Archive for the SLAINTE! Category

We’re up to here with castles, got ‘em laying about the place

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 10, 2011 by robdc

It’s with a heavy heart that we leave Killimor, we say goodbye to the fantastic hosts, the free roaming dogs and the other farm life and head back to Waterford.

On our way back we did stop at a few attractions, first of which was a very scenic lake which gave Keara and I a chance to practice acting like fools, something we do rarely and with great discretion…

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With that out of the way we had an unexpectedly delicious lunch at a pub along the road and proceeded to the Rock of Cashel. This was a fortification used to defend rich people from the armies of other rich people until it was appropriated by the government and given to the church since they need lots of fortified places to show how peaceful God is, then it was abandoned and now it’s a place where tourists pay money to take snazzy pictures. Queue a whole bunch of creepy ruin pictures:

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Of course being in such a pious place didn’t stop us from the usual poses and jumping around on things:

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In all it was a great day of travel, we wound up back outside of Waterford to have dinner and a few drinks, settle in and call it a day. Tomorrow we head into Waterford proper to take in the sights, can’t wait.

As is common at the end of a long day in Ireland, the whiskey weighs heavy so it’s time to call it a night.

Till tomorrow,

Robbie

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Look at the heads on ‘em!

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 9, 2011 by robdc

I love how the first thing you see in the morning has a way of influencing the rest of your day. This is my view as I arise at Anita and Greg’s place in Killimor:

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Yes the skies have been a bit cloudy most of the day, actually, if I’m being honest the weather has been completely insane. We went from sunny skies to rain back to sun then a flash hail storm on our way in yesterday but believe me I’m not complaining. I feel an odd kinship to this place, everyone treats you like family, you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop for your travels and not a soul will ever look at you twice for ordering a rum with your breakfast… Heaven.

Today we headed into Galway, I was excited about this destination for a few reasons, I’ve known it was one of the larger city centers in the west of Ireland and it came with a recommendation from Zane Lamprey of three sheets fame. The city did not disappoint as there were plenty of street performers and the bay made for some very nice views.

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As you can see the street art is lively here, which is refreshing. We then took in a bit of pub hopping, starting with the Kings Head and ending at the Quays.

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That second picture is of Keara with two of our beyond gracious hosts, Anita and Anette.

The day ended with dinner at Maggy May’s which was absolutely delicious, we then retreated to Anita and Greg’s for night caps and to serve as entertainment for the dogs. If every day were half as entertaining and full of kind-hearted jests as today, my entire life would be a vacation, I can’t thank everyone enough. Tonight I sleep with a smile.

Cojelo,

Robbie

Been doin’ a bit ‘a goin’

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 8, 2011 by robdc

Today we woke up and had a phenomenal breakfast, obviously a staple of life in these parts, then we got on the road. We stopped for lunch along some castle which had it’s very own “Durty Nelly’s” pub, then hit the road again to meet more of Keara’s extensive and insanely nice family.  Along the way we came across a town where Keara’s roots are really deeply lain. Beyond the ancient cemetery with Deely plots leading back to 1621, there were still cousins of Keara’s living in the area who we visited and were kind enough to look through old family records with us and serve us a few beers.

Here’s a couple of shots of the cemetery:

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When we got to Anita and Greg’s place I was taken aback, it’s a proper farm, 120 or so cows, a dozen or so dogs running around and one of them had just had a litter which led Keara to lose her mind.

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This is just a quick one for today but I’ll be back with more soon.

 

Robbie

Back in the land of Guinness and Jameson, It’s been too long

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 7, 2011 by robdc

I’m completely unaware of how time has worked for the past few days but here’s what I do know:

2:45pm Saturday, flight leaves south Florida for NY

some time after that, we arrive in NY

some very sleepy time after that depart from NY

9:00am Sunday, arrive in Dublin

1 1/2 to 2 hours later, arrive in Waterford

20 min later, have my first fry (I can’t thank you enough for this Annette)

10 min later, pass out

6am Monday, wake up and take a shower

9am arrive in Bunclody for some coffee and planning of our day.

I have no idea how I left south Florida on Saturday and didn’t get to any actual stuff doing until Monday morning but who cares?! Have I mentioned how much I love Ireland? Here are a couple of shots of our quick stop.

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We decided our first stop would be Altamont Gardens to see some of the summer flora native here, I’m sure my clamoring about wanting to test out my new photo equipment had some sway on this decision. Since this was pretty much an exercise in me taking pictures like a madman here are a few of my favorites:

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I know, flower pictures, omega boring but I think there are a couple of desktop background worthy ones in there.

Next we went to Huntington Castle, originally commissioned as a garrison and having that first bit built in 1625, this place has been home to many strong women and is supposedly crazy haunted. As you walk in there is what would appear to be a sabre tooth crocodile skull immediately in front of the front door that was shot by one of the family matriarchs when she was 17, some of the many other pictures of this high caliber lady showed her holding her rifle. One of the other women of the family had successfully popped out 13 kids and lived to tell the tale, a rare trait for women in the 1700s. One of the stranger things said to us by the woman giving the tour (one of the descendants that call this place home {yes this is a functional home})is that it is believed to be very much haunted, so much so that one of the women taking the tour with us and had to leave a particular room because of “not being able to handle the aura there.” OK lady, whatever you say. What I will admit is a bit odd is that one of the many busts and portraits in the home belonged to someone still living in it, which I didn’t believe until I saw her with my own eyes, she was going on her daily walk and is well into her 90s. Also odd was the fact one of this places many inhabitants had turned the site into the focal point to the temple of Isis and it is now the single point where all these free love types go for naked frolics in the seriously awe inspiring gardens, oddly enough the Isis temple (aka dungeon) is the only part of the inside of the building they didn’t mind me taking pictures in. Also Huntington Pennsylvania is named after this building… cool.

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That tower off in to the right of the picture on the right is the original garrison, all the rest was built around it to be lived in, apparently every generation added some wing, the place is supremely creepy inside which is mostly due to the unreasonably creaky floorboards and exorbitant amount of trophy busts, antlers and tails (really people keep tails hanging on the walls?) lining pretty much every inch or the upper floors. The underground is occupied completely by the temple to Isis, which was vaguely explained to us as the reason for all the completely varied hodgepodge of deities spread throughout the property, you might see a St. Michael painting sitting above a statue of Ganesh and the lady giving the tour (of her home) made it seem like this is all ok. Maybe the pictures below will shed some light on what I mean…

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In complete contrast to the shrine of Isis, here are a couple more shots of the grounds which were simply breathtaking.

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Oh yea, we also climbed a mountain Jesus it’s been a long day, I’m running on less than empty.

(the view from Mt. Leinster in the black stairs range)

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That is more than enough for tonight and I haven’t really even covered the first day (of consciousness) but I’ll still have to leave it there for now.

Cojelo,

Robbie

Dublin!!

Posted in SLAINTE! on February 12, 2009 by robdc

This will probably be my last post so I assume it will be pretty long and filled with pictures. Since leaving the Byrne family home and having my last “Fry” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_breakfast) in the Waterford area we have hopped on a train and headed in to Dublin. Our gracious host Carmel picked us up at the train station and took us to her place which we would call home for the next 2 nights. On the first night we headed out to Temple Bar, a downtown section of Dublin where the bars stay open late and there is usually live music in most places. Here are a couple of (admittedly blurry) shots of us at The Quay (pronounced “key”).

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It was COLD outside, and Keara was having her new favorite, a hot whiskey with a slice of lemon and fresh cloves. After roaming the area and bars for a while we headed back to Carmel’s to turn in for the night.

The next day we set out on the “hop on hop off” bus which Carmel was kind enough to get us tickets for. The bus took us all over the city and the drivers were hilarious, letting loose with off color comments about every landmark we passed. And although we passed many interesting things, the most important and entertaining on the route was the Guinness factory! I had secretly been waiting for this almost as much as the trip in general. This place was like a playground for someone who is a true lover of Guinness, and since Keara doesn’t care for the stuff, I got all her free samples! The sights were what you might imagine in the biggest brewery in Europe, fresh water waterfall:

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Fresh hops:

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Armchairs to sit in and look creepy:

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Even convenient postings to solve the previously unanswerable conundrums of the universe:

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You read it right, the thing inside bottles and cans of Guinness is officially called a Widget!

The whole building was shaped like a giant pint, and you could tell that a great deal of artistic planning went into the design of the place. Nothing was just placed in a display case, everything was placed with great care in ways I can only imagine were meant to make you think “I could really go for a Guinness right now.” Crazy video installations and sticker grids made me wish I had this much of any one companies propaganda just to arrange it on my walls like this.

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The concept of Guinness making you strong was a common theme and they seemed to have very little regard for the accurate portrayal of other cultures:

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At the top of the giant pint glass is the cherry to the cake that is the Guinness factory tour, A bar in the sky with a 360 degree view of Dublin and a free pint of the freshest Guinness you could ever possibly get.

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I thought the free pint and the amazing view would be my favorite part of the Guinness factory but just when I thought these crafty Irish brewers had nothing left to show me they topped themselves again. The final room as you exit the building finds you surrounded by lcds and mirrors and a loud sound all meant to make you feel like you are living inside the head of a giant Guinnes pint, and the music in the background? Stem by D.J. Shadow!! They really know their audience.

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After that we got classy in Trinity square:

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In the end, it turns out that I love Ireland! Not that I’m completely surprised by this verdict but still, I had no idea how fond I’d really be of this place until I came here and saw and tasted for myself. I can’t wait until the next visit. Thank you to Ireland and everyone here who made this as fantastic of a trip as it was!

Slainte!!

Mickey said to call him!!!

Posted in SLAINTE! on February 10, 2009 by robdc

So last night the real fun was had. I finally met the whole family, we drove out to Eniscorthy to meet the Deely’s and the Byrne’s, the real roots of Kearas heritage. I had been warned about this bunch and let me tell you the warnings did not do them justice. We arrived early on and were the first ones there so we had a chance to settle in. Around 6pm they started trickling in, and before long I found myself surrounded by the laughing and drinking that characterized this country in my imagination. At first it was very much like most family gatherings accept for the flagrant cursing but once the children all went home and we all ate, it was all downhill. Apparently Keara and her parents had talked me up a bit to the rowdier of the drinkers, telling them that I knew my way around a pub and they were eager to test my metal. The lineup varied through the night but the main offenders were Mickey, John and Little Nole, together they made up some of the quickest bastards I’d ever met. The drinks disappeared and the insults flew, this was a direct challenge, and I had been training for it for years. Here’s a shot of Mickey and I:

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And one of Little Nole and I after he called me “a legend,”

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Apparently I passed their test as Mickey promised to drop off a bottle of some “poitin” in the morning for me to take on our journey. He said it puts absinthe to shame and any person who’s cut of our jib should have some of it stashed away. I happily accepted.

The night ended when Liz, the matriarch of the house, staggered into the kitchen saying she couldn’t drink another drop of brandy: (which was apparently beyond rare)

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They ran me into the ground, I’m lucky to have survived, but I did, and thanks to that fact I’m welcome back here. These people know how to enjoy themselves and they treated me like family, next time I’ll have to bring more then just a bottle of Jameson. Oh yea, Mickey had brought a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold label for Richard, it didn’t take long before we were on him about letting us drink it (Mickey included) and after some coaxing we succeeded.

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The entire house was littered with bottles and as you can see from the pictures. This place is heaven and these people are angels, I can’t wait to come back.

Now entering Waterford

Posted in SLAINTE! on February 9, 2009 by robdc

When we arrived it had been snowing which is apparently rare for this part of Ireland. The hills and roads were covered in snow and it appears we had just caught a good bit of luck to even be allowed to land in Dublin as Kearas parents plane was diverted to Paris on their way in.

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The countryside is seriously amazing to drive through and it’s littered with remnants of castles and old churches.

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The town where Finton and Annette live may sound familiar if you’re a connoisseur of fine crystals as this is the sight of the Waterford crystal factory and showroom. Apparently the present state of the world economy has hit hard here as well since the factory seems to be shut down. The place where we are staying is just a bit out of town and has a fantastic view of the country. Apparently Keara spent a great deal of her time here as a kid but doesn’t show it, she knows her way around pretty well and its pretty funny to hear her let the Irish in her out now that she’s here.

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Ever since we got here everyone has been joking aound about “tinkers” and I wasn’t completely sure what they were talking about. “They are like Brad Pitt’s character in Snatch” is the best description I got. I didn’t want to believe it until I saw this:

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Sure enough they are exactly like the “Pikeys” in Snatch abandoned baby carriage and all, they roam the country in their caravans and consume the roadsides leaving only rubbish and discord in their wake. The local government has deployed low barriers at roadside rest stops to prevent caravans from entering… gypsies, a real problem across the globe.

We were on our way to a favorite eatery of the group, a place called the Horse and Hound Inn. I have to say so far the food here has been exactly what I love, mornings begin with a “Fry” which is basically eggs, bacon, sausage and “pudding” which is some sort of fried ground meat, and it is all delectable. At the Inn I got to sample another of Irelands great Ales, Smithwick’s.

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(I know the Guinness picture came out much better)

Then we were off to forest mountain (the actual name was something in Gaelic that I didn’t write down but this is what it translates to) where we could get a view of the whole county. Also JFK’s ancestors apparently come from this area as there is a park in his name here and several statues scattered around, his ancestral home is also preserved here, we had a quick drive by.

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Pressed ham courtesy of Richard Goldblatt.

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