Tuesday, May 26, 2009

aillte an mhothair & dubh linn

remember 2 weeks ago when i promised i would have the rest of my ireland pictures up before we left for denmark?

well...i had to...get ready to go to denmark. and i didn't do it. so, there.

unfortunately, i would perhaps give you all a slice of denmark at the end, but alas, i am still going through all of my pictures. be on the look out, though, for denmark pictures and posts in the coming weeks.

but for now, back to ireland!

on our last full day in ireland, we awoke early in galway and began a long drive to the the cliffs of moher & then on to dublin. the picture above is one of my favorites. (how many times have i said that now? i really mean it this time, though...) i took this shot from inside the car at this intersection. i believe we turned left and headed for lisdoonvarna.

and now, i give you...the cliffs...of insanity!!

the cliffs of moher are, indeed, insane, and were used in the princess bride because of their insanity.

the cliffs were quite toursity, but i'm ultimately glad we made the drive. they had an austere presence that was quite impressive.

i saw these sheep near the edge of the cliff and wondered if lemming-like situations ever arose where one sheep would panic and start sprinting toward the edge of the cliff causing the rest of the herd to follow suit. yes, i'm morbid.

the surrounding countryside was quite breathtaking, too. and all of the touristy places at the cliffs were built into the hills shire-style.

when we left, we figured we had a 3 hour drive to dublin where we would spend our last night. ireland traffic/small roads, however, had other plans, and we ended up spending a good 4 to 5 hours on the road. at least i had my camera out.

we reached dublin with, unfortunately, only a few hours to spare. we really wished we had spent more time, but due to the expectantly long day of driving plus a bit of poor and unorganized planning on our end, we didn't see much of the city.

more cool doors. and a castle. dublin castle to be exact. we didn't find it all that impressive.

although, perhaps our sense of awesomeness had been tainted by all of the frustrating traffic, accidents, and detours that had brought us into dublin. quite possible. the castle did have a cool door with heads poking our of the side.

trinity college was also a site we stopped to see. we also found out as we entered the college grounds that they were playing waiting for godot at their theater.

we were quite tempted to go, but the combination of hunger and the fact that we didn't have much time to spend in dublin caused us leave trinity shortly after we arrived.

and here, finally, is our little car that got us through ireland. we really came to love that car, and it was definitely good to us. needless to say, we absolutely loved the time we spent in ireland, and it was actually painful to leave it. wherever we end up traveling in the future, ireland is definitely on the docket to be visited again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

inis meain

our day spent on inishmaan ending up being a bit of a bore; however, the beauty and ancientness of the island made a huge impact on us.

the island felt eerily deserted, and the glimpse of "traditional irish life" we were hoping to find (according to our travel book) had obviously been lost to time. however, we could not doubt the serene beauty of this place.

the island consisted of miles and miles of rock walls, rock structures, grass, and the occasional weeds and/or flowers blooming in overgrown fields.

most of the enclosed rock walls seemed abandoned, which left us wondering what this island was like when it was teaming with life. what did these deserted rock walls once hold on inishmaan?

however, we did find some life behind these walls.

what amazed me about these rock walls was how precariously they were put together. they were simply rocks stacked on top of each other. they looked so fragile and ready to crumble at any moment. however, we found them to be surprisingly sturdy.

a simple, yet ingenious structure.

i came across one particular section of rocks that had a single flower growing up through the stacked rocks. beauty, indeed, can be found anywhere.

also to be found within these walls were these very interesting water collectors.

we weren't sure how long this simple technology had been around, but i can only imagine how many 100s of years the irishmen on inishmaan used this simple system to collect water.

i came to inishmaan with the memory of adare and its beautiful (and i thought mostly traditional) thatched-roof houses. i was completely taken aback when i arrived to find houses like this.

the island was teeming with truly traditional irish homes made of stone and thatch. and a little bit of color thrown in for good measure. i love the irish.

i was fascinated by the structural methods used to build and keep these homes stable. as you can see in the above picture, the thatch is being held down with rope which is then weighted down by stone and wood weights. how awesome!

while our inishmaan trip didn't turn out the way we had hoped, this island and its beauty has surely stayed with us, and we certainly don't regret our time spent there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

cathair na gaillimhe & ros an mhil

[i just realized that, since we're leaving for denmark in 3 days (!), i really should finish our irish journey before we embark. so get ready for 3 straight days of ireland!]

out next stop was the city of galway on the west coast. think jagged cliffs, not sandy beaches. and cold, rainy weather, not sunshine.

i only took a handful of pictures in galway. i guess it didn't impress me as much as other towns.

and since we planned on spending 2 nights in galway, we decided to ferry out to one of the aran islands on our second day. we had to get up early and drive to rossaveal, a tiny port town in galway bay, an hour or so outside of the city to catch the ferry to our destination, inishmaan.

i previously mentioned that i was constantly taking pictures from inside the car as we drove. seeing the irish countryside was spectacular. however, as you can see, i occasionally snapped a picture or two with the side mirror in the foreground. i loved this picture, however.

as you have probably noticed, the sky that day was incredibly blue. every day we were in ireland, it rained, and as you can tell from my previous pictures, it was cloudy, as well. i actually read that the western coast of ireland was known for its continuously rainy days, and that the sun and brilliant blue skies were quite the rarity. how incredibly lucky we were to have the skies clear that day!

this was taken from the ferry in our way to inishmaan. it was so bright that i just starting pointing my camera and clicking. some pretty amazing shots transpired...

despite being quite cold, i thoroughly enjoyed the ferry ride. it reminded me of the handful of ferries i road in italy to a few of the islands out past the bay of naples. the colors of the water, the sky, and the clouds were just amazing.

inishmaan definitely deserves its own post, so for now, here's a teaser.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

ath dara, contae luimnigh

one of the reasons we wanted to drive through ireland was to really get a chance to see the country.

it was so incredible to drive through these little towns and villages and get a small glimpse of irish life.

one town we drove through seemed oh-so-quaint and too idyllic to miss, so we stopped around lunch time to explore the villege of adare in county limerick.

there was a row of brightly colored thatched-roof houses along the street that were irresistible....i left really wanting to live in one.

we ended up eating lunch in one of the houses that had been converted into a restaurant. i believe it was called the blue door cafe.

adare also had, as most irish towns do, a cool, old church. and, as you have seen, we are all about cool, old churches.

this is the adare trinitarian monastery, founded in 1230. there really is nothing like a very old stone building. the smell, the lighting, the feel...it's something to experience.

adare was a quick stop, and within a couple of hours, we were back on the road to galway. what a wonderful way to travel.