Thursday, March 1, 2012

September 3-4

Saturday, September 3, 2011
Yay! The rain stopped.  We spent the day enjoying the beautiful sunny weather.  In the morning we watched the runners of the Dingle Marathon pass right in front of our Bed and Breakfast…when we decided to head to Dingle for the weekend we had no idea there was a marathon until we tried to find a place to stay.  Luckily our Bed and Breakfast has a cancellation, so we actually found a place! It was neat to see all of the people out running…and then head back inside for our yummy breakfast. I had a fruit and cheese plate.  I got to try all sorts of new and yummy cheeses, many of them made by the owner, John’s, sister. Impressive! We then headed into town to see what we had missed during the rain.  The harbor was beautiful, we did some shopping, stopped at Murphy’s Ice Cream shop again and then made the drive around the peninsula.  Then it was time to head north on our way back to Shannon for our morning flight home. We took the ferry from Tarbert to Killimer and BARELY made it in time.  They were in the process of closing up the gates when we showed up and they were nice enough to open it back up so we could drive on.  It was fun to ride on the ferry…definitely something I don’t get to do every day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011
Time to travel home! Not anything super exciting…no earthquakes or anything! J I really enjoyed my quiet time away and seeing new places, but I was glad to be headed home. I missed Nate and those girlies! Luckily Miss Camille still remembered mommy and Hannah and Allison woke up for a bit to say hi.  It was nice to be home again!
Camilla, owner of the B & B, cheering on the marathon runners

Dingle Harbor

Statue of Fungi the Dolphin
Driving around the Peninsula

September 1-2

Thursday, September 1, 2011
Today was our taking it easy day! We ate breakfast and mom and I walked around Banagher. We walked up and down the main street in town and checked out all of the little shops. Then Sean, Bonnie, mom, and I headed over to the library in Birr where we could access the internet.  It has been a little bit strange to not have the internet, but it has been a nice break, too! I do wish that we would have been able to use Skype more often, though. When we finally got back home, Dee and grandma had the table all set and food ready to eat.  It was nice to have meal all ready at a more normal eating hour after all of our late nights and strange hours. Then mom and I went and walked down around the marina in Banagher.  It was nice to be outside and moving.  The weather sure has been nice while we have been here!  We have been spoiled!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Today we drove to the Dingle peninsula. It was quite a narrow and windy road to get there, but it was beautiful! Along the way we stopped at the Inch Strand and saw the beach.  It is this crazy strip of sand that sticks out into the water. The Inch Strand and a few other beaches on the peninsula are hot surfing spots for the locals….definitely wear a wetsuit and still plan on being cold! No thank you! Anyway, the clouds, sun, mountains, sand combination while we were at Inch was beautiful! As we got to the town of Dingle the rain started.  We checked into our bed and breakfast (Brownes Bed and Breakfast) and it was super cute. We tried to go out and drive the loop around the tip of the peninsula, but decided to turn around. Because of the rain we couldn’t see much of anything and the driving was a little scary! We headed into Dingle town for dinner at a quaint little restaurant and then called it a night.

The Inch Strand

August 31

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
We couldn’t decide what to do with our day…at first we thought we would head to the Rock of Cashel, then we thought maybe we would stay around Banagher and Birr, and then we ended up going to the Rock of Cashel WITH Sean, Bonnie, and Dee. The Rock of Cashel is a big castle/cathedral that stands on a huge piece of limestone overlooking the city of Cashel. The Castle was the home of the Munster kings and then later given to the church, mostly for political reasons, like the ruler thought his castle would be overtaken anyhow and it would make him look generous. The weather was great!  Our tour guide kept telling us that that normally it would be windy and rainy and not such a fun place, but we had beautiful weather!!! There are 5 different buildings on the Rock.  Cormac’s chapel was built as a private chapel and has beautiful frescos painted on the ceilings. Over the years they had been covered by limewash. Specialists have tried to carefully preserve and uncover part of the paintings, but at this point most of the paintings are still covered. An interesting fact is that the site is still an active burial site.  The site was closed in 1930, so anybody in the town whose name is written in the book in 1930 can still be buried there, but nobody else. There was just a burial a few weeks ago, but there are only 7-8 people still left who can be buried there. We headed back down the hill and had to stop in the Cashel Woolen Shop. We spent a while looking at all of the beautiful sweaters, scarves, and hats in the store.  My mom and I ended up with matching sweaters and Sean bought a shawl for Bonnie and a sweater for himself.  The shop owner was super friendly and helpful.  She was tickled that we were buying things and kept giving us free things!!! She ended up giving me a pink scarf to go with my sweater and my mom got some cookies and marmalade….it made me smile! J We headed back home to Banagher to grab a bite to eat.  As we were getting all of the food out, the power went out! So much for making dinner! We ate some cheese and crackers and my mom, Sean, Bonnie and I headed out to Ballinasloe to Au Tain to listen to Rae play some traditional Irish music at what they call a “session” where local musicians get together and play music. Max and Phyllis Boller where there with Honor and Padraic Colohan. We had a nice time visiting and relaxing…but it made for another late night-IMAGINE THAT!

Rock of Cashel

Grandma, Mom, Dee, Bonnie, and me! (wearing a shirt that disappeared  during our trip...and I could use it now to cover up my growing belly!)
Sean, Rae, and Bonnie

August 30

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Our day in Dublin.  We caught the 8:30 bus our of Ballinsloe to Dublin.  Our bus driver was new and I think he got a little lost at the Dublin airport, so it ended up taking a while longer than we thought it would! Upon arrival we headed across the Liffey River toward the “Spike” which is really the Millenial Tower, or something like that, and then walked down O’Connell street.  The street has statues all down the middle of it.  They are all a bunch of men from Irish history…we didn’t really spend a whole lot of time looking at them, but it is apparent that the birds love to sit on their heads! Down O’Connell Street is Trinity College.  We decided to not do the tour, but we walked around the campus and spent some time in the gift shop.  The Book of Kells is housed at the college.  From what I can tell (without taking the tour) is that it is a copy of the Bible that has some very intricate and beautiful writing and decorations.  They have tons of post cards, books, and calendars of the pictures in the gift shop and I have a feeling I saw more of the book looking at those than I would have on the tour! Then we headed to Grafton Street, which is open only to pedestrians and has tons of up-scale stores.  We stopped and had lunch at Bewley’s where they actually have a theatre as well, but we just ate soup and salad. At one end was St. Stephens’ shopping center which was a three-story mall, but it was built with tons of glass windows and was very pretty.  We walked through St. Stephen’s Green and then headed to the National Museum.  The museum was full of ancient and archeaological history of Ireland.  I was amazed at how much gold they have found in the bogs of Ireland.  Display after display was full of beautifully crafted gold collars, bracelets, belts, etc. all found in the bogs around Ireland. There were also many displays from more recent times with Celtic art and many intricate crosses and relic boxes. There was a TON to see there! Next stop was Murphy’s ice cream.  It is made from the milk of Kerry cows and was DELICIOUS! Their ice creams are all natural and include flavors like balsamic vinegar, mint (made w/ fresh mint), sea salt, and cream.  I tried honeycomb and brown bread, mom had honeycomb and sea salt, and grandma had Baileys. Then up the street to see Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and St. Patrick Cathedral. Back toward Grafton street to do a little shopping, but a little too late because the stores seem to close at 6pm! We did find a Kilkenny that was open and shopped around for a bit.  A fish and chips stop. Back to the 8pm bus to Balinasloe and then on to Banagher.  We sure got our walking in for the day, but it was great to see so many new places!
Grandma and Mom at the Book of Kells

St. Stephen's Green
He has a friend :)
They DO have kids!
St. Stephen's Green
Murphy's Ice Cream- YUM!!!
Dublin Castle
St. Patrick's Cathedral

August 29

Monday, August 29, 2011
Another late night meant another late morning! We met up with Mary (Keating) Mannion, who is grandma’s sister, so that we could see the Annacallagh home (where the Keating family lived). We ended up visiting for quite a while at Mary’s home with her, her daughter Carmel and granddaughter Evette. Then we headed out toward Annacallagh.  First we stopped by where the original Keating home Craughwell home (I’m thinking that this is like the neighborhood, and not the town because it was out in the middle of nowhere!).  The land is owned by somebody else at this point and the house cannot be seen.  We are guessing that the foundation could be found if you stomp around in the field some. It sounds like that home would actually be the one that Great grandma spent most of her time in here in Ireland. At Annacallagh we met up with Mary’s brother Johnny (John) and his wife Kay. They still farm and have all sorts of animals.  Shane (who is Mary’s grandson from her son Ciaran and going into 5th grade) gave us a tour of the place.  We say a turkey, donkeys, horses, a bull, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, lots of cats, and dogs.  I loved it.  Shane showed us his horse Amigo and his brothers, Betty.  There are 29 horses total, but these are the only two that are broken and can be ridden.  The land is beautiful and green.  The old Annacallagh home was pretty big for its time. After visiting with Johnny and Kay, we headed down the driveway to Ciaran (Mary’s son) and Nicola’s home.  The have 3 kids, Ciara, Shane, and (another boy). They also have 2 foster children.  The one foster child we met was about 17 months old…it was nice to see a baby! It was getting late at this point, but Mary still wanted us to go and see her daughter Collette who lived a little ways away.  She has 4 little kids (the youngest being just a few months old) and they live in a beautiful and big home. We were all super tired at this point and ready for our drive back to Banagher! Mom is certainly becoming the professional driver!
Mom, Grandma, and Sean-it is SO GREEN!
Donkey at Annacallagh
Annacallagh from the back
Horses :)
Grandma, Mary Mannion, Carmel, and Sean

August 28

Sunday, August 28, 2011
After another late night we had a late-rising morning.  We headed to Balinasloe to meet up with the O’Connor family. Patricia and John are the parents, Pat’s mom is Kathleen (great grandma Mary Niehouse’s sister who came to the US also).  Grandma Bowen and Pat spent a lot of time together while they were young.  Pat came to Denver each summer because her mom was a widow and had to work in the factory.  Pat was telling grandma that Mary (grandma’s mom) had met her husband (George, who was a doctor) while she was in nurses training. That was something that grandma didn’t know about! Pat was also telling grandma about when she visited and her dad would go on house calls. Grandma would go in to see the patients and Pat would stay in the car because she was sure the people didn’t want to see her!  Grandma would bring her bags of cookies from the patients. Pat and John’s children were there Sheila (and her husband Charlie), Sean (and his wife Mindy) and Sharon (with her husband Joe and daughter Daley).  It was nice to be able to meet up with them. The all live in Illinois (although Charlie and Sheila are getting ready to move to Dallas, TX) so they are actually pretty close to where I live.  Pat and John live in Gallina, which is just across the river from Debuque, IA. Back to Banagher and to pick up Dee and Bonnie and off to Ballymana for the family BBQ.  Once again Padraic and Honor are hosting for all of us!  Gerry and Aoife’s (his girlfiend) sister’s fiancĂ© were doing the grilling. We had another nice time visiting with everybody….this time it was a little less noisy so we could actually hear everybody!!! A family friend brought out an accordion and started to play, Orla sang a few Irish songs and then a few people danced as well.  Time for the mass at the old Clontuskert abbey.  It was the St. Agustine’s feast day so each year on that day they hold mass at the old abbey ruins. It was a very neat place and the weather was great, too! It was a little windy, but the sun was actually shining all afternoon! At the abbey there are lots of the old Keating relatives buried. I took pictures of many of the headstones. Then we grabbed a quick bite to eat with the O’Connors and off to Craughwell to listen to some music and dancing at Cheeters. Rae, Sean’s cousin, even made me dance!  Luckily, he was a good leader and taught me how to waltz, the “rock and roll” and attempted the quick step. I think the waltz was the only one I actually got, but it was a lot of fun!!!

At the family BBQ:
Padriac, Honor, Rusty and her family
Orla singing
John and Pat and their family
Jon and Pat inside the old Colohan home
Inside the old house
The Abbey
Uncle Jack (James Keating)
Sean's father (Peter Keating
 Views from around the Abbey

August 27

Saturday, August 27, 2011
Today we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. We were planning to follow our guidebook’s trip from the Cliffs of Moher through the Burren. We headed down to Lahinch where the drive started.  On the way we stopped at the Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarra.  It is beautifully set right on the water and supposedly they host mid-evil dinners each evening. Then down to Lahinch where there were TONS of people trying to surf in the wind and cold water.  There really weren’t big waves, but the parking lot was packed and if was a family affair.  We stopped for lunch in Liscannor and ate some yummy sea food at the Anchor Inn.  Fish and chips fresh caught and delicious!  The Cliffs of Moher were beautiful.  The visitor’s center was also wonderful and full of great information.  After a pretty cloudy and a bit rainy morning, the sun was peeking out and shining on the cliffs.  The WIND was a bit crazy though!  I had some video of grandma pretty much being blown away! Back into the car and up the road. We took a short side trip down to the little town of Doolin, just across a little bay from the Cliffs. The town was pretty cute and you can take cruises from there out underneath the Cliffs. We also had to stop and take a peek at the Doolin Pitch and Putt….a golf course, but just pitching and putting.  It was sure in a beautiful location right on the water!!! Further up the road we drive through the Burren.  It is a part of the country that is very rocky with hardly any real soil.  We stopped at the Poulnabrone Dolmen. It is a portal tomb and one that is very well preserved.  Two slabs of rock standing upright with one large slab up on top.  Pretty impressive and the people buried there date back to 3000 or 4000 BC. That is a LONG time ago!!! As we were there the sun was beginning to set and the lighting was neat. Back down the road and we had to stop again just past Kinvara because the sunset was beautiful and we wanted pictures!  The sun was setting just over the mountain sticking out into the bay and the clouds were all lit up.  Hopefully the pictures show at least some of the beauty! Then the long drive back to Ballinasloe where we met up with everybody from the wedding for a continuation of the party at the Duck Inn. More food and music and lots of people who were family, cousins, friends, etc!!! Now if only I can remember some names.
Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarna

The view from the Castle
Mom and Grandma checking out the view from the Castle
The Cliffs of Moher

Grandma and Mom blowing away!
Cows at the Cliffs
Doolin Pitch and Putt...the ocean is just over the edge!
Poulnabrone Dolmen

Sunset on the way home