We're back from our week in Ireland.
We stayed in the picturesque city of Tralee (pronounced Tray-lee by the locals), on the southwest corner of Ireland, in County Kerry.
Our apartment had a spectacular view of the water and mountains.
We spent our first full day exploring the Dingle Peninsula, with its beautiful, green rolling hills, ancient ruins, beaches and castles.
This is what's left of Minard Castle, built by the Knights of Kerry in 1551, and destroyed by Cromwell in 1650.
It sits up on a hill overlooking the ocean, with crashing waves below.
We visited the ruins of Kilmalkedar, a 12-century Irish Romanesque church. In front of the ruins is what's called an "ogham stone," a pre-Christian relic, which stood in this spot 900 years before the church was built. The hole was drilled into the ogham stone to be used as a way for people to seal a deal. They would stand on the graves of their ancestors in front of the church and "swear to God" by touching thumbs through the hole.
Let me demonstrate...
It was a rainy, cold day on the Dingle Peninsula. Luckily for us, it meant we were all alone everywhere we went...even to Inch Strand, a four mile long sandy beach, east of Dingle Town. It felt like our own private beach.
The next day we took the ferry and visited the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, a five mile long series of dramatic cliffs, some of which soar over 650 feet above the Atlantic.
If only you could see the people on the cliffs behind me...squint at the top of the cliffs in the photo below...and you'll see the craziest bunch of lunatics who ever lived. These people were literally on their bellies, leaning over the cliffs, snapping photos--in a completely restricted area. They actually had to climb a fence and walk along the edge of the cliffs, where signs warned of imminent DEATH. People were bringing their small children! There were a multitude of older, out of shape, clearly unfit individuals making their way out to the edges of the cliffs. In the past, strong breezes have carried many people over the edge. On average, 10 to 12 people fall from the cliffs every year. Cue "Here comes Debbie Downer!" I was sweating just watching them.
After seeing the cliffs, we visited "The Burren," which is a very rocky part of Ireland, rich in prehistoric and early Christian sites. It has over 500 Iron Age stone forts, and places like Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb over 4,000 years old.
It also has places like Leamaneh Castle, the ruins of a 15th century fortified manor.
On our last day in Ireland, we visited the County Cork, where my family is originally from. I had with me a letter from my grandfather's cousin, who lived in the city of Macroom, a small market town in the valley, along the River Sullane.
The Macroom Castle above was once owned by the father of William Penn, who was born in Macroom and later became the founder of Pennsylvania.
It was fascinating for me to see this place where my not to distant ancestors lived. I found the gravestone for my grandfather's cousin and his wife, who passed away in 1999 and 2007, respectively. I had hoped to find them, but it was not to be.
And there you have the story of our stay in Ireland. Good Lord! Look at the time! It's already after 6pm...time for a drinky drink. Hope you're having a great weekend wherever you are...