DAY ONE: We landed to 40 degree weather and a steady rain coming down. We had a pretty hair-raising inaugural car drive from the airport to our first hotel. Don tended to drift off to the left, since he was used to the driver’s side being about 3 feet to the left of where it now was! After bouncing off the curb a couple of times, he got better. The rental car was already all scraped up on the left side – scars from other American drivers! We got to our room at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel (thank you, Lord!) and set the timer for just a 1-hour nap so we can go to sleep early tonight. Don’s on the bed sleeping again; I can’t keep him awake! There is a quaint little town (Dalkey) about 2 miles from here, so we donned our raincoats and grabbed our umbrellas and went exploring. We had our first Irish meal in a cute pub. Chris would love it – they have fireplaces burning everywhere you go! I enjoyed sitting next to 2 Irish ladies and listening to them talk! I helped one lady on with her coat. But Irish people don’t just say, “Thanks!” They wait until they say good-bye, then look you right in the eye and say, “Thank you for helping me on with my coat.” Chris is right – they are genuinely interested in you and ever so polite! It is so refreshing. And we had some beautiful views of the Dublin harbor during our walk. Tomorrow we’ll take a train to Dublin, then do a “hop on and off” bus around Dublin and see the Guiness factory; so I hope we get lots of rest!!
DAY TWO: The Guiness factory was impressive. Amazing how the production of an alcohol product would help the transportation infrastructure, but it sure did. Through the 1st 1/2 hour of the tour, Don kept saying, “There’s no way they produce ALL the Guiness beer from here.” But they kept saying 3 million pints per day, so now he believes it. At the tasting room toward the end of the tour, the guy asked all the visitors assembled: “What color is Guiness?” And I answered correctly, “red.” I was listening; you would have been so proud. We also saw the “Little Museum,” which included history of the town. It was sad to hear about all the violence Dublin has endured over the years; most of the town heroes ended up executed and the ancient Lord Nelson Memorial tower was bombed by terrorists!
We enjoyed the Dublin “hop on, hop off” tourist bus. However, it stopped at 5pm, unbeknownst to us! The driver just pretty much said, “Get off now!” I started to argue with him, since I had no idea where we could catch the train. Don finally said, “Lynne, just get off the bus.” I had no idea where we were. But God is good: we ended up being very close to a nice restaurant, PLUS a close train station to take us back home to our village after a great dinner. Lots of walking to burn off the calories, too! Our second castle tomorrow – please pray for safe travels across the Irish countryside.
DAY THREE: Kilronan Castle was fabulous; the best of both worlds. Tea in the ancient castle with all the gorgeous woodwork and art, but our room was in the wing that had just been built a few years ago – spacious with a huge bathroom. The concierge at the castle tried and tried to set us up with a boat ride to the Cliffs of Moher, but it is just too early in the season – too much likelihood of rain! I’d say the chance of rain is 100% each day this time of year. We were just happy when it stopped for a bit and the sun peaked out! This castle includes a lake and a nice wooded area for hiking. It is seriously so humid that the trees were covered in moss. We went to a coal mine and got a tour from a real former coal miner. He was so proud of his work, and he explained just how hard the work was. I couldn’t do it!
DAY SIX: Ashford Castle: the most luxurious of all. We had high tea in the afternoon. The sun peaked through and the room was so ornate; truly just like Downton Abbey! Then a fantastic dinner last night; hosts, waiters, waitresses, a guy to wheel Don’s prime rib over and cut it for him, and a wine steward. They pulled out my chair for me, and put our napkins on our laps,and took the covers off of our food (simultaneously), and removed our unneeded silverware and picked up the roll I dropped after 30 seconds and….well, you get the picture! The food was delicious, too! I almost expected a lady’s maid to come up and help me dress this morning….. Don is happy he is getting his long bike ride in today. The rain even stopped for part of it! Chris worked on us so hard that we ARE doing the falconry lessons today. It isn’t supposed to rain again, but the wind is very chilly. So my “cuddl duds” will come in handy. There’s an Irish singer tonight here; not sure where we’ll do dinner. Tomorrow we take a bus to the cliffs by the ocean and then head back to Dublin. Our last day there should be fine, so we will try to go see some ancient ruins. Then back home to real life!
DAY EIGHT: We drove back across Ireland, back to Dublin. I was so glad we took a bus to the Cliffs of Moher, because the roads were barely wide enough for 2 small cars, let alone the tour buses whizzing along in either direction. Don did a good job driving. As my manicurist at Kilronan told me, “He’ll be fine as long as he’s confident.” He was that! We went to the tomb “mounds” north of Dublin at Bru na Boinne. The Druids built them 5000 years ago. It took 8 men 2 days to get each huge block up the hill. They must have known quite a bit about astronomy and architecture, because the mounds are still standing. Each year, at sunrise on summer and winter solstice, a beam of sunlight comes into the window over the doorway, deflects off of the ceiling and lights up the circle where they apparently put the bones of dead elders (or other important people). The people lived in wood huts covered in animal skins, but they worked very, very hard for 15 years to build this mound. What did they believe about God? It’s a mystery. It makes me happy to have the Bible and know God’s word. We are so blessed!