Castle hunting through the Irish snow mountains
Trip Start Dec 30, 2009
6Trip End Jan 19, 2010
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After eating breakfast with our other international hostel guests, we toured more of Dublin to see the cathedrals, including the 1,000 year old St. Patrick's Cathedral and other city sites. We toured the downtown area some more along the main Liffey River and went back to Christ Church Cathedral for a better daytime look than from our drunken night before. It's a very beautiful gothic style church. Since the city was still asleep from last night's party,we were able to drive around Dublin a lot easier to see everything we could before heading out of town for some castle hunting
We drove south of the city to go up into the mountains thru Sally Gap on the way to Wicklow. The roads are very narrow and even more fun when you have to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road and also from the "passenger" side of the car. Ireland also was experiencing it's worse winter weather in over 40 years and many of the roads were treacherous and single lanes, but it made for beautiful scenery that these Floridians rarely get to see. However, once we made it to the top of the mountain, we discovered the route down the other side was closed due to heavy snow. Everyone at the top of the mountain had pulled over on top and were having fun throwing snowballs and sledding down hills. We eventually got stuck in our small 5-speed rental and had to get pushed out. A very nice older Irishman thought we were crazy to drive any further, but still gave us directions around the mountain to head towards our destination. We had to backtrack a few miles but drove past many rural cottages that we may had not seen otherwise.
Once we we're back on our way around the mountain, we saw many old castle ruins all along the countryside and near the villages of Cashel and Cahir .Most of the ruins were no longer occupied but now part of some local farmer's fieldIrish: Caisleán na Cathrach), is one of the largest castles in Ireland. It is sited on an island in the Suir River and was built in 1142 by Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. Cost's to enter during normal hours was 3 euros (about $5.50). We finished our long day of castle hunting and drove another hour to the beautiful seaside city of Waterford, (home of world famous Waterford Crystals), and checked into a Travellodge to get a long deserved rest.