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Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

003 Guiness Storehouse Dublin

The Guinness Store attracts hundreds of tourists every day to what’s promoted as “Ireland’s #1 visitor attraction”.  Arthur Guinness began brewing stout at St James Gate Brewery in 1759.  Within a century this complex was the the largest brewery in the world, and it still brews 10 million pints a day (although today the Guinness brewery in Nigeria is larger than its Dublin counterpart, and the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado is now the largest single site brewery in the world).

The admission fee of about 15 Euros includes a self-guided tour of the old fermentation plant (everything is very well labeled and illustrated) and, when you’re done, a free pint of Guinness.  The old plant was refurbished in the late …

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Dublin, Ireland: Trinity College and its Book of Kells

060 Trinity College 2013 Library Book of Kells

Trinity College gives you a grand entrance to its inner courtyard.  Through a door within a massive larger door, you enter a square and see the college’s bell-tower (Campanile) set in its center, surrounded by an assortment of buildings.  The Campanile is one of the College’s — for that matter Dublin’s — iconic landmarks; built in 1853, it stands 30.5 m (100 ft) tall and is mostly constructed of granite.  You’ll not see students lingering under this tower because of a lasting superstition that if you’re beneath it when the bell tolls, you’ll fail your exams.  But enjoy it’s fine construction then look around a bit.

Beyond the bell-tower, there’s a lot to see at Trinity College.  Situated on the south bank of the River Liffey, …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 12) the Valley of the Boyne

050b Valley of the Boyne Mellifont Abbey

This post concludes tales of my road-trip around the Emerald Isle (though I’ve still got a few things to share about Dublin).  I don’t think this road-trip series could end with a more appropriate destination than the “Cradle of Irish Culture and History”, the valley of the Boyne.

The Boyne River Valley is less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin, close enough to do as a day-trip but a longer visit is most definitely recommended.  A valley of rich pasture and farmland with the Boyne River snaking through counties Meath and Louth on its way to the Irish Sea.  You’ll be tempted to sit on its bank and throw a fishing line in (and might catch a trout or salmon …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 11) Newgrange and Knowth

Newgrange 2013-010

The combination of its natural beauty and fascinating archaeological record (chronicling the country’s long history) makes Ireland a compelling place to visit.  There are many fabulous places to see when visiting Ireland, each seeming better than the last one you stopped at.  I think the most fascinating place we visited on the Emerald Isle — surpassing even the fabulous Dingle peninsula — was Brú na Bóinne.  This place is truly unique and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Situated just an hour’s drive north of Dublin, it’s home to the most ancient structures I’ve ever been in and is well worth going out of your way to see.

Specifically I’m talking specifically about visiting Newgrange and Knowth, two sites in a complex …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 7) the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

047 Cliffs of Moher. Branaunmore Rock just off O’Brien’s Tower

Our journey around Ireland next took us north to the Cliffs of Moher.  From Dingle we headed through Tralee then to the Tarbert ferry over the River Shannon.  The ferry ride can save you considerable time (the other option being driving all the way around the river) but it only runs once an hour so you need to check its schedule and time your arrival accordingly.  The ferry ride lasts about 15 minutes and it was cold but very scenic.
Soon we’re in County Clare and our main stop of the day not far ahead, the famous Cliffs of Moher (pronounced Maahrr), Ireland’s most popular natural tourist attraction which draws over a million visitors a year. …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 6) Exploring the Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

One of the highlights of any visit to Ireland is a chance to explore the Dingle Peninsula.  While it’s only half as large as the Ivernaugh peninsula (Ring of Kerry), it’s packed with beautiful views and interesting things to see.  This peninsula is a rocky place with steep mountains, rugged cliffs, ancient stone fences, beehive huts and other archaeological treasures, and lovely islands just offshore.   Using Dingle Town as your base, you can very leisurely drive around the peninsula in a day.  The peninsula features Gaelic signs and you’re like to hear local people using the Irish language.
Because the peninsula’s road is very narrow, you’ll be spared the large tour bus traffic of the Ring …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 5) the town of Dingle (An Daingean)

Dingle Town 2013-011 Harbor

Dingle (in Irish, An Daingean) is the main town on the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, with a population of around 1500 people.  The Dingle Peninsula sits on Ireland’s west coast just north of the Ivernaugh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry), about 71 km (40 mi) west of Killarney.  Dingle is in the Gaeltrecht part of the country, where maintenance of traditional Gaelic language and culture (eg. music, hurling) is encouraged by government subsidies.  Historically it was an important trading port but today it’s a great town for tourists to visit. 

Colorful storefronts in the small town of Dingle, Ireland

Colorful storefronts in the small town of Dingle, Ireland

 Ireland has many beautiful small towns and Dingle ranks among the finest (and was my favorite of the ones we visited!)  Built along a beautiful sheltered harbor and spreading up the slopes of a mountain to the …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 4) the Ring of Kerry; Exploring the Iveragh Peninsula

Ring-of-Kerry-2013-061 Staigue Fort

The Ring of Kerry is a loop drive that circles the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.  It’s just 110 miles (176 km) long but is not a fast drive as its narrow and winding. And there’s lots of beautiful scenery and historic stops along the way, so take your time and a full day to enjoy this trip.  The Iveragh peninsula has many ancient ring forts dotting the rocky land and this road offers the opportunity to easily explore several of them.  Awe-inspiring vistas of a rugged coast, the central mountains (including the tallest mountain in Ireland), and on clear days the Beara Peninsula to the south, the Skellig Islands to the west and the Dingle peninsula on the Northern part of the drive (limited views and visibility on …

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