Ireland: The Hardest Part (Saying Goodbye)

The day after Dingle, we were up and at the train station by 9:00 to catch the train back to Dublin for our last night in Ireland. Gosh, y'all...even the train stations were beautiful!
The other side of the platform
I was amazed at how Mary was all over the place in this country. Literally...all over the place.
This was in the train station, on the platform
The ivy on the outside of the buildings was changing colors. They were just beautiful.
The train ride to Dublin was pretty uneventful. I sat next to a lady who said she was from Dingle. She was so pleasant.
We got back to Dublin, found the queue for a taxi and went to our hotel for the night. I watched the meter to see how much it was going to be, and right as we pulled up to the curb, he changed it so it was 10 euros, so he gave himself a bit of a tip. That was how much I was going to give him with a tip, so he didn't get any extra, especially after he pulled that stunt.
We were scheduled to go an "Irish House Party" that night, but we wanted to get into see the Book of Kells since we didn't see it before we left that Sunday.
When we got to Trinity College (where the Book of Kells is housed), there was a wedding just ending:
A beautiful place for a wedding, just not very private!
Trinity College

The fence surrounding the college
The Book of Kells is an "illuminated Bible" which was created by Monks in the 6th to 8th century.   Almost all of the pages contain illustrations, some are so intricate and delicate the details can't be seen by the naked eye. There were a couple of Book of Kells on a table along with a couple of other manuscripts. A lady who was in front of me said that she was there earlier that day but had to come back. She said that, at the end of the day, the books are locked up in a different place each night, and only the person who locks it up knows where it is. In theory, that's a good idea, but that morning they couldn't find it. (oops) She also said they (her tour group) were told that a different page is opened each day, which keeps one page from being worn more than the others. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted, but you can see some examples here.
The tour ended in the Old Library, where you could take pictures. It reminded us of was amazing!
The staircase

The ceiling!

There were sooooo many books! The top floor walls look like paintings, but they are all books.  This is called the "Long Room": it is 65 metres in length (or, a little over 70 yards) and contains over 200,000 books. It was built between 1712 and 1732...before the U.S. even became a country. To learn more, click here.
We talked about wanting to go by Whelan's (the bar in PS I Love You), but M didn't think we would have time for the House Party & go by the bar. In hindsight, we had such a fun driver that night that I bet if we had asked him he would have taken us. Next time, for sure!
The Irish House Party was a BLAST. We were seated right next to the stage, and the band playing was very interactive. We were able to speak with them after; they were extremely nice.  Here's just a taste of what fun we had that night:
James, the flutist, let me hold his flute & get a really good look at it. It has such a beautiful tone to it.
The guitar player had a wonderful sense of humor (of course he did...he's Irish!).
The food was great, the drink delicious, and the company fantastic! As we were going back to the hotel, I happened to look up just in time to see the name of the street we were on. I said the name of the street and asked the driver if that wasn't where the Sisters of Mercy Founder's House is. He confirmed that it is, and he slowed down as we went by it. I thought he was going to stop so I could jump out and take a picture, but he didn't & I was on the wrong side of the van to get one.  Next time, for sure!
The next morning we got up and walked down the street to catch the bus to the airport. We were there in plenty of time to leisurely check in our bags, get something to eat, and look around the shops a bit before we went through security. Here's the thing I really liked: we went through customs before we left Dublin. It made it really nice when we got to Boston because we didn't have to get off the plane and stand in line; we just found our terminal to Nashville and hung out a bit. I made it through security and customs without a hitch. I brought back some honey for CH, so when the customs officer asked if I had any food in my checked bag, I told her about it. When I got home, I had a nice little notification in my bag that it had been gone through by customs. No biggie...the honey was still there. In fact, if the notification hadn't been in there I would have never known.
It was such a great trip, it just wasn't long enough. The people were so incredibly nice; even the men who seemed so stoic...once you said something to them they started talking.
We saw so much in that week, but as I looked up the places on the internet where we went, I realized how much we missed. I think the solution would be to go and live there for at least a year.
Some last looks at Dublin:

I loved these reminders on the streets!

Ireland: Dingle Peninsula- Part 7

 Disclaimer: Some of the pictures below are M's. 
Our last day trip was to the Dingle Peninsula. We had a choice between there or the Ring of Kerry, and M suggested this one. We rode on a minibus for the Slea Head Drive. Our driver kept us laughing, especially when he waved to a man walking down the street and announced that he knew him!
The Aran Islands were beautiful and the Dingle Peninsula was just as breathtaking. Our first stop was the beach at Inch Strand.
It was a little cold, so no dipping our toes in the water for us! M had been there before, and she remembered the lady in the gift store had a yellow lab, much like her previous dog.

As you can tell, the weather was seriously overcast and was misting part of the day. Apparently, that is par for the course for this area.
This is a house that is across the road from Inch Strand
We got back on the bus for more gorgeous countryside:

And more coastline:

Our driver told us about the Blasket Islands, which once were inhabited until young people left to go to uni and didn't return. The older inhabitants were moved off the island. Some immigrated to  Massachusetts. I can't imagine how hard life was on the islands, with the cold wind blowing and having to be self-sufficient. 

You can take a ferry to the islands and spend the day there.

At the top of Slea Head, we saw this:

Statues of Jesus and/or Mary are a common occurrence all over Ireland. The driver said that people would erect them in times of strife or extreme difficulty.
Mustn't forget about the sheep we saw!

Another view with the Blasket Islands in the background

A scene from the new Star Wars movie was filmed here. I'm not a fan, so I'm not real sure exactly where the scene was filmed, so I just took plenty of pictures!

It was an incredibly windy day!
Another interesting thing was saw was the beehive hut complex:

One of M's pictures

This is obviously M's picture!

Another one of M's pictures
No mortar was used in building the complex at all. It is thought that this group was used for domestic housing. It was built on the side of a hill and is thought to be built due to the Normans running the Irish off of the good farming land. I know the sign says "2000 BC", but the information I found dates them around 1200 AD.

We also crossed a piece of countryside where St. Brendan began his voyage to America hundreds of years before Columbus. In 1976, his voyage was reconstructed according to records. Tim Severin proved that it was possible; however, there has not been anything found that would indicate that this happened. (We were on the bus so I didn't take any pictures of this area.)

More sheep...with a dog in the 4 wheeler doing his job.
When we got back into town, we had about an hour or so to eat and look around Dingle a bit.
This is where we had some sandwiches for lunch.

A storefront

I'm not sure what this was about.

I thought this was cool & unusual

And, look what we found up the hill!

Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima...which is the name of the Parish I attend.

Way before we were ready, we had to return to the bus.

View of the harbor

Statue of Fungie the Dolphin. He can be seen in the harbor and he interacts with people in the water.
On the way back to Killarney, we went through Tralee, which is known for its Rose festival. The Rose of Tralee crowns a woman of Irish descent as The Rose. (No pictures since we were on the bus & I wasn't in a good spot.)
We also passed a B&B that was owned by Tom Crean, an Antarctic explorer.

We also saw a rainbow:

The driver pointed out the place where the Jeanie Johnston ship would dock. This ship made 16 trips to North America with no lives lost.

This was perhaps the most entertaining day we had. There was a newlywed couple on the bus with us, and he was hysterical. They, along with the driver, definitely made the trip to Dingle more fun. 
Come back on Monday for the final post on Ireland.

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