

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The harbor is so breathtaking on a clear bright day like this

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The photo does not even remotely do justice to how beautiful this village is.

For more on my Irish Musings please click here…

Dublin Ireland’s General Post Office

Why would anyone give a rip about visiting a post office if not to mail a letter or package? Generally I try to avoid visiting them as much as I do the Department of Motor Vehicles.  However, in this case Dublin’s famous General Post Office, or GPO, played a huge part in the Easter Rebellion and is therefor a historic landmark. In 1916 rebels holed up on the Georgian GPO with adversaries posted across the street and down O’Connell street for days.  The building was all but destroyed during the rising and later restored with the granite façade remaining original.  Bullet holes still adorn the iconic columns of the GPO as do nearby sculptures.  These bullet holes, as well as many other such historic ideals in Dublin are kept as a reminder rather than repaired.  The building is iconic and important for the Irish Republic and Dublin representing a major historical event and Irish nationalism.  Within the post office, and on display in the front window, is a statue of Cuchilainn sculpted as a reminder of the rebellion.

Can anyone think of other seemingly inconsequential structures made important due to historical events that took place nearby or on site?

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GPO


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Cuchilainn


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Look closely at her elbow and you will see a bullet hole

To read more about my most recent trip to Ireland I welcome you to click here…

Clonmacnoise Monastery – County Offaly, Ireland

 

Located near Athlone in County Offaly, Clonmacnoise Monastary sits in a pristine location on the River Shannon.  Founded in 544 it was a center for learning with ties to the Kings of Ireland many of which are said to be buried on site.  The monastery continued to grow over time becoming quite powerful until around the 12th century.  With great power and a strong location came Viking and Norman attacks.

Highlights of the ruins at the monastery are the tower overlooking the Shannon, the Cross of the Scriptures including its magnificent religious detail, the North Cross with its hunting and fertility symbols, King’s Church which sits atop the graves of generations of Irish Kings, the Cathedral and its whispering arch, and the Fairy’s Stone.

The interpretive center is well worth a short visit as it houses the original high crosses and other important information.   It details relics found on site including the magnificent Clonmacnoise Crozier which is on display at the Irish National Museum in Dublin.  The Center even has information on the Papal visit to the ruins in 1979 by Pope John Paul II.

Clonmacnoise is a wonderful stop if you are traveling between Galway and Dublin as it is off the main highway.  It is well worth a visit with its stunning views and superb history.

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My mother wanted to see a high cross in Ireland and boy is this the mother of high crosses.

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Click here to read more of my Irish Shenanigans…

Postcards from London(Derry), Northern Ireland

Depending on where you stand in Irish Politics you refer to the city as Londonderry or Derry.  In fact, as one drives towards the city, one will see spray paint riddled signs blocking out the word London to display only Derry.  It seems Londonderry has similar issues as portions of Belfast.  (See my Tour of a Lifetime post about the Belfast Troubles.)  Murals depict the troubles front and center which I found beautiful and unsettling all at the same time.  I can’t help but send light and good thoughts to the beautiful Irish people to find peace in their hearts for future generations.

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Follow my Irish musings by clicking here…

Irish Kitchen Painting Challenge – Which do you prefer?

As has been obvious in my recent blogging I visited Ireland this summer with my parents and brother and his family.  My husband was unable to join us.  He did, however, send me to Ireland with a challenge.  We currently have a simple little painting in our kitchen that depicts a cafe scene somewhere in make-believe Italy.  He asked me to take a photo of a cafe or restaurant or bar in Ireland that could be put on canvas and replace the generic Italy scene we have now.  Tell me your thoughts!?  So far he can’t decide.  I know which one I like but I am looking for outside opinions…which photo would you like to stare at every morning making coffee or every night cooking up a meal?

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Charming bar scene in Kinsale?

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Silly happy little bar in Dublin?

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Brightly colored bar, strangely enough named after my brother, in Adare?

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Bright Guinness mural from Tralee?

For more on my Irish Shenanigans click here…

Powerscourt Gardens – County Wicklow Ireland

If you won the lottery where would you live Jenny?  I would live right here.  Period.  Powerscourt Gardens was thrust upon me 16 years ago whilst taking a sweet little tour called the “Wild Wicklow Tour.”  I was, as they say, gobsmacked.  Primarily the gardens left me speechless.  I love this area of Ireland, Wicklow.  I find it green and lovely and close to Dublin without being IN Dublin.  It has mountains and bogs, and it is near Glendalough and Laragh a few of my favorite little places.

Have I mentioned the gardens?  I am a sucker for a great garden and this one doesn’t disappoint.  In showing my parents Ireland I thought they would really enjoy this place and so I took them there more than willing to visit the place I loved so long ago.

When you walk in to the gardens either turn left or right and spend two or three hours meandering the loop with a smile plastered on your face.  Bring a picnic to drag the smile out a little longer.  I kept thinking it was going to rain on us, not that it would have mattered, but when you are in Wicklow everything turns out roses.

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The iconic view from the pond looking up at the Powerscourt House.

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The noble lion keeping watch over the gardens

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Why doesn’t my garden look like this?

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No large house garden is complete without glorious statues

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For my flower loving friends

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Japanese Gardens in Ireland

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Looking for Rapunzel

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Wondering why this horse isn’t a unicorn in such a lovely place. (Photo courtesy of my Dad!)

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Keeping watch over the pond

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Flower and Bee photo courtesy of my Dad’s awesome photog skills

For more Irish Shenanigans click here…

The Brownshill Dolmen is nearby and should not be missed…

Muckross House – Killarney County Kerry, Ireland

Muckross House of Killarney in County Kerry is spectacular.  It is a 19th century Victorian mansion built in the lush green Killarney Park and sits on a glorious mountainside Muckross lake and waterfall.  The house is open for tours and has been lovingly restored.  The tour tells the story of the Herbert family who built and owned the house for many generations.  It focuses quite prominently on renovations and plans made specifically for a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861.  The house was eventually lost to the Herbert family and purchased, quite inexpensively, by the Guinness family who ironically had marital ties to the Herbert family.  Eventually, in the early 20th century the house and grounds became impossible to maintain and was gifted to the state.  It is now a state park boasting, tours, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, watersports, crafts, weavers, pottery, and more.

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Lovely sunken garden

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Rock garden built on a natural limestone outcropping

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Horse drawn carriages can take you to the waterfall however it is only a short walk if you have the time.

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For more on my Irish wanderings click here…

Fin McCool and his Giant Causeway – Northern Ireland

Pretty much anywhere you go in Ireland is awesome.  (Sorry, but it is.)  Some places just vary in the level of awesomeness.  Giant’s Causeway is a destination location in Northern Ireland that is worth the visit.  It has changed over the years in that there is now a gloriously large and overwhelming visitor’s center.  But, I appreciate the architecture and the audio tour is provides.  Along with this comes a fee to enter. (NOTE: visitors can walk directly down to the causeway from the road if they want to take a hike.  And, I will warn you that it is easier going down that coming back up!)

The causeway is a geological marvel found only in a handful of places in the world. (I am lucky to live near one of them called The Devil’s Postpile near Mono Lake.) The volcanic cooling created octagonal shaped stones that provide a “causeway” from Ireland to Scotland under the sea.  It is said the giant Fin McCool once created this causeway by stomping his feet.  It was also the roadway that led Scotland’s giant to come knocking on Fin’s door.  Luckily for the Irish Fin’s quick thinking wife dressed him up in baby clothes and put him in a baby carriage.  She served tea to the Scottish giant and told him Fin’s father would be home soon.  Seeing the size of the giant baby the Scottish giant fled home thinking the father must be 10 times larger!

Giant’s causeway is situated on the sea with a view of Scotland on a clear day and the Norther island peninsulas.  The causeway road will also drive you along arguably some of the most painfully gorgeous scenery in the world.  We were lucky to have a clear bright sunny day leaving me to think that life, in that moment, could not possibly be any better.

Spend the rest of your day visiting Bushmills, Dunluce Castle, Portrush, Carrick-a-Reed rope bridge, and maybe even Dark Hedges.  My favorite thing to do though is to just meander along the Causeway highway and see where the road takes you.  Because, wherever it takes you I guarantee you will enjoy it.

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Giant’s Causeway Visitor’s Center

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Stones

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Pools filling up

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The iconic wall

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Columns

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Fin McCool’s boot

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Fin McCool’s mother’s chimney

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For more Irish shenanigans click here

For another post on Giant’s Causeway click here…

Magical Carrowmore – Megalithic Cemetery in County Sligo

It’s Halloween…what better way to celebrate than to post about cemeteries!?  It’s no ordinary cemetery though. Carowmore Megalithic Cemetery is gorgeous and unusual.  It is said that an old Giant flying Irish Hag was collecting boulders to build an enclosure for her animals.  She was flying over Carrowmore when she dropped the boulders out of her apron. Those boulders now dot the landscape that is Carrowmore.  Dolmens, cairns, stone circle tombs are in every direction in every size about thirty in total. One can drive around the surrounding farmland and find dolmens or mounds in yards belonging to local farmers.  In fact, every direction you look a cairn can be seen dotting the Knocknarea and Ballygawley mountaintops as though the megalithic people were type A and felt they needed to overdo it a little! (Respect from one Type A to another friend!)  The monuments are some of the oldest in Ireland spanning from around 5-6000 years old!

Happy Halloween friends.  Have fun stepping through the cemeteries this All Hallow’s Eve!

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Seems perfectly reasonable advice for a megalithic grave


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My cute cow is back


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Look closely on the top of the mountain and you will see a tiny bump. That bump is one example of a cairn on the mountains that surround the area. How cool is that?

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To read about Nowth, Dowth, and Newgrange Passage Tombs click here.

For more Ireland shenanigans please click here

Ashford Castle – Cong Ireland

Ashford Castle is a glorious 17th century castle, hotel, garden and golf course worthy of Downton Abby.  My brother and I first visited this location in 1999 on our first trip and we were really taken by it.  We didn’t have enough money to stay there and still don’t but we love to visit.  Located on the outskirts of the Quiet Man village of Cong, Ashford castle is for the rich and famous.  Once owned by the Guinness family this updated medieval castle sits on the lovely Lough Corrib next to a pretty wooded golf course. Visitors can walk the grounds and visit the gardens and even take boat tours.  However, they are no longer allowed inside of the castle without a reservation.  (Boo!)

The adjacent town of Cong is possibly one of the most charming small towns in Ireland.  Cong and Ashford sit on the cusp of Connemara, Ireland’s nature wonderland.  This area is worthy of a visit to bask in the thousands of shades of green available to you. Rest, relax, and renew and have your photo taken with the statue of Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne while you are there.

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If I ever redesign my back yard I would like it to look like this…

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Keeping guard over the castle.

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Official family selfie at Ashford Castle. Say hello to the Collins clan.

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Follow my Wild Irish Road trip here…

PS.  Rest in peace Maureen O’Hara.  I wrote and scheduled this post prior to her passing.  What a lovely Irish movie legend…