Saturday, November 23, 2019

Our Final Day

Our final day was spent in Galway.  We traveled to the Connemara Marble Factory to learn about the quarries where the marble is mined for so many important buildings throughout the world including these two in the U.S.

They were making jewelry by hand as we walked through the work area.  Ted bought me a shamrock necklace that have the leaves made of the green marble.

We left there and were dropped off for a walking tour of the medieval section of Galway.  First up was the cathedral built in the mid 60s with the help of Cardinal Cushing and the patrons of Boston ... for less than $1 million!  The Joyce family of Connemara Marble figured extensively in the marble used inside.

Next we went to Eyre Square now known as Kennedy Square.

We did our final shopping and had lunch at the famous King’s Head pub.  Later that evening we had an included farewell dinner at our hotel.  We had to leave at 4:15 AM for our flights home.  We AND my luggage arrived about 6 pm, almost 22 hours of travel time including our London layover. 


Kylemore Abbey Tour and Connemara Region

We traveled through the Connemara Region which retains its regional heritage and only Irish is spoken.  There are several areas like this in Ireland and the landscape of lakes, mountains and bogs is pure Ireland.

Our destination was the former mansion of Mitchell Henry and is now the home of the Benedictine nuns and is known as Kylemore Abbey.  It was a very interesting place with much still in place in the house.  I saw a Henry Family Tree and the last entry was 2008!

Farewell to Killarney

We left Killarney and traveled by ferry across the River Shannon and drove along the coast of County Clare to the majestic Cliffs of Moher.  This was our worst weather day and we really didn’t know if we would physically be able to brave the uphill walk to take a look.  The rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was gusting about 60-70 mph!

Everyone ran to the building where there was a video and some exhibits along with a cafe, restrooms, and the ever present gift shop.  We took a photo in front of a backdrop just in case this was as close as we were going to get.  We had a warm drink, took our umbrellas and I donned a poncho and out we went.  Our umbrellas immediately turned inside out and all the spokes were bent but we ventured on.  Here is the one shot we got before hustling back to cover.  A lady in our group was thrown against the bus and banged her head but she was just slightly dazed, no cuts or anything.  She recovered in a bit.

Soon we were on our way to drive through the Burren, the stony place.  It is almost a surreal moonscape of huge limestone crags.

The weather improved and the drags once again gave way to bigs and pastures as we drove into Galway.

Our dinner was included at a local restaurant where I had “hake” a popular fish in Ireland.  The people of Ireland are so friendly and stop you to talk everywhere we go.  We found it charming and loved talking to the locals.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Our next day was spent discovering the Dingle Peninsula.  Our first stop was at the Tralee Kerry County Museum.  It had a recreated medieval street complete with sound and smells!  The peninsula has some of the most spectacular scenery and movies Ryan’s Daughter, Far and Away, Star Wars and The Last Jedi were filmed here.

We stopped in Dingle to enjoy locally caught fish and chips.

Staying in Cork

In the afternoon after our tour of the waterfront, we were taken on our home hosted lunch.  Maureen was an absolute delight!  She was so funny, easy to talk to and seemed like we had known her forever!  She served a beautiful salad and scones, baked ham, cooked cabbage and boiled potatoes.  For dessert was a Bailey’s torte.  We were so engrossed in conversation that Padraic our bus driver had to ring the doorbell twice!

The next day we went to probably the most popular tourist trap in Ireland, Blarney Castle.  We were there first so the 90 and 60 minute wait signs meant nothing.  The steps to the Stone did not hinder me but the thought of trying to get down to lay on my back then bend over the side backwards to kiss a germ laden stone wasn’t appealing.  So I passed.  The younger ones in our group went and we waited for them but it was a quick trip for them. 

Where you lay down on that grate, bend backwards and kiss the stone behind you!  Had I tried, I may still be there trying to get back up,

We toured some of the grounds before continuing on to our next stop, Killarney. We stopped at a sheep farm to talk with a herder, Hugh, who had about 1000 sheep.  They are marked with what looks like spray paint for various reasons.  Have been sheared, have been bred, etc.  He had two herding dogs Rosie and Nell.  They herded the sheep around but were mostly excited to have visitors to pet them.  

At dinner Peg and Dave were presented with a 50th anniversary cake I had arranged.  They are the fifth of Ted’s family to reach 50 years!

That evening, after our included dinner, we had a local resident talk about Irish farm life in the 50’s.    It was very interesting and time got away and ran over.  

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Visiting Cobh (Pronounced Cove)

This was the last port of call for the Titanic before it set sail to the open ocean.  We had an excellent local guide who is a historian and expert in the sinking of the Titanic.  He said the great loss of life was not that there weren’t enough lifeboats but that so many of them were not filled when they pulled away from the ship.  It also was not women and children first but more first and second class.  Very few survivors were from steerage.

There is a statue of Anne Moore who is the first name listed on the immigration rolls on Ellis Island.  She had her two brothers with her.  A photo 30 years later showed the US was good to Anne.  Another monument is dedicated to the fisherman who rescued passengers from the Lusitania that was torpedoed 10 miles off the coast.  It shows their sheer exhaustion!

Moving on to Cork

This was our day at Waterford!  We had all been looking forward to this shopping opportunity.  I can tell you I bought a candy cane ornament with a silver disk saying 2019.  It was for Dave and Peg to mark their 50th anniversary year.  What else has to remain a mystery until we celebrate Christmas during Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan.

The process is mind boggling.  I think you need to have OCD to work there.  Absolute perfection is necessary.  We saw glassblowing, hand etching, machine etching, etc.  There were many specialty items displayed.  Ted found the most beautiful football.  I was in tears looking at the 9/11 creation and dedicated to Fr. Mychal Judge and the 343 FDNY, 37 PAPD and 23 NYPD officers who lost their lives.  It is hard to see but the middle frosted glass is 5 Responders carrying Fr. Judge out.  I cried and our tour director gave me a hug.  There was a beautiful chandelier, mirror and clock in the lobby too.

We stood in front of the seahorse logo and iconic name.  Behind us was a bear and the Irish symbol, the harp.  We aren’t real good at posing!  And these photos are going in wherever they want!  Use your imagination as to where they really should go.


The next day we were introduced to hurling, a popular sport in Ireland.  We visited one of the remaining hurling stick makers.  They are having trouble getting ash wood because of the ash borer.  We watched him from start to finish make a hurling stick.  It is indeed a dying skill.

Our day included lunch where your choice was beef pie with mashed potatoes on top, potato pancake with toppings or potato soup.  Ted had three creme brûlée’s - his own, Dave’s and the bus drivers.  That’s Ted!  No white potatoes unless they are french fries or as they say, chips!

We were to walk through the sprawling grounds of Kilkenny Castle but the weather was cold and nasty so we all went back to the hotel for a much needed rest.  That evening we went to an Italian restaurant so Ted could have spaghetti!


We left Dublin and traveled on to Kilkenny.  On the way we stopped at Glendalough Abbey ruins.  Then we traveled to Avoca Handweavers.  There were beautiful things but we just don’t buy much wool to wear here in Houston.  But it was interesting to see the hand and automated weaving,  

That night we had an included dinner at our hotel.