The Old Ground Hotel and Medieval Dinner at Knappogue Castle, Day Five of My Trip To Ireland  

Posted by Heidi

The Old Ground Hotel, by far the most beautiful hotel we stayed in during our visit, was a welcome sight as we drove into Ennis from Limerick.  (To see what we did the first half of day five, go HERE.  To see what we did on days one through four, click Here, Here, Here, HereHere, Here, Here, and Here.

The Old Ground Hotel dominates two sides of an old-fashioned square.  Directly across the street from it is an old church.

What can't be seen in these photos is the huge pair of hands that sit in the front of the church.  Below is a photo showing the hands--I have given it the water color treatment.

I love the concept though I am not sure how I feel about something of such recent construction on the site of such an old church.  Of course Mary wanted to know what it felt like to be in the hollow of His hands so she climbed up.  Sadly, the photo did not turn out very well but it gives one an idea of the enormity of this sculpture.

Back to the hotel--it is made up of smaller rooms which is a look I love.  Our room was on the ground floor on the opposite side of the hotel from the front desk.  This is the second sitting room we passed by to get to our room.  Locals have afternoon tea in these sitting rooms.

After we passed sitting room number two, we went through a doorway and came to sitting room number three.  We considered this our own private sitting room since, in the entire two days we were there, we only saw one person use it other than ourselves.  Pictures do not do justice as to the beauty and feeling of these rooms.

This picture shows the first sitting room off of the main entrance.  I love the sunken bookcase.  These rooms must be extra lovely on a cold, rainy day with the fires lighted.

We set off to explore.  The detail was amazing.

This door leads into the dining room which was a vision in blue.  This is the only photo I have of it--there were always so many people inside when I was there.  I adore the jury paneling!!!

This is a view of the first sitting room from the front entrance.  Gorgeous!

Of course there is a little area for umbrellas and the like when you first go through the front doors.  This is one fancy umbrella stand!

Once we got settled into our room and had time to explore, we were off for Knappogue Castle for our Medieval dinner.  This was no bawdy, raucous meal of the renaissance fairs we have so many of in the U.S.  It was, hands down, the best meal that I ate during our trip and was accompanied by fine singing, dancing and other entertainment.  This ruined church was spotted and photo'd through the window on our way to Knappogue.

A water color version of the ruins.

Another photo shop treatment of this building.

Finally we arrived at Knappogue Castle.  If I recall correctly (we have been home for nearly a month now--my memory is slipping) the family who owns this still live in parts of the castle.

This is the view enjoyed from the windows of the castle.  Mary's favorite color is green so she had to go and wallow in it.

The courtyard at one end with benches to view the gardens to the right.

Still having fun with the water color feature on Photo Shop.

The above photo is of our fantabulous tour guide, Alacouque.  We absolutely adored her!  Below is a view of the same gardens from the other end.

And a water color version . . ..

This was on the edge of the property--probably a watch tower of some kind.

This water color photo is of two of the talented musicians who played that night.  It was extremely dark (and authentic) inside the castle so I didn't have many photos that turned out.

The entrance for the carriages and horses at Knappogue.

For next time:  The Cliffs of Moher!

My Trip To Ireland Day Five: Mollana Farm and King John's Castle in Limerick  

Posted by Heidi

The morning of the fifth day, we drove out of Co. Cork and headed for Co. Limerick.  Mary and I felt this to be the best day, by a long shot, that we had spent in Ireland so far. The above picture is a photo shopped version of Bunratty Castle that I took through the window of the coach on our way out of town.  Before that, however, we visited Molanna (or Molana?) Farm, owned by the delightful Paddy and Marg Fenton.

It was a misty morning and the reds and greens stood out in sharp relief.

These cows were way upon the hill above the farm.  We had a delightful visit there, complete with a history of the area and the Fenton family, the recitation of poetry and lots of laughs.  I encourage you to visit these two blogs where there are photos of the inside of the house and a copy of the poem.  Go Here  and HERE

A photo-shopped, water-colorized view of the path up the road from the farm.

Every single day, Mary managed to get her dog fix, one way or another.

Mary with Paddy.  The wardrobe coordination was a coincidence.

We left the farm way too soon and headed straight to Limerick town and King John's Castle. This castle was built as a defensive structure and King John (brother to King Richard of Robin Hood fame) never even visited there.  Today it is in ruins but it was once a thriving community as seen in the pics I took (through glass) of the miniature model.  Go  HERE to learn more about the castle and to see a stunning picture of the ruins as seen from the River Shannon.

Mary was thrilled to be going up a tower staircase that dates back to the 1200's.

This is what we saw when we got to the top.  I couldn't help but sing:  "Limerick, you're my lady, your Shannon waters tears of joy that fell .. . "  It all looked so different than I imagined it but I was so happy to see it.

The water color version of the same view.

I look at this picture and all I can think is:  Hey! There's a church and a graveyard that I didn't get to explore!

I guess this is as close as I'm going to get.  Note how all the tombstones face the same direction.

The water color version, because I am *addicted*!

A window from inside the castle.  Could someone please tell me an easy and effective way to do this to my windows?  Pretty please?

A cool looking building.  I would have taken many more but, by this time, I had already used 80% of my camera card space and I was being conservative.  In fact, by the end of my trip, I will probably be posting pics of days 11, 12 and 13 in one post.

Goodbye Limerick!

Next time, we arrive at the Old Ground Hotel, the only one that prompted a spate of photo-taking (LOVED IT!) and dinner at Knappough Castle!

My Trip To Ireland Day Four: Kinsale, Colorful As a Bag of Skittles  

Posted by Heidi

After we visited Blarney Castle, we were driven to a town closer to the coast, a place full of mist, mystery and alluring history.  (Can you tell I'm listening to Irish ballads as I write this?)

 Just before we pulled into town, we stopped to take photos of the five bastion-ed, star-shaped Charles Fort, built in the 17th century.  You can read more about Charles Fort HERE.  You might also want to google it via images so you can see better pictures of the whole place--I was only interested in certain aspects of it at the time and was preserving space on my camera card for more windows and doors. (Priorities--but I digress.)

Green and gray, green and gray, I can't get enough of this stuff!

Afterwards, we got off the coach and lined up by the visitor's center to wait for our tour guide for the afternoon.  Waiting wasn't hard when one had such a delightful spread of posies to feast one's eyes upon.

I found that I had a difficult time listening to the guide--I wanted to experience the town for myself and take more pictures with which to beat my blog audience into tears of boredom. (But, seriously, isn't that row of painted houses marching up the hill the sweetest thing ever?)

I can't resist a Gothic arch to save my life.

By this point, our group had been split in two, a mercy for the half of us who were deaf and couldn't get close enough to hear what was going on, and I was anxious to run around.  However, I found that our new guide, the daughter of our first guide, to be more engaging than her father.  And yet, I couldn't help but snap photos whilst she told us all about Kinsale.  This photo was taken in the center of town where, once upon a time, ships could sail right up to place we were standing.

ANOther door!  (I know, but this one has a lion on top of it!)

Once we had heard all about the history of the town, we took off (we only had an hour and a half!) and found this antique store.  We decided we would have to come back for that, once we had found some ice cream and chocolate!

I wonder if they pull in all the tables every time it rains?  Or are they just super water proof?

This building is particularly reminiscent of a bag of Skittles--however, I was not the first to think of it.  Our tour guide explained that some years ago, when tourism really kicked in (after the threat of bombings in the 80's) tourists were dismayed by how gray and dreary the towns looked.  So, a country-wide campaign began and there were Tidy Town contests all over Ireland.  Kinsale won (I can't remember what year that was) and well deserved their win was.  It was the tour guide's father who suggested that someone went around with a bag of Skittles and asked shop owners to choose one as inspiration for their exteriors. (Shelley V, is that you at the bottom right of the picture?)

I couldn't resist taking this picture--I thought my sister Kirsten would appreciate it.  You don't hear the name Kirsten (the Kir rhymes with hear or peer) very often.

I had no problem being nosy and taking photos of the gardens of green-thumbed natives.  I should be ashamed of myself, but really!  Look at those hydrangeas!

We made it back to the antique store, one of the few we saw in all of Ireland--and most of those were closed--but this was the first time we noticed that it was called K. Jones.  (I have a K. Jones sister . .. )

So, remembering Kirsten's Cottage, we went inside and asked the woman at the counter if she could possibly be Kirsten.  She wasn't, but wouldn't that be neat if she was?  (What thinkest thou, Kirsten Jones?)

I really wanted to bring this pitcher and bowl home with me but there were a lot of reasons why I shouldn't.  I took a picture, tho, because, apparently, a grainy photo of it is some sort of substitute for the real thing.

I look at this picture and all I can think is: "I want to go to there."

More gorgeous flowers.  I have always wanted a lobelia garden (the blue and white and violet and purple blooms at the bottom) or an entire hanging basket of them, but they regularly poop out in our heat.  I am determined to figure it out one day.

One of the places we considered eating lunch.  In the end, we didn't want to spend our time indoors and happily dined on a locally, handmade chocolate bar.  (Yes, it was as delicious as it sounds.)

When I read the signs in this photo, I feel flooded with regret.  We never saw a Carmelite Cemetary!  Or even one church.  All the glorious-ness we missed!

After Kinsale, we went back to our hotel in Cork and hit the main drag of town.  We found that the Laura Ashley store was open (why didn't I take a picture of that?) and found wonderful gluten free pizza in an Italian restaurant, one approved of by our coach driver, a CoCorkian (as we were told the natives are called).

In the morning, we embarked on what was our best day in Ireland yet.  Next time:  an idyllic farm in County Limerick.