The trip to the Gravity Bar that is at the top of the Guinness Brewery on St. James Street in Dublin was quite the adventure. Our adventure started in “the states” (European reference to the United States) at 6am on Thursday MST. After a few long flights and layovers we arrived in Dublin at 6am on Friday Dublin time (11pm previous day back home). After clearing customs and picking up the rental car we hit Dublin streets at 8am right in the middle of morning rush hour traffic. The up side for me was that I was not the “Elected Driver”. In retrospect I am very impressed with my good friend that was able to get into the wrong side of the car and drive down the wrong side of the street during rush hour traffic (right side for Europe wrong side for US). Of course the hotel rooms are not ready…. We now have time to kill! After parking the car we hit the streets of Dublin on foot. There is now 5 miles of Dublin between us and our “Perfect Pint”. Along the way we caught breakfast in a small pub, checked out the Temple Bar district, did a little shopping and got to experience the streets of Dublin firsthand. It was on this walk that I realized I was in a different country. A young man walking down the street pointed out how much us “Yanks” stood out. It was all in good humor now that I look back at it, however at the time caught me off guard. When we got to the brewery it was cool to walk through the museum and work our way through to the top. I loved the water feature inside and thought the signed lease at the beginning was interesting. Upstairs there was a room that a video loop was playing and from there was the stairs to the Gravity Bar. Over the months I have been acquiring the taste for the Dark Porter. When we handed over our tickets and received our “Perfect Pint”, I cannot begin to describe how smooth and creamy that pint was. The room was packed with people from around the world. I heard some French, German, Spanish, and other dialects I could not recognize. I truly enjoyed myself at the brewery but just like other places we visited it was the journey that was the destination.
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Today I was reflecting back (day dreaming :-)) on my recent trip to Ireland. That trip was one of those trips that when I am day dreaming every now and then I will reflect back on. The town of Blarney and the castle property specifically was truly a magical experience. Everything from the weather to the castle, blarney house, the lake to Lunch was memorable. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was about 65F with just a breath of wind and the billowy clouds just seem to float across from one horizon to the other (perfect for Pictures). It is a little bit of a hike to the castle but when you come in the gate the direction to go is obvious. The castle stands proud above everything around for miles. When I was standing at the base of the castle I was lucky enough to catch the sun peeking through a window at the top (this turned out to be an amazing photograph). Looking at the rays of light peeking through the window they remind me of the Celtic cross. Inside the castle it is a maze of rooms and stair cases to get to the top where the famous Blarney Stone is located. Looking down from the top you can see where the three floors below used to be. When looking around the country side from the top you can see for miles. One of the best features is the Blarney house. The Blarney House is a beautiful Scottish Baronial style mansion that was built in 1874. As you take the walk to the lake that is in the front yard of the Blarney House you are taken back in time. There are horse pastures, off buildings and ruins scattered about the property. As I stood at the base of the castle and walked the estate I felt a true connection to history. These are buildings that were conquered by kingdoms and taken back by another. We are looking at going back some day sooner than later. Ireland is still on my “Bucket list”.
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Along our adventure in Ireland we went thru Killarney into the Ring of Kerry. We Drove up to Molls Gap where there is a quaint little gift shop, and we made a few stops along the way that will always stick with me. The first stop was a little mountain church that sits by its self on the side of the mountain road. I tried to look up information on this church but have had no luck. It sits at the intersection of the N71 and the Torc Mountain trail head. When looking at this church you can see the history and craftsmanship that was put into this little building. Then as I look at it, I wonder what would make them build in such a location. I wish I could find more information. Just adjacent to the church was this old bridge that you can tell has as much history and great craftsmanship to it as well. From the Church we went up to the top of Moll’s Gap and down again. On our way down we stopped by the Torc Falls. From the parking lot it is a small jaunt up to the base of the falls. If you choose to go on the trail will take you all the way back up to the old church previously mentioned. You may want to allow for a good day to make your way all the way to the church. The Falls seem to be an Oasis in the middle of the Irish Winter. It is amazing how everything can be so green with moss growing on the trees and rocks. My home is at about 47deg North Latitude and it was strange to me to see so much green so much further north at 51deg North Latitude. However I did notice the leaves on some of the trees have fallen off. I am sure that Ireland in the fall is completely amazing. I guess the long of the short of things are that I am going to have to go back at least two more times to catch the summer Green and the Fall Foliage.
One of our stops along the way was the Kerry Ardfert Cathedral. The Ardfert Cathedral is built on the site of a monastery founded in the 6th century by St. Brendan the Navigator. The cathedral is located in the village of Ardfert, County Kerry, Ireland. The site has three medieval church ruins, the earliest building being from the 12th century, with additions made in the 15th century when a small transept was added and battlements were constructed, an ogham stone and a number of early Christian and medieval grave slabs. The cathedral roof was destroyed during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, but the south transept was re-roofed and extended later in the 17th century when it was converted into a Protestant Church. In 1871, when a new Protestant church was opened, the roof was again removed. Within the adjoining graveyard there are two other churches Temple Na Hoe dating from the 12th century and Temple Na Griffin dating from the 15th century ~Wikipedia~. What an amazing structure! Our good friends we were traveling with have Family that lives in the area. It takes a special kind of people that can make you feel like family from the first minute you meet them. From the minute we were introduced I felt like family. While we were there we got the privilege of a guided tour before our Irish style home cooked meal (dinner was amazing!). It wasn’t the special access to these sites that made our tour special. It was the pride that our guide had in his heritage, who he is and where he came from that made this tour special. The Irish are humble but proud people with a deep heritage and a history that spans centuries beyond our own. I don’t care who you are or where you come from you can’t help but be in complete awe when you stand at the foot of these structures and realize the history behind them.
I am waking up after a 26 hour trip from Dublin to Montana and I feel great! I have been to a lot of places and until now have not found a place that equals the beauty of the Bigsky Country. Ireland was amazing to say the least and being able to enjoy it with close friends makes it that much better. On top of it’s raw beauty, the culture and the history of every place, Ireland will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what is around every corner. Our trip took us from Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day to as much of the southern half of Ireland as we could cover in a week (It would be safe to say that we need to go back for a few more weeks to cover just the southern half). I was able to get the Photos from our trip loaded into LightRoom and the final count was somewhere around 3,200 images. Now Granted there are many images that were bracketed shots for HDR photographs but I think I can safely say that our trip was well captured :-). It is going to take me a few weeks to get through all of the photos. Along with the Photographs I will be sharing the stories and any of the lessons we learned along the way. Sláinte!