Friday, July 01, 2016
 I recently went on a trip to Scotland and Ireland.  I blogged about Scotland a few days ago, but now it's Ireland's turn.  We took a ferry from Scotland to Ireland, and on the day we took it the seas were calm, so the ride was smooth.  I get the feeling it isn't always like that, so...if you are a motion sick kind of person (and I am) better safe than sorry.  We landed in Belfast and took some time to explore the Titanic Museum.  This overlooks the dock where the Titanic was built and you can see the actual site (and get an idea of the size) from the building.  It walks through Ireland's history that helped call for ships like the Titanic to be built, and then the actual building process/aftermath etc.  It gave a good virtual tour of what the ship would have been like, which is different from other museums I've visited on the subject (one that traveled through the US, and one in Branson-also really good, but different all the same).
We then took a journey through the streets of Belfast where so much of the conflict in recent years has gone on.  It was an eye opening experience to see all the walls, barbed wire, and propaganda.  We stopped at the peace wall and signed our name.
 We journeyed on to Dublin.  I spent two days there (one full) exploring the city amidst rain storms.  We got a tour of Trinity University via a college student.  Our tour set this up, but you can join one at the site and it was totally worth it to hear the history and to skip some lines in order to see the Book of Kells (a beautiful bible decorated by monks long ago).  It also houses this beautiful library, and Ireland's oldest harp (OK, one of three).
 We did get to see the colorful Dublin doors.  They once were painted all black, an order by monarchy (after a funeral), but now the thing to do seems to be to paint them all fun, bright colors.
 I also stopped at O'Neill's pub near Christ Church.  I'm sure there are great pubs all over Dublin, but this one was DELICIOUS.  I just grabbed a sandwich, but everyone around me kept talking about how good their food was.  Just sayin....
 We also took a canal cruise up the locks on Ireland on a barge (like the ones that transported Guinness).
After a few days dodging rain in Dublin (I definitely need a redo) we headed on.  We stopped at an old manor house for tea and scones.
 We got to watch one of their dogs heard some sheep.
 Next up was a stop at Blarney Castle.  The grounds alone were gorgeous and worth the stop.  I did visit the Blarney Stone, but I saved my kisses.  1) I don't really believe a rock is going to change my gift of gab.  2) I wasn't willing to lay on my back, slide down and out a few hundred feet while hold a poll to kiss it upside down.  Maybe someday.
 Another high light (and something my friend, Amber, who lived there said was a must, and I agree) was a drive around the Ring of Kerry.  We took a detour to the Skellig Islands with this gorgeous view, and several miles away are some islands that housed a monk community, and another that houses a puffin population.
 The next day we went to the Cliffs of Moher, another stunner.  We had about five minutes of sunshine and then we literally were in the middle of a cloud where you could not see more than fifteen feet ahead....and cliffs, but I grabbed a few great pics before that happened.
 Our last night we stayed near the Bunratty Castle and did a dinner (with nothing but a knife) and some entertainment.
Words could never do Ireland justice, but it's definitely a place a plan to visit again.  What a fun culture, entertaining cities, and fascinating past that ties so closely to America.  

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