Ireland, Dublin & Wicklow County 2011


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January 13th 2011
Published: January 22nd 2011
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Heike, Bernie & KathyHeike, Bernie & KathyHeike, Bernie & Kathy

Loch Tay and the Guinness estate in the background
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Dublin and County Wicklow, Ireland, January 13 - 19, 2011



←Click on the map directly on the left for a nice, large map of Ireland - it shows Dublin and its relation to County Wicklow

DUBLIN



We arrived in Dublin on Friday and with a seven hour time change,
Bridge Over the LiffeyBridge Over the LiffeyBridge Over the Liffey

This is the Samuel Beckett Bridge over the River Liffey that runs right thru the heart of Dublin. Notice the bridge is shaped like a harp, the symbol of Ireland (no, the Shamrock is not the official symbol)
had a bit of jet-lag to combat. By Saturday morning we were feeling fine. Bernard’s colleague from Germany, Heike, was the main lecturer at University College Dublin and she had been in Dublin almost a week lecturing every day, so was up for a pleasure day and a tour with us. Our hotel kindly arranged a day trip to nearby County Wicklow for us.*

COUNTY WICKLOW



Southern Wicklow, the farthest point of the county from Dublin, was one of the last outposts of the Gaelic-Irish. They used the remote valleys as hideouts, and families such as the O’Tooles and the O’Byrnes would sally forth to attack the British. The pass through Wicklow’s granite hills is appropriately named Sally Gap. The British were so worried about these “bandits,” that they built a military road into the hills, and today this very road takes you through the finest Wicklow scenery.

In fact our first stop was for tea at the military barracks, now preserved and includes a small museum, shop, and tea garden, and renamed Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Center.

Speaking of gardens, Wicklow is known for its fabulous gardens, but that is May - August and our
DublinDublinDublin

Park across from our hotel, that is the ocean in the distance
visit took place mid-January. The picturesque little village of Enniskerry, has an elegant manor and with acres and acres of gardens. We keep vowing we’ll visit Dublin in the summer, but it is Bernard’s lecturing at University College Dublin that brings us here mid-winter.

Our Driver Joe: One of the reasons we took the tour we did was because our guide book said this particular company, in addition to being highly recommenced and giving folks the chance to walk in the countryside (joke was on us), had “storytelling guides.” And since the day was a particularly bleak one - rain, cold, wind, fog - I think it is fair to say that since walking was out of the question, our guide made our day.

As our very colorful driver, Joe, drove us through Wicklow Mountains National Park pointing out film locations (Brave Heart, Excalibur, PS I Love You), he related historical tidbits, told jokes, and sang songs. He had what we think of as the typical Irish gift of gab, a wonderful voice, and he loved his own jokes - even if you didn’t get the joke, you had to laugh along with Joe.

One of the
Glencree Peace and Reconciliation CenterGlencree Peace and Reconciliation CenterGlencree Peace and Reconciliation Center

This is the old English military barracks which now houses a museum
most scenic stops in the national park was overlooking one of the Guinness estates at Loch Tay. The Guinness family had had sand brought in from France (not allowed to take sand from Irish beaches) to line the manor-side of the lake. This was done for a Guinness beer commercial, but remains a lovely beach area adjacent to the huge manor house.

Glendalough (Glen of the Two Lakes) is an ancient monastic settlement tucked beside two dark lakes and overshadowed by the sheer walls of a deep valley - VERY picturesque. This is a popular day trip from Dublin, so in this case visiting in January, avoiding the summer crowds, was a good thing.

St. Kevin, an early Christian bishop, established a monastery here in the 6th century. In time it became a monastic city catering to thousands of students and teachers. During the Dark Ages, Glendalough was one of the places that gave Ireland its reputation as the island of saints and scholars.


Even though Glendalough was in the mountains, it was still within reach of the Vikings who sacked the monastery at least four times between 775 - 1071. The death blow for Glendalough
Glencree Peace and Reconciliation CenterGlencree Peace and Reconciliation CenterGlencree Peace and Reconciliation Center

Church and remains of old fortress wall at military outpost. Yes, that is snow at the right in the photo
was in 1398 when English forces from Dublin almost completely destroyed it.

The Round Tower. All the pillaging and warring makes it a easy to understand Glendalough’s 10th-century round tower. It is 33 meters tall and 16 meters in circumference at the base. The upper levels and conical roof were reconstructed in 1876. I don't think you can see it in the photo, but the “door” is quite high; a good distance above the ground. Valuable relics were kept in the tower, along with provisions for an extended stay. When the Vikings and/or English raided the monastery, the priests, students, et al, would climb the wooden ladder into the tower, pull the ladder up behind them, secure the door and thus settle in to out-wait the intruders.

As our guide said, you’d be forgiven if you envisioned a circular stairway going the height of the tower, but you’d be wrong. The numerous levels are connected by ladders through holes in floor - simple but functional. Notice that there are “windows on every corner,” sorry, that was Joe’s joke. However, there are windows very high up looking in every direction insuring the look-outs a complete 360° birds-eye view.
Loch TayLoch TayLoch Tay

The Guinness estate w/sand beach - the manor is not very visible from this distance; is on the right in the trees

Avoca Village was the setting for the TV series, Ballykissangel, which stopped filming in 2002. The village has retained its charm, complete with keeping the buildings and houses the same bright colors as they had when filming. We had lunch at Fitzgerald’s Pub, which was probably the set most used for the series. Naturally they had a huge TV and continuous showings of the series.

After lunch we went to a weaving center where they make traditional woolen goods by hand - very expensive, but exquisite products. Unlike guides in some countries that encourage to buy because they get a percentage of what passengers spend, our driver tried to confiscate our credit cards before we reached the weaving center.

Odds & Ends. We went through many villages on our tour, one was the home of Daniel Day Lewis and another, Rathdrum, was the film location for Michael Collins, staring Liam Neeson.

Weather. As you can see from the photos, it was rainy, windy, foggy and just miserable our whole tour. Having said that, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Our driver was a hoot, kept us laughing and singing the whole way. He let us take a siesta on
GlendaloughGlendaloughGlendalough

At ancient monastery of St. Kevin - those are rain drops on my camera lens, not lack of focus
the first part of our return to Dublin, but then started a singing competition among the passengers. Fortunately he had a song book to pass around, so we were not left to our own lacking resources. We’d sing a few bars, and Joe would take over with his lovely voice.

Back in Dublin. Sunday dawned clear, sunny and cold and it turned out that the only miserable day we had was the day we went touring.

Professor Pat Gibbons, the coordinator (among his many duties) of the law module that Heike and Bernard were teaching, picked us up at noon to have an early dinner with his family. Sulagna, his Ph.D., assistant, joined us. Pat and Maeve have three boys and one girl, all out-going and friendly children. They adore Heike (whom they call Hikey) as she has been a yearly visitor many years running. Maeve is an outstanding cook, so we had a delicious meal. It was a most enjoyable afternoon, but I forgot to take any photos!! Bad Kathy.

Monday and Tuesday Heike and Bernard were busy all day teaching. I hopped buses, sight-saw and shopped, and one day went to the Irish National Gallery.
Glendalough Round TowerGlendalough Round TowerGlendalough Round Tower

33 meters tall and 16 meters in circumference at the base, this tower was used for security of persons and property - once the ladder was pulled up, the vikings and/or the English were not able to enter
I was looking forward to seeing a few Vermeers and a Van Gogh I’d only seen in photos, but the Gallery is undergoing extensive renovations and so most of the galleries are closed. They’ve left open the Irish painters’ gallery and also had a special exhibit of J.M.W. Turner’s watercolors, with the emphasis more specifically on how light effects watercolors and how the various curators of the collection (31 paintings) had protected (or not) these particular paintings.

Tuesday night we went out for drinks with the students (28) - this had been the final module for the semester, so they felt like celebrating. After a few drinks and some great conversations at the student pub, Bernard, Heike, Sulagna and I hopped a bus and went to an Indian restaurant which had come highly recommended to Sulagna. Naturally we made her (with advice from the owner) order what turned out to be a scrumptious meal.

The night before, Monday, we had revisited a wonderful Thai restaurant we'd discovered last year (Baan Thai, 16 Merrion Rd., Ballsbridge) and found our meals to be as delicious as we'd remembered, the staff friendly, and service super - highly recommended.

In the morning as we waited for our airport transport, it was still clear and cold - frost on the ground and reports of black ice on some roadways. Ireland has had a cold, snowy winter. After only five days we were ready to return to the warmth of Arizona - cold is fine, but we don’t want too many days of it, thank you very much.

*When we were having dinner with Pat & Maeve, Pat mentioned that there was a new road to Galway (he has family there, Gibbons, which name is also in Bernard's family tree - related me thinks?). What had previously taken many hours and gone through numerous villages was now a thoroughfare and it took only two hours Dublin-Galway. You can imagine how amazed and chagrined we were - we would have DEFINITELY gone to Galway/Mayo to visit Bernard's family instead of taking the Wicklow tour. Mea culpa, mea culpa to the Doherty, Murphy, Dooley, et al., clans!

PS Our flight out of Dublin was delayed three hours due to a mechanical problem, so naturally we didn't make our connecting flights to Arizona. They gave us a $150 credit toward another Delta ticket; rerouted
Heike at GlendaloughHeike at GlendaloughHeike at Glendalough

The weather deteriorated noticeably while we were walking around the ruins of the monastery, so we were glad we had rain gear with us
us through Phoenix and put us in business class - that enabled us to use the Delta Sky Lounge complete with free food, drinks and wi-fi. The downside was that we had to spend the night in Phoenix. They paid for meals, a hotel room, plus transport; flew us to Tucson the next day, without bags unfortunately. We got our bags about 8 p.m. that night, so all is well again.



Additional photos below
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GlendaloughGlendalough
Glendalough

Main church ruins at monastery
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Glendalough

Looking from the church ruins into the cemetary
Ballykissangel-AvocaBallykissangel-Avoca
Ballykissangel-Avoca

The little village of Avoca was the setting for the TV series Ballykissangel
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Ballykissangel-Avoca

The kept the same colors on the buildings and indeed are still cashing in on the fame they got from the TV series
Heike & Kathy in AvocaHeike & Kathy in Avoca
Heike & Kathy in Avoca

Most of the business names included some reference to the Ballykissangel series
Avoca Hand Weaving CenterAvoca Hand Weaving Center
Avoca Hand Weaving Center

Since the end of the Ballykissangel TV series in 2002, the biggest draw to Avoca is a wonderful weaving center; we took a tour and Heike bought a few things


22nd January 2011

luck'o'the irish!
what fabulous photos! whether for work or play, in the summer or winter, you manage to get the most for your travels!!
23rd January 2011

great story
i love your adventures! hope to see you at the museum soon.
24th January 2011
Ballykissangel-Avoca

Nice blog
I like the photo of Fitzgerald's. A real Irish feel.

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