Wednesday, January 17, 2018

County Clare, Ireland (Part 1)

County Clare is a county in the Northwest of Ireland and boasts of the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, Dysert O'dea Castle, The Burren and beautiful beaches.

I have been lucky enough to visit Ireland 3 times now, and I can assure you, it's not enough. There isn't enough time to "vacation" in Ireland. Like seriously, the ruins, the people, the atmosphere... the peaceful beautiful green. It's not by chance that it's called the Emerald Isle. The last 3 times I visited Ireland, my home was in Texas (also known as the surface of the sun) where green often turned to brown. So the very rich green colors of Ireland, literally caused instant peace for me... I think green is naturally a soothing and kind color to look at. Don't you? Walking in the luscious grass is soothing and cool to the feet... you probably think that's a crazy thing to say, but not when you're from Texas and you can't EVER walk barefoot in the grass, the fear of fire ants is far too great!
I have a lovely friend that lives in Ireland, her and her family honestly treat us as if we are royalty when we visit. It's so funny that her little 5 year old boy calls us "The Americans". I especially love when he becomes political and tells me that Trump is a butt! I'm sure that the little guy will one day become Prime Minister of Ireland :)
I write like I think, and often a million things will pop in my head, so I apologize, as we aren't meant to be talking about Trump... I will now focus!!

Dysert O'Dea Castle
One of my favorite places to visit was Dysert O'Dea Castle, in Corofin. It wasn't the largest or most magnificent castle, but it was quaint, full of expected history and winding small stairs. There is a lovely small (very small) place to buy refreshments, tea and locally made items. It costs around 4 Euro to enter
The castle was built the year I was born... haha! Seriously though, it's amazing but so hard for me to wrap my head around a date that was such a long time ago... 1 4 8 0!! 
People were much shorter in the 1480's! Andy was just under 6 foot tall when this was taken... But I'm 5'8" and I had to duck as well.
Mind those stairs! Literally you step out of the room and you're on a stair! Hallways were surely designed shortly after :) 
But the best part of O'Dea, was the walk we took on the lands of the castle, the walk is through beautiful lush fields of grass, and the way to the castle on the grounds.
You will make friends along the way...
The ruins of this Church were apparently founded in the 8th century
We also came upon the ruins of a home... We all agreed that it must be a loop! (You will only understand what a loop is, if you have read the books from Ransom Riggs, a 3 part series, the first book being "Miss Peregrine's home for Peculiar Children)

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is a large castle, 4 times the size of O'Dea and it's on the grounds of many homes, animals and a small village. It's a depiction of life gone by. It's educational and fun and there are plenty of places to have a sandwich or/and a cup of tea. It will take you a few hours if you want to see the whole park, about 4 or 5 hours and it costs roughly 12 Euro per adult and 9 for a child, or you can buy a family pass for around 34 Euro. 
I'm always amazed by the windows in castles, they are always narrow, hardly allowing for light. But I suppose it was cold and one only needed to see if there were others approaching.
More winding stairs, barely room to fit a foot!
And don't get thrown in the Dungeon!
More...Even smaller stairs! 
We went to the very top, and even though my first visit was in the winter, the views were still spectacular.
The grounds are beautiful, and worth the time it takes to roam them
I have not even shown a fraction of what is on grounds of Bunratty, it's full of history and artifacts. You can go inside every home and see the dishes and furniture of the time as well.
Anyone that knows me, knows I love trees, and Ireland NEVER disappoints!
Even in the winter... Ireland is rich with green
And if you have the time, I suggest staying for the Medieval Banquet after hours, you will be served as if you were dining with an Earl. Keep in mind you will be eating with your fingers and a knife only... But you will drink mead, hear beautiful singing and playing of the harp. Just as if you were eating with royalty. The experience will cost you around 55 Euro.
The meal was delicious, it came out on huge platters for everyone to take what they like
No spoons, but you could use your bread for your soup or drink it from the goblet
You could also use the only utensil given to us, apparently knives were very much at the ready for meals back in time
However, Neither Hazel nor myself impaled ourselves or walked away bleeding, so it was a great night!
 I should have just given up and used my fingers!! But you know... Manners!
So make yourself an Irish friend, or... Bring one with you to Ireland and get a move on to visit these castles... and when you do, don't forget to stop by a pub, any pub-- and have yourself some traditional bacon and cabbage... It's hearty and good for the soul!
I hope you are having a great day,
Until next time,

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