Ireland

The plane from Schiphol airport left early therefore we booked in to a hotel near the airport the night before. We had time to visit Zandvoort for a beach walk and a large helping of chips and kibbelings. Shuttle bus to Schiphol and the booking in went smoothly. Because we started the day early, when we arrived in Cork we could start  exploring Ireland immediately.  First stop we made was the last official stop of the Titanic. After that a visit to the original Jameson whisky distillery. Susan took a liking to the product and ordered it at every opportunity.

 

 
         Lunch in a restaurant with a view                                    No comment
 
We had to pay for our own lunches but the places were nice. Most of the time we ordered chowder. A thick fish soup. Apart from one hotel, all were nice with fantastic English breakfast and dinner. Next day to Kinsale and Bantry. Kinsale is a fishing village. On an Garnish sland near the coast fabulous gardens and we sailed past a seal colony.
 
 
                  Seal colony near Kinsale                                Typical row of houses.
 
When you walk through a village it is completely different from anywhere else. Each house has it's own colour. This stems from the time before house numbers.
Next day to the Killarney national park. We drove through the park on a horse drawn carriage. A big castle at the edge of a lake was the big attraction here. The evening attraction was a traditional dance depicting the Irish culture.
 
 
                             Ross castle                                    Colours and flowers like this are everywhere.
 
Day four. The Ring of Kerry. This is a 170 KM road following the coast of the Iverach peninsula. Fabulous views, dainty villages. We had a demonstration of Border Collies herding sheep. We had seen it before because this is the standard way in Oz but still interesting. Spend the night in Tralee. At night the whole group walked in to town in search of traditional Irish music. When we arrived at one place it was chockers but we managed to find a table and had a great time here. I like this type of music.
 

 
     Anneke's birthday was celebrated in style.                   The tour group listening to Irish music.
 
Day five. Anneke's birthday. Susan had bought flowers and the whole group sang happy birthday. Visited Crag Cave. When you have been in caves before this one is a waste of time. In Limerick is a big open air museum showing off the old style buildings. Those of you who have been in the Arnhem openlucht museum will know what it looks like. Again an old castle the big attraction.  Every day we drive around 200 KM. I have great admiration for the driver. A big coach on narrow roads with often no space beside the bitumen. A tall hedge or stone wall. We often had to stop because a car came from the opposite direction. When you have a window seat the hedges fly by just inches from your face. Next stop Ennis where we spend three nights.
 
 
          View on the Ring of Kerry                                                            Village scene
 
 
            Bunratty Castle in open air museum                             Sheep auction
 
The hotel in Ennis had never been used by the tour operator. The room stank of cigarette smoke. I was surprised to see that it was allowed to smoke in a hotel room. The kitchen was run by a Chinese restaurant. In short it could be better. But this was the only time the whole group complained.
Day six. A trip to the Connemara district. Here flowing hills. A lot of lakes because they still use peat for heating. There is even a giant electricity plant which runs on peat. The town of Galway in the afternoon, where there was a market and sheep auction. I have not mentioned the weather yet because this was the big unknown. We did have rain but all in all we were very lucky. Most churches we visited were very simple. Even the older ones, this compared to the ones we saw on the mainland.
 
 
   One of the many fabulous views.                Galway.    This is one of the most imposing churches.
 
Day seven. A tour through the burren. This is a turf producing area with also a boulder thrown landscape. The most imposing part of the tour was a visit to the cliffs of Moher. Probably the most spectacular view in Ireland. Luckily the weather was perfect. The only dissonant was a young driver decided to modify the bus and his car. On those small roads you can not fly around a corner without knowing what is on the other side.
 
 

Cliffs of Moher

 
Day eight. We are slowly heading towards Dublin and the end. A visit to Clonmacnoise , a medieval "klooster nederzetting" situated beside the Shannon River. All buildings are in ruin but they still have original Celtic crosses. After dinner we made a tour through Dublin which included a visit to the nightclub area Temple Bar. No loud disco music but a lot of live bands playing traditional Irish music. 
 
 
       One of the buildings at Clonmacnoise                                           Temple Bar
 
Day nine. A tour through the Wicklow Mountains. Great views on the way and a castle (Powercourt) with beautiful gardens. In the afternoon to a peninsula near Dublin where all the fishing boats are. The seals swim here in the harbour. Afternoon tea with an Irish coffee.
 
 
                   Powerscourt gardens.                                  This seal just caught something to eat.
 
Day ten and time to head home again. Before we leave we were let loose in Dublin. First photo had to be from the Molly Malone statue. Famous song in Ireland. Visited some churches. We had to pay to get in and they were not very impressive. 
 
 
                    Molly Malone                                                 Saying goodbye.
 
 
 
Conclusion. The part of Ireland we visited, South and Southwest was very interesting. Their culture is very similar to what we are used to. The scenery is spectacular the people very friendly and their beer downs easily. There is a lot of history here but when you come from the mainland you might be a bit blasť about it all. Luckily the weather worked in our favour a bit of rain every now and then but nothing to spoil the day.