Powerscourt castle and its amazing park are a great halfday-trip from Dublin.
Unfortunately the castle had burned out some time ago and you will actually just see the fassade, but the garden is still a beautiful sight.
The famous mountain in the back of my 2nd photograph is called " Sugar Loaf " and it is one of the typical landmarks of the area south of Dublin. The best view on the "Sugar Loaf" is certainly from the terrace of Powerscourt castle.
When you arrive by car, there will be an entrance fee for the whole park, including the castle. You may drive inside the park , and park your car between large alley-trees. Then you may take a walk and spend the whole day in the lovely surroundings of Powerscourt castle.
About my 3rd photograph : The Earl of Powerscourt was a well known traveller himself, interested in gardens and travelling, and when he saw this wonderful entrance-gate in the german town of Bamberg, he simply bought it and shiped it to Ireland - that was certainly quite an adventure at that time !
Click on my picture and take a closer look at the wonderful fake perspective in the centre of the Bamberg-gate. The iron-work of the gate was made in Vienna in 1770 for the cathedral in Bamberg.
Not far from this gate you may see a cemetery, where the dogs and cats and even horses and cows of the castle-owners were buried !
Our last day in Ireland was bittersweet. There was so much we didn't get to see and do - yet.
Our time was limited, but my AAA guidebook had a section of walks. We had already done a few of the walks during our travels, and I deperately needed a long walk before getting on the plane the next day for the long flight back to the US. I decided to take the DART from Bray to Howth and take the walk recommended.
I was so pleased with this town, I ended up not following the route reccommended - but wandered about this hilly town. I watched men swim in the Irish Sea, watched fisherfolk repairing their nets, met wonderful townspeople, wandered ruins, cemetaries, and just had a wonderful day :)
The weather was a little rough that day, so we couldn't take the boat out to the bird preserve island located in Howth Bay - but those we met coming off of the boat said it was a wonderful picnic spot.
Even when you are not very much interested in the rest of Dublin, this place is a Must for every tourist : Trinity College, the university of Dublin was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I at a place where an Augustinan monastery used to be before. The Campanile / belfry on my picture dates back to 1853 and is 30 meters high.Inside Trinity College you will see one of the most precious books of christianity :
The Book of Kells
It is a hand-written book with beautiful and ornate decorations and paintings. It dates back to the year 806 and contains the 4 gospel. The Book of kells is the main attraction in the library and it is shown behing a thick glass, and millions of people see it every year, so be prepared for long waiting-lines there !!
On my link below you can see lots of great pics of the book of Kells !
Cobh is a little town about 25 km from Cork. It is known as the country's main emigration port. Between 1844 and 1950 two and a half million Irish people emigrated from here to North America. Especially the years of Great Famine (1844-1848) were the time of mass exodus.
A very interesting Heritage Centre arranged in an old railway station tells us the story of people who were so determined to seek a better life that they decided to leave their native country. Many of them died on their way to that better world because of appaling conditions on so called 'coffin-ships'.
In front of the centre we can see a statue of Annie More and her little brothers. This 15-year-old girl was the first person to be processed in Ellis Island when it opened in 1892.
The port of Cobh, (or rather Queenstown as it was called between 1848 and 1922 to honour Queen Victoria) is connected with some famous ships. One of them is Titanic. Queenstown was its last port before the ship met its tragic end.
Before our visit to Cobh I had seen some photographs of that place. In one of them there were colourful houses along the waterfront and behind them a slim tower of a church. This beautiful view of St. Colman's cathedral dominating the town will stay in my memory for a long time.
This is my favorite part of Dublin: Merrion Square, dating back to the 18th century with plenty of houses in the so-called Georgian style, and while all of the buildings looked exactely the same - beeing built of simple red bricks, without any decorations - someone had the great idea to have at least the doors painted in different colours.
In fact nobody cares today about the rather boring fassades anymore, but everyone is looking for the fancy doors and you can see them on plenty of postcards and you may even buy a large poster with almost 100 different such Georgian doors of Dublin !!
The Poulnabrone-Dolmen is without doubt the most famous megalith tomb of Ireland. It dates back to the times of 2500 B.C. and still today scientists dont know exactely, how it was technically possible to build such heavy structures by the primitive tools of that time.
The Poulnabrone-Dolmen might easily be overseen, because it is not directely next to the road, but in a distance of maybe 300 meters - it is always the best to search for other cars and buses and follow their passengers - you will have to climb over a fence of a farm, it includes a small & easy stair ! When walking over the rocks of the Burren, try to listen to the strange sound it makes, when walking on these vulcanic rocks !
The "Burren" is a unique landscape, that you will not find at any other place in the whole world : All of the ground is covered by vulcanic rocks, that seem to be artificially cut into giant cubes of different sizes. Inside the many gaps between these rocks you will find a giant variety of tropical, subtropical, alpine and mediterranean plants and flowers.
NO-where else in the whole world you may find these plants growing togeather in a natural environment !
Walking on this vulcanic rocks makes a strange sound and when you take one of the stones in your hand you will see, that it is less eavy that ordinary stones. It is the combination of the grey rocks and the colorfull flowers that makes the special atmosphere of the "Burren
Once in the Burren I was lucky to be able to watch a professional photographer taking pics of 2 vintage-cars there for the official Mercedes-calender.
The castle was bought by the Butler family in 1391, and their descendents continued to live there until 1935. Maintaining the castle became such a huge expense, so most of the furnishings were sold at an auction. The city bought the castle in 1967 for the huge sum of 50 pounds (about $75 US).
I wasn't in the mood for another guided tour when I finally made it Kilkenny Castle, but it was so beautiful, I had to make an attempt.
I discovered a large park as part of the Castle gounds - okay, other people knew about it, I just didn't know until I saw it :) The park was lovely. Even though it was raining off and on that day, I enjoyed wandering the paths in and out of the woods.
The sheer enormity of the Castle was better appreciated from the grounds - the beauty was more apparent from a slight distance.
After the walk, I still didn't want a tour, and that is the only way into the castle - unless you go to one of the galleries or shows occuring in the building.
So, we listened to a choral group practice in one of the turrets, and wandered the modern art museum in the basement.
This was enough for me :) I was sort of castle and churched out that day ..... the walk and the museum was perfect!
Glendalough is an interesting place for a dayexcursion from Dublin with an old roundtower, the remains of an old monastery and church.
On my 1st photograph : St.Kevin's Kitchen is the name of this small stone-church founded by St.Kevin during the 6th century.It was of course never used as a kitchen, but with the small bell-tower on top of that little church, that was similar to a oven-chimney, people used to call it St.Kevin's kitchen.
Glendalough is also a place to see some celtic crosses, and the ruins of an old monastery at a scenic lake.
On my last photo : The round tower of Glendalough is one of the few round towers left over in Ireland and science still has problems to find out about the purpose of these towers.
In the hight of about 5 meters above the ground there is a door that could be blocked in case of enemies approaching.
Halfpennybrigde is an easy way to get across the river Liffey in the centre of Dublin and while it is free of charge today it once used to be a toll-brigde and the toll to cross it was 1/2 penny...
...THAT time is over, but I read on another VT-page ( by Greebo ) - that it is a great way to learn lots of local Irish expressions, when you try to cross that bridge with a lot of luggage ;-)
The river Liffey is quite a dirty river and it devides the rich southern part of Dublin from the poor northern part.
And in fact you should get across the bridge and walk the sidestreets of the northern part - some of these streets are really intimidating with strange people walking around, almost empty streets and barbed-wires on top of several fences...
You will be glad to be back in the southern part again !!
Cliffs of Moher are a bit over-rated by the tourists in my personal opinion, but when you are on the West-coast anyway, why not going there as well. I simply mean it does not make sense to go there as a single destination on a daytour from Dublin, when you dont have the time to explore anything else of the beautiful Westcoast of Ireland. The walk along the Cliffs of Moher is the main attraction for the tourists, BUT only at a very few places you are able to look down the dangerous cliffs, that have a hight of 200 meters at some places.
No matter how far you walk along the cliffs of Moher, you will NEVER have a chance to find a path going down to the shore!
The best place to look down the cliffs and maybe see some birds is next to the parking, where you may lay on the floor and look down !!
O'Brien's Tower was built already in the 19th century by a clever local farmer for the many tourists, who came to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. You will have to pay a small fee and then you are allowed to climb up the steps in order to have a better view of the landscape around, but I am not sure, wether I should recommend it or not, as the cliffs are even further away than at places, where you may walk directely along the cliffs - free of charge !
To step up O'Briens Tower might make sense on a clear day, when you want to have a better view of the Aran-island !
The ring of Skellig is an extension of the famous Ring of Kerry. The latter one offers wonderful views but for me is a bit too touristy. Hundreds of tour buses run along that way stopping at the same scenic spots to let tourists take the same pictures. The Ring of Skellig is not crowded at all because its narrow roads cannot by accessed by buses, which makes it a paradise for an individual tourist. It's length is about 45 km and roads are so steep and narrow that driving there poses a real challenge, especially for those who are not used to such conditions. Any car coming from the opposite direction causes the adrenaline rush as it seems hardly possible for the two cars to pass.
The views are stunning: rugged coast, jagged rocks, green hills, silver waters of the Atlantic - a truly wild region. You can also explore it on foot. It offers many hiking possibilities. On the way your only companions will be birds and sheep, occasionally you can meet a smiling farmer who will wave to you. We were surprised to find many fences separating private properties, but because there was no other path to reach the destination, we soon got used to climbing over the gates.
Ghost, goblins and all the dark sources come out to play at night - when Dublin slumbers .... (*dolby surroundd sound effect of creaking door and wind*)
THE HAUNTED DUBLIN TOUR --- The tour has been described as being 'wacky, highly original, a nut cracker of entertainment...' etc. and last year The Irish Times nominated it as the best tour in Dublin.
WHAT IS IT? A night time theatrical walking tour / ghost tour / street theatre / circus / comedy / whatever?.. a cocktail mixture of all of the above and much, much more.
Visit the scenes of great escapes, murders and mythical happenings within the medieval city of Dublin. With the blind and ageing Zozimus as your story-teller, help him guide you down the eerie alleyways and austere courtyards.
WHERE? / MEETING POINT
Tours start from the Pedestrian Gates of Dublin Castle (opposite the Olympia Theatre) on Dame Street. Simply wait at the gates (there's a sign there) and a funny looking character will arrive and off we go to have a laugh.
Tours finish just beside Christ Church Cathedral. We will probably invite you to calm your nerves and "chill out" over a pint or two in our local - Brogans of Dame Street (next to where we start the tour).
If you're in a bus there is bus parking right next to where we finish the tour - just off Christ Church on Cook Street. For parking cars, there's a big multi-story car park just behind Jury's Christchurch Inn.
Operates every evening by appointment.
Start times vary depending on the time of year (that bit more fun when the evening shadows fall?)
As a guide line, tours normally start:-
Summer: ~ 9p.m. (21.00)
Winter: ~ 7p.m. (19.00)
PRE-BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL
N.B. MORE THAN ONE TOUR PERFORMED NIGHTLY.
Tours also performed mornings and afternoons - more comical than anything else (group bookings only at present).
BEWARE! TOURS OPERATE IN ALL WEATHER AND IN ALL SEASONS - In the interests of safety PLEASE DRESS APPROPRIATELY and wear sensible shoes.
Price is ?10 per person (group rates available)
Bunratty castle is one of the places in Ireland, where obviously all of the tourbuses will take a stop, so be prepared of a lot of hassle and stress at certain times. In many ways it makes sense to go there anyway. The medieval castle of Bunratty dates back to the 9th century but the way it looks today it was rebuilt during the 15th century.
Bunratty really offers a lot for the hasty tourists, who want to "absorbe the Irish way of life" within the shortest time possible :
In Bunratty castle they may attend a "Medieval Irish Banquet" with servants in historic costumes, live music , food and drinks, all is included in the price. And in Bunratty Folk-park they will see lots of traditional farmhouses, a pub, shops and even a church that was rebuilt here in an openair-museum.
"Medieval Irish Banquets"will take 2 and a half hours
the hall offers 141 seats and 2 sittings : at 05.30p.m. + 08.46 p.m.
There is also a "Traditional Irish Night" in Bunratty
From April till October daily at 7.00p.
Bunratty Folk Park is open for visitors :
june till august : 09.30a.m. - 06.00p.m.
september till may : 09.00a.m. - 05.30p.m.
last admission 45 minutes before closing-time !
The Burren reminded me of what I imagine the moon to be like! Its deserted, amazing, mile upon mile of Limestone set as the landscape!
Again the Burren is in Co.Clare and so most will combine a trip to The Burren with visiting the Cliffs Of Moher.
Its a great place to either walk through or drive through....its amazing!
More Regions in Ireland