Been a few days since our last blog entry because we have been so busy. We are getting up at about 7 each morning and touring hard until things close at about 5. After that we usually get involved in the nightlife where we can. At the moment we are in Limerick. I am told by my Irish friend that this is the murder capital of Ireland, which explains why everyone here looks like they want to murder me. In all fairness to this town it does have some charm to it. The first impression of this city is that it is nothing like any other Irish city. It is very structured, drab and industrious looking brick buildings all over the city center that all look the same. We are in the heart of the city here and on the river and it is quite pleasant. However the reason we are here is because it is a great base for seeing a lot of stuff outside the city. Here are some of our favourites but by no means a complete record of what we have done in the last 3 days.
To get here from Killarney we took a pass through the mountains called the Connors Pass. It is said to be the highest and most scariest road in Ireland. It is a bit scary mostly because of cliff hanging roads that are really only wide enough for one way traffic, but there is two two traffic. We did have to go backwards a couple of times to let traffic by but ultimately it was more fun than scary when you take it slow, like 5 km and hour slow. The views from this road may be some of the best in the country here are some pics of them.
Along the road there were some places to park the car and do some mountain climbing. We did this at two different points and the climbs were amazing and gave us tremendous views. We would be getting in really good shape if it were not for these devilish creations
These things are pure evil and tasty. We have had many of these. These I believe are an Irish thing. Essentially it is a soft serve ice cream with a flake bar stuck in it. We do sell flakes in Canada and maybe you have seen them. They are this flaky chocolate business and they go great with ice cream. They call them a "99" here and they are everywhere and are making up a very large portion of our spending on this trip
The next couple of pics are from some structures made in about 2000BCE. Essentially they are rock structures that use no morter at all to hold the rocks. The are simply balanced on each other. The rocks are chosen for appropriate shape and size and simply stacked on each other. They made houses and fencing with these structures and are pretty amazing to be still standing over 4000 years later. These things are everywhere. There is so much stone in this country. I feel the last 4000 years of history in Ireland is all about people who spend there entire lives moving stones around. Its pretty amazing to see.
There is a random shot of the beach from these sites in there as well. There are so many places like this in Ireland, the coast here is spectacular.
The next 4 pics are form a castle we came across on the side of the road. There are so many castles in Ireland, I cant even begin to explain it. In a 30 minute drive into the country it is not unusual to see 4 or 5 castle ruins in random farmers fields on the side of the highway. There are so many here they cant even restore them all. Farmers just have them sitting in their field and plant around them. This castle is a very cool one from the 1400's. You will notice a giant hole blown into the front of this one. This was done with 3 days of constant artillery fire at the castle. Castles here were generally built to protect treasures, sometime religious sometimes precious jewels and such. The British or Vikings depending on the time would come and siege these castles in order to take the treasures. In this case it was British privateers who robbed this castle, executed the inhabitants and sent to jewels to the King in order to win favour with him. This is basically a medieval break and enter. This is one of the few castles we have been to that is completely open and free to the public. You can just walk in, go anywhere you want, however there are no railings or safety structures in place so you kind of take your chances. We went to the very top of this one and these things are deceptively high in the towers. Here are the pics.
Here is something we would not have expected here. There is a grocery store that has this in all of their locations across the country. It is a bit different as it is mostly self served and the baked goods are different but cool nonetheless.
The next pick is of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. This is a castle that has been completely restored and is what you would expect in a castle in about the 1700s. It also has a village beside the castle that is like Fort Edmonton Park where there is a restored country village as it would have been a couple hundred years ago. Very interesting.
This is a Friary in the town of Ennis. We have seen many Friaries, Priories and Churches on this trip. This was a particularly nice one.
Today we spent our day travelling to a place called the Burren. It is a desolate place of rock and very little trees, however it is full of birds and very cool and different landscapes.
We took a walk down a woodland path we found outside of a cave and we came across this bird (Falcon?) it freaked the heck out of us. We also saw many creepy wood carvings like the one you see below. Blair Witch Project did come across my mind a bit on this walk
Then for some reason we decided it would be "fun" to walk 500 meters underneath a mountain and do some caving. I have been to many caves and chickened out of going into them in the past, today we did it. 500 meters in and 500 meters out with 140 meters of mountain above us. Sounds stupid but we did it anyways. It was fun but 40 minutes inside a mountain freaked us out a bit. It was well worth it to see the underground waterfalls and stalactites and stalagmites.
Our final destination for the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Pretty self explanatory, cliffs with perilously high drops to certain death into the ocean. You can walk right to the edge if you want (we didnt want) but we got close enough to the edge to take these pics. Everything in this country is so high and scary
Talk soon, enjoy the pics.