During the week of April 18th, I traveled with my family to Ireland. I got to visit such places as Cliffs of Moher, Cork, The Blarney Stone, Ashford Castle, Kilkenny Castle, and Bunratty Castle. I also tried some of the pubs in the country and tasted different beers, such as Guinness, Bulmer’s Cider, and Smithwicks. Most importantly, I found the people in the Republic to be very friendly and accommodating.
I left Boston on the evening of April 18th and landed at Shannon Airport on the morning of the 19th. We stayed in the town of Adare for our first day in Ireland. That afternoon, we visited the nearby Cliffs of Moher on the coast. I first went inside the nearby museum, which gives a history of the Cliffs were formed and mentiones the fauna that exists in the region, including puffins, various fish, and seagulls. The Cliffs themselves were very breathtaking and reminded me of a peace of Heaven on Earth. I could see a small region of the Aran Islands from the view of the Cliffs on this bright and sunny day. We concluded the day by going to a pub called Pat Collins Pub, where I had a nice and warm Guinness with my meal.
The next two days, we went to Cork, further east in the Republic. We stayed at the luxurious River Lee Hotel in downtown Cork. On Monday, we checked out much of downtown Cork and the shopping centers, where I bought Ireland themed clothing to add to my collection. Later that night, my brothers Brian and Keith, Brian’s girlfriend Amanda and I went to check out Oliver Plunkett’s Pub in the city, where we saw a folk singer do a hilarious Irish themed rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and other songs.
On Tuesday, we visited the Blarney Castle, just outside of Cork. We entered the castle, which was built in the 13th Century. We all walked up the flight of the stairs with the help of the railing to see the Blarney Stone. I didn’t kiss the Stone, which I was told by others has been urinated on by visitors in the past. In order to kiss the stone, one has to bend over and hold onto a railing to get a kiss of this legendary site. After leaving the castle, we then took a look at the nearby gardens and rock formations, including Druid’s Castle, Witch’s Cave, the Wishing Steps, and the Poison Garden, which contains various poisonous plants. Next, we all to went to the local gift shop to buy more Irish souvenirs and had lunch at Muskerry Arms.
We left Cork the next morning to go to Kilkenny. Much of the day in Kilkenny was spent visiting the Kilkenny Castle. I got to learn about the history of the castle during the visit. The castle opened in 1213 and was owned by the Butler Dynasty for centuries. I also realized that there was a fourth wall to the castle as well, but it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell and his forces in the 17th Century. We finished off the night by enjoying a good dinner at Kyteler’s Inn, which was highlighted by Irish folk music.
The next day, we headed off to Ashford Castle on the County Galway-County Mayo border. The castle itself was very majestic and saw a great view of the lake called Lough Corrib and the beautiful fountain on the grounds. We a took a walk around the castle and got to see beautiful gardens with pretty flowers and also saw a tennis court and some locations that was used for the movie “The Quiet Man.” We had a nice lunch of sandwiches and scones served with tea after the long walk and had a great supper at the restaurant in the basement called Cullen’s, which is modeled after a medieval dungeon. It’s no wonder why Pierce Brosnan decided to have his wedding at this luxurious castle.
Friday, the 24th, was the final eventful day of the trip. That day, we stayed at a hotel near Bunratty Castle. The highlight of the day was participating in a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. To accurately reflect the feel of medieval Ireland, guests eat their food by hands and a dagger knife and drink mead and wine with the food. The foods consisted of ribs, potatoes, chicken and vegetables, and dessert. It was great to see the actors reenact the history of the castle and sing various important Irish songs during the banquet. One of the actors frequently stopped by our table and I realized that when he is not acting, he is an accountant, which delighted Brian, who is a certified public accountant. My family and I also bumped into my Aunt Sheila’s friend Kathy Pernock with her husband, Chris and her siblings during the visit to Bunratty Castle. The Ireland trip was a great adventure. I wish I could have visited Dublin, Dingle, the Ring of Kerry, the Aran Islands and Galway, but time was limited and had to leave for the States the next morning.