Monday, March 18, 2013
Our 6th and Final Day in Ireland
Those final hours, we knew we didn't want to venture too terribly far from our homebase in Mountshannon. So, DH routed an easy toddle to a few castles in Co. Clare, the first being:
Built in the mid- to late 1400's by Sean Mac Conmara, Knappogue Castle has been occupied by all manner of classes from clan leaders to misters to councilmen, and even several earls, one of whom led the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Unfortunately, it was confiscated in the mid-17th century by none other than that manky, stuck up Englishman Cromwell. (By the end of this trip, Ollie was really beginning to get on my last nerve!) Good news? The beautiful castle finally landed into the good hands of Mark Edwin Andrews and his American architect wife. Together, they restored the edifice and its 1248 acre grounds (whoa!) to their current glory. It is now owned by the Irish government.
Just a few kilometers down the rocky road (hey, Dublin's not the only one who has 'em!) and we found the eye-pleasing ruins of Quin Abbey.
If you already guessed this was another friary, you're absolutely right. Constructed within a 30 year span in the early 15th century, this enormous monastery has been used as a place of worship, as well as a small university and graveyard. Naturally, old meanie Ollie delved his hand here, too. In 1650, he invaded, murdered every last monk, and ultimately destroyed the abbey. Though it was restored for the umpteenth time, the last friar, John Hogan, who stayed on until his death in 1820, neglected the abbey and its standing buildings finally came to ruin.
The graveyard is still in use today, and I hear that the floodlighting provides for a stunning night view.
After a cappucino, hot chocolate, and a milk latte (Jake's hooked on these now... sigh...) in the local Quin Pub, we hit the road for Bunratty Castle. We didn't actually visit inside (admission was €15 per person, and by then we'd seen plenty of castles), but luckily found most of our souveniers in the neighboring giftshops.
|Banaffi Pie at a local Irish eatery. |
This was the bomb!
The day ended with a hot meal (fish & chips + bacon & cabbage--and their "bacon" is like cuts of ham... deeeeelish!), all of which included potatoes (because this is a staple in Ireland; they don't even say that a meal comes with potatoes; it's simply a given), and we returned to the cottage. Packed. Went to bed. Got up early. Realized 30 minutes down the road that I forgot my wedding ring. Panicked. Turned around. Retrieved the ring (thank the Lord). Made it to the aiport in time for our flight and the anticipation of traveling all... day... long.
All in all, it was a good last day & Traveling Tuesday. But I miss the hills, the people, the air that speaks of simple living, good company, and a place to rest your head at day's end. And so... Slán, Éire (Goodbye, Ireland). Thank you for your hospitality and giving us the trip we dreamed of. Really, it's not goodbye, but until we meet again.
Because I know we will.
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,