Trip Start Jun 27, 2010
11Trip End Aug 19, 2010
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We arrived at 1:30ish on Saturday. We went to the taxi stand and got in cab with Mathew McDonald who pointed out landmarks on the way into Dublin. He told us he was avoiding traffic on the carriageway because there was a football game at a local stadium. We asked if it was soccer and he no it was Gaelic Football. Of course, we had never heard of it and he explained that it was sort of a combination of soccer and rugby - the ball is kicked and thrown. Plus, the players are very aggressive and they wear no protection like they don't in rugby. So, the Irish call soccer soccer and football means Gaelic Football. All and all, he was an hospitable and energetic tour guide who happened to drive a cab. It was a wonderful introduction to genuine Irish hospitality thanks to Matthew.
We arrived at the house at about 3:00 p.m. and James, the son oft he exchangers, let us in and explained some of the things we needed to know about the house. After he left, Skip walked to the nearby grocery store to buy a few items and at 5:00 we watched the Gaelic Football. It is the oldest sport still played in the world. After that, we watched some more TV and went to bed. The master bedroom does not have a bathroom attached like we are used to; it is down 7 steps, then 3 or 3 steps across a landing then up 3 more steps. Honestly, in the middle of the night it is a pain! Anyway the house is nice; it always takes us, or at least me (Sheila), a day or two to feel comfortable in someone else's home and then I am fine.
Donnybrook was once the location of Donnybrook Fair, a fair held from the time of King John onwards, which became notorious for drunkenness and violent disorder. This gave rise to the term a donnybrook, meaning a brawl or fracas. The fair was banned in 1855, but a supermarket called Donnybrook Fair is on the main street. Parts of the lands on which Donnybrook Fair took place are occupied by Donnybrook Rugby Ground and Herbert Park. It is also one of the more affluent areas of Dublin.
We went to the kitchen for breakfast. I (Skip) found an espresso coffee maker and took it apart to figure how to make his morning coffee. I loaded it and put it on the gas burner and put the lid down, after a while I heard it steam and then suddenly it erupted spraying coffee all over the small kitchen area. It was an early morning cleaning session complete with locating the ladder for the ceiling. Following a long delay we had eggs, toast, Sheila had tea and I had orange juice. What an experience. Later in the afternoon we went on line to find the express pot with an explanation of how it operates. It was also time to get caught up on the laundry which is located in the out house behind the kitchen. Adjustment to other systems is always a little difficult, as the washing machine also serves as the dryer and the tub is not very large, and the drying takes forever.
We made a reservation at the Restaurant Donnybrook Fair for 3:00pm for their Sunday Brunch. The Malone's left us a two for one coupon for the meal. I decided I would drive to the Tesco and checked out the location and took off, with the comment, " I hope to be back in time for our reservation, if I get lost....!" Well a few hours later I returned after seeing a great deal of the surrounding towns and some parts of the city. Let me help to explain this, I started out with simple directions, however, there were no simple right or left turns that completed an east/west or north/south direction, but there were many roads that veered this way and that and one way roads that did not allow me to go in a direction that made sense. I saw some beautiful sights including a golf course that I could not possibly find again, and finally stopped at a petrol station after having avoided a bridge that would have directed me to Waterford. The young women at the counter must have been totally amused as I told her I was lost and needed a map to get back to Donnybrook. She pointed out the map and I got one, she showed me approximately where I was and told me to turn left and go to the end of the road and I would connect to the road that goes through Donnybrook. I was at the door when I turned and said I had better pay for the map, she had a kind smile as I walked back to pay 9.90 euros for the map! I drove out in the direction she had pointed only to find it difficult to find the street names as they are sometimes on buildings but not always. I made what I realize was a circle as I pasted some familiar spots for a third time and finally pulled off the road to ask a gentleman for directions, his wife and children continued to unload the groceries from their car and we discussed the direction with the map. Now I had a general direction in mind, but still could not find street signs in time enough to make the right turns. I turned down a street which had significant parking, pulled out the map found where I was and realized that I had to turn around and go back in the direction I came. Finally heading in the right direction I stumbled on to a familiar road and realized it was the one that lead to the house. Arriving home, I opened the door and informed Sheila that I did not make it to the store which was eight minutes from the house, but I did make it back in time for our brunch.
Our 3:00 lunch consisted of a three course meal, starters of Shrimp (Sheila) and Parma Ham (Skip). The Parma Ham had an olive tapenade with cut fresh figs which was quite tasty. Both of us had the Mains of Irish sirloin of beef and the fixings, along with deserts of Trio Chocolate cake and Baked Alaska (Whipped Cream on a little dab of ice cream on a small crumb cake). A good meal, but not one that was outstanding.
When we returned home we decided to see if we could find the elusive market, Tesco. We found it in 6 minutes using Gertie the Garmin. Color me embarrassed. Two outlandish experiences in one day which I will simply caulk up to the transition of travel and an new location.
We took the bus into City Center to the Grafton Street shopping area. We looked in a few book stores and department stores and there were lots of people.
We left the Archives and went into St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is the Church of Ireland a part of the Anglican communion. It was not very impressive and, again, we felt a little jaded and may not have given the cathedral its due..... Here are a few photos.
We drove north 30 miles to the Valley of the Boyne to look at some neolithic burial mounds. We had some choices and decided that we would only go to one, Newgrange. Newgrange was built between circa 3100 and 2900 BC, during the Neolithic period, in order to house the remains of the dead. Newgrange is very similar to the famous Maeshowe tomb in Orkney, Scotland and Bryn Celli Ddu site in Wales, both of which point to the midwinter solstice. It has also been suggested that a feature similar to the 'lightbox' at Newgrange may be matched at Bryn Celli Ddu.. religious significance, particularly in regards to an afterlife, because it is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, which floods the tomb with light. It is in fact just one monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, pronounced Brew nah Boyne alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth, rhymes with south.
From there we drove to the Hill of Tara. The most familiar role played by the Hill of Tara in Irish history is as the seat of the kings of Ireland until the 6th century. This role extended until the 12th century, albeit without its earlier splendor. Regardless, the significance of the Hill of Tara predates Celtic times, although it has not been shown that Tara was continuously important from the Neolithic to the 12th century. The central part of the site could not have housed a large permanent retinue, suggesting that it was used as an occasional meeting place. There were no large defensive works. Certainly the earliest records attest that high kings were inaugurated there, and the "Seanchas Mor" legal text (written down after 600AD) specified that they had to drink ale and symbolically marry the goddess Maeve (Medb) to acquire the high-kingship.
We drove back to the house through Dublin which was a little hairy and Skip did well. He dropped me off and went to Tesco for a few groceries. We updated our travel blog, watched some TV and went to bed.
I went off to play golf early. I played a local golf course, Elm Park, a parkland type course which means trees and water barriers. I was able to go out earlier than the arranged t-time and told to pay when I returned. The course was maintained well and I got to witness the work on the grounds on almost every hole of the eighteen. The narrow holes provided a serious challenge for me as I have been playing a lot of tree lines in the last few rounds of golf. When I came in to pay I was greeted by Seamus, the manager of the golf shop. As in Scotland, the game of golf seems to allow for a sense of connection and fellowship. He immediately wanted to know where I lived and how my holiday was going. He introduced me to all that were entetring the golf shop and warned me after introducing me to Paddie to be sure to not get too caught up by what he said. He hospitality and genuine interest in knowing more about me was striking and he offered to assist in any further rounds by giving me access to the pull carts so I could go out as early as I wanted. The Irish are know for being friendly and Seamus was certainly one of Ireland best ambassadors.
I got up an hour later and started working on the blog. When Skip returned we took the bus into City Center to the Trinity College and went on a guided tour.
Then we went to find an ATM and found ourselves on Grafton Street.
We got up, had breakfast and took off for Wexford and Waterford. We drove into Wexford and looked around and left.
Skip got up and out early to play golf at Elm Park, I rose at almost 8 to see that it was raining! I wasn't surprised because it had been cloudy every day and hadn't rained yet but...... So, I decided to update the blog and see if might stop raining to take my walk. Of course it didn't and Skip came home about 11:00. We decided it wasn't a day to go to Dublin and ride the Hop On Hop Off bus. The more we waited the more the rain came down. We decieded that a day of reading and relaxing was in order. In the early afternoon we decided to find a movie theater and found the Dundrum Shopping center which had a theater complex. We hopped in the car and went to explore a new area and get a sense of what Dublin offers in terms of such centers. When we found the center it looked more like a business complex. We entered the parking garage under the complex and we we got to the map the center was four stories of shops. Skip mentioned that it reminded him of a mall outside of Washington D.C. which was equally huge. We found our way to the movie theater complex which was crowded with others avoiding the rain and weather, and we saw the "A-Team". Outside of the outrageous explosions and near death experiences of the A-Team members, it was quite funny and was very close to the original TV series, only it had better casting. Following the movie we went to the cafe Milano for a snack. There were about 8 to 10 restaurants outside the mall with at least 6 to 10 eateries in the mall.
We explored a few stores in the mall and headed home for a quiet evening.
It turned out to be another gray and rainy morning so we decided we would have a breakfast and get packed for our trip to Kinsale and Dingle, do laundry, read and relax. We decided to go out on a neighborhood walk to check out places for lunch. The pub across from us was called Madigan's. It had sort of a dark appearance from the outside and we saw that they were having a carvery lunch. Inside it was much larger than it appeared and actually quite bright. We went to the line for the carvery and took in what was offered. Sheila had lasagna (more Irish than Italian with cedar cheese on top) and I had the beef and mushroom in peppercorn sauce. Alimost all of the sides were starch with a few vegatibles, with cheese. I was surprised at how good my beef was, at it surpassed the lasagna. Our lunch actually qualified as a larger than necessary meal.
We went to the store for some supplies on our way home and relaxed and got ready for our drive on Sunday.