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Food, Ireland

The Food of Ireland

December 2, 2014

Food of Ireland

One of the most shocking things for me about Ireland, was the food.  I am not a foodie. I do enjoy good food, but I don’t plan vacations around food. I do try to use Urban Spoon or Yelp to help me find good food.  What I didn’t expect to find was the amazing food in Ireland.  Above is a boxty. The boxty is the pancake looking thing.  In this case it was a sage boxty served with pulled pork! This Texan living in a mostly pork free country was impressed.  It is a different flavor of pulled pork but very good especially when wrapped up by the sage boxty.  It was also very filling.  This was from a place called Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar. I was actually sad it was my last night in Dublin because I would have like to go back and had a different type.

I was looking for a traditional Irish breakfast place on Yelp when I discovered the Queen of Tarts. I didn’t get the traditional Irish breakfast I was looking for, but that was ok.  I ordered a delicious scone and eggs.  Granted it was way too much food for one person, but I needed to try it all.  I ate slow and went for a very long walk afterwards.

Food of Ireland

The one thing that I wished now that I had taken a picture of was the fish and chips I had in Tramore.  It was a whole fish on a bed of french fries. We Americans are doing it wrong. Fish isn’t fish sticks with french fries. It is a whole greasy fish served on thick french fries, which I have determined is where the term chips comes from.

In Dublin, my friend took me to this place called 101 Talbot. I had a special, so I can’t remember what it was called.  It was a chicken dish. It was excellent and the portions were large!

Next time I find excellent food, I promise to take more pictures!

Beach, Ireland, Museums, Travel

Ireland – Waterford, Tramore & Cork

November 30, 2014

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

One of my motivations for coming to Ireland was my Irish friend.  I knew he would be there the same time as I was and I was hoping for some inside sightseeing info. Well, I just didn’t get info, I got an invite to come and stay at his and his wife’s “beach” house in Tramore.  As the Irish would say, it sounded grand!  I took the train down to Waterford.  Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and it was celebrating it’s 1100 anniversary!  This town older than many countries including the one I am from and the country I live in.  If the name Waterford sounds familiar, it is because Waterford crystal used to be manufactured here.

The oldest civic building in Ireland is located in Waterford, Reginald’s Tower. The first tower was built in 914 by the Vikings and was most likely made of wood.  The current tower was built in the 12th century with the top two floors being added in the 15th century. It faces the river and would have been a great look out point from its location.  Standing in such an old building was a bit surreal as you feel as though you have stepped back in time.  I can’t image how dark and cold it must of been at certain times of the year.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

There is lots to see in Waterford. We also went to the Bishop’s Palace and the Medieval Museum. The Medieval Museum was a great place to learn about early Irish history.  The Bishop’s Palace had some excellent examples of Waterford Crystal on display and upstairs was an exhibit on the history of Waterford.  You can still tour the Waterford Crystal factory, but crystal stopped being produced in Waterford in 2009.  I decided I didn’t want to tour it since the factory was no longer in operation and we had two pre-teens in tow.

After that, we headed to Tramore, which is only about a 15-minute drive away.  Waterford a small fishing village until the railroad came in 1853. Although there is no railroad now, the town survives on being a tourist attraction. It has a lovely promenade and many surrounding beaches.  The Irish are a hardy people as I was there in July and the water was way to cold for me to get into.  In fact I had a light sweater on while everyone else went swimming.  I did put my feet in so I could say I had been in the Atlantic from both sides!  While it was cold, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

This was the view from their house looking down toward the promenade!

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

My friend wanted to take me to kiss the Blarney Stone. At first, I agreed, but then his wife was telling me I had to climb a staircase with no handrail and then bend over backward over a hole to kiss the thing! Given my fear of heights and the distance from Cork, I told him to forget it.  I am sure I will regret it later.  My mother told me that even my 80 something grandmother had done it! Yes I am a whimp.  We opted to go see the Cork City Goal. The jail is huge, but only a portion of it has been renovated to allow for visitors to view it safely.  While well-lit today, I am sure it was a depressing place to be in the 1800s.  The corridor’s that weren’t renovated seemed to give a better sense of what it would have been like. Prisoners were given hard labour and very little food.  I highly recommend the audio tour if you decide to take a tour. By the way, the website says you can walk from the center of Cork to the goal, but it was up a hill and my asthma was not happy! Take a taxi up and walk down would be my advice.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

Europe, Ireland

Ireland – Dublin, Day 2

November 23, 2014

Since the next day was Sunday, I decided I would sleep late. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what would be open in the morning.  After brunch, I went on the hunt for a bookstore.  Because of all my delayed flights, I finished the book I had brought for the trip.  My Irish friend had recommended The Winding Stair. It was one of those old-fashioned bookshops that if I had hours looking for a book and have a cup of tea, I would have stayed all day. Alas, I did not so I went back to the one I had seen earlier. It wasn’t open when I had passed by earlier, The Gutter. At the time, I took it for a chain, but I have since discovered it is an independent bookstore! Book found and bought!

The street I was on, Cow’s Lane.  Cow’s Lane! What an awesome street name. I am sure that there is story behind this street name.  Anyway, the shops on this street are great. There is an antique store and a leather jewelry store. I didn’t buy anything mostly because I did not bring a big enough suitcase that would fit I wanted to buy. Finally I decide I should go back to sightseeing.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral was my next stop. This cathedral was built in 1220 and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, is buried in this cathedral. The stonework is also great inside this cathedral as was the tile. I think the most amazing this about the buildings in Ireland is how old they are.  This cathedral was built before Columbus discovered the Americas and it still stands. I know that there are much older structures in the world, but I am always amazed by them when I get to see them in person.

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You can’t go to Dublin without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. While I was underwhelmed by the self guided tour portion of the storehouse, the view at top in the Gravity Bar was worth it. I will be honest I had never had a Guinness before! It was good, but I am sure I am spoiled now from having one fresh from the source.

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In the tasting room they give you a tiny Guinness. Then you get a full-sized one at the Gravity Bar. I couldn’t drink all of it. I am sure that if I was up in the bar with someone else and could find a place to sit I would have stayed longer and finished it.  I was glad I didn’t because it started to sprinkle on the way back to the hotel and by the time I got to the hotel it started to pour. Which, as a girl who lives in the desert will tell you was not all bad.

Europe, Ireland, Libraries, Travel

Ireland – Dublin, Day 1

November 17, 2014

Arriving much later than I planned in Dublin, my friend picked me up at the airport and took me on the scenic drive to my hotel through Phoenix Park.  Phoenix Park is a fenced park that covers over 1700 acres.  The President of Ireland’s house is located in this park.  It is not a park in the sense of the American word to me though. It felt wild and I don’t remember seeing a fence. My friend said that frequently deer are seen in the park. It also home to the zoo. Unfortunately, this was the only time I was in the park.  It looked like an amazing place to spend the day relaxing.

The next morning, I got up and went straight to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.  (As a good librarian/archivist should do on a trip to Dublin.) I had heard the line is long and to get there early.  You can buy your ticket online, but I didn’t do that as sometimes I am unsure what I will want to do first when I reach a city.  The line moved quickly though and there weren’t too many people waiting.  First you go through an exhibit about the history of the book and what the illuminations mean and other interesting facts about medieval manuscripts.  There are a few other manuscripts in this area. However, this area is small and that small crowd outside filled this area quickly. I decided to skip much of the exhibit and head straight for the Book of Kells.  The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of four gospels of the New Testament.  It also contains other texts. It is believed to have been produced around the year 800 A.D. The book is beautifully illustrated.  I will say that there is no queuing system around the book making it hard to get in to see the book.  I had to wait for a break in the circle around the book.  Photos are not allowed in the room, so you will have to go to the Trinity College website to see it.  Once you leave the Book of Kells, you continue into the Old Library of Trinity College. This is called the Long Room and it contains the oldest books held by Trinity College.  For a library fan, it was great. It looks and smells old and immediately gives you the sense of learning.  There are sculptures of famous thinkers and authors here as well as other historic Irish documents. Edited-1276Edited-2971

After leaving Trinity College, I headed to the National Museum of Ireland Archaeology to see the bog bodies.  Bog bogies are bodies that have been discovered in peat bogs.  Many of them are hundreds of years old.  The bodies have been preserved because of the nature of the bog.  These bodies are not just skeletons but include skin, hair and sometimes clothing.  They kind of look like a well-loved leather handbag! I did not take pictures as these are dead people and that would be disrespectful.  Also, it is a museum and light from cameras does damage to artifacts.  If you want to find out more or see pictures, here is a link to a NOVA article about them. There is also a good book on the subject called The Bog People by P.V. Glob.

After some yarn shopping and lunch, I headed back to my hotel to drop off my purchases. Since Christchurch Cathedral was right across the street, I decided to make it my next stop.  The church has existed on this spot since 1030! It is famous for its bells and also being the burial site of Strongbow. The current structure was renovated between 1871 and 1878 and the renovation was done one the “temporary” structure that was built 1562.  The cathedral is beautiful and has lots of stonework.  I was amazed by the tile on the floor.  However, I thought the best part of the cathedral was the tomb vault in the basement. You feel like you have stepped hundreds of years back in time back there.  It feels so much like the past that the tv show The Tudors filmed scenes in the tombs.  Some of the costumes were on display.

 

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Next up was Dublin Castle. This has been the heart of Dublin since the 930’s when it was a Viking settlement.  The history of how it became a castle is too long to tell here, but it is worth seeing if you get to Dublin.  I had missed the last full tour of the day, so I opted to do the Medieval tour of the old city walls. These are all underground now.  While the tour is short and expensive, it was worth it to me and the old city walls are very impressive to see. The area surrounding Dublin Castle is filled with gardens and other interesting places to see.  There was a Shakespeare play being performed in the gardens in the evening and there is also the Chester Beatty Library, which houses some impressive manuscript collections.  Explore the area as you might run across an art exhibit or play that you didn’t know was going on.

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