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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On the loose in Dublin town...

I have to say that my dad is one hell of a trooper! After nearly getting killed riding a bike and almost falling off a 300 foot cliff, I must say I was a bit concerned on how the rest of the trip was going to go. Needless to say by the end of our tour, I will tell you this: I never met anyone who had never been overseas who fit in like a comfy pair of jeans and who let everything that came his way gently flow over him. Anyway after tripping around on the Aran Islands, we were aboard the train from Galway back to Dublin. Train travel in Ireland is so civilized! Relaxing, comfortable seats, friendly folk all around and of course a bar on board for your afternoon Guiness. After a few days of rest we headed into the city centre of Dublin like kids in awe and amazement at this great town. We decided to be gorby tourists and did the hop on hop off bus thing which is actually a pretty good way to get about and lets face it, who's going to see you that you know anyway! The tour bus trundled about and gave us a good little history of the place and our first hop off was the Kilmainham Gaol. An intense Victorian jail which housed many men, women and children, mostly poor and their only crime mostly being Irish Catholic and fighting for independence from the British rule. So after some hardcore stories of the uprisings, we decided the next hop off would be the Guiness factory. Imagine 500 acres in the middle of the city belonging to a brewery! Ahh the Irish know their historical monuments and how to preserve them alright...The highlight is the 360 degree pub at the top with grand views of the city and of course a big free pint of FRESH Guiness. Did I mention that the Guiness does taste better in Ireland? After a lovely meal in the cafe there we started out for a good walk and wander around the Liffey river, Ha Penny Bridge and eventually into the Temple Bar district where we found a great pub and our first taste of traditional Irish music. By that time our fresh Guiness had worn off and it was time to replenish our iron levels as they were quite low by now...and you know whats good for that? You guessed it...the G word...I think around 10 pm we decided to stagger off to find the a bit lost and got friendly with a local who pointed us in the right direction (while telling his life story...) and arrived safe in Balleycullen. My daughter and her lad were a bit concerned but relieved when we showed up giggling and singing Dublins praise..."dirty old town...dirty old town.." To be continued...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Irish times...

So I've been looking back at some of my photos from my recent trip to Ireland and thought I would post some of my 
favorites...but first a quick history of the trip. My dad and I arrived in Dublin which was to be our base since my daughter Aja and her lad Robert were living there at the time. Our first trip was dad, Aja and I off to the Aran Islands. These are a group of 3 remote island off the west coast and very much locked in a time gone by. Many of the people there are 7th and 8th generation Islanders who rarely get off the man we met last went to the mainland in 2004. Most of them only make one or two trips to the mainland each year. A gracious and friendly sort who mainly speak Irish gaelic and live simple lives with tourism being one of the major ways to make a living. Aran sweaters are known the world over but I think most of the wool comes from the mainland now and sheep farming has dwindled. The most obvious thing that you notice once you begin the bike trip from the ferry is the rock walls. They are everywhere and are amazing pieces of functional art. What else are you going to make your fences out of when you have millions of rocks and no trees? The other thing you will see are the thatched roof cottages of which we stayed in for the 2 nights we were there. The movie 'Man of Aran' made in 1939 was filmed in and around our B&B which goes by the same name. The movie is supposed to depict life on the Arans and although does give the basic gist, it was a bit more enhanced than the locals liked to think.Anyway a beautiful, rugged place with ancient history dating back to prehistoric times. One of the forts, Dun Aonghasa, is believed to be older than the pyramids of Egypt. Anyway I will continue these short photo journeys in coming blogs.