November 18, 2013

Ireland 2013: "Thanks a Million!"

A recent business trip for Danielle found us both going to The Emerald Isle for a few days prior to her work engagement. I really didn't know what to think as I have never been to Ireland and heard the weather this time of year was dodgey. As a traveler and sight-seer it was in the words of the Irishman “Brilliant".

Click thumbnail below or scroll down to view content from each day.

  • First Night: Galway

    Galway our first stop in Ireland brought us in with a rainbow and plenty of pubs.

  • Second Night: Clifden

    Clifden is located in County Galway on the North Atlantic Ocean side of the Emerald Isle.

  • Third Night: Clifden

    Our second night at Abbeyglen Castle was preceded by an epic day.

  • Fourth Night: Doolin

  • Fifth Night: Limerick

    Poulnabrone dolmen is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, dating back to the Neolithic period.

  • HOME

    Statue of Liberty, World Trade Tower, Mass Public Transit. Good Ole U.S.A!

As a photographer it was very challenging dealing with the weather on a constantly changing basis. Thirty mile an hour winds one moment, rain the next -- Oh wait look to the left, Rainbow!

Did I mention I had to drive on the left side of the road? That was crazy at first but I was surprised on how quickly I caught on. However, the aspect of Irish driving that did not get normal for me in my five-day jaunt was the high speed limits on roads for what we would consider one-lane roads or golf cart paths in the U.S.

First Night: Galway

On the drive from Shannon Airport to the international port city of Galway we stopped at the small fishing village of Kinvarra for our first proper look at the Atlantic Ocean and our second rainbow of the day.

Our first night was spent in Galway which was a very nice city filled with college students and people from many different areas, was a great way to get accustomed to the smell of the coal-burning stoves and the rain.

Despite a good deal of rain off and on, I saw one of the most beautiful sunrises that first morning there that bathed our entire room in pinks and golds. Honestly we were surprised how well the water drained in an area that seems to have rain just about everyday.

The streets were lined with shops in the downtown proper of Galway. Window dressings and street performers caught the attention of those passing by. Before turning in we stopped at a tiny shop called The Pie Maker for the most delicious Apple and Banoffee Pie we've ever had.

The woman working, Sonja, she was very cordial and full of life, she was an artist and said one of her greatest role models is Frida Kahlo. She had a quote from her on the chalk board.


Second Night: Clifden I

These are the remains of a 15th or 16th century Monk’s fishing house located on the grounds of Cong Abbey in Co., Mayo.

The town of Cong is home to a piece of American film making history. "The Quiet Man", directed by John Ford starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed there (Never heard of it). The remnants are all over town with shops and sculptures. There was a beautiful castle called Ashford Castle with grounds that were more impressive than the castle itself. It featured a garden in the back of the property that had a beautiful Japanese Maple.

Danielle strolls through the radioactive path home to a gorgeous Japanese Maple in full fall coloring.

Horse Chestnut leaves litter the forest floor near the grounds of Cong Abbey in Co., Mayo.


Third Night: Clifden II

Night three was followed by an adventurous day. We headed out before breakfast to look for the good light. We ran into some of the Connemera ponies we'd heard so much about on the roadside and they were very friendly. After breakfast we were encouraged by our hotel staff to head out to see Clifden castle.

This is where the trip experienced its first "full-blast" moment.

The gates to the property where the castle sits is very inviting. This gives the false sense that the property is not private -- it is -- or that the road to it is navigable -- it's not.

This video chronicles the daring rescue of the car by Danielle. Complete with post-rescue analysis.

For as traumatizing as the hour-long mud rescue could have been for Danielle and me, we rallied and made it to both a former girls school, Kylemore Abbey (above photo) and Connemara National Park (below photo) for a 5 mile hike. All this capped off by a lovely evening dining with a couple of American medical students we ran into at our hotel - one of which even went to UK and was from Lexington.

- Kylemore Abbey

A Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Abbey, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I. The current Mother Abbess of the Benedictine Community is Mary Margaret Funk.

- Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park was founded and opened to the public in 1980. It features 2,957 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and forests. The entrance is situated on the Clifden side of Letterfrack. There are many remnants of human civilization within the park. There is a 19th century graveyard as well as 4,000 year old megalithic court tombs. Much of the land was once part of the Kylemore Abbey estate.


Fourth Night: Doolin

Danielle and I had our photo taken by 1 of 5 people we saw at the Clifs. Usually there are about 4,000 visitors per day. Photo by ?

This post so far has featured many photos of Danielle. That is because she is so important to me. I really owe the entire trip to her planning and research in making the experience so great.

I am so blessed to have such a caring wife, who is selfless and kind. I am a very lucky man.

One of the 5 rainbows we saw this day was on the famed Cliffs of Moher near Doolin.

We spent most of the day driving to the Cliffs of Moher arriving about an hour before the sun went down. We knew these were the top tourist attraction in all of Ireland, so to our surprise, we basically had the whole coastline of cliffs to ourselves.

One of the 5 rainbows we saw this day was on the famed Cliffs of Moher near Doolin.

Once we had viewed our 5th rainbow of the day, seen one of the most spectacular formations in the world, it was time to head to our B&B. The Sea View Inn, where we of course enjoyed tea and biscuits once we arrived as we did at many of our stops, was named appropriately due to the view of the town of Doolin and the Atlantic Ocean.


Fifth Night: Limerick

Window dressings along Thomas Street depicting famous fairy tales -- the sexed up versions. This one is the Tommy Hilfiger meets Cinderella

After all day of driving we made it to Limerick. It was dark and rainy when we arrived and when I left the next morning to go to the airport it was dark. My assessment of Limerick will be limited.

We did have an awesome meal that night though. We walked a few blocks in the pouring rain to a place called Freddy's Bistro but when we arrived looking like a couple of wet Pomeranians to our dismay the restaurant was booked that night for a private party. Luckily the Maitre-d' felt bad gave us an umbrella and sent us on our way to a place called Cornstore, which we liked immediately because we have a friend named "Corn".

Their menu featured a fixed price menu with a three course meal which was phenomenal. I had started with the prawns and had pork belly for the main dish and finished with hazelnut creme brûlée. Also I thought it would be appropriate to sample some of the Irish Whiskey my friends raved about. I was given a very conservative pour of Yellow Spot, a 12 year single pot, that was very smooth.

On our walk back to the Pier Hotel we saw more provocative window dressings, so that was a plus.

Danielle made a photo of her dessert, a no flour chocolate cake. Too dense and rich for me.



Back in the U.S., I wanted to see some of New York City with my 5 hour layover.

My goal was to see the Statue of Liberty. That almost didn't work out. Using the excellent public transportation from New Jersey Penn Station to the World Trade Center, I made it as far as Battery Park area but realized I would miss my connecting flight if I went all the way to the end of Staten Island.

I did have a chance to see a pickup basketball game near the WTC Tower, so that was nice.

A group of teenagers play basketball near Battery Park in New York City.


Pin It