Belfast, Dublin, Killarney, Dingle bay,
Inch bay, Blarney and Waterford
We pulled into Ireland via the ferry from southern Scotland,
and we did not get a great family feel right away. We spent a day taking a few
pictures and walking around, but left the city the next day. Of course it
rained the whole time we were here, so it was a tad depressing, never mind
listening to the news. The local news kept running stories about some really
ugly incidents that happened the day before we arrived. The news also said that
had the highest stabbing, assault and rape rate of any European Country, and that
was kind of shocking.
One of my very best
friends is from Belfast and on occasion he has
told me about life as a young boy in Belfast.
I have only driven through parts of the city, but I just kept thinking about
how crumby it is for young kids to have grown up in that type of environment. †I know that when you get away from Belfast into the country
and along the coast, this place is beautiful. Unfortunately we only have 5 days
on this island and have made the decision to head south.
I am not going to
write anymore because I donít think it would be fair after being here only a
short time. I will however give you a few facts about the place if you are
first invades Ireland
under English king Henry II.
1607 †Beginning of the Ulster Plantation under
English king James I.
1800 Act of Union is
passed, uniting Great Britain
and Ireland as the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Famine causes Irish population to decrease by 2 million due to death and
1912 Irish Revolution
against British rule begins.
1914 The Irish Home
Rule Bill, which grants an independent parliament to Ireland, passes, though enactment
is delayed until 1920.
1916 Easter Rebellion
in Dublin, in
which Irish nationalist forces take control of the city before being forced to
surrender by British troops (April 24-April 29).
1919-1921 Irish War
between Irish nationalists and British forces.
1920 Government of
Ireland Act establishes six of the nine counties of Ulster
as the province of Northern Ireland and grants independent parliaments
to both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Treaty is signed, which ends the Irish War of Independence and grants limited
freedom to Ireland
1922 The Irish Free State is established, ending the Irish
Revolution (December 6).
1922-1923 Irish Civil
War between the Free State
government and Irish nationalists opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
1937 Eire (formerly
Irish Free State) becomes an independent member of the British
1949 The Republic of Ireland becomes an independent state, separate
from the British Commonwealth.
activity increases in Northern
(imprisonment without trial) is introduced in Northern Ireland to combat
Sunday" - British troops shoot and kill 13 unarmed protesters in
Londonderry (Derry), Northern
Ireland (January 30).
Friday" - IRA detonates a number of bombs in Belfast, killing nine civilians (July 21).
1972 The parliament
of Northern Ireland
is suspended and the British impose direct rule over the province.
1976 Two women from Belfast, Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, receive the
Nobel Peace Prize for their work to reconcile religious communities in Northern Ireland.
prisoners stage hunger strikes; ten die.
1993 Downing Street Declaration, which
establishes a framework for peace negotiations, is issued by British and Irish
1994 IRA calls
unconditional cease-fire (August 31).
1996 IRA ends
cease-fire by bombing London's
Docklands district, injuring over 100 (February 9).
negotiations begin in Belfast
(June 10). Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) is barred from the
negotiations, resulting in limited progress.
1997 IRA renews
cease-fire (July 20); Sinn Fein joins peace negotiations (September 15).
Northern Ireland peace agreement reached (April 10). Accord is ratified by
large majorities in both Northern Ireland
and the Republic
of Ireland (May 22).
As of right now the
IRA has agreed to the peace plan and Mr. Gerry Adams is now a Member of
Aside from Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter, I have never
been fond of any political leader. Listening to the people of Dublin talk about Bill Clinton, you think
this country might make him a saint. I did not know that Mr. Clinton had been
so instrumental in helping the folks of Ireland find peace, but the people
from the south say he was.
Having said that, if you ask the people from the North of
Ireland what they think about Clinton.
You will be will told that Mr. Clinton only visited Catholic areas of the
North. They will also tell you that Gerry Adams is a criminal and worked his
way up in Sinn Fein by being involved in the hands on part of the IRA.
Confused? Me too! I really donít know what to think so I
asked our friend Ray, who just happens to be a Catholic priest. Ray told us the
only reason Mr. Clinton became involved was to get the Catholic Vote in the
U.S. Ah, now that kind of answers a few questions, doesnít it?
I guessed I must of watch to much CNN because I thought
things in Ireland
were very peaceful these days, I guess I was wrong.
I can say one thing that is consistent through the North and
the South of Ireland; these folks are the nicest people you will ever meet!
I canít write too much
because my spell, grammar checker has gone to bed and I am going to load this
on the web without her approval, so I donít want to get in too much trouble.
Dublin is one of the coolest cities I have ever been to; big,
busy and full of colour. These folks are super friendly and the city itself is
very beautiful and laid back. It has to be the only city in the world that has
a Pub on every corner.
I am writing to you from
another cool little town on the other side of the country called Killarney.
This little town is a little too touristy for my taste, but also very nice.
I have to stop writing now, because
I think the spell checker is waking up.
O.K. I am back and have a few more things to say about
this wonderful country. We are still in Killarney but took a little road trip
today to a small fishing village on the south coast of Ireland called Dingle. This little
town is packed with tourists, pubs and cafťís. I canít believe how many
tourists there are in the south. Anyways we had lunch (in a pub), bought some
fruit and walked around the town and then headed back to Killarney. The road
you take to get to Dingle is another dangerous winding road high above the
ocean. Letís just say there is not a lot of room to move over when a semi truck
is coming towards you.
You drive by a place called Inch Bay,
and it is one of the nicest beaches you will ever see. The only problem is that
you will freeze your butt off even in the middle of August.
We leave Killarney tomorrow for a town called Cork and home of the Blarney
stone; we better kiss that thing before we move on.
Until then, talk to you in a wee bit.
We left our hotel in Killarney after breakfast and
decided to head straight to Cork and Blarney instead of taking the famous Ring of Kerry.† This ring road takes you around the County Kerry
and is supposed to be beautiful but because we already went on a drive the day
before we decided to forgo it. The road to Cork is scenic as it is.† You drive through the spectacular countryside
with the patchwork of greens all the way up the hills on either side.† On these hills are hundreds of little white
dots as well.† The dots, when you get
closer, are the cutest little lambs and sheep.†
They are all in various degrees of nakedness as some have their wool
sheered off and some look naked.† They
are so cute and they are everywhere!†
We finally made it to Blarney and headed straight to
the Blarney Castle.†
It is a very commercial and touristy place but the setting and the
castle itself are actually beautiful.†
You have to walk up many, many spiral stairs that get more and more narrow
the higher you get.† Finally you reach
the top of the castle and I was expecting a huge line-up but there were only a
few people waiting.† I think the stairs
scare a lot of people away and the actual maneuver you have to do to actually
kiss the stone is quite strenuous.† There
is a man sitting on the ground beside a small mat and you have to lie on your
back and arch your back and slide down toward a gap in the wall that has a few
bars placed across it in case you slip.†
It certainly would be a long way down!†
So itís like you are doing a back bend and you hold on to two bars while
this man holds onto you and you kiss this slab of stone that is now very smooth
because of the millions of mouths that have been placed upon it.† I was surprised that my germ-a-phobic husband
actually kissed it but he did!† Nikolas
went next and then I did it.† Danika
chickened out the first time but just before we headed down the stairs she
changed her mind, with a little bribery from her father, and did it too!† It was all a lot of fun and we were very glad
we did it.† We were trying to remember
what it gives you, is it good luck or is it the gift of the gab?† We have to figure that one out.
there we headed through Cork which is quite a
large city and on to Waterford.† We just checked in to The Granville Hotel and
are getting ready to check this place out.†
They have a huge warehouse and retail store that makes and sells the
world renowned Waterford Crystal.†
Hmmm.† Could I hide a chandelier
inside my luggage?????
(Written by Steve, Aug 15)
So we pulled into a place called Waterford and tried to find a hotel. At first
glance this place looked like kind of a hick town. We decided to come to this
town because the tours come here and that is the way we have been traveling the
U.K., Scotland, Ireland
What we do is, we go into a bus tour company and ask for a brochure, and then
drive the exact same route and stop at the same cities. So here we are. As we
pull into the downtown area we notice a big warehouse that says: Waterford Crystal.
I had just said to Helen that I could not understand why the tour buses come
here, and almost at that moment she replied, ď for the Crystal.Ē I have never heard of Waterford Crystal, but
Helen assured me it was some of the most expensive Crystal in the World. So I said what any guy
would, ďWooop Dee Do, and immediately thought of what a waste of money the fine
china we have in our hutch was and we have never used. We got all these
expensive dishes for our wedding from about 10 ladies who all pitched in and
spent a couple of thousand bucks on it. I thought it was such a waste of money,
we could have used it for Hockey tickets. I know, but that is just the way us
guyís think and I am terrified to eat off the stuff. The funny thing is my wife
sayís it will be for special occasions, like when my boss comes over for
dinner. I am Firefighter, so itís not like I am going to have my Chief over for
O.K. where am I going with all this you ask?
Well here we are in the crystal capital of the world,
and I really donít feel like wasting our day visiting a warehouse where they
make over priced glass.
Yes of course we did end up going, mostly because this
town does not have a lot of options for us Holiday
makers. We went in and right away I was taken back by all the Crystal. You name it, glasses, Plates, Vases,
Chandeliers, and this company also makes all the Sports Trophies for the Super
Bowl, PGA, and Wimbledon. I mean they had the
Trophies completed for this yearís events sitting in a special show area, it
was really cool.† The tour lady told us
that they actually make three copies of the trophies; one for the winning
player to have, one for the company to keep (Waterford) and one extra in case
anything happens to the other two.†† They
then took us on a tour through the warehouse and we got to see them blowing,
cutting and engraving the Crystal.
I donít want to sound like a sissy boy or anything, but it was unreal to see
all this. They took the liquid lumps of Crystal
and made these beautiful works of art, and they did it all by hand. They do
everything in this place by hand, and some works take over 4 months to
complete. They also told us that after it is finished, it goes to the quality
control area and 25% of the works are destroyed. I am not buying this part, Iím
sure they sell them off to some Chinese distribution company, but they do claim
to not have one flawed creation out there.
U.S. Open trophy
awaiting a winner
We walked through the whole warehouse and saw it all
happen and I can tell you I have a whole new respect for this overpriced glass.
So much so we bought a vase and 6 wine glasses, and are having them shipped
home. I know, but I will cherish every drop of wine that I drink out of that
glass now that I know how long it took to make. Well, not really, I just got
caught up in the moment and needed to buy something, but that sounded good
If you every come to Waterford,
make sure you drag your butt into Waterford Crystal, you wonít be
You can see the marked lines the Cutter
uses as a guideline but he creates the design by memory!
Just a few of the many Sport trophies Waterford makes
Gerry (Master engraver) has worked here
for 37 years and asked if he could take a picture with Danika holding his prize
Notice the grip Gerry has on that thing.
Did you know it takeís 25 years before
you can become a master engraver?† It
takes over 10 years to become just a run of the mill engraver.
Gerry showing Nikolas how easy engraving
It was a really nice (and really expensive way) to
but I am so glad we saw this.