Monday, April 14, 2008

Ireland

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Ireland (with a side stop in the Liverpool/Manchester England area to visit a daughter and brother.)

We landed and departed from Shannon (a smaller airport, leaps above the bigger airport in Dublin). Our goal was to experience various aspects of the Irish history and to enjoy its current culture and people.

We rented a car and drove all over the southern half of the nation. We started in Co Clare and visited The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, Kilrush (stayed at Crotty's Pub). We then spent the next two days in Co Kerry visiting the Dingle Pennisula, Tralee, Kenmare (Water Edge B&B), Ring of Kerry, Skellig Ring, Lakes of Killerny, Muckross. In Co Cork, we stay in Kinsale (Friars Lodge) and drove through Cork into Co Tipperay and Co Kilkenny visiting Cahir, Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny, staying at a farmhouse near Ballyragget.

Into Co Carlow and Co Wicklow, we had a great time in Glendalough and at Powerscourt (overpriced) and a farmhouse B&B in Ennisferry. A day in Dublin was spend walking around and spending a great deal of time in the National Gallery. (I have been to Dublin twice; a city's a city is a city). We went to Howth and stayed in a Suton B&B. Watched the Arsenal-Liverpool match in a great pub.

We took a car ferry across the Irish sea to Holyhead. We drove to Widnes, near Liverpool, to spend time with my wife's brother and his family, and our daughter who is working as a nanny in the Wilmslow area. We visited a Reds fan's "mecca" at Anfield. On Saturday, we attended the Manchester City-Chelsea match. On Sunday we went to Lancashire to Chorley, the LDS temple (conference was being played in a delayed fashion), to Chatburn and Downham, and through the Yorkshire Dales.

Returning to Dublin via an overnight ferry, we spend the day in Co Meath and Co Westmeath visiting Monasterboice, Mellifont Abbey, Boyne, New Grange, Knowth, Douth, Slane, Hill of Tara, Trim, Mullinger, Kilbeggan and Moate, staying in a 300 year old farmhouse B&B near Horseleap.

Our final day was spent in Co Offaly, Co Galway, Co Limerick and Co Clare visiting Clonmacnois, Birr, Portumna, Lough Derry, staying in Shannon at the Oakwood Arms, watching Liverpool beat Arsenal and moving into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Chelsea.

A great experience. Very expensive due to the weakness of the dollar. Everything costs twice what we spend in the U.S. for the same thing.

We got a surprise at the National Car Rental. We found out you cannot take a rental car from Ireland to England/Wales for insurance purposes. On the last day, we were hit by a rock and have a crack in the windshield. National said we needed to pay for a new windshield at 325 euros (just under $500), more than our actual two week rental. We were at their mercy -- held hostage by some eastern European gal working for National, with no local recourse. Do me a favor, never rent a car from National. Their business practices are very shaky. I have issued a formal complaint, but I doubt I'll hear back.

Oh yea, I left my earphones and MP3 player on the Delta plane. Think the lost and found had it? No way. Those that clean planes hire people who steal. That is the second time I have left something valuable and it was lost forever. I had sunglasses stolen out of luggage. The airlines and airports, despite their claims of security, hire thieves.

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