Trip Report 11 day June Trip

Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 06:43 AM
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Trip Report 11 day June Trip

Departed US on 9 June, arriving in Shannon 6 AM Irish time on Thursday, June 10th, via Aer Lingus from Boston. Returned from Dublin on 21 June (Mon), Aer Lingus to JFK, NY. Our group consisted of my wife and myself (early 50's)and our daughter and her husband (mid-to-upper 20's). First visit for them, 6th in 5 years for us. Had a rough flight from Boston, severe turbulance, especially on take-off and initial ascent, plus plane was full. Arrived to heavy rain, which dampened the normal adrenal rush of being "home". Had booked a 5 passenger People Mover from Sixt, via Irish Car Rentals ("Fiat Doblo, Ulysee, Seat Alhambra, or similar" - according to the web-site). Had to settle for an Opel Meriva, which is actually smaller, but marginally meets the general vehicle description. They accepted my MasterCard CDW Waiver with no grief, however, and the vehicle was adequate (barely)for our space and luggage needs. If there is a weak link in Irish travel, the whole car rental thing is it. Has anyone ever gotten through that part tottally unscathed?

Day one: Stopped briefly in Bunratty (which I knew would be closed, due to the hour)to eye-ball the Castle and Durty Nellies and draw some Euros from the ATM. Had intended to stop in Limmerick for brief view of King John's Castle, the Treaty Stone, and again at Lough Gur, but everyone was overly tired from the bad flight and discouraged by the hard, driving rain, so we pressed on toward Cork City. By the time we reached Mallow, the rain stopped, but by then we were committed to press on to where we were staying, in Watergrasshill (12 KM east and noth of Cork. My wife has cousins there and they had provide us with use of a semi-detatched house in a housing estate in the village. We arrived at the cousins' about 10:30, visited for about two hours and then retired to our house for a two-hour 'recovery nap'. Went back to the cousins' for a welcoming dinner that couldn't be beat and then sat around the kitchen table talking until after 11 PM. On the drive back to our house that night, our daughter told us that if all that we did for the rest of the trip was to duplicate this first evening, then she would have the best trip that she had ever taken.
More to follow ...
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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 06:50 AM
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Sounds like a great start (minus the usual car hassles) even with the rain. Looking forward to more.

Bill
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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 02:46 PM
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Day 2: Travel note -- This time of year, the sun rises in Ireland about 4:30 AM and it doesn't really get dark until after 11 PM. It can play Hell with your internal clock. Expect to be fatigued, throughout.
We met up with Cousin U***, who drove us to Blarney for the kid's obligatory stop (FYI - The Manor House is currently closed to the public, for renovations, although the Castle and Gardens are open. We then dropped into the Rising Tide resturaunt for an exquisite late lunch, and then went on to Midleton, for a brief visit to U***'s newly remodeled shop, before returning to Watergrasshill. The house we stayed in shared a common wall with Cousin B***, who was staying there while her own house is being built. Both homes are owned by Cousin U*** and her husband, who built the estate. B*** collected us about 9PM and we walked into the village to a BBQ party at the Fir Tree Bar, celebrating the one year anniversary of their reopening after a complete rebuild. Numerous cousins met us there and we whiled away the night to the pervasive sounds of flowing Guiness, "Fat Frogs" (you have to try a couple of those!!!) and Music by Scappa Flow. We wandered back home about 1 or 1:30.

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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 02:57 PM
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More, please!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 08:45 PM
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Day 3: Awoke at 7 AM (that ?<@>*! sun!)Went for a drive into the village for newspaper and snacks. Went to cousin U***'s for breakfast, then departed for Kinsale, about noon. Did walking "tour" of town, had lunch at Gina's Cafe (desserts to die for!). Temperature in upper to mid 60's, but blue sky and gorgeous. Drove to Charles Fort, then sat on the wall of the parking area and watched the sailboats glide across the water. Breath-taking views. Home by five for dinner, rest and clean up, then it was on to the 'main event' of our visit - a suprise 40th birthday party for cousin U***. We had arrived and "hung out" to keep her distracted, while her parents, siblings and husband had put the finishing touches on a surprise party that had bee in the planning stages since last June - Live entertainment, catered food (including a spit-roasted pig) lots of beer, wine and "minerals (soda) and over 250 invited guests. The party started about 8 PM, with the guest of honor arriving about 10. We Yanks bailed about 1:30, but the entertainers stayed "on" until 3:30 AM. Found out later that most guests left about 7:00, but a few stragglers hung on until 10! The party was mostly outdoors. They had a bonfire, a huge floored and walled tent and the back yard was decorated with a Hawaiian theme. While there was plenty of drinking and a fair bit of 'cussing' in the Irish fashion (different country, different standards)old and young mixed and mingled without any appearance of discord. There were lots of sentimental Irish ballads sung and there was dancing to good old fashioned Rock and Roll, Country music and, of course, lots of Elvis tunes. It doesn't get much better than this folks. We were in the thick of it all, for as long as we could last, welcomed and accepted as part of the community, as family and as visitors. The most frequently asked question? "And how long are ye home for?"
And our friends stateside wonder what the facination is all about!
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 04:51 AM
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Day 4 (Sunday):
Woke up at 7 again, but let the others sleep in. Dropped them off at the village church for Mass at 11:30 and went solo exploring. Drove into Glanmire on the old N8 (the new bypass schemes, when complete, will be a boon to travel for both the tourist AND the Irish, but ...)and then north, to check out Cousin B***'s new home construction site. It is about 3/4ths complete -- a big, (3000+ square foot, two storey farmhouse style, detatched home on close to an acre --the Celtic Tiger Economy is alive and well! A great thing for the Irish, but I fear that one day, if this boom keeps up, Ireland may become too expensive for a lot of us visitors. See it now, before the Real Ireland either disappears or gets replaced by the hokey, Lepracons (sp) and "charmin', simple folk"- "Begosh an' Begorrah! tourist crap.
Collected the group a 12:30 and then drove into Cork city. Had lunch at one of the kitzy resturaunts on Grand Parade and stolled along Patrick Street, past the English Market (closed on Sundays), but did some shopping along the way, as most stores open at 1 or 2.
Drove to Wilton area of suburbs (east of the City where we visited with Cousin P*** and his family, then back to Cousin S***1 for dinner and visiting about the party. In for the night at 10PM, but the kids stayed on and caught a ride home about 11.
Hang with me, folks, the tourist stuff IS still to come.
Day 5:
After a late breakfast at the Watercress Restraunt in the village, we drove out to Macroom on the N22, then turned north on the R583 to Millstreet. Along the way is Ballincollig, Macroom and Kilmeedy Castles, and, if you turn off to the east (right), following the signposts, a wealth of archeological, historical and natural beauty sights - Knocknakilla - stone rings, stone circles, standing stones and a recreated dolmen -- all sitting atop Mushera Mountain in the Boggeragh Mountain chain, with unparralleled views of Clara Mountain and the North Cork Valley. Also there is st. John's Holy Well and the Millstreet Country Park.
We drove on into Millstreet, had lunch at the Wallis Arms, then drove to the little cemetary, at the first left, just past the entrance to Drishane Castle. We did not stop into Carnegie Hall to visit the Museum, as it was a school day and our good friend Sean Radley's day job is as a school teacher and we knew he would be unavailable. And also, time was pressing on. We did stop by the Railroad station and the Turbrid Holy Well (second largest in all of the British Isles), before continuing west to Rathmore, County Kerry. We stopped at the catholic Church there. It was originally built in the early 1860's, the construction spearheaded by ather Edmund Welch, who also conducted the wedding cermony that united my wife's great-grandfather and mother, on 26 June, 1865.
Pressed on toward Dingle, bypassing Killarney and taking the R563 toward Milltown (thereby avoiding the Ring of Kerry traffic)and continued on to the Inch Strand. With temps in the low 70's, the beach was quite crowded. After a brief stop, we drove on to Dingle Town and checked into the Lighthouse B&B, on the High Road out of the village. Though a bit of a hike from the center of things (we chose instead to drive in and park the car) the views of the Harbor can't be beat and it is a worth-while tradeoff for the in town parking hassels. Since it was only about 6 PM, and still clear, warm and bright, we drove up to the observation point at the top of Conor Pass and took in the views and photo ops, before returning to town for dinner and then a pub visit to pick up a lively bit of Trad music. Back to the B&B by 10 or 10:30. Long day planed for tomorrow.
More to follow.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 05:43 AM
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Day6: Slea Head to Killarney
Began our drive about 9:30, heading through Ventry, Slea Head, Ballyferriter to the Gallerus Oratory, then back into Dingle Town via R559 for lunch. Stopped along the way to visit the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum, a tourist trap and gift shop several steps above average and worth the visit, Dun Beg Promontory Fort and the Famine Cottage (which can both be reached from the same car park. There is a Beehive Hut at the rear of the Famine Cottage (which is actually a Post-Famine Farmhouse, and not really a cottage, at all) which is worth seeing just by itself. We made the obligatory stop at Louis Mulcahey's Pottery, of course, though we didn't buy any pieces, this year.
After lunch and a bit of exploration of two or three music shops we left Dingle, enroute to Killarney, via Kilorgan and the R562 to give the kids a TINY taste of the ROK route. We arrived in Killarney Town Center about 5:30, parked at the car park below the Tourist Office and called our local musician friend, to find out what venue he was playing in that night. Then we had the Tourist office book us into a place nearby to the venue.
Since our friend was performing at a Tourist Bar (Molly Darcys, adjacent to the Muckross Park Hotel) they booked us into a farmhouse B&B on Muckross Road, south of Town Center, called Carriglea House, a Victorian residence on 30 acres across the N71 from the Lakes and just north of the Muckross House entrance. The price was 35 Euro per person sharing (PPS), pretty typical, for Killarney. What we discovered upon arrival, were two suites, in the upstairs of the carraige House, complete with bedroom, sitting room and a full bath, with incredible views of the grounds and of the Lake, beyond. We immediately extended our stay for two nights, and honestly, we could have stayed there for a week!
Drove down to Molly Darcy's (about 1 to 1.5 miles) for dinner about 8. Our friend arrived 'about' 9 (Irish time sense being reknowned for its remarkable flexibility) and after greating us, setting up his equiptment, began his performance about 9:45. He played until 11 or 11:30, a mix of Trad, Pop and a few of his own songs (for us, as sad to say, in typical tourist fashion, most of the crowd were to busy laughing, talking and drinking to pay much attention. I must confess that I just don't get the Tourist Mentality, clustering together in little enclaves of English, German, French and Americans, jabbering away about home, what they've seen or still intend to see, rather than living in the moment and really experiencing what is going on NOW ... Why would they possibly want to travel so far, just to be alone?
Had a great visit before, during and after the set and arrainged to meet our friend at 2PM the next day for a walk around Killarney National Park. In bed by 12 or 1 AM.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 07:33 AM
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Realize all these family connection / get togethers may not be of much interest to all, but figured I would 'lay it all out' as accurrately as possible, FYI. Please check back for General Comments, at end for overall advice/info/opinions, etcetera...
Day 7 : Killarney Redeaux

Had a 8:30ish breakfast, then was off to Ross Castle. Walked around, took the guided tour (nicely restored, I must say. Quite tastefully done, overall. Temps in mid to upper 70's!!!!
Laid out on the grass, by the Lake and watched the boats ply the waters. Always wanted to doe the Kate Kierney's Cottage, Gap of Dunloe, Lakes cruise, thing, but this time of year, the boats looked too full, too boisterous to have been much fun for us.
Back into town, for us. Lunch at the Granary. Good food, still, but under new Management. Used to be a GREAT music venue, time will tell if the new owners keep up that part... Met up with our friend about 3:00. He took us on a great walking tour through the National Park (open to the public, free of charge. Spent about two hours, talking and taking in the sights, then stopped for coffee,tea, juice and ruhbarb pie at the thatched roof snack shop near the enterance. Back to the B&B about 6:00 to clean up and change and then back into Killarney for dinner at a steak house on High Street. I've forgotten the name, but the steaks were good and my daughter raved about the seafood bisque. The place was heavily decorated with American Legion License Plates from all over the US, though and should be easy to spot. It was quite busy when we arrived and they actually started turning away groups of 6 and 8, after we arrived, so be warned. It was clouding up and cooling as we left so we walked up Plunket Street to College Street and the Failte Hotel Bar, where our friend was waiting to begin his gig. I moved the car up onto College Street, behind the Failte as it started to rain, then returned as the show was getting underway. Much younger crowd at the Failte than there had been at Molly Darcy's but they were not a lot more attentive. Our friend played a lot more of his own music this night, though he also did some excellent covers of songs by James Taylor, Counting Crows and Bob Dylan. Talked with him and a few of his musician friends that dropped by, between sets and after the performance. Hung out until well after twelve, then back to the B&B. These are the things of which memories are made.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 08:29 AM
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Now this is a great trip report. I think the family and friends connection is fantastic. I have some VERY distant relatives somewhere in Co. Roscommon and hopefully will be able to track them down sometime. Thanks for all the great info.

Bill
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 09:21 AM
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Day 8: Kenmare Road, Caha Pass, Bantry, Drimoleague and back to Cork.

Got a late start (10:00). While the others were at breakfast, I drove back through Rathmore to Millstreet to pick up a Jack O'Patsy lamp and shade the kid's had seen at Wordsworth shop in the village square. They aren't equipt to ship and had recommended checking the shops in Killarney (who are) when we passed through on Day 5. Couldn't find anything comperable, so I 'volunteered to forgo lunch and go back to Millstreet and get it. Arrived just at the shop right at opening time to discover that they had sold out, their entire lamp stock. Seems that Jack O'Patsy has shut down his pottery in Youghal and is liquidating all of his old design, preparitory to a design change over. Just reitterates the old adage -- If you see something you like, BUY IT RIGHT THEN!! You probably won't find it cheaper, and you may not ever find it at all.
Drove down the Kenmare Road (N71) through Moll's Gap, past Torc Falls and Ladies View. Stopped on the side of the road to view a herd of Irish Red Deer and to take pictures of the Lakes and valleys along the way. Passed through Kenmare and Tunnel Rock, and stopped in Glengarriff, where we found the coveted lamp (actually, a reasonable fascimile, it was slightly bigger, and more expensive, but it WAS a Jack O'Patsy and it had the "official" J O'P shade). They didn't ship either, but they packaged everything up really securely and it withstood the trip home, just fine. Likewise for the four J O'P mugs that my wife bought! (And the 8-10" vase we had bought in Millstreet).
Drove on through Bantry and on to Drimoleague, where we had a late lunch at the Drimoleague Inn. No tourist stuff here, though it is just up the road from Skibbereen and Baltimore. We stopped by the Church to visit the graveyard, then continued on up the mountain to Deelish townland. While most maps MIGHT show the road, it is usually unlabled, unless you look at Map 85 of the Discovery Series of Ordinance Survey maps. The road continues on past Castle Donovan (heavily scaffolded now as the gov attempts to preserve and possibly restore it, though I doubt very much that they will ever "find" to money to do that. This road is NOT for the faint hearted!! In fact it really isn't even a road, but rather a true bohreen... a one lane track, with grass growing up the middle. There is nothing to recommend this trip to the casual tourist but the if sights of wild unspoiled West Cork appeal ...
Drive very slow and be prepared to stop, back up or pull aside for the 1 or 2 vehicle that MIGHT interrupt your solitude. When you finally crest the hilltop, stop and take in the views and know that this is where I have instructed the kids to scatter my ashes, when that day comes.
As you descend into the valley of Coomlleagh, bear right and follow the road around Nowen Hill. One trip, we drove up to the top (harder still than the road into the valley) and stood at the summit, below the cellular phone pylon (tower) and looked out at vistas from Killarney to Cork City Harbor and everything in between and watched as the fog rolled in and up the hill below us, until it swirled about our feet. We spent a few hours there, in the valley, with Cousin S***2 and his neighbors, watching as they herded the sheep into the barn for shearing. hey insisted my wife join in and I have some great pix of her at work. We left about 6 PM, driving round Nowen Hill to the first four way cross road, where we turned left, the left again at the next intersection (a "T"). Less than a half mile later, we bore right at the "Y" intersection and then right again onto the R585, which took us east, into Macroom. From there, we drove via the South Ring Road around Cork City and returned to Watergrasshill, arriving at Cousin U***'s about 7:30 PM. After another great dinner that couldn't be beat, we drove back to our house in the village and began packing up for our trip to Dublin.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 09:31 AM
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To wojazz3---
Glad you aren't finding this boring. Will be adding some general comments at end about family and friends which you may find helpfull and/or interesting. Can't believe how bad my typing and spelling have gotten - I'ld forgotten how much I've come to rely upon Spellcheck!
Bob
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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After rising fairly early, packing up and cleaning up our tempory home, we drove to yet another cousin's house, for a breakfast send off. Left about 11 or so after much tears and hugs and kisses. S***1 and Cousin N*** promised to visit us in Fla in Sept or Oct, possibly with S**'s wife and U***. Drove out of Watergrasshill with heavy hearts, a little sad and quite tired from our family and friends adventure. Headed north on the N8, with Dublin as our ultimate goal.
The bypass is in at Watergrasshill, Cahir and Kildare, but just begun in Fermoy and Mitchelstown. we stopped by the Rock for a self tour, in Cashel and had lunch at Granny's Kitchen on the side road from the carpark, at the base. We found a pleasant, but unremarkable B&B (with tiny rooms) in a housing estate behind the Tesco in Newbridge, then drove back into Kildare town for dinner at the Silken Thomas. We ate in the lounge, rather than the formal restraunt and found the food good and resonably priced. A full house at the B&B found us 'scheduled' for an 8:15 breakfast, so we were enroute to Dublin. The original plan had been to drop the car off at the Dublin Airport and then take the shuttle bus into the hotel, but since traffic was remarkably light, I drove into the hotel. I had booked us into Jurys Christchurch, months in advance via the internet, knowing that its location and price more than made up for its lack of atmosphere and ambience. It is the same reason that I have always stayed at the Jurys in Galway, whenever we have gone there. Upon arrival we found that due to "computer problems", they were overbooked and offered us a 'complementary' "upgrade", to their '4 Star' Burlington Hotel, which was "only a fifteen minute walk" to Templebar (High on the kid's Dublin 'Wish List', and therefor, instrumental in my choice of Christchurch, in the first place.) Those of you familiar with Dublin already realize where this thread is heading --- the Burlington, though quite nice, would be generously described as a 3 Star in my book and it sits just south of the Grand Canal, on Leeson Street, in Ballsbridge. Over ruled by the majority, we took the upgrade and I drove us to the Burlington and checked in. While everyone settled in, I drove the car up to the airport, turned it in and had a marvelous chat with the taxi driver on the 45 min trip back to the hotel, in intermittently heavy and light rain.
It should be noted that if it only takes 15 minutes, by foot, to get to Templebar from the Burlington Hotel, it must be by someone capable of a 4 minute mile! Still and all, the walk up Leeson to and through Stephen's Green to the end of Grafton was quite nice, and we mostly avoided the worst of the showers. By the time we returned from Templebar, our feet were quite sore. We had an early supper at the Beweley's on Grafton, before wandering through Templebar and returned to the hotel, about 10 PM.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 11:01 AM
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Day 10: Dublin Intermittent Showers and Temp in the 60's
This morning we slept in, did some preliminary packing and repacking (to properly distribute the weight, etc. We had to buy an additional bag (at a Dunne's, near the B&B in Newbridge. I'm a bit of a luggage Nazi -- on the outbound trip I limit each couple to one big bag per couple, plus each individual is allow one carry on. We had brought gifts over and I thought that space would be adequate for our purchases, but the kids (and my wife) bought big. Also, the airlines seem to be getting fairly strict about the 50 lbs max rule. Hence, the extra bag.
We walked in to Grafton, and popped into an Internet Cafe to check our bank balances and email, after stopping for breakfast at a little Cafe near the Hotel. We visited Trinty College, then joined the Hop On - Hop Off Bus Tour for a pleasant overview of the City. We got off, briefly on O'Connel St to have lunch and walk by the GPO, then back on to return to the Lower End of Grafton, by the Stephen's Green Shopping Center. (We weren't paying attention, and missed the stops that would have been closer to the Hotel.
Had a nice, but rather pricey Father's Day Dinner at the Hotel's restraunt, courtesy of the kids, then went to our rooms early, to finish packing and get rested for our return.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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Final Day: 10:30 AM flight from Dublin Airport

Had arrainged for a Mini Van taxi for Hotel departure at 7:30 AM, so we had a very early start. Discovered that we had been charged for, and my daughter had unwiitingly signed for a 25 Euro bottle of wine at dinner, that we neither ordered, nor received. Since it was signed for, the hotel principals were not on the premises and the taxi was loaded and waiting, there was nothing to do but bite the bullet and take our scalping. This was strike three against the Burlington for me, and strike two against Jurys. Live and learn.
The taxi took almost an hour to get to the airport (Dublin traffic had returned Sunday, with a vengance) and cost 35 Euro including a 6 Euro tip. Had we taken the "recommended" shuttle bus, it would have been 8 Euro each, plus tip (if any, for a total of 32 Euro) and we would have needed to hump our bags over one block to the bus stop, so there was no contest versus taking the taxi!
The people at the Tax-Back booth (there is only one, and it was on the wrong concourse for us)were swamped and a bit surly, so I have opted to get my forms notorized stateside and will mail them from home. Since the smoking ban went into effect the end of March, there is no longer any smoking area anywhere within the building, which ment I had to go into "depravation mode two and a half hours earlier than normal. More on this topic, later.
All in all, the weather was phenominal, the trip great and the memories, better than ever. Only downers? I'm still a little miffed about the downsized vehicle -- had my heart set on driving the Doblo (part of the charm is "trying out" vehicles that you don't see or can't get, back home) and the deceptive behavior of the Burlington, in specific and with Jurys, in general. Would not return to the Burlington, again, but I will probably give Jurys another chance in Galway.
Add in the family and friends get together and overall -- what's not to like?
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Sounds like a fine trip. Too bad about the Jury's. I have stayed there before and liked it fine and fortunately wasn't booted out of town. That's a good thing to remember. If I book there in the future, I will call ahead to make sure that our room is still in that hotel.

It's great that you were able to visit family. It makes the trip so much more rewarding and you get to see things from the local point of view. That's much more interesting.

Our next trip is in May of 05. We know there are family members there because we have found the family grave stone cleaned every once in a while. Just not sure who is doing it.

Glad you had such a great trip.

Bill
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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I thoroughly enjoyed your trip report, the family and friends made it seem much more personal and fun. Hubby and I and 2 others leave on Tuesday, we have our B and B's booked in Aurthurstown, Kenmare and Kilkee, will stay in Dublin at the Monte Clare and last night in Dromoland. Our first trip, so I'm sopping up information. Glad you had a nice time, its always a little sad to leave family behind and yours sounds like fun.
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Old Jun 24th, 2004, 07:57 PM
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General Comments (Not sure if I should start a new thread with this, but ...

1) Jurys Burlington Hotel in Dublin:

In fairness to Jurys, on arrival at Christchurch, they OFFERED us the choice, although I think they deliberately misrepresented the Burlington to sway our decision. The Burlington caters to Tour Bus groups, and honestly does normally charge substantially more for rooms than the Christchurch Inn, and the Burlington did honor the reservation prices for our rooms. Also in Jurys defence, I found a message on my answering machine upon my return home, timestamped as the Friday after I left (day 3 of my visit)and a full week prior to my scheduled arrival, meant to advise me of the overbooking. The scalping for the wine COULD have been an honest mistake, as well. Dunno.

Killarney 'American Legion' Restraunt: My wife seems to remember the name of the place as O'Leary's.

A word about our "Cousins": The relatives we visit with are all generically referred to as Cousins, but like most things, it really isn't that simple. My wife's father is in his mid 80's. Both his Mother and Father were born and raised in Ireland, both leaving when they were about 18 (which for him was around 1898, and her a few years later). He came from the Millstreet area, from which we have found no surviving kin. She came from Drimoleague and it is her relations with whom we have connected. My father-in-law has 5 surviving first cousins, S***1, S****2, L****, D*** and M****. On our first visit in 1998, there were two more, that have susequently died. It is S***1 and L*** and their children to whom I refer to as Cousins. By American standards, that lable is wildly inaccurate and the link is quite tenuous. Yet to our Irish "Cousins", the point is moot -- We are family, plain and simple and we are treated as such. Do all Irish feel this way? I honestly don't know. I have no doubt what so ever about my wife's 'Cousins', though.

Music and our musician friend(s):

Music has always been an important part of my wife's and my own life. We love good music of all kinds and actively search out new artists, wherever we go. It was on our third visit (in April, 2001), a thirtieth anniversary getawayfor just the two of us, when we discovered the music of Ciaran Wynne. We had stayed the night in Millstree, then parked the car at the rail station and rode the train into Killarney, just for the experience. We whiled away a couple of hours just wandering through the shops in town then headed back to the station for the return to Millstreet, when we drifted into a little music store along the street. I was just browsing, looking for something to catch my eye, when Ciaran's CD leaped out at me. The front and rear cover photos were printed in a warm, golden sepia, the front with a simple headshot and the CD title "NO WAY HOME", but it was the back cover that hooked me It showed Ciaran walking away from the camera, down an alleyway, past old Irish cottages. He was wearing a heavy jacket and had a knit cap pulled down over his ears. Slung across his back, neck down, pointing toward the ground was an old dreadnaught guitar. In the corner, in tiny print were the words "All songs by Ciaran Wynne". I was sold, without hearng a note, but then, driving to our next destination, we dropped the CD into the player and what we heard knocked our socks off!
Upon our return home, I emailed Ciaran at the address on the liner, raving about his music and asking if he had any others. He wrote back, thanking us and to let us know that he was working on a follow up, but ..
After 9-11, Ciaran emailed us to see if we and ours had escaped, unscathed. Said he was worried about his only American fans ...
We went back in Feb of 2002, toured Mayo, sligo, Longford. I gave Ciaran a call and we arrainged to meet in Kildare, at the Silken Thomas. Told him I was doing a little research on the Rebellion of 1798. Ciaran showed up with his friend and sometime bass player, Mario Corrigan, who brought along copies of his Master's Thesis that had been published by the Kildare County Coucil as an Historical Book, titled "All That Delerium Of The Brave - Kildare in 1798" and the booklet, "County Kildare 1798 History Trail". Dunno if he was hoping to meet a bunch of 'fat-arsed Yanks' with thick wallets and even thicker heads, but after a few moments it must have been painfully clear that we were neither record execs, nor capable of bankrolling his career. Yet, he didn't visit for a couple of minutes and then politely blow us off. Instead, he and Mario invited us across the street, to their homey and unpretentious 'local' -Grace's, where we sat, talked about music in general and Ciaran's music in specific for a couple of hours. Someone mentioned that I was working on a psudo-family history (an historical fiction, tying my wife's family to real historical events) and I told Ciaran I had been inspired, in no small part by "No Way Home" and particularly by his song "A Mother's Song". He had the barman pop his CD into the stereo and listed as it played. He gave me permission to quote his lyrics and I took him up on the offer.
That Christmas, I mailed Ciaran a copy of 'Book One: Men Of Honor' of what will hopefully become the trilogy "SPOKES IN THE WHEEL", derived from the first two lines of 'A Mother's Song': "This is not a love song, this is how I feel. But I know I must be strong -- I'm just a spoke in the wheel."
Returned in April of 2003, just my wife and I, again. We met with Ciaran in Killarney and he invited us back to Grace's in Kildare on the following Thursday, to catch a live performance of him and the band. Then he gave us a copy of his newest CD, "Tourguoise and Brown". The talent growth was phenominal. Most artists don't have one good albumn in them, yet Ciaran was getting better with each outing. Later that night I read the liner notes and found where he had mentioned my wife and I. We rescheduled our trip and were in Kildare for the show. Half way through the night, he introduced us to the crowd as his 'good, American friends'. Then he dedicated 'A Mother's Song' to us.

shameless commerical recommendation:
Go to www.ciaranwynne.com, read the pages and sample the free downloads. And if you like it at all, for God's sake, buy his CD's, recommend his CD's and if any of you have any such influence whatsoever -- get this man a recording contract!!!!!

END OF SHAMELESS COMMERCIAL PLUG>

CAR RENTAL: After my bellyaching about the Opel Meriva, I revisited the Irish Car Rentals website. Now, the Fiat Doblo, etc. is listed as a six OR Seven passenger people Mover, and they show the Opel as the option for a 5 passenger. T'wasn't so when I booked. The six passenger lists as 300 Euro more than the five, and yet the vehicle listings for the 7 passenger peoplemover shows the same exact vehicle choices, but they want 75 Euro more!!!! Like I said, car rentals are Irish travel's weak link. Whatever happened to Customer Service and Honesty?
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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More General Comments:

Smoking Ban. I must say that I was shocked at how readily the Irish appear to have embraced the new Ban on smoking in public buildings. As a 40 year long smoker myself, I claim some insite on the subject. Most frequent comments from fellow smokers as we huddled outside? "This will be good for the future, I suppose, but I can't say I like it." The real test will come, of course, as the winter rains return. Meanwhile, the smoking ban has been an economic GOLDMINE for companies that sell umbrella-topped cafe tables and portable, radiant LP Gas heaters! As an Anerican, I can't help but wonder when the next shoe will drop and they begin to ban smoking within 25 - 50 feet of all doorways, etc. .. ...

Understand that I have not smoked in my own home or autos in over twenty years, as my son was born slightly asthmatic and the smoke affected his sleeping. I have a great respect for the rights of non-smokers and think that the newly smoke free environments of the restruants and pubs IS great! Having said that, I do have some complaints, however...

Why is it that non-smokers are afforded all of these accommodations, yet we smokers (who DO make up between 30 and 45% of the population, depending upon what contry you are in) seem to be afforded NO ACCOMMODATION WHATSOEVER???

I'm no suggesting that we should be allowed to smoke with Impunity, but, why is it that so many airports do not supply any smoking area whatsoever? Oh, Atlanta does have its "Fishbowls" ( those glass-walled smoking rooms) on most of their concourses, but why not have something along those lines for every airport? Repeatedly passing through security umpteen times during a two or three hour layover is ludicrously inefficient and stresses the whole checkpoint logistics wastefully and unnecessarily, in my opinion. Wouldn't it be better to just screen us once, and be done? How much would it cost to add an outdoor balcony or a sealed and ventilated room?

Ban of Under 18 Year Olds in Pubs After 7:00 PM:

I have some real concerns about this. When did we decide to make Parent's Obligations invalid and shift the burden of properly raising children to the STATE? Irish culture has always viewed the Pub as more of a Social Center, than as a place just to get drunk. Part of the joy of visiting pubs had always been in observing the respectful interaction of all generations, in such a social environment. Yes, underage drinking is bad and publicans shouldn't sell to minors, but why should responsible parents be denied the company of their 15 - 17 year old children, just because SOME parents refuse to accept responsibility for THEIR children?

I understand that the UIrish Health Minister is now talking about instituting a 'SmartCard' ID card, which will have to be presented and "swipped' for each drink ordered. Some sort of rationing systen, where if your card gets 'swipped' too many times in a month, you will be fined, for excessive consumption ... He has already vowed that this is his next goal to improve Public Health. I wonder how well THAT will fly?

Bypass Roads: If you are trying to get from point A to point B, the new bypasses of town centers are great! I can remember trying to cross the main street in Kildare Town for over five minutes, as cars and buses and big semi-trucks streamed by, bumper to bumper, on the main Cork-to-Dublin N8. On my most recent trip, there was hardly any traffic, at all, as most of it now strams by a 50 to 60 MPH, on the Bypass. Our Cousins tell us the Bypass Scheme in Watergrasshill has been a great boon for the businesses in the village as people can now find places to park and move about the streets without dealing without all the trucks, buses and tourists impatiently streaming by.
But from a visitor (and occassional tourist) perspective, I can't help but wonder how many truely charming and interesting sites will fall victim to the "hurry-up and pass it by" mentality, that means that tourists traveling to Dublin will no longer flow into Kildare (and hundreds of other small towns and villages, just like it) and "discover" a delightful pub, restraunt, panoramic vista or archeological site. What it means, I guess is progress and change. It also means that as visitors, it is imperative that we do our homwork on sites like this, so that we don't get 'sucked into' bypassing all the best places.

PROGRESS AND CHANGE:

It's inevitable, I suppose, but we don't have to like it. Having 'discovered' the charm and beauty that is Ireland, it is only natural that we would want to keep it safe, whole and intact - unchanged, forever.

It was before our first visit, one of the Cousins told us, "We aren't really like that, you know. We're really quite American."

Forgive them, Father, for they know not, what they say.
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Old Jun 25th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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"I understand that the UIrish Health Minister is now talking about instituting a 'SmartCard' ID card, which will have to be presented and "swipped' for each drink ordered. Some sort of rationing systen, where if your card gets 'swipped' too many times in a month, you will be fined, for excessive consumption ... He has already vowed that this is his next goal to improve Public Health. I wonder how well THAT will fly?".............

Rest assured that this story began as an April Fools joke - don't worry!
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Old Jun 26th, 2004, 11:38 AM
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And a Smoking Ban in Ireland wasn't?
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