Saturday, May 12, 2018

Last Tango in Dublin

We began our last full day in Ireland with a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a number of people had recommended it. They were right. It manages to be both a national shrine and a vital community center.

The cover of St. Patrick's well from which he baptized folk. The well is said to have been near here

In many ways the cathedral is a monument to Dean Swift, who saved it from ruin.

A modern sculpture of St Patrick. They ask you not to photograph the other two.

Sir Richard Guinness, sitting on the grounds, restored the cathedral in the 1860s.

After that, Sharon decided to go back to the hotel, still suffering from what now had become bronchitis, and I decided to wander the town one last time, making my way, circuitously, from the cathedral through several neighborhoods to the shopping precinct around Grafton Street, which I remember wandering happily through the last time we were here. I spent no money, sigh, but had a nice look-see before heading back to the hotel. And that was it.

The superintendent's lodge in St Stephen's green. Also the site of battle in the Easter Rising.

Throughout the green are statues and memorials to Ireland's patriot-martyrs.

Finally, Grafton Street

Some final impressions: all the love for Ireland that we developed over two previous visits was reconfirmed this time. As we learned more of everyday Irish lives and the tragic history of this joyous nation our respect deepened. When we first visited in 2003Ireland was the “Celtic Tiger.” Education, technology were all transforming the country. Then in 2009 we saw the nation at its low point when it was derisively labeled one of the EU, “PIIGs” Talking with one of our cabdrivers (they are the philosophers of the nation), I opined that this time the nation seemed to be about 70% back to its 2003 form and he said he thought I was about right.

Our second hotel in Dublin was The Clayton at the new South Docklands development and we were opposite this familiar icon. 

Their world headquarters are no more than ten miles from our home in the US.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Last Days

Kinnitty Castle

After our land and sea assault on the Cliffs of Moher we drove just a few kilometers to our last hotel before returning to Dublin, The Kinnitty Castle Hotel. 

On the way we stopped for a couple of hours at Yeats' Thoor Ballylee where he lived and wrote for several years.

Yeats' writing room recreated in the tower. We were curious about the quill, but it was a bit of curatorial license. Like the rest of us Yeats wrote with a fountain pen.

Knees or no knees I was ready to climb the stairs all the way up, Sharon wisely demurred

In recent years Kinnitty castle has gone through several owners and it kind of shows. It reminds me of the old Empire Hotel in Manhattan back in the 1970s, shabby elegance. Still it was fun to stay there and roam the halls just a bit.

Our room, it was way up in what Sharon figures must have been the servants' quarters

She was ready to take home the bench

From there we meandered through the stark beauty of the Slieve Bloom Mountains on the way back to Dublin where we handed back our huge SUV to Enterprise. 

Wednesday will be our final full day in Ireland. We’ll tour St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the morning with the afternoon free for whatever happens.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cliffs of Moher

What can you say about the Cliffs of Moher? They are awe inspiring and Ireland’s most visited natural site. Like the Grand Canyon in the US, people come from all over the world. They are spectacular and we got ourselves a double dose, by land and by sea, walking a mile or soon the trail and then going out on one of the many excursion boats departing from Doolin Pier.

The 19th century O'Brien Tower actually gives perspective among tower, people, and cliffs

A different perspective, from the sea

The previous couple of days we had stayed at a couple of disappointing B&Bs, so we were due for a change and we got it at Ballinalacken Castle Hotel. The hotel is not really in the 15thcentury castle, rather it is in the 1840 home that the O’Brien family built next to the castle. In 1938 the grandparents of Denis O’Callaghan bought it from the O’Briens and the family has run the hotel since. The O’Callaghans are the soul of this place, Denis giving tours of the old tower before dinner, and then serving you dinner afterward. The place is delightful and we had a fine stay and a noteworthy meal, though I do not think Denis or his wife cooked it. They do everything else. We cannot praise this place highly enough.

What is most notable about the castle is that it has been unmolested since the 19thcentury. You see it as it was, and the other thingis the degree to which Denis knows every stone and cranny and what he could tell us as we climbed up the tower.
The 19th century house and tower

Just a few details

Denis O'Callaghan, the owner of hotel and tower is to the right

Rosa, semper vigilantis