Friday, May 27, 2016

Timeline of the Kylemore Estate, Ireland


Wednesday's itinerary included a 4-hour visit to this popular attraction in western Ireland.


1850.  Mitchell and Margaret Henry honeymoon in Connemara.  As Margaret is so enchanted with the area, Mitchell purchases a 15,000-acre estate.

1867.  Construction of the castle begins.

1874.  Margaret dies of dysentery in Egypt.  Survived by her husband and 9 children.

1877.  Construction of a Gothic church in Margaret's memory begins and is completed in 1881.

1893.  Electricity generated onsite. 


1903.  The estate becomes the home of the Duke and Duchess of Manchester.   Many interior changes are made.  The Duke's gambling debts result in their leaving in 1914. 

1910.  Mitchell Henry dies. 

1920. Estate taken over by a community of nuns from the Benedictine Community.

1923.  Boarding school opens.


1959.  Fire destroys part of Abbey.

1993.  Abbey partially opened.

1995. Gothic church reopened.

2000.  After four years of restoration work, the  Victorian walled garden is reopened.

2010.  Boarding school closes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

In the old city center of Galway Ireland



The old city center of Galway, compact with numerous pedestrian-only narrow streets, is filled with restaurant, bars, a diversity is retail establishment, and a smattering of tourist attractions.  It's where we spent our Tuesday afternoon.  

JoAnna and I went off on our own, stopping first at the Quay Street Kitchen, a restaurant with an intriguingly dark, rambling interior.  I enjoyed the best deep-fried haddock since the heyday of Mr. Elmer's in Oshkosh.  The only thing missing were the potato pancakes that I've never found replicated anywhere else.  Unfortunately, Mr. Elmer's went out of business years ago and the building on U.S. 45 just south of the city was soon after razed.


With street musicians all up and down Quay Street, this area of Galway exudes the same kind of vibe as Asheville, North Carolina.  The US city has a much greater preponderance of t-shirt and souvenir shops. 

Not sure why pizza would be on anyone's mind in Galway.    



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Clonmacnoise, the medieval crossroads of Ireland





Clonmacnoise is one of Ireland's most significant monastic sites.  Located on a bend of the River Shannon, once a major transportation  route, the monastery was founded in 545 AD by St. Cieran and built on an esker, a natural granite ridge. Its earliest remains are from the 9th century. From this period onward, it was routinely plundered by the Irish, Vikings and Anglo-Normans, and ultimately destroyed by the British in the mid-16th century.


The site is accessible only via two-lane roads hardly wide enough for tour busses to pass in opposite directions. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Moving about again





By the time JoAnna and I arrived at our hotel, we had three hours to spare until we could check into our room.

"We'll do what we can to try to get you in early," the sympathetic clerk promised.

With the 5-8 hour change for U.S. visitors, this situation is regularly encountered by hotel staff.

"In the meantime, we can offer you a complimentary coffee or tea I. The Links Lounge," she added.

A bellman escorted us there.  If nothing else, it gave us an opportunity to charge our phones. 

After a half hour of sitting after an uncomfortable night that offered us little in the way if sleep, we decided we needed to be active.  During the drive from the airport to the hotel, we spotted just the place to walk, a pedestrian path that followed the shoreline is the Irish Sea.  Not to mention the beach itself, including a long, wide stretch of sandy beach known as a Velvet Strand, which contrasted sharply with the mostly rocky and uneven terrain.
 
As you can see from the accompanying photos, our nearly two-hour walk provided us with a series of beautiful panoramas.  

And we enjoyed the most restful nap before dinner with our 13 travel mates for the next 10 days.

By the time JoAnna and I arrived at our hotel, we had three hours to spare until we could check into our room.

"We'll do what we can to try to get you in early," the sympathetic clerk promised.

With the 5-8 hour change for U.S. visitors, this situation is regularly encountered by hotel staff, especially with guest who book an overnight flight.

"In the meantime, we can offer you a complimentary coffee or tea in the Links Lounge," she added.

A bellman escorted us there.  If nothing else, it gave us an opportunity to charge our phones. 

After a half hour of sitting after an uncomfortable night that offered us little in the way of sleep, we decided we needed to be active.  During the drive from the airport to the hotel, we spotted just the place to walk, a pedestrian path that follows the shoreline of the Irish Sea.  Not to mention the beach itself, including a long, wide stretch of sandy beach known as the Velvet Strand, which contrasts sharply with the mostly rocky and uneven terrain.

As you can see from the accompanying photos, our nearly two-hour walk provided us with a series of beautiful panoramas.  (Photo1, a view of the Irish Sea with Lambay Island in the distance;  photo 2, Velvet Strand in distance in center/center-right distance)

And the two of us enjoyed most restful naps before dinner.

Andy Fairweather Low on my mind




The 8-hour, overnight flight from Chicago to Dublin brings to mind a 1975 tune by the Welsh musician Andy Fairweather Low.  "Wide-Eyed and Legless".   Wide-eyed in the sense that sleep was fleeting and, whenever I achieved it, hardly restful.  Legless being the condition I needed to achieve in order to find any comfort in the small space I occupied.  I changed positions so often that I might as well have been dancing.  

Low released three albums in the mid-70s -- Spider Jiving (1974), La Booga Rooga (1975), Be Bop 'N Holla (1976) that spent a lot of time on my turntable.  Since his solo career, low has served as a sideman for such well-known British musicians as Eric Clapton ("Unplugged") and Roger Waters.