England, Wales and Ireland: June 23 to July
(Pictures are thumbnails. Click on them for a larger view. You may click on the subjects listed to go directly to them.)
Subjects: Winchcombe Sudeley Castle English Horseback Riding Bourton-on-the-Water Stratford-upon-Avon Warwick Castle Bath Blenheim Palace Cardiff Cardiff Castle Swansea Ferry Cork Galway Aran Islands - Inishmor Dublin Trinity College Book of Kells Ireland National Museum Irish Folk Dancing
Right now, we are in Scotland and this update covers the first half of our adventures in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The final update for the Rich Odyssey will be posted right after we get home on July 25th. People have asked us if we will keep the www.etrippers.com web site up for viewing. We will, and for a long time. Also, we will be adding a few of our thoughts about our trip for those that are interested. After touring around the world, we have all changed and grown... at least a little, we hope. At a minimum, we are sure our speech will take a while to get back to 'normal' American.
Click on the update line, above, or the navigation frame, left, to view this update of the UK and Ireland. As usual, new maps are included under Maps UK & Ireland Part 1. We hope you enjoy reading about our travels. Thanks for stopping by.
After leaving the busy city of Paris, we passed a long train day and found ourselves in the very peaceful countryside of the Cotswolds in England. The train ride through the English Channel tunnel (the Chunnel) was a non-event, except our ears needed clearing because we were well below sea level. Once in England, the trains, and everything else, slows down. The name Cotswold could come from the Saxon phrase meaning "hills of sheep's coats." It is appropriate since there are rolling green hills everywhere and many of them are covered with sheep. England and much of the rest of Britain and Ireland reminded us very much of New Zealand. Like New Zealand, the countryside is green because it rains a lot. Actually, we have been pretty lucky and have not had too much rain for this part of our Odyssey.
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These houses are the Sudeley Castle Cottages, where we stayed in the lovely village of Winchcombe (see new maps). The Carpenter and Rich families gather outside our cottages for a group shot. Shown here are Nancy and Jim with kids, Emma (who also joined the Odyssey last year in Washington, DC) and Nicholas, aged 6. You must know who we are by now! There were no telephones in the cottages, but there was a royal red British phone booth in front. Best buddies reunited, Emma and Stephanie stick their heads out of the phone booth. We also used this phone booth to check our e-mail with an acoustic coupler - at 19,200 bps, no less!
Here are a couple of pretty boring shots, but read on. The first is the little train station at Bristol Parkway, which happened to be a major changeover point. They are building some improvements including a lift, but they are not yet available. So, we had to carry our bags up the cross over platform you see at the end of the station and back down to the other side to get a new train. A real pain. And, then you had to walk way out of the station platforms to verify train schedules as there were no operational TV screens on the platforms. Not user friendly! But some kind Brits helped Steph and Jennifer tote and haul the luggage as we all try to preserve Denny's knees. Next, a picture of a sign inside the Virgin Rail trains that we took. Click on the picture and you will see instructions for opening the door: first open the window, reach your hand outside and then open the door using the outside latch. Talk about ancient technology! On one trip, several ladies did not get off at their stop because they could not figure out how to open the door! After traveling by rail throughout Europe, our overall opinion of British railways is low. It's been explained to us, and the reasons (including a concerted effort to upgrade safety on all lines after last year's crashes) are plausible, but is still annoying: late trains more than half of the time does not help.
The countryside in the Cotswolds around Winchcombe is very beautiful. We have all heard of the foot and mouth disease problem. While it is largely misunderstood and over-reacted to by the rest of the world, it IS a concern and is being dealt with aggressively by all levels of authority. Click on the next picture and you can read some of the local access rules to hike across farm lands on the many trails throughout England. Some of the paths had just been opened by the county as the next sign on a path near us attests. This disease and the resultant publicity has had a major impact on tourism. We were told that bookings had been way down through May, but were now finally picking up.
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The little town of Winchcombe's major attraction is the Sudeley Castle, which was built in the 1500's. Some of the exterior walls are in ruin, but the main building has been restored and houses a great display of old artifacts from medieval days, the Victorian era, and including family pictures of the current owner. As usual, photographs were not allowed inside. The first shot is of the restored castle and the very lovely gardens. Next, the chapel that went along with the castle. And last, some hedges that are designed to look like twisted rope tied into knots. Cool! We enjoyed the hike to and from the Castle and a kid's playground, which six year old Nicolas Carpenter found delightful.
Winchcombe has a very old small cathedral which we visited. While the inside is beautiful with its stained glass, we were more interested in some of the delightful gargoyles on the outside shown here. Click on the pictures to get a better view. They are clever and make a statement about the creativity and humor of the medieval artisans who built the church.
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English Horseback Riding
Emma and Steffi expressed an interest in going horseback riding. After checking out the local options, we found that the only options available were horses using English saddles. And, they could ride only with a lesson. Denny took the girls to the stable (while Nancy and Jennifer shopped) where they had a great teacher, shown here. Among the finer points of English horse riding, they learned was that you had to stand up and down in the stirrups frequently. They got a very good workout and enjoyed the whole teaching experience very much.
After the ride and lesson were over, Emma and Steffi learned that they got to help take the saddle and tack off the horses and hang them up in the barn. When all done, you can see they are happy, but pooped!! Complaints of sore muscles, however, continued for days!
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The Carpenters had arranged a driving tour of highlights of the Cotswolds, so one day we all piled into a large VW van that held all seven of us, plus driver, for a fine day of touring. Our first stop was to the lovely village of Bourton-on-the-Water. This town has a tranquil river flowing through it and is pristine throughout. Being a medieval town, there was opportunity to check out some of the old equipment. Here Jim Carpenter is testing the stockade under Nicholas' control. Jim was unable to get his head into the hole without a key. The best part of this town (if you don't count the tourist shops that Jennifer, Nancy, Steffi and Emma spent all their time in) was a great model village which is an exact duplicate of the town itself. This model was started in the 1930s and has been updated ever since. As examples of the detail involved, here are Jim and Nicholas standing beside the 1/15th scale model of the town church. Next, a picture that looks like normal large buildings is actually a row of model houses complete with small flowers and trees. It was incredible.
To give you a good idea of how complete the model was, here are two shots. The first is of the park along the river through the center of town, complete with its World War I and II memorial. Next, is a picture of the same thing inside the model village.
Click on these pictures to see one of the shops that occupied the Rich/Carpenter women for a long time, The Edinburgh Woolen Mill. Next, a shot in the model village of the same store. Only the cars were missing.
The final fun part of the model village was a model of the model itself, which you can see here in the front of the picture. And, if you look closely at this model, you can see another tiny model even one level deeper. All in all, this model village was a fun and clever creation showing great art and workmanship.
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As our favorite European guide book by Rick Steve's says, no trip to the Cotswolds would be complete without a trip to Shakespeare's birth place, Stratford-upon-Avon. He also says there isn't much of note there except for the tourist trappings and visits to the 15th century houses where Shakespeare was born, grew up and lived in. More interesting to all of us was the quaint Ann Hathaway House and Garden, former home of Shakespeare's wife. We also thought you might enjoy a picture of this neat statue in the town mall which is a tribute to Shakespeare's genius. There are quotes around the base of the fool's statue taken from Shakespeare's plays. Click on the next picture to see an appropriate one. The name of the town comes from the fact that it is on the Avon River. Actually, we learned there are four Avon Rivers in England since the old Saxon word "avon" means "river."
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Warwick Castle is reputed to be England's finest medieval castle. It is so nice and preserved that it gives the feeling of a theme park that is definitely "Disney approved." The first picture of the front of the castle shows some of its classic castle lines. The up and down formations at the top of castles are called "crenellations" and are used to allow soldiers to shoot arrows downward while protecting themselves from attackers. The tourists on the front lawn are witnessing various demonstrations of medieval ways of old. Inside the castle walls, the lawns and buildings are in excellent condition. This shot is taken from the site of an old Norman castle built on this site in 1068. We climbed to the top of the tallest tower for this next view of the walls and the surrounding countryside, including one of the Avon Rivers (not the same one as in Stratford).
The owners and lords of this castle were the Earls of Warwick (WAR-ick) and there was a long list of them. Among them was Robert Rich, shown here, the second Earl of Warwick from 1587 - 1658, as the sign below his picture attests. Denny's father was also named Robert Rich, and we found there were seven Riches who were Earls of Warwick during its history. That fact, however, did not get us any special treatment or pricing! Nonetheless, we do consider it "our" castle.
On the lawn in front of the castle, two soldiers covered in 85 pounds of armor have a battle in the 85 degree heat. We are sure they both would have collapsed from heat exhaustion long before a fatal blow would have been struck! Inside the castle was a dungeon outlining more of the various means of torture used in the middle ages. This iron work was used to contain a prisoner who would be hanged from the ceiling and left to starve to death. These people were definitely NOT humane!
The castle also had exhibits on the 'creating of a king' using very lifelike wax figures. Click on the pictures to see if you can tell. Another exhibit of the Victorian era featured wax figures of people like Queen Victoria as well as a young Winston Churchill shown here in the background.
Emma and Steffi try out another stockade in the courtyard of the castle. While they are trying to look sad and desperate, you should be able to see a few things wrong with their 'locked' situation. We don't think they would be held very long in this lockup. We are sure medieval people would make no mistakes when using stockades.
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Our mentor Rick says, "Any tour of England that skips Bath stinks." All puns aside, Bath is a pretty nice place to visit. The city is very clean and has much to see as we found on our double decker bus tour around the city. The first picture is of the Pulteney bridge over yet another River Avon. This bridge has shops built into it along both sides. The only other European bridge like this is the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River in Florence. Click on the Italy update to check it out. Click on the picture to see the man fishing from the curved waterfalls downriver.
Bath was the first city to have buildings built in a curve following the street. These identical buildings are all four floors high. The chimneys shown are indicative of the number of fireplaces, a status symbol. Coal was burned in these fireplaces in earlier times causing lots of soot and air pollution. Today, the buildings are clean and coal is outlawed. In the city's Parade Park (which has a small entrance fee to keep out undesirables, we guess), a set of floral cartoon statues are highlighting a campaign "LITTER - WE CAN FIX IT." Click on the picture to see the detailed floral work on the little characters. Bath as a city is so good at its floral displays that they win nearly every year's national "city in bloom" competition. It was becoming such a monopoly that last year they were banned from the contest! Preparations were everywhere, and they expect to win the top prize again this year.
This church, the Abbey, is the last great medieval church of England and was built around 1500. We felt the open and bright Gothic interior deserved a couple of pictures on the web. Click on the picture of the ceiling to appreciate some of the fine detail and color.
Of course, the name of the city comes from the fact that this is the site of the most famous Roman baths outside Rome. In Roman times, many people would travel from the large Roman city, Londinium (now London), to Aquae Sulis to "take a bath" and the city became called simply, Bath. The first picture shows the Roman warm baths that are fed from a hot spring. These were uncovered after additional buildings were built over the site around 1700 after Queen Mary bathed here and subsequently gave birth to a male heir to the throne. The Romans were master engineers and controlled temperatures in the big bath pool with by mixing hot and colder water through lead pipes. They also built heated rooms, or spas. The next picture shows the brick work which would have been underneath a wood floor, all heated to keep the large spa room warm. The last picture is a pool in the frigidarium, which would have been filled with cold water. Even back then, the Romans would appreciate the contrasting sensations between a cold bath following a hot one.
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Blenheim (BLEN-em) Palace shown here is very near Oxford, England, the site of many colleges. This palace is the home of the Duke of Marlborough, who still lives there much of the year. In 1704, John Churchill beat the French at the Battle of Blenheim, and the king built him this palace as a reward thus becoming the first Duke of Marlborough. The Palace is large and elaborate and the 2,000 acre grounds around it are equally impressive. The current 11th Duke of Marlborough lives in 'apartments' in the palace which are separate from the main tourist sections. Since he was not in on the day we were there, we got to tour his more modern apartments. We are not sure what his personal sources of revenue are, but tourist fees certainly contribute! While pictures weren't generally allowed, we snapped a picture in the old library, complete with a very large organ. We think you will get the idea about the place.
On the grounds, there is an area called the Pleasure Gardens, with lots of flowers and some fun things to do. We found another huge maze and went through it, taking only 10 minutes to find our way. Jennifer and Steffi are giving high-fives to each other after coming to the ending statue in the middle of the maze. While the maze was much bigger then the one we went through at the Schronbrunn Palace in Vienna (see Switzerland & Austria update), we were able to climb up two platforms on our way through to survey the maze. That definitely helped make directional decisions easier. Otherwise, we might still be there!
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Unfortunately, the Carpenters had to return to Denver and left us to continue our Odyssey on our own. It was fun to have them with us. We continued after leaving the Cotswolds west to the country of Wales (part of the UK) to the capitol city of Cardiff (on the sea). Cardiff is really coming alive with a lot of investment monies and it shows. A recent National Geographic article discussed Wales and the transition they are making from a poor coal producing nation. We think they under-stated the wonderful changes going on. Wales is a delightful place to visit!!
This first picture is of a brand new stadium that seats 70,000 rugby and soccer fans. (We are anxious to see the new Denver Mile High Stadium to compare.) In a tour of the city, we found this shop which highlights the longest town name in the world, a village in northwestern Wales. Click on the picture for a better view, but the word is LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYNDLLLLANTYSILIGOGOGOCH, which means "The church of St. Mary's in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tryllio's by the red cave." While we learned a little Welsh while visiting Wales, we could not figure out the logic of this one. Finally, a picture of the ornate town hall tower.
Cardiff is definitely 'by the sea.' This is an area where the tides are very high, just as they are in the Bay of Fundy in Canada. This harbor is now a fresh water lake since the city put a dam or barrier with locks across the ocean and let the bay fill permanently with water from the river. This eliminates the problem of the tidal waters going in and out, leaving boats sitting half of the day in a lot of unsightly mud. A great idea! Here is a newly built five star hotel right by this new bay/lake. (No, we could NOT afford this. Instead, we stayed in a tiny B and B dorm room located over a pub, up three flights of steep stairs. Definitely NOT one of the places we will return to!) Steffi is standing beside a statue commemorating holiday types enjoying the new Cardiff, yet related to the coal mining past of long ago. Last, the colorful red building was where the all the coal money was made by the Bute family when Cardiff was the major port used to ship all the coal produced in Wales.
In this same area by the bay was an outstanding science exhibit for kids called Techniquest. It is by far the best of these that we have ever seen. Steffi had a ball (as did Denny and Jennifer) exploring and experimenting with all the displays. Here, Steffi is working a pump to raise water into a high reservoir which then can be released using a valve to drive a small turbine and power a camera and television. Slick! In one presentation, Jennifer was selected from the audience. Under the fun threat of getting wet, they showed everyone that a match under a water balloon would not break the balloon because the water quickly absorbs all the heat produced by the match.
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We liked the Cardiff Castle in some ways more than others we have visited. The castle was built in the same location that the Romans had built a previous fort in the first century AD. In fact, some of the walls around the current castle have Roman walls as their foundation. This first shot of the newer 19th century version of the castle is taken from the jail which is at the top of the old Norman keep shown in the next picture. The newer parts of the castle were built for the Marquess of Bute (who earned his money from shipping Welsh coal and was the wealthiest man in Europe at the time), and designed by his famous architect, William Burges. Together, they created a fabulous fairy and fantasy land in the rooms inside. Unfortunately, we could not take pictures, but remind us to tell you about the nursery.
On a wall outside the castle, the Marquess had some animals portrayed climbing along the top of the wall. (Apparently the town council didn't approve his zoo, so he substituted these.) The first is a lioness cub under the clock tower. The next animal is a hyena. Click on the last picture to view the fabulous clock tower that was created for the Marquess of Bute.
The walls around the castle border major streets in downtown Cardiff. Steffi is standing beside the entrance. If you click on the next picture, you can see the base of the walls built on top of the old Roman walls which are outlined by red sandstone bricks. In the last picture, Jennifer and Steffi are checking out a very long 90 yard frieze which was created by a local artisan to depict typical Roman times. They are leaning against the original Roman wall.
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Our next stop was Ireland. We decided the best and most fun way to get there from Wales was to take an overnight ferry from Swansea to Cork. The ferry usually leaves at 9 PM (2100 in European times), but on this day, it left at 8 PM because the strong tides were going out. This trip worked out very well, and we got a good night's sleep because we had two cabins and a bed each to ourselves (unlike our noisy, crowded and hot overnight train from Madrid to Barcelona!).
Jennifer and Steffi check out the top deck of the ferry with Swansea's harbor in the background. If you click on the next picture, you can see the locks that are used to keep the water high in order to manage big ships in Swansea harbor. In the background, you can also see rows and rows of identical houses. Unlike the city of Cardiff, which is prospering, we got the impression that Swansea was still suffering as much of Wales must still be with the downturn in mining. We do think tourism will rectify the situation once the world learns that this part of the UK is a great place to visit.
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We arrived in Ireland at the early hour of 6 AM in the morning. But, we were ready for a nice day and the weather was cooperating with a beautiful blue sky. A 20 minute bus ride from the harbor brought us to the city of Cork. After our experience with our B and B above a pub, we were ready for something nicer. We stayed in a very affordable 3 star English hotel chain which had plenty of room and a telephone!
A walking tour around the city showed us what a lot of Ireland is all about: pubs! This pink pub near our hotel has a lot of empty kegs sitting outside to be picked up. We are not sure that this is one night's consumption, but it would not surprise us. The main street in Cork is called the Grand Parade, as you seen here curving off into the distance. These main streets took the same shape as canals did back in the days when Cork had lots of canals similar to Venice. They have now all been filled and are normal streets, but the layout stemming from the days of the canals can be a little confusing when trying to find your way about town.
One of the sights we visited was this old city jail (gaol) which housed both criminals and political activists when Ireland was fighting for their independence from England in the early 20th century. The shot inside the jail shows a functional design and looks pretty humane until you take the tour and learn about the poor treatment for most of the prisoners. Jennifer then took off for a productive stop at the county library to make contacts for more research on family roots while Denny and Stephanie continued with an interesting bus tour of the city.
We also looked into some of the churches in Cork. This church, St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, built in 1865 was designed by the famous architect, William Burges (of Cardiff Castle fame), and was really spectacular and deserving of pictures on our web site. Check out the nave with its high ornate ceiling and beautiful use of colorful sandstone and Irish marble. Here is the pulpit, carved out of marble. And the last shot of the ceiling is one of the prettiest we have seen anywhere on our tour through Europe. Burges is now Jennifer's favorite architect.
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We only stayed one night in Cork, and next day took a bus for a rainy tour of western Ireland to Galway. The trip showed us some beautiful countryside, but the rain and a quick bus trip prevented us from taking any meaningful pictures of the vast green countryside.
Once settled in the beautiful town of Galway (after a 10 minute walk with luggage up a hill to our nice B and B), we were able to begin appreciating what the town had to offer. In the evening, we went along the river, the Corrib, and found many, many swans swimming in front of some very colorful Irish houses which you see in the background. The birds were very friendly as they were looking for a handout and walked right up a ramp from the water to Steffi. She found that these birds are very large and therefore was not much interested in giving them something to eat, fearing they would eat her hand! Anyway, they were delightful.
Walking along the pedestrian mall in the downtown area (every city in Europe now has a bustling pedestrian mall, by the way), we saw this colorful building called the Treasure Chest. We took this picture because the Wedgewood-style decoration impressed us. Later, we saw many post cards of this building so we must have agreed with its landmark status. One night, we went to an Irish folk singing and dancing performance, Siemsa. You can see the performers playing their instruments and we also got to see many dancers. We learned that several of the people were of the same family and the group had been together for 14 years. Some of the performers had grown up with the group, and the lady on the right (the grandma) was the host for the evening. Pictures weren't allowed or we would loved to have shared with you the two very young kids in their group. They were a boy of about 7 or 8 and a girl of 6 or so. They could dance right along with their older partners and absolutely stole the show. Irish youngsters are taught these traditional songs and dances starting at an early age, and there is a tremendous resurgence of interest in Irish culture and language throughout the country.
We also went to the Galway Lead Crystal cutting factory. We had intended to visit the Waterford Crystal factory, but we couldn't make the public transportation work for us. Anyway, Galway's factory had a nice presentation highlighting some of the history of Galway and Irish people in general, and we got to see some of the master cutters at work. We learned that this factory does not actually produce or blow the crystal. They just cut the crystal blanks which are made to their specifications by contractors. It was a very interesting display, and we could appreciate the fine craftsmanship involved. Cutters train 5-7 years before becoming masters, and these cutters do this eight hours a day for their professional lives.
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Aran Islands - Inishmor
We took a ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands and stopped on the biggest of them, Inishmor. After docking at the small town of Kilronan, we selected one of the guides meeting the ferry to take us on a tour of the island by van. The main attraction in all of the Aran Islands is the 2,000 year old ancient fort called Dun Aengus (Dun Aonghasa in Gaelic). This old fort is reached by walking along a 1/2 kilometer trail lined with stones just like the rest of the Aran Island countryside. The fort is perched atop 300 foot high cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is a spectacular sight, indeed, as you can see from Jennifer and Steffi's smiles as they look over the cliffs (crawling there on their stomachs, as the edge is very scary). The walls of stones were built by early settlers to make room for crops and sheep or cattle.
The concentric walls of the fort are up to 13 feet thick and 10 feet high. In addition, the fort is ringed by spiky stones, which you see here by clicking on the picture, to stop advancing enemies. Most of the early settlers on these remote islands built their houses with thatched grass roofs as in the modern example you see here. However, this was the only one we saw. All the others now had newer tile and slate roofs, which would have certainly been much easier to install and maintain. Nevertheless, the one straw roofed house was a pleasure to see.
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After a delightful time (definitely too short!) in the country around Galway, we boarded a fast train bound for Dublin, thre capital of Ireland. Since this was our only experience with Irish trains, we can only say that it was on time, clean and delightful. Plus, we have not seen much graffiti along the way on any of our travels in Ireland. The Irish train was a definite contrast to our experience with the English trains. We arrived in Dublin, took a taxi to the local DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train, which also honored our BritRail passes, and proceeded south about 10 miles to our B and B in the lovely port town called Dun Laoghaire. The B and B was a short taxi ride from the train station and was delightful. We were glad to be in the Dublin area, and after settling in, we went off to explore the bustling city of Dublin.
In walking around the city, we noticed, much as we did in Italy, that there are lots of people everywhere, as this scene in the major downtown pedestrian mall attests. If you click on the next picture, you will see yet another crosswalk with many people waiting to go across. Look closely at this and you will see an additional set of red lights which is a countdown timer to the time that it will be safe to cross... in this example, 11 seconds. What a great idea. Absolutely nobody ventured out into the dangerous road, even with no cars coming, until the timer went to zero and the crossing sign went to a green figure. Slick!!
In a quick tour of the city on an open double decker 'Guide Friday' tour bus (we have taken several of these) we saw a few sights worth a picture here. The first is one of Dublin's great and ornate light poles. Next, a picture of the President's house, which looks a little bit like our White House. They are particularly proud of the current resident as the President is a lady, the second one in a row. Last, a shot of the huge Guiness Beer brewing plant, the only one they have, just like Coors in Golden, Colorado. They proudly make over 6 million pints a day (we did not do the math to convert that to barrels for comparison) and it is truly a beloved institution in Ireland.
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Trinity College Book of Kells
Trinity College, shown here, first with its library and next with an entrance gate and administration building is a typical college with lots of students and things happening. We happened to be there when graduations were taking place, so we saw a few colorful robes about. The main tourist attraction at Trinity is in the library where they house an ancient (about 800 AD) recording of four books of the New Testament called the Book of Kells. The name is taken from the Abbey where they were kept for centuries. The last picture shows a copy of the book itself with its cover. We were unable to take pictures in the library which had a great exhibit of lots of other old books as well as the methods used for transcribing them and eventually printing them on the first early printing presses. It was a great exhibit and very informative.
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Ireland National Museum
We also toured the Ireland National Museum which does an outstanding job of tracing the roots of Ireland and shows lots of artifacts along the way as they tell the story. We literally saw thousands of items, but here are three you might enjoy. The first is a dug out boat or canoe that was found preserved in a peat bog, dating back to about 2,500 BC. Next, a perfectly gorgeous amber necklace from sometime around 500 BC. It looked like it could have been made yesterday. Jennifer would like to have it to wear now! Last, a skeleton which are the remains of an ancient Nordic warrior, who were early settlers of Ireland. This one must have been an imposing figure as we guessed he would have been well over six feet in height.
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Irish Folk Dancing
We had such a good time in Prince Edward Island, Canada at a ceilidh (which is an evening of Irish and Scottish singing and dancing) that we were excited to learn of one going on at a neighborhood folk cultural center near our B and B in Dun Laoghaire. After winding our way through the neighborhood streets, we eventually found the center and discovered that this Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann association provides a night of Irish folk dancing, with everyone expected to participate. This picture is of some of the more experienced Irish folk dancers. It looks like American square dancing, complete with a caller. We did have a great time even if it wasn't what we expected to see. We all danced and Denny ended up with his left knee feeling somewhat sore after all the dancing with daughter, Stephanie. (Sorry, we were too busy dancing to take pictures of ourselves.) We left that evening, knowing we would head our way out of Ireland the next day, feeling like we had just scratched the surface of experiencing the Irish people. All in all, the tour through Ireland was really special.
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