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Ireland

Ireland

After Amsterdam, Alena and I headed to Ireland for the last stop on our European adventures. We flew to Dublin where we spent several days before traveling by train to Galway and later to Cork. From everything I had heard Ireland was a terrific place to visit. Likewise, Alena had nothing but positive things to say about Ireland having traveled there 11 years ago.

Our first stop in Ireland was Dublin, which is has many old buildings like the one above that have been re-purposed to serve the changing needs of the city. As I recall this castle/cathedral is currently being used for some sort governmental function.

Our first stop in Ireland was Dublin, which is has many old buildings like the one above that have been re-purposed to serve the changing needs of the city. As I recall this castle/cathedral is currently being used for some sort governmental function.

Not far from the center of the town is a massive open space that Dublin refers to as Phoenix Park. It is several miles long and has a mix of forest, meadows and several historical sites. The park is also home for a herd of tame deer.

Not far from the center of the town is a massive open space that Dublin refers to as Phoenix Park. It is several miles long and has a mix of forest, meadows and several historical sites. The park is also home for a herd of tame deer.

Did you know that the Duke of Wellington was born in Dublin. It is so ironic to think that the hero of the Battle of Waterloo was an Irishman. Yet for centuries the English considered the Irish generally inferior. This is a monument to Wellington that was built in the Phoenix Park.

Did you know that the Duke of Wellington was born in Dublin. It is so ironic to think that the hero of the Battle of Waterloo was an Irishman. Yet for centuries the English considered the Irish generally inferior. This is a monument to Wellington that was built in the Phoenix Park.

After traveling around Dublin for a few days we finally realized that all roads lead to the St James Gate and the Guinness Brewery. Guinness has been in operation for hundreds of years and been a huge influence on the city and country. If you stop at any pub and ask for a pint, it is understood that you are ordering a pint of Guinness. One morning while we were in Dublin we did the brewery.

After traveling around Dublin for a few days we finally realized that all roads lead to the St James Gate and the Guinness Brewery. Guinness has been in operation for hundreds of years and been a huge influence on the city and country. If you stop at any pub and ask for a pint, it is understood that you are ordering a pint of Guinness. One morning while we were in Dublin we did the brewery.

The tour covered all aspects of the brewing process from the selection of the ingredients through the brewing the beer. Additionally they had a floor dedicated to the various advertising campaigns they used over the years.

The tour covered all aspects of the brewing process from the selection of the ingredients through the brewing the beer. Additionally they had a floor dedicated to the various advertising campaigns they used over the years.

During our tour we were shown how to pour the perfect glass of Guinness. The instructor told us that if not done correctly, the taste will be somewhat diminished. After pouring a perfect pint, we were allowed to taste test our work.

During our tour we were shown how to pour the perfect glass of Guinness. The instructor told us that if not done correctly, the taste will be somewhat diminished. After pouring a perfect pint, we were allowed to taste test our work.

Vaughn’s was one of the coolest pubs I visited while in Dublin. The bartender at Vaughn’s introduced me to a local Irish Hooker. I couldn’t help myself and succumbed to this earthly pleasure.

Vaughn’s was one of the coolest pubs I visited while in Dublin. The bartender at Vaughn’s introduced me to a local Irish Hooker. I couldn’t help myself and succumbed to this earthly pleasure.

Hooker is an IPA style beer brewed in Galway that I thought was delicious. It was my third most favorite beer after the two German beers I previously mentioned.

Hooker is an IPA style beer brewed in Galway that I thought was delicious. It was my third most favorite beer after the two German beers I previously mentioned.

This photo was taken from the Famine Road looking westward down the Killary Fjord. During the famine of 1847 this road was used by starving Irish peasants as the made their way to the various ports along the coast where they boarded ships to take them to America or another country.  Floating in the fjord are buoys used for shellfish farming and harvesting.

This photo was taken from the Famine Road looking westward down the Killary Fjord. During the famine of 1847 this road was used by starving Irish peasants as the made their way to the various ports along the coast where they boarded ships to take them to America or another country.

Floating in the fjord are buoys used for shellfish farming and harvesting.

There are hundreds of miles of spectacular coastline like the one above. I don’t think this one even had a name.

There are hundreds of miles of spectacular coastline like the one above. I don’t think this one even had a name.

Hiking is a big deal in this Ireland. This photo was taken during a short hike on the Kerry Way. The Kerry Way is a hiking trail encircling the Kerry Peninsula and is about 125 miles long.

Hiking is a big deal in this Ireland. This photo was taken during a short hike on the Kerry Way. The Kerry Way is a hiking trail encircling the Kerry Peninsula and is about 125 miles long.

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We discovered ruins of abandoned churches and monasteries are all over Ireland. This ruin is a short distance north of Galway. More recently it has been used as a community cemetery.

We discovered ruins of abandoned churches and monasteries are all over Ireland. This ruin is a short distance north of Galway. More recently it has been used as a community cemetery.

One of the graves at the cemetery had this inscription. It references the fact that the deceased, who died in 1937, was a proud member of the IRA. There is a long history of the Irish people fighting the British for their independence.

One of the graves at the cemetery had this inscription. It references the fact that the deceased, who died in 1937, was a proud member of the IRA. There is a long history of the Irish people fighting the British for their independence.

Entrance to the driveway leading to Castle Hackett.

Entrance to the driveway leading to Castle Hackett.

One of the most interesting places we stayed was Castle Hackett located 30-40 miles north of Galway. It was a fantastic place with large beautiful rooms and a friendly hostess who made us feel right at home. The castle was by built in 1703 by an Irishman who was also a General in the British army. One of its claims to fame is an English King once stayed at the castle.

One of the most interesting places we stayed was Castle Hackett located 30-40 miles north of Galway. It was a fantastic place with large beautiful rooms and a friendly hostess who made us feel right at home. The castle was by built in 1703 by an Irishman who was also a General in the British army. One of its claims to fame is an English King once stayed at the castle.

Another view of Castle Hackett from the long driveway.

Another view of Castle Hackett from the long driveway.

Alena enjoying a beverage at the castle.

Alena enjoying a beverage at the castle.

This is the ruins of a friary near Tuam. It was first built in the eleventh century and expanded and rebuilt several times thereafter.

This is the ruins of a friary near Tuam. It was first built in the eleventh century and expanded and rebuilt several times thereafter.

Inside the friary Alena is examining the inscriptions on the walls and grave stones. According to the history on the plaque, the monks who lived here were driven out seven times and seven times they returned to reestablished their community.

Inside the friary Alena is examining the inscriptions on the walls and grave stones. According to the history on the plaque, the monks who lived here were driven out seven times and seven times they returned to reestablished their community.

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A picture perfect river near the town of Cong.

A picture perfect river near the town of Cong.

The inscription on this plaque outlines the history of the monastery in Cong, which is typical of the ones we visited during our travels.

The inscription on this plaque outlines the history of the monastery in Cong, which is typical of the ones we visited during our travels.

Tides in all of the coastal areas we visited were 3-4 feet. In a few hours this boat would floating again.

Tides in all of the coastal areas we visited were 3-4 feet. In a few hours this boat would floating again.

Sheep are everywhere in Ireland, and they don’t seem to have any fear of cars. Several times we encountered sheep like these walking alongside the road.

Sheep are everywhere in Ireland, and they don’t seem to have any fear of cars. Several times we encountered sheep like these walking alongside the road.

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I was totally blown away by the stone fences that saw throughout Ireland. These industrious people cleared the land of boulders and used the stones to build fences like the ones in this picture. It is mind boggling to consider how much labor was invested to do this work..

I was totally blown away by the stone fences that saw throughout Ireland. These industrious people cleared the land of boulders and used the stones to build fences like the ones in this picture. It is mind boggling to consider how much labor was invested to do this work..

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I’m not sure, but I think they spray paint on the sheep to identify their owner.

I’m not sure, but I think they spray paint on the sheep to identify their owner.

This field is where potatoes were once planted and harvested. See the ridges up the hill. That all came to an abrupt end in 1847 when the potato blight hit Ireland. Potatoes were the staple crop of Ireland at that time, which the peasants depended on for their daily sustenance and as a cash crop. Since the Irish only grew one variety, the blight literally wiped out their entire potato crop. Prior to 1847, there were 8 million people living in Ireland. The famine resulted in 1 million deaths due to starvation and another 2 million emigrated to the United States and other countries to avoid a similar fate. To this day Ireland’s population is still less than 8 million.

This field is where potatoes were once planted and harvested. See the ridges up the hill. That all came to an abrupt end in 1847 when the potato blight hit Ireland. Potatoes were the staple crop of Ireland at that time, which the peasants depended on for their daily sustenance and as a cash crop. Since the Irish only grew one variety, the blight literally wiped out their entire potato crop. Prior to 1847, there were 8 million people living in Ireland. The famine resulted in 1 million deaths due to starvation and another 2 million emigrated to the United States and other countries to avoid a similar fate. To this day Ireland’s population is still less than 8 million.

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At this castle we attended a banquet one evening.

At this castle we attended a banquet one evening.

Banquet Hall.

Banquet Hall.

Live performance a the banquet.

Live performance a the banquet.

The name of this coast line south of Gallway is the Cliffs of Moher

The name of this coast line south of Gallway is the Cliffs of Moher

Mo Moher.

Mo Moher.

Believe it or not, some people were swimming in these chilly waters.

Believe it or not, some people were swimming in these chilly waters.

This gull looks a lot like the one that stole my empanada in Helsinki.

This gull looks a lot like the one that stole my empanada in Helsinki.

Coastline along the Dingle loop.

Coastline along the Dingle loop.

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Another brewery that we really liked was a small operation called the Killarney Brewing Company. They brewed an excellent Belgium Ale.

Another brewery that we really liked was a small operation called the Killarney Brewing Company. They brewed an excellent Belgium Ale.

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Below you can see the shadow of the tram car we used to cross a channel to visit a small island off the coast. The operator told us that in addition to transporting people they also use the tram to transport sheep to/from the island.

Below you can see the shadow of the tram car we used to cross a channel to visit a small island off the coast. The operator told us that in addition to transporting people they also use the tram to transport sheep to/from the island.

The town of Killgorin has a unique celebration that has been going on for many years. Legend has it that a couple hundred years ago a goat came into town to warn the local population that the British Army was on its way, thus enabling the town to prepare a defense. Every year thereafter the town has caught a wild goat in the hills and made him King of the three day Puck Fair. After honoring the goat he is released back into the wild. This year’s King seemed to be pretty calm about the whole affair.

The town of Killgorin has a unique celebration that has been going on for many years. Legend has it that a couple hundred years ago a goat came into town to warn the local population that the British Army was on its way, thus enabling the town to prepare a defense. Every year thereafter the town has caught a wild goat in the hills and made him King of the three day Puck Fair. After honoring the goat he is released back into the wild. This year’s King seemed to be pretty calm about the whole affair.

One of the castles we visited. Before the English conquered Ireland, the country was divided into areas controlled by clans. At the center of their area the leader of the clan usually built a castle for protection.

One of the castles we visited. Before the English conquered Ireland, the country was divided into areas controlled by clans. At the center of their area the leader of the clan usually built a castle for protection.

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Skellig Michael is rugged rock of an island about 20 miles off the coast of Ireland. Around 300-400 AD monks first landed on the island and built a monastery, the ruins of which still exist today. The two small bumps to the left of the tallest point are beehive structures that the monks built.  Scenes from two Star Wars Movies were also filmed on the Island.

Skellig Michael is rugged rock of an island about 20 miles off the coast of Ireland. Around 300-400 AD monks first landed on the island and built a monastery, the ruins of which still exist today. The two small bumps to the left of the tallest point are beehive structures that the monks built.

Scenes from two Star Wars Movies were also filmed on the Island.

This island near Skellig Michael is home to a colony of 70,000 gannets. The gannets are the whit spots you see against the dark rock. Almost looked they had a recent snow fall.

This island near Skellig Michael is home to a colony of 70,000 gannets. The gannets are the whit spots you see against the dark rock. Almost looked they had a recent snow fall.

A fortress built around 600 AD.

A fortress built around 600 AD.

Germany Part 2 and Amsterdam

Germany Part 2 and Amsterdam