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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tea & Scones - Ballyknocken

Ballyknocken Cookery School is located in the Wicklow Mountains, it is a beautiful spot for not only for the school but as well as the bed & breakfast.

The name Ballyknocken stems from Gaelic - Baile an Cnocan - the town land of the little hill.  There is some great history to this place.

The whole group really enjoyed the watching the making of Scones as well as eating them.  The lady who was showing us how to make the scones did an awesome job, and so did the volunteers.

Walked around the grounds here as well, and it is just beautiful.  Herb garden, vegetable gardens, animals including Chickens!!!  LoL

Sorry, for only links to images this time around ... there are some issues.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ireland 2011 - Kilmainham Gaols

Kilmainham Gaols are located in Dublin.  Has a fasinating and very sad history, I couldn't imagine how one would survive here and I am some did not.

Built in 1792 and is currently a Irish Heritage Site, that the public can tour through.  I did the tour, that went through the different areas including the chapel, one of the cell blocks, the courtyards etc. If the walls could talk, them would have much to say.

"From the 1790s onwards, freedom from Bristish rule, as a republic, became the form of political independence favoured by radical Irish nationalists.  More moderate nationalists aspired to "Home Rule", or  constituational independence for Ireland within the British Empire.  A remarkable number of the leading figures of Irish nationalism were imprisoned at Kilmainham Gaol, and some were executed here.

But there is much more to Kilmainham's story; the gaol functioned for most of the its life as an ordinary prison, and the fate of ordinary Men, Women, and Children as convicts is a compelling story in its own right."

The following photos are of the East Wing. 

This part of the prison may seem familiar to some, as it has featured in scenes in the movies. Some of In the Name of the Father, Michael Collins and The Italian Job were shot here.

Mural of a Madonna painted by Grace Gifford Plunkett while she was held during the Civil War.  This is quite a sad story, Grace Gifford Plunkett was married to Joseph Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee; Easter Risings of 1916.  Following the surrender Plunkett was held in Kilmainham Gaol, and faced a court martial. Hours before his execution by firing squad at the age of 28, he was married in the prison chapel to his sweetheart Grace Gifford, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, whose sister, Muriel, had years before also converted and married his best friend Thomas MacDonagh, who was also executed for his role in the Easter Rising.

Throughout the Civil War, vast numbers of republicans were arrested and incarcerated in jails over the country without trial or charge. Grace was arrested with many others in February 1923 and detained in Kilmainham Jail for about three months. She painted pictures on the walls of her cell, including one of the Madonna and Child. She was released in May 1923.

The Prison Chapel

There is alot of history in this place, many things happened here that changed many lives.  If you are planning a trip to Dublin this would be one of the places to go and see.  To get a good sense of Irish history.

Grace Gifford Plunket
Joseph Plunkett
Kilmainham Gaols

Monday, May 16, 2011

London Photo Tour

Today was great!! Lou Smith is a wonderful person and it was an awesome Experience to hang out with her. My creative juices have been restored and I am so looking forward to getting home and going through my photos from today.

We did a big circles and saw quite a few spots in downtown London. Once I get all of my images sorted and edited I will start to share all the little stories that go with them :)

Tuesday is Stonehedge and Wednesday will be time to go home.

Promise to post again once I get home.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Exploring London - May 15th

London is a big place, but there is lots of history here and that just blows my mind!! Did one of the hop on - hop off tours which includes a boat cruise down the Thames River. Got on at Westminister Abbey and cruise east, I believe, towards Greenwich. Well, that was a fascinating trip. Alot of that old warehouses have now been turned in a million pounds or more apartments. Makes me wonder if the people living there know what all use to be shipped in and out there. :). Enquiring minds want to know lol :)

I did get off and wonder just a tiny bit around the buildings there but didn't stay for long because it was a late in the day already and didn't want to miss the boat heading.

Did go under London bridge and it didn't fall down. Also drove over it on the tour bus :). Very pretty and has a great and humorous history .. I guess when it was first open ... Big ceremony and Queen Victoria pushed the button to lift the bridge, it didn't work lol. :)

I walked down the Mall ... Which was closed to motor traffic so you could walk down the middle of the road. So I did get a few photos there as well as Buckingham palace and the big statue in front, which at this time I can't remember the name of??!!

One of the hi-lights was to go into Westminister Abbey to listen to an Organ Recital. Now, the music was not my cup of tea but to sit in there and listen to the organ being play was an awesome experience. However, no photos!!! :(. Which I kinda figured but was hoping that in could. It is a beautiful church and the architecture is amazing. What you see on tv does not do it justice, it would be something you have to see for yourself.

Well, that was very much my day. I hang out with a couple that was on my Ireland tour. They were wonderful and really made for a great day, Thank you Larry & Sharon :)

So one last little tidbit, I rode in a London Cab .. Those funny little cars!!! It was a hoot, and the driver was great so nice we chitchatted all the way back to the hotel :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ireland 2011 - May 12th. - Heading to Northern Ireland

Todays adventures took us to Northern Ireland along the Antrim Coastal Scenic Drive.   There were some awesome views and very beautiful countryside all lush and green.

The tour headed into Northern Ireland, a fascinating and sad history, that I never really understood and still don't, so I think I will have to do a bit of research when I get home.  

We went on a tour of Derry or London-Derry with a gent by the name of Rowan, who was a great guide ... Fun, informative and had a great out look on life.

Now, imagine this ... This gent gets on the bus and introduces himself, thick accent, very much Irish and Chinese lol. And he makes fun of it too!!  He saids he has a Catholic Daddy and a Buddhist Mommy .. So he says that he lives in a city of Catholics, Protestants and One Buddhist.   He was a hoot!

Derry has had a hard history but fascinating ... And now seems to be very  peaceful but not without a lot of hard work to get there.  Where we went on the walking tour was where all of the Orangemen marched and much of the violence happened on the old city walls.  It was an interesting walk.

Then it was now to Bush Mills which is on the coast.  Pretty countryside town just before going now to the Giants Causeway.  Giants Causeway was a great place if the wind wasn't blowing like nuts and it wasn't raining but I did go down and got a few photos.  This was also our lunch break stop.  Now, I must explain, I have lived on fish just about the whole time, and it was wonderful. But for some reason, I ssssooooo wanted a McDonalds burger and fries, I think might have been that I passed by at least 3 of them. LoL. So, today I had a burger and it wasn't to bad ... Fries however, was a different story ... They were like chunky hash browns.  But hey live and learn lol :)

And then it was in to the Radisson Hotel in Belfast.  Did venture off a little bit here before supper, and check out the Victoria Square Mall.  This was interesting, it was sort of an indoor / outdoor mall.  It has all the shops on the exterior of the mall and the interior was open to the outside with a glass ceiling and doom.  It was really neat!!

Now, it is back to Dublin in the morning and Saturday on to London.  And it will soon be time to head home.  It was much to short and had such and awesome time, it is hard to believe it is almost done.

I look forward to sharing my images and short videos with everyone.  

- Posted using BlogPress from iPad 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ireland 2011 - Good Ole Donegal!

Spent the day exploring the County of Donegal and the town of Donegal. Donegal Use to be a port city and mainly a fishing town. The harbor is a beautiful spot and I can't imagine leaving here so many years ago. It was a strange feeling to walk that harbor and to think that my ancestors may have walked in the same place to board a ship to their new world and a new hard life.

Last evening, the group went to O'Donnels pub ... Which was great fun!!! The entertainer was a great fellow and the locals were a great group!! Couple of them even knew where Calgary was and had been to the Calgary Stampede!

Well, this was short but must go or the bus will leave with out me :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Co. Donegal

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ireland 2011 - Sheep Shearing Anyone?? - May 9th

Just a quick note for this evening. Monday morning the group was able to visit the Rathbaum Sheep Farm. It was very interesting to see a full sheep shearing ... I never seen one from then beginning to the end. As well as seeing the beautiful young black and white collie herd the sheep. He was very nerves and unsure of all the strange people in this barn. I got a little video of the 7 week old lambs being feed. Oh and they are so soft!! And such talkers especially when they are hungry.

They feed us tea and fresh scones and it was so go!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bundoran, Ireland

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ireland 2011 - Day for New Things

This morning we were all in Killarney ... what a beautiful town, I wish I had more time to explore but this place will be a place I come back to.  I could of spent hour wandering, exploring and watching the world go pass at some of the outdoor eateries and coffee shops.

The morning consisted of going to the Muckross House and Gardens; Muckross is translated to english as Pig Peninsula.  Their claim to fame at the Muckross House was that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the Herbert Family in August of 1861. Today, the House is owned by the State and many of the rooms have been restored to its original Victorian style.

The gardens are amazing. Many different kinds of plants, flowers, & trees have been bought in from many parts of the world.  The house and gardens over look Muckross Lake, which was extremely rough today.  The wind was just a whipping through the valley.

Muckross House & Gardens

Then it was on to "The Lake Hotel" where we had "Tea & Scones".  Well this was sinfully delicious!!  The scones are covered with red jelly and thickly whipped cream.  It was just awful!!!  Nestling on the lakeshore of Lough Lein, Killarney’s lower lake, The Lake Hotel, Killarney enjoys the most magnificent setting with the truly unique backdrop of the mountains, islands, woodlands and the 12th century McCarthy Mor castle ruins. The Lake Hotel is a four star, family run and owned hotel and has been welcoming guests since 1820, so a long tradition of warm Irish hospitality awaits all visitors.  Truly, beautiful place and wonderful scenery to look at while you are having tea!!

Then it was on to Limerick, but first with a stop at Adare in the Co. of Limerick.  And went to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church which was founded in 1230ad.  The current building was restored in 1811 and 1852. 

Today, was a rainy, windy, and sunny day.  And in the end, we enjoyed an evening of great Medieval Entertainment.  In the lush green countryside of County Clare is beautifully restored Knappogue castle, home of Lord and Lady Gort.  Dine by candlelight in the beautiful  15th century castle of the MacNamaras.  Truly, enjoyed this Authentic Irish Medieval Experience ... Knappogue Castle Banguet

Knappogue Castle Banguet Video

Will try and add some photos tomorrow :)  Got a few good ones from the banguet and also from the Cathedral.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ireland 2011 - May 7

Well, I love holidays where I lose track of time ... I was thinking today was Friday but I informed that no it is Saturday, hahah  So I am going to be working backwards to catchup on the couple of blogs posts that I have missed.  I have also tried to work on a few of the photos that I want to share with you.

We arrived in Killarney, yesterday and stayed an extra night here and will be leaving Sunday for Limerick.Killarney, Dingle Excursion - Saturday May 7

Panoramic views on Dingle Peninsula on the way to Blasket Island Centre, where the group had lunch.  Learn about the way of life and unique literary achievements on the string of remote islands evacuated by the last inhabitants in 1953. 

Blasket Island
Dingle Peninsula
History and Heritage of Blasket Island
Blasket Islands ~ Youtube video shows alot of what the interpretive centre share, only in song.

We first stop to shop today :)  I had my first Irish Coffee, and Dam that was good!!!  At Macken of Ireland.  This place had some very nice stuff, jewerly, hats, scarfs, sweaters and shirts of all kinds.  I tried on a Ireland Heritage Bracelet in white gold (this is your first hint at how much it was) .... it was beautiful but even with the discounts and last years stock ... you were still sitting at 1198eur (not 11.98 --- 1198.00).  It was beautiful but a little bit out of my price range hahaha :) 

The story behind the bracelet is very unique and it would make a great heirloom to pass along.

Mid Morning cocktail or a warm me up!!  Ireland Coffee:  Freshly brewed Coffee, Irish Whiskey, Whipped Cream and much to much sugar ... but it was Good!! LoL

We took The Slea Head Drive that runs along the coast.  It was a drive of a life time not only where the view awesome but the road was heart stopping ... just big enough to get the bus up and down it ... and if you met a car along the way, it made from a tight squeeze!!

At the end of the drive was the Blasket Centre on the mainland in Dun Chaoin on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula is a facinating heriage centre/museum honouring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until their evacuation in 1953.

A view away from the sea looking up the side of the hill on the mainland.  Beautiful and unreal views.

Lunch was delicious!!  Smoked Salmon Sandwich ... well, I cant eat the stuff in the can anymore!!!  And the most sinful chocolate and cookie pie.

Coumeenole Beach, near Slea Head, on the Dingle Peninsula where "Ryan's Daughter" was filmed.  This was a beautiful spot.  I wished the day's weather would have been nicer but that was the way it went.  I did get a very photos just before the batteries on little camera died. 

The evening was to yourself, which I needed.  I found a laundrette again and got some clothes washed.  It was 12euro this time but much cheaper than the hotel.

Remember this is Euros
Jackets: 8.75
Jeans: 6.70
Undies: 2.25
Nightgowns: 4.00

Nuts HuH!!  So finding a laundrette was much easier, well sort of ... had to find it first ... I was told left and left ... well I went left and left and couldnt find it ... it was hiding down a back street ... there are quite a few of those!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ireland 2011 - In Cohb

Last night we all stayed in the Granville hotel at Waterford, Ireland. Waterford is the oldest city and once was a Viking settlement. It has a fantastic and interesting history. We had a short guided historical walk done by a man named Jack and he was and awesome story teller.

Then it was off to Kiss the Barney Stone. And I did do it!!! To say the lest it was and interesting climb of about 150 steps. Make that skinny wet stone spiral staircase!!! It was 20 euros to go in but it was worth it. Your climb to the top and your hang upside down over the edge of the castle and kiss the stone!!! Two very nice gentlemen hang on to you haha. It was interesting!!!

So then it was off to Cohb to drop off our suitcases and down to Queenstown. This is harbor were the Irish navy is located and and the second last place from which the Titanic sailed from. The Titanic picked up passengers for steerage and also lots of mail going to North America. Also many many people also left from Queenstown during the Potato blight Famine. It was a excellent exhibit.

We had a few minutes to snoop around the main street Queenstown. Even saw where the Titanic was dock in the bay and saw a few of the monuments that celebrate the history of the area.

Today, end with an evening to yourself so a few of us went and had supper in the pub/bar and then went and got lost in the rain!!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ireland 2011 - On the Road

Today, start by 8am, we were off to Ballyknocken Cookery School for a deminstration on how to make Sweet Scones and all I can say was "Dam they were good!!" 

Then it was on to Kilkenny Castle, which is really a castle.  I have some photos from here and look forward to sharing them with you.  Unfortunately, right now there just isnt enough time.  But I promise to share once I get home or if there is a little free time later down the road :)

I did rain much for today but there isnt much you can do about it so I enjoyed it and so did all the birds. We spent the evening with a very entertaining fellow by the name of Tom Comerford at the Jack Meade Country Pub.  It was a very good evening spent and then back to the Granville Hotel in Waterford.

Well, the day didnt end until 9pm and it is bed time :)  It was a great day!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ireland 2011 - 5th Day in Dublin - Changed Hotel and a Little Exploring

Do to slow connection speed and other tech. problems you will have to go and check out the Ireland Album at the link at the bottom of the page.

I check out a place called Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). Built in in the 1790's and was in 1796. Facinating but very sad history as well. Ireland has done alot of fighting to gain its indepence from England. I picked up a brochure so if you are interesting in reading it.

I also wanted to check out the Royal Military Hospital and Gardens. It was a beautiful through the garden walk and found another 2 cemeteries which you were unable to go into, not sure if it was because it is a holiday here or it is the norm to have the locked up. But I was able to see through the gate and take a few photos.

At the end of the walk was a big beautiful old building that was once a hospital for injuried soldiers but is now used for the Modern Art Museum. Feel as if you have steped back in time, and I bet there are some great ghost stories that go with this building.

I did some other wanderings today as well, found River Liffey and went across Ha'penny bridge. It use to be a toll bridge to cross was a penny. And found the actually entrance to Temple Bar district.

It was a good day, ending with a drinks & supper with the tour group. Looks like a good mixture of folks and it should be a good trip with everyone.

Ireland 2011 - Extra Blog, Extra Blog!!!

"Daylight Robbery"

During the Georgian Periond when there was a saying started called "Daylight Robbery", while its not what you think.

At that time, there was a tax on glass for windows. So when the house was being built, the main floor got the biggest windows. And as the building progress the windows would get small, second level windows were for the children's and then of course at the very top would be the servent's quarters and their windows would be small.

"Please, Paint Your Doors' Black"

In 1861, Prince Albert passed away and Queen Victoria went into a deep mourning period. And to show support, Queen Victoria asked everyone to paint their doors black. Well, not here in Dublin, just about everyone went out and painted their doors bright colors, yellow, blue, red, green and so on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ireland 2011 - 4rd Day in Dublin ... Well, Sort Of ... ??

Today, I took a day tour out to Wicklow National Park .. very pretty and worth well seeing. First stop along the way was a place called Sallygap, its a beautiful look out over a valley with a glacier lake. The water of this lake appears to be black however, it is actually suppose to be quite clear :)

And then it was off down this tiny winy little road!! Just barely big enough for the bus that I was in. The bus would actually have to pull over some enough to let you other cars go by. It was an interesting and sometimes heart stopping trip!!

The next part of the tour was to a place called Glendalough: The Round Tower and Saint Kevin's Church, Glendalough are set in one of County Wicklow's most beautiful glens. The area is rich in history and dates back to the 6th Century when the hermit, Sait Kevin, founded his monastery here.

I was quite thrilled when I realized it was a cemetery ... yes, yes ... I am weird you must get use to that!!! And it was very old, many old and weathered stones to look at, I wished I had a little more time to look around.

From this point, you walk part way up the valley to where there is a bit of a lake. The walk was awesome, it was a beautiful day to walk, take photos and listen to the birds.

Then it was off to have lunch at Fitzgeralds in Avoca, Co. Wicklow.

Look up a show called Ballykissangel, it is suppose to take place in this village and mostly in the pub. And then off to Avoca Store and Mill Tour. Which was rather interesting as well. Watch a little bit of weaving done.
The World's Oldest Weaving Mill's Established in 1723.