We are riding in the bus now, just left Killarney, heading for our last hotel stop in Ireland, Newmarket-on-Fergus. It seems like a good time to fill you in on some our outings in Ireland. We got up early this morning (most of you know that I am NOT a morning person!). Suitcases had to be packed and outside our rooms at 7:30am (for the porter to take to the coach). We ate breakfast at 7:30 and were out the door at 8:20. We hopped into horse-drawn jaunting carts. The carts held 8 people...6 in the back and 2 up front with the driver. Well, you KNOW that Lenore and I spoke right up and asked to ride up front with the driver!
Yesterday we had a beautiful drive around the Dingle Penninsula. Our coach driver is amazing, just so adept at maneuvering on the narrow winding roads! We just kick back, and enjoy the scenery! We had perfect weather...blue skies and lots of sunshine, which made the colors of the landscape even more intense...the green fields, with all the little stone walls looks like a patchwork quilt! Throw in a few spectacular ocean/bay views and you have miles and miles of intense beauty that will take your breath away.
We are hearing lots of great traditional Irish music...Lenore and I are planning a special Festivus music program for all you Hunts! Of course we will have to be well lubricated with Guinness before serranading all of you with CarrickFergus, Black Velvet Band, and Christmas in Killarney!! I had a great experience in Dingle yesterday when we were wandering through the cute little town. I saw a music store up a little lane so Gary and I wandered up. There was a little old man sitting outside with a plate of lunch (salmon!) and a glass of wine. There was also a cat sitting on his table. We went in to look around and Gary quickly left. I picked up a cd and didn't see any shopkeeper to pay. I poked my head out the door and asked the man eating lunch with the cat. He took a sip of wine, wiped his mouth with his napkin, shoed the cat off the table and came in his store...muttering something about the cat eating his salmon! He looked at my cd and nodded, saying it was a good one. When I told him I picked it because it had the song Carrickferfus on it, he paused, looked me over, then picked up the old accordion on the floor, asked if I could sing, and then he serranaded me with that song I love, Carrickfergus!! (There is a Van Morrison album where he plays with The Chieftans and this song makes me cry!). Being serranaded by this proper little old Irish gentleman was another one of those magical moments...I sure wish the rest of my family had been there to see it!!
One of the most popular things to see in Ireland is the Blarney Stone, and we spent an afternoon there. It is really a beautiful location. We wandered through the castle grounds, the ruins of Blarney Castle looming above us!
(Sorry...I have a photo of Ron bending backward to kiss the Blarney Stone, but I can seem to get it to land here!! A case of the Android photo not wanting to play on the Apple iPad!!! Sorry!). :-(
Suddenly a young man just a few people in front of us, got down on his knee and proposed to his girlfriend right there at the Blarney Stone...she said yes and we all clapped! It was a really fun moment to be a part of! Ron was the only one in our group who actually kissed the stone. I actually remember doing this when I was a young girl traveling in Ireland with my Oma and Opa. When I commented to Lenore that I couldn't believe my grandparents had climbed up there with me...Lenore "gently" reminded me that my grandparents were probably not much older then than we are NOW!
Fun fact of the day: Ireland has the highest per capita incidence of Celiacs Disease/gluten intolerance in the world (#2 is Sicily). We are finding Ireland to be just as accommodating as Norway was...menus are clearly marked, GF bread is available at every meal, and wait staff are so understanding and careful with Gary's food, in a very matter of fact way. In fact, we just stopped at at little town called Adare to see their thatched roof houses, and even the little restaurant in the visitor center proudly offered up gluten free bread. In this same town we popped into the pharmacy and they have shelves of gluten free breads, crackers, cookies and flours.