Okay, first off I was able to add some more pictures on, so follow this link:www.flickr.com/photos/29971049@N02/sets/72157607008663760/detail/
I think I might have accidentally gotten them in order too, so that's a plus!
Okay, from where I left off last time
, we then hopped a train down to Kilkenny. We got off the train and rushed and just barely caught the last bus that was going towards our hostel - Foulksrath Castle! We got off the bus and it was about a 300 meter walk to the castle, but it was such an exciting walk that it was just fine and dandy - luggage and all. The castle was so neat!!! It still had a lot of original structure, including the walls around the castle grounds. It was a bit difficult getting our luggage up to our rooms because it was a fairly thin and steep spiral staircase. And the rooms were arranged in a spiraled manner too, so there were no clearly defined "floors." You just kept going around until you got to your spot. We explored all over the place, looked through old arrow slits and climbing up on the walls. We tried to get them to let us up on the roof (found the door but it was padlocked) but they wouldn't do it that night, and we were leaving to early to do it in the morning. :( It's so amazing how well people built their structures. There's not a building today that could last anywhere near as many years as these old castles. And it was quite cozy in there as well. They knew what they were doing back then.
So morning came along and it was time for us to leave. We went back into Kilkenny, and were planning on hopping a bus to go visit the Rock of Cashel - a really beautiful and ancient structure (the seat of the kings of Munster) a couple hours outside of Kilkenny. Got to the tourism office before they opened (9:30), and went in to get our tickets. Found out that the bus leaves at 9 and has to be booked the day before. :( !!!!!!!! I was really wanting to go see that, but I wasn't going to let it bring me down. Kilkenny has a lot of neat things to do anyway, so by crikey we did them!
The first order of business was to go tour Kilkenny Castle. That place was HUGE! They've done a lot of renovations on it to bring it back to what it once looked like back in the renaissance era, though there were still 3 round drum towers that were of the original medieval construction. It was really gorgeous - inside and out. I thought it really odd that the renaissance people were so snooty that they made separate entrances and stairways for the servants so that the family would see them as little as possible. They even put in a tunnel under the span from one side to the other so that their view of the gardens wouldn't be marred by the sight of servants going back and forth.
We ran around Kilkenny a little bit more and saw a cathedral (I can't remember it's name right now) and did a couple other things. Then it was time to catch our train to Dublin - our final stop! Since we were going to be there for 4 days, and we'd been sooooo very busy doing cool things this entire time, we decided to rest a litte our first night in Dublin and just sit in the hotel and get room service and relax. Holy cow we needed it too.
In the morning, we hopped on a bus for the day tour of the Hill of Tara and of Newgrange. Our tour guide was talking the entire time
that we were in the bus. She gave us all sorts of history - not just about what we were going to see, but of just about anything and everything remotely related! It was great! I really liked her. I learned a lot of nifty things. The Hill of Tara was the meeting place of the kings of Ireland. I believe they said that all the kings of Ireland were crowned here and the stone they were crowned at (the "Stone of Destiny") is still there - it's about the only thing left. It used to be a bustling place with all sorts of buildings all over, but now it is "just a hill." I put quotes there because it may seem like just a hill, but it is so much more than that. It is powerful! The landscape still has the walls of some ancient earthen ring forts. From the top of this hill, on a clear day (which it was when we went), they say you can see 23 of the 32 counties in Ireland. It was so gorgeous and so very significant to the history of Ireland.
Next we went over to Newgrange. Newgrange was built about 5000 years ago. It predates the pyramids by 500 years! This is a very ancient "passage tomb" (basically, a tomb with a passage down the center). Yes, the dead were put there, but this was not the primary function of Newgrange. For only 3 days out of the year - at the winter solstice - a tiny beam of light manages to wind it's way down the passage for but a few minutes. They used this to know when the middle of winter was so they could know when to plan on planting crops. They put so much love and skill into building this. They somehow moved huge
stones from miles away to use in just decorating this place. There are lovely carvings on the stones inside and out. And at the chamber in the back of the tomb, they said that in all the 5000 years that this has been standing, not a single drop of water has leaked through the domed ceiling (made of stacked rocks). To think that people from so long ago did such feats with such little technology just blows my mind. I've never been somewhere so old. It was truely amazing. Once we were down in the main chamber, they treated us to a simulation of the winter solstice event. They turned off the lights and not the slightest bit of light reached us down the straight corridor
we just came down. Then a sliver of light just barely creeped along the floor by our toes. They say the real thing dances a little - is more alive!
Okay, then that night we hopped on the "Ghost Bus!" We almost didn't get on, and I'm sure there are quite a few people miffed at me because they claimed to have been waiting there for a half hour... but I've been planning on doing this for weeks longer than that, and I was in the shop right next to the bus stop blowing time for half an hour, and I got up in line before they did... so I win. The tour guide was such a character! He was so fun. We went all around Dublin listening to his great and dramatic tales of old happenings and what people have experienced in the areas since. He was just the perfect amount of ham - not entirely overboard, but enough to be really fun.
In the morning, we went on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. That place was so much cooler than I expected! It was like a 7-story brewery/museum of everything Guinness - the process and history and all sorts of neat things. The first thing they have on display is the ***9000 year lease**** that was signed by Arthur Guinness in 1759. It was really neat. And once you get to the top/end, you get a free pint of Guinness. I've got to say that Guinness in Dublin is a good deal better than it is in the states. However, I found out which types travel better, so now I know to buy the extra stout instead of the draft. That tastes a lot closer to what is served in Dublin.
That night, we went to a little dinner and story-telling thing that we booked earlier. It was a pretty fancy dinner and we had a historian guy telling us about the Irish, looking in to their ways of life and how they viewed the world. He went a bit into folklore and fairy tales as well. It was entirely interesting. One of the funny things he told us about was that not everybody believed in the fairies, but despite that they don't want to get them angry. hehee... There are many a construction projects in Ireland that were made to accommodate and respect the fairies.
The next day, we finally got a chance to visit the archeology museum that Wifey was wanting to see. We tried like 4 or 5 times to visit this place, but the hours of a lot of businesses in Ireland are really weird. So we finally got to visit it, and it was really cool! Archeology is so different outside of the U.S. The vikings scattered neat stuff all over Ireland! hehe. ...and not just the Vikings. It still gets me that people have been on Ireland for as long as they have.
Finally, this being our last night in Dublin before heading home, we decided to head out to a pub. We went to a place that was right by our hotel. They had some people playing traditional Irish songs and some step dancers. It was a fun night. We had some booze and watched some good entertainment and it was fun. There were a couple of drunk Irish guys there too. They were singing along real loud with the music, and smilin' real huge and had their arms around each other's shoulders swaying back and forth. It was funny. I sneakily took some short videos of them. hehee!
Alas, morning came too soon, and it was time for us to go. I really loved Ireland, as did Wifey. It was sad leaving, but when I got sad I just thought back on all the unforgettable fun that I had, and it was okay. Because I might be leaving, but I was taking a piece of Ireland with me in my heart. It's such a wonderful country, and such a wonderful bunch of people. I want to go back someday... see all the things we weren't able to. Maybe since we did a lot of touristy stuff this time, it would be nice to get off the main path and experience a little more of the more personal side of Ireland. Whatever we do though, it doesn't really matter because it is such a wonderful place. I could be happy just being there.
Anyway, that was our honeymoon - the honeymoon to end all honeymoons! Hope you enjoyed my tale. Of course there are many more details than this, but I tried to summarize a little bit. May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-an old Irish Blessing