Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Stereotype of Ireland

There are stereotypes of Ireland out there:  leprechauns, Guinness, castles, Celtic crosses, but none of them are mine.  Mine is ICE CREAM!
Ice cream is sold everywhere ... the news agents, gas stations, tourist attractions,  and everywhere else and everyone is buying it.  You see business men in suits slurping away, gang type, tattooed men licking the drips, harried mothers nibbling the cones and giving the babies tastes.  It's like a countrywide contagion which I'm not opposed to in any way.
We knocked off two tourist sites before noon.  First we went to the monastic complex of Clonmacnoise which was founded by St. Ciaran around 549 AD.  There are still weekly church services on the site but we were there to see the ruins and the over 600 gravesites. 

This is the ruin of a castle just outside the Clonmacnoise site.
Then we were off to Birr to see the award winning gardens at the castle.  The Parsons family have been living in the castle since 1620 and since it's their private home, you cannot tour it.  The grounds are fabulous though and I enjoyed every part.

A claim to fame of Birr Castle is the great telescope which was the largest in the world when it was built in 1840 and was not surpassed for over 70 years.
I hope you can spot me in this photo as it's the closest you are going to see me today.  The power was off when we got up and the water heat must be connected to the power and be immediate heat for it was icy cold.  Without hot water and without a hair blower, let's just say I didn't look my greatest today.
The lily pond had yellow and white lilies in bloom, a contrast to mine at home which are pink.

Next we headed to Belvedere House and Gardens where we were lucky enough to have the manager walk along with us for awhile.  He had a lot to ask and a lot to tell.  The number of employees the place has is in the single digits and all the garden is maintained by 17 students.  I believe all the employees work in the reception center, store, and restaurant.
One reason I really wanted to go here is that I had read about the Jealous Wall Folly.  The Earl of Belvedere built the wall to block the view of his brother's more opulent mansion.  He believed his brother was having an affair with his wife so imprisoned his wife in their home for 31 years. 

Belvedere House has stunning views of Lough Ennell.
Bob didn't think that was enough touring for the day so he went on a Viking Boat ride to learn that while the Norwegians were heading to Newfoundland, the Danes were happy to be plundering Ireland and then he toured Athlone Castle.  I chose to be a lazy bum.
We had a drink in Sean's Bar this evening.  It has the Guinness World Book of Records' distinction of being the oldest bar in Ireland as it started in 900 AD.  The floors are really sloped because it's on the river and when there was flooding, the water would come in the front door and rush out the back.
When we travel, we like to check out grocery stores so here are a few photos from them.  I was surprised to find Canadian beer but saw from the label that it's made in the UK.


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