David R. Miller


David R. Miller

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin September 10th 2019

We meet most of our group at breakfast. Some are heading home, some moving on to other destinations. Naturally, this is a bittersweet occasion. We experience the usual contradictory feelings that well up at the end of a long tour; we are sad that the trip is suddenly over but looking forward to returning home. The hardest part is saying good-bye to a group of friends that we will likely not see again. We have been privileged to enjoy the company of these wonderful people. And, after goodbyes to our mates and to Tony, we're off to the airport. Naturally, my plan is to take some Irish spirits home. The airport duty-free has an immense collection and I'm not sure how to approach the choice. Luckily, a young lady takes an interest in me and offers ... read more

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin September 9th 2019

Lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel. This is the last day of the trip; heading home tomorrow. Last night, before retiring, we booked one-day passes for Dublin’s hop-on, hop-off bus. Our plan, which we have employed in other cities, is to ride the entire circuit once, then do it again, stopping at interesting locations we have picked out, subject to time constraints. With just over a million people, Dublin is by far Ireland’s largest city. Happily, however, the core of the Irish capital is actually fairly compact. The weather as we start out is not too bad; no rain but an unsettled sky. Our brilliant plan for using the bus is immediately knocked into a cocked hat thanks to the visit to Dublin today of British prime minister Boris Johnson. Whole areas of the city are ... read more
Hard Rock Dublin, Temple Bar
Teeling Whiskey Distillery
Copper distillation kettles, Teeling Distillery

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin September 8th 2019

8:30 start this morning. Happily, it looks like good weather today, although there is some low-lying fog on the roads as we leave the beautiful town of Kilkenny and head east for Kildare. The land here is relatively flat, fertile and verdant. With the sun shining, we are reminded again why green is the national colour of Ireland. We pass through a series of small towns, each with their own requisite ruined castle. We stop at the ruins of Moone Abbey, a small church that has been renovated and reinvented to house a remarkable artefact, a 1100-year-old Celtic high cross. This 17 1/2 ft high stone cross was only discovered in the 1800s. It was buried deliberately in the abbey graveyard sometime in the 10th century, probably to safeguard it from destruction by invaders. The three ... read more
Free Eagle, Irish National Stud
Free Eagle's stats, Irish National Stud
Japanese Gardens, Irish National Stud

Europe » Ireland » County Kilkenny » Kilkenny September 7th 2019

We get to sleep in a bit this morning. As we pass through the lobby on the way to breakfast, the backwards musical sculpture bothers me again. I decide to explain the problem to the clerk at the desk. She smiles politely but clearly doesn't really get it. The hotel's buffer breakfast is particularly good. There is fresh honey comb and (gasp) fresh peanut butter. What a treat. And we're off again on a day trip to explore the area south of Kilkenny. The landscape is much less interesting than the wild coastal regions we toured recently, consisting mostly of rolling hills and farms. We drive through Bennettsbridge, the location of several flour mills, and Thomastown, known for the 13th-century Jerpoint Abbey and the Church of St. Nicholas. Yes, that St. Nick. He's buried here. Tony ... read more
Passenger on the Dunbrody Famine Ship
Eternal flame for Irish emigrants
JFK Memorial

Europe » Ireland » County Kilkenny » Kilkenny September 6th 2019

Unfortunately we are back to rainy weather this morning. Early start on our way to Cork and ultimately Kilkenny. We are now headed east on the last leg of our counterclockwise circle around the island. As we enter county Cork, Tony tells us the story of Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader who came to realize that compromise was the only hope for peace. He signed the peace treaty with Britain in 1922 that created the Republic of Ireland while leaving six northern counties in British hands (Northern Ireland). He knew he was signing his own death warrant because the radical factions saw this act as a betrayal. And, indeed, he was later assassinated. 1.5 million people attended his funeral in Dublin. We pass through another Irish-speaking area. There have been a few of these on ... read more
Dave kisses the Blarney Stone
Climbing down the stairs at Blarney Castle
Town of Cahir

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Iveragh Peninsula September 5th 2019

The weather looks promising this morning. Today we are headed for another beautiful Atlantic peninsula, the next one south of Dingle: the Iveraugh Peninsula and its famous RIng of Kerry drive. As usual, Tony entertains us on the drive with an endless stream of information and stories. He spends some time talking about Ireland's trees. Native species include ash, beech, oak, hawthorn and yew. Pretty much all conifers were imported to the island. With native trees under threat, there have been efforts to reestablish native species. But one experiment failed miserably, as ash trees imported from Norway turned out to have a fungus that almost completely wiped out the remaining ash. Tony tells us about the tradition of poitin (usually rendered as potcheen in English). This is Irish moonshine, made in small batches, traditionally from malted ... read more
Outdoor shops
Church of the Holy Cross
Kissane Sheep Farm: white spots are sheep

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Dingle Peninsula September 4th 2019

A blessed late start today at 9:30. It has rained all night. I thought I saw a sliver of sun when we wake, but it's soon gone. We are on the way to Dingle, County Kerry, which is home to Ireland's highest mountain range. As usual, Tony keeps us entertained en route with endless stories, some of which may be true. * He recounts the Bishop Casey scandal. Casey, a highly regarded and influential Irish bishop in this area, had an affair with an American woman and fathered a child, leading to his resignation in disgrace. * Tony muses about two factors that had a significant beneficial effect on Ireland in the 1960s. First, the election as US president of one John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose ancestors were from this area. Second, the discovery of Ireland by ... read more
Seascape 1
Seascape 2
Beehive huts

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Killarney September 3rd 2019

Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the category of combinations you never thought of, I have a caramel fudge-flavoured yoghurt. It's yet another drizzly day, unfortunately. We reach Limerick, Tony’s home town. Our first stop is alongside the Shannon River to see the Treaty Stone, where reputedly the treaty that ended the war between the Irish and William of Orange was signed in 1691. Under the terms, a promise was made to respect Catholicism, but the treaty was rejected by both the English and Irish Parliaments and its terms were ignored. Thus Limerick became known as The City of the Broken Treaty. We cross the river and stop on the other side of the Shannon, directly across from the Treaty Stone. We descend and have the opportunity for a quick visit to St. John’s Castle (1210) ... read more
Thatch-roof homes
Monument to Irish Civil War Massacre
The challenge of driving a coach on some Irish roads

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Bunratty September 2nd 2019

Early departure from Westport after breakfast. It's yet another drizzly day, and the traffic is noticeably worse as parents drop off their kids for the first day of school. We are headed south toward Galway and eventually to the cliffs of Moher. En route, a number of interesting topics come up. One thing you can say about small Irish towns (and cities, too) is that they tend to be remarkably clean. The streets are mostly free of trash, cheery flower boxes abound, front yards and homes are well looked after, and graffiti is minimal. Part of it is cultural, in that the Irish have a tradition of taking pride in appearances. But Tony tells us there actually is a annual Tidy Town Competition, and it's taken very seriously. The subject of the bright coloured markings on ... read more
John Wayne and Naureen O'Hara
Cong Abbey
Lynch Castle

Europe » Ireland » County Mayo » Westport September 1st 2019

Breakfast at the hotel, à la carte in this establishment, then off to explore the Connemara peninsula. The terrain soon becomes quite rugged and mountainous. We are once again in bog territory on the Irish moors. The weather is unsettled; windy with brief downpours. One mountain in particular dominates the landscape. This is Croagh Patrick, where in July every year, thousands of Irish Catholics make a pilgrimage to the top on foot as a penitence. Tony gives us a history lesson on the Great Famine of 1845–52. The English version of this tragic episode is that a potato blight affected the Irish potato crop and caused widespread famine. This is in fact what I learned in school. Tony says that the potato blight was a factor but the real cause of the famine was excessive taxation ... read more
Walking the Doolough Valley
Kylemore Abbey
Scene from the walled garden at Kylemore Abbey

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