Countries Visited:

Flag of Ireland

Flag of Hungary

Flag of Romania

Flag of United Kingdom

Dates of visit:
October 14, 2002 -
November 15, 2002

We rate this trip a:

Trip Segment

 6 day visit
 Walk central Dublin
 Rainy weather
 Kilkenny castle
 Abandoned Abbeys
 Waterford Crystals
 Kiss Blarney Stone
 Medieval Castles
 Irish breakfasts
 Jameson Distillery

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Trip Introduction
Our 2002 European Odyssey (part 2) was to experience parts of eastern Europe that is rarely seen by American visitors. In this segment of our trip our intention was to see Ireland on a self-drive schedule and visiting those undiscovered treasures hidden in the interior. Trip was "off-season" and (supposedly) uncrowded. Weather was not in our favor.
Ireland - The Emerald Isle
Many visitors see Ireland as a lush green island, full of thatched cottages, pubs, music, wit and poetry. Like all stereotypes, this image of the country has a basis in truth and the tourist industry helps sustain it.

The political and economic reality is, of course, rather less ideal, but the relaxed good humor of the people still makes Ireland a most welcoming place to visit.

Ireland has had more than its fair share of wars and disasters, culminating in the Great Famine of 1845-8. Since then, poverty and emigration have been part of the Irish way of life. More people of Irish descent live in the US than in Ireland itself.

Suffering and martyrdom in the cause of independence also play an important part in the Irish consciousness. The heroine of WB Yeats's play Cathleen ni Houlihan inspires young men to lay down their lives for Ireland.

Yet, the Irish retain their easy-going attitude to life with a young, highly educated population working hard to make its way in today's European Union. In the Republic, 50 percent of the population is under age 25.

Sites Visited

Dublin City - Despite its location close to the old walled city, southeast Dublin remained virtually undeveloped until the founding of Trinity College in 1592. The mid-18th century saw the beginning of a construction boom in Dublin. During this time, magnificent public buildings such as the Old Library at Trinity College, Leinster House and the Bank of Ireland were built. For seven centuries Dublin Castle was a symbol of English rule, ever since the Anglo-Normans built a fortress here in the 13th century. Nothing remains of the original structure except the much modified Record Tower. Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I on the site of an Augustinian monastery. Originally one of three ancient commons in the old city, St. Stephen's Green was enclosed in 1664. The 9-ha (22-acre) green was laid out in its present form in 1880, using a grant given by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family.
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Kilkenny Castle - Kilkenny is undoubtedly Ireland's loveliest inland city. It rose to prominence in the 13th century, when the Irish Parliament often met at Kilkenny Castle. Built in the 1190s, Kilkenny Castle was occupied right up until 1935. The powerful Butler family lived in it from the late 14th century, but because of the exorbitant upkeep, their descendants eventually donated Kilkenny Castle to the nation in 1967. With its drum towers and solid walls, the castle retains its medieval form, but has undergone many alterations. The Victorian changes made in Gothic Revival style have had the most enduring impact, and are even more impressive since recent restoration work.
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Kells Priory - Looking more like a fortification than a religious center, Kells offer an insight into the medieval capital of the region
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Jerpoint Abbey - Lying on the banks of the Little Arrigle just south of Thomastown, Jerpoint Abbey ranks among the finest Cistercian ruins in Ireland, despite the loss of many of its domestic buildings. Founded in about 1160, the fortified medieval complex rivaled nearby Duiske Abbey in prestige. Jerpoint flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when it passed to the Earl of Ormonde.
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Waterford Crystals - The original glass factory was founded in 1783 by two brothers, George and William Penrose, who chose Waterford because of its port. For many decades their crystal enjoyed an unrivaled reputation, but draconian taxes caused the firm to close in 1851. A new factory was opened in 1947, however, and master blowers and engravers were brought from Europe to train local apprentices, Competition from Tipperary and Galway Crystal hit sales in the early 1990s, but these have revived recently, largely due to an upturn in the North American market.
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Youghal City - Youghal (pronounced "yawl") is a historic walled town and thriving fishing port. The town was granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth I but later sold to the Earl of Cork. In Cromwellian times, Youghal became a closed borough an English Protestant garrison town. The picturesque, four-story Clock tower was originally the city gate, but was recast as a prison. Steep steps beside the tower lead up to a well-preserved section of the medieval town wall and fine views across the Blackwater estuary.
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Blarney Castle - Visitors from all over the world flock to this ruined castle to see the legendary Blarney Stone. Kissing the stone is a long-standing tradition, intended to confer a magical eloquence. It is set in the wall below the castle battlements and, in order to kiss it, the visitor is grasped by the feet and suspended backward under the parapet. Little remains of the castle today except the keep, built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy. Its design is typical of a 15th century tower house. The vaulted first floor was once the Great Hall. To reach the battlements you need to climb the 127 steps to the top of the keep.
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Cahir Castle - Built on a rocky island in the River Suit, Cahir is one of the most formidable castles in Ireland and a popular film set. This well-preserved fortress dates from the 13th century but is inextricably linked to its later owners, the Butlers. A powerful family in Ireland since the Anglo-Norman invasion, they were considered trusty lieges of the English crown and were granted the Cahir barony in 1375. Under their command, the castle was renovated and extended throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. It remained in the Butler family until 1964.
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Rock of Cashel & Hore Abbey - This rocky stronghold, which rises dramatically out of the Tipperary plain, was a symbol of royal and priestly power for more than a millennium. From the 5th century on it was the seat of the Kings of Munster, whose kingdom extended over much of southern Ireland. In 1101, they handed Cashel over to the Church, and it flourished as a religious center until a siege by a Cromwellian army in 1647 culminated in the massacre of its 3,000 occupants. The abbey was finally abandoned in the late 18th century. Hore Abbey lies nearby
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Trip Gallery - Touring Ireland
Dublin - General Tour
Dublin castle Trinity College Stephens Green
Ha Penny Bridge 4 Courts St. Patrick
Kilkenny Castle
At Kilkenny Castle At Kilkenny Castle At Kilkenny Castle
Kells Priory
At Kells Priory At Kells Priory At Kells Priory
Jerpoint Abbey
At Jerpoint Abbey At Jerpoint Abbey At Jerpoint Abbey
Waterford Crystals
Waterford Crystal Waterford Crystal Waterford Crystal
Youghal City
Youghal City Youghal City Youghal City
Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle Blarney Castle Blarney Castle
Cahir Castle
Cahir Castle Cahir Castle Cahir Castle
Rock of Cashel & Hore Abbey
Rock of Cashel Rock of Cashel Rock of Cashel
Hore Abbey Hore Abbey Hore Abbey
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