Sunday, November 4, 2012


I was picked up at Dublin airport by Sharon - the girl I met in Vietnam and we travelled through Cambodia together. Sharon's family has a lovely country home outside of Dublin. Sharon and her mum were so welcoming making me feel right at home. Sharon and I enjoyed lunch at a lovely restaurant in a gorgeous country setting (restaurant owned by the owner of Ryanair).

Dublin was established as a Viking settlement in the 9th century and is now the capital of the Republic of Ireland with a population of just over a half a million.

The home of Ryanair owner.
My first full day in Dublin we did the hop on off bus tour (after having a traditional Irish breakfast). First stop was Trinity College. The college was founded in 1592, it is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland's oldest university.

The day we visited the history class was graduating

We felt it was only polite to attend the graduation reception.

The Trinity College Library, is the largest library in Ireland. As a "copyright library", it has legal deposit rights for material published in the Republic of Ireland; it is also the only Irish library to hold such rights for the United Kingdom.

The library is also the permanent home to the famous Book of Kells. Two of the four volumes are on public display, one opened to a major decorated page and the other to a typical page of text.

The library is breathtaking and looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie. Books are not arranged using the normal library filing system - books are arranged according to size with the smallest books being on top. The bookshelves have been designed and built to accommodate the different sizes of the books - spectacular to look at and they say it is easy to find books once you figure out the system!

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks in 800 or slightly earlier. The book is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.

The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells surpass that of other Insular Gospel books in extravagance and complexity. The decoration combines traditional Christian iconography with the ornate swirling motifs typical of Insular art (style of art produced in the post-Roman history of the British Isles). Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colors, enliven the manuscript's pages. Many of these minor decorative elements are imbued with Christian symbolism and so further emphasis the themes of the major illustrations.

What would a trip to Ireland be without a visit to the Guinness factory. Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in almost 60 countries and is available in over 100. 850 million litres are sold annually. On December 31, 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for an unused brewery. Good deal for him and his family!

Sharon and I sampling a brew - this only reminded me why I do not like beer!

View of Dublin from the bar at the top of the Guinness factory - you get a free beer with the tour - we opted for a soft drink!

Nothing like finishing the day at Temple Bar where I had my first Irish coffee and a delicious chicken dinner.

Some scenery around Dublin

Molly Malone (Cockles and Mussels)

The song tells the fictional tale of a beautiful fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin, but who died young, of a fever. In the late 20th century a legend grew up that there was a historical Molly, who lived in the 17th century. She is typically represented as a hawker by day and part-time prostitute by night

No I did not take a wrong turn - yes this looks like the White House and the president of Ireland lives here.

I met Mag a good friend of Sharon's family. Mag took us to the greyhound dog races - my first time at the track and I won 5 out of the 7 races I bet on! No lottery windfall but it was a fun evening. Mag has now decided to join me for my South African safari next May!

Picked up my rental car the next day and headed towards Cork. First stop Waterford - maybe I can pick up some crystal - not that I have any room in my luggage. After going to the Waterford factory and finding out the factory did not do tours on Saturdays and Waterford crystal has not been produced since 2009 I decided to go to a local pub for lunch where I enjoyed a local delicacy of ribs, cabbage, potatoes and carrots. The ribs were nothing like those in North America - they tasted more like bacon and were delicious.

Landscape on the drive from Waterford to Cork

I now know why they call it the Emerald Isle - I have never seen such a lush green landscape.

I arrived at the B&B i had booked in Cork and was warmly greeted and immediately ushered into the sitting room to enjoy tea - I expected a cup of tea, but in true Irish fashion it was more like a high tea! Oh am I going to have to diet after this!

I met up with one of Recreation Oak Bay's former staff Ted who is in his 3rd year of medical school at the University College Cork. We had a lovely evening with drinks and dinner.

The next day after the most amazing breakfast at the B&B - which consisted of a traditional irish breakfast including porridge laced with Bailey's (my mother never made porridge like this), Ted and I headed off to do some sightseeing around Cork. It was really nice to have someone else drive so I could take in the sights.

First we headed to the Blarney Castle where the Blarney Stone is located - looking forward to kissing that stone!

Original castle dates back to 1200. The castle looks even more dramatic because the walls slope inwards as it rises.
The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Once at the top of the castle you may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence.

Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations which have been given fanciful names, such as Druid's Circle, Witch's Cave and the Wishing.

Castle Host

Queen Elizabeth I is credited with introducing the word 'blarney' - her emissary was charged with persuading the MacCarthy chieftain to abandon his ancient rights and accept the authority of the English throne. Every time he tried ,he was met with long and eloquent protestations of loyalty and honeyed flattery of the Queen - but also no agreement. In frustration , Queen Elizabeth exclaimed, ' This is all Blarney. What he says he never means'. . . . And a new word was born.

The difference between baloney and blarney:

Baloney - is when you tell a 50 year old woman she looks 18.

Blarney - when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful!


This is where you lean over backwards if you want to kiss the Blarney Stone, which is actually one of the castle stones. Well given my fear of heights there was no kissing the Blarney Stone for me - hell I was barely able to walk around the top of the castle!


View of Blarney Stone from the ground
One of the 99 things you want to do before you die is kiss the Blarney Stone - this stone is on the castle property and looked like a good substitute to me!














We visited the local Wooden Mill shop to pick up some souvenirs and guess what I found - great deals on Waterford crystal! Now I have serious luggage problems.

Off to Kinsale a lovely, picturesque fishing village 25km south of Cork. Kinsale is a very popular tourist destination in the summer and is known for its gourmet cuisine. Good place for lunch - we went to the Fishy Fishy Cafe and enjoyed the best seafood soup I have ever tasted! Irish food is yummy!













Charles Fort, located at Summer Cove and dating from 1677, is a fortification that guards the entrance to Kinsale harbour. It was built to protect the area and specifically the harbour from use by the French and Spanish in the event of a landing in Ireland.














One of the last stops of the day was a point where one side is the Irish Sea ( you might see England if you look really hard) and on the other side of the point is a view of the Atlantic Ocean. This is exactly how I had imagined the coast of Ireland - breathtaking.

Irish Sea

The water is a brilliant bluish green








Atlantic Ocean



















Beach a few km away!


Last stop was the University College Cork which is where Ted is attending medical school and is located across the street from my B&B. The university was founded in 1845 as one of three Queen’s Colleges located in Belfast, Cork, and Galway. It became University College, Cork, under the Irish Universities Act of 1908. The Universities Act 1997 renamed the university as National University of Ireland, Cork.

Ted thanks for the great day touring me around Cork!

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