Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cliff at Lyons and a Barge Trip


 For our last two nights in Ireland, we opted to stay at Cliff at Lyons.  Named for an ancient town and castle that were destroyed in the mid 1600's, it was resurrected with the building of the Grand Canal in the late 1700's.  Lyons House was built in the late 1800's and a lovely community rose up around it on the banks of the canal.  The canal closed in 1960, and the village went into disrepair, bought by the University College in Dublin, the farmland was used for educational purposes.  In 1996, Tony Ryan the co-founder of Ryanair bought the village.  When he died in 2007, he was interred in the chapel here.  The village is now owned by CLIFF, a hotel group.

 We are staying in the Mayor's cottage, in the Grace Morrison room; when I find out who she is I'll update this post.  That's the building across the pond.
The Folly, there have been a few weddings here, and this seems to be a photo op for the brides.  

 Everywhere we walk there is another garden to see.  This one is behind another building on the property.

Raised Beds; too cold for much here

Two dining areas, the canal cafe (more casual) and the Orangerie in the old green house

There is a cooking school on site both professional and for guests to try their hand 

Along the Grand Canal -- perfect for walking and biking

I'm still looking for leprechauns, and found this fairy tree in the garden
I decided this looked like a doll house, or something out of Beatrix Potter

Stone statuary is all around the village
Since we were staying 2 nights here, I wanted to find something else to do with our time, so I booked a 1 hour barge cruise on the canal.  Although no longer used for commercial traffic, it is still used today.
We booked with Ger our captain for a 1 p.m. cruise

We drove to the village of Sallin, and met the barge on the canal.  There were 10 of us taking the cruise.

Swans along the canal

Mama and her baby ducks
 Our Capt. Ger on the right and some passengers braving the rain
 Fishermen along the canal with carbon fiber poles at least 15 to 20 ft long
 We arrived at the Liffey Aqueduct and got off while Ger gave us a history of the canal

These men are hard core, they are set up for the day

 Papa Duck guarding the flock
 Heading back into Sallin

So, we got a little history, and a delightful ride down the canal.  It's easy to picture what it was like when the canal was a thriving commercial enterprise, bringing Guinness to the other parts of Ireland.  We leave here tomorrow to head to Italy for 2 months.  Thanks for joining us on this part of the trip, I'll be back soon, with more adventures, including a trip to Sicily to curate a food and wine tour for next year.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Dingle Peninsula

After all the research, and reading many accounts of trips in Ireland, Dr. C. and I settled on doing the Dingle Peninsula.  Then I read about the road.  I've done fine here on the left side in a right hand drive car, but this drive sounded like it would be tedious, narrow in spots, and filled with 40 passenger buses, and since I was driving, I probably wouldn't see very much.  So we decided to hire a guide/driver for the day.  Rory from Dingle Slea Head Tours picked us up at 9 a.m. at our hotel in Killarney, and we headed out.  Born and brought up in Dingle he knows this place and his love for his part of Ireland is evident.
The day was all about the scenery, which is spectacular, and the small town of Dingle which has lots to keep you busy.
Inch Beach

Homes dot the hillsides

The light here changes by the minute; we had a bit of rain, but some sunshine as well

We got to hold some new lambs; after this I'm not eating lamb again for a while

Bee hive huts, circle 600 AD

These were reconstructed by the owner of the land in the early 1900's
Blasket Islands, no longer inhabited

Memorial for those lost at sea

Dr. C. on the "Ryan's Daughter" beach

Natural springs stream down to the beach and flowers grow through the rocks

Shaggy horse

This path on its way to the oratory is lined with fuschia, in another month this path will be blazing red

7th or 8th century monastery and grave site

Pilgrimage church

Promise stone, tradition has it that the hole in the top is to 'seal the deal' with each participant putting their finger through the hole to agree, whether it is a property deal or a marriage proposal.

Famine graves, no markings, just a stone

A stop for lunch in Dingle Town, after lunch we had to try Murphy's ice cream, famous all over Ireland, I highly recommend the Dingle sea salt and caramel ice creams.

a little shopping

 After lunch Rory took us up Connor Pass, which is a narrow, tight 1 1/2 lane road.  The views are spectacular.  After this it was back to Killarney to our hotel.  

This was a day filled with nature's wonders.  Many films have been shot in this area, most famous was Ryan's Daughter where the village was totally constructed on site.  The last Star Wars movie had a few scenes here, and the next one will as well.  And a part of the movie Far and Away with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (remember them?)was filmed here.
I highly recommend getting a guide/driver, Rory was terrific stopping along the way so I could snap photos and we had a great lunch in Dingle at his favorite spot, Ashes.   Rory also does guided tours for extended periods in Ireland, if you need a driver for a complete Irish tour.
We are headed East for our last 2 nights in Ireland, we'll be in the Kildare area at this gorgeous place.