Ireland = the best country! We had the most FANTASTIC vacation!! Ten days was not enough. We have already decided that we will return to the Emerald Isle one day!
Below you will find just a few pictures (Josh took around, oh I don't know, 2,000 + pictures!). I will post more in the future.
The 1st two days of our trip were in Dublin. Each night we went to dinner in the Temple Bar area. Our favorite restaurant is called Gallagher's Boxty House. They have amazing food, beer, cider and a traditional Irish 2-man band. Here is a picture of the actual "Temple Bar", which was only a few buildings down from the Boxty House.
St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin: Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, it stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin.
Ahhhh, the highlight of Josh's day :P The Guinness Storehouse! This was a fantastic tour with tasty rewards.
Moving away from Dublin, our next stop was the Irish National Stud in Kildare. This was an amazing facility where some of the most successful racing horses are bred. There are 8 stallions that "work" up to 5 times in one day during breeding season (February thru June). The highest stud fee is €60,000!
In the horse museum we measured Keegan... 7 hands!
During our tour, we were lucky enough to be there at the exact time one of the stallions was going to "work". It was the most hysterical thing! The mare arrived in her trailer, went to get set up in the facility (shoes removed, etc.) and the pictures below tell the rest of the story. (We were standing outside of the facility with a group of people.)
Our tour guide, Killian, told us that the stallions know exactly when it is time for work. The handler goes out to the field with his helmet on...and the horse knows it is time. He ran to the fence and then pranced with the handler back toward the facility. He looks serious and focused, doesn't he?
Killian told us from the time the handler gets the stallion to the time the stallion is done "working" is under 3 minutes. That was accurate... Here he is 2 minutes later. Happy guy... all in a hard day's work!!! (well, until the next mare arrives later that day!!!)
Next up, Glendalough...located in Wicklow. This place is known for its early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. There was a graveyard with a lot of celtic crosses... one of Josh's favorite things to photograph.
After a lot of picture taking (watching Josh take pictures, that is) at Glendalough I needed a snack. Keegan had his 1st taste of an ice cream cone! A boy after mama's heart :P
Here is the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary. It served as the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. We read that this is supposed to be THE most visited place in Ireland. It was nice, although we liked other places much better! We stayed in the 1st B&B of our trip in this town. A great stay with a very nice family.
Doo Lough Valley... Josh's favorite part of our entire trip. It was the most beautiful scenery we saw in Ireland. Doo Lough means Dark Lake. The lake is at the southern end of the valley and does look quite dark on the surface. The valley is bogland and is uninhabited except for the intrepid sheep who seem quite content to have it to themselves... they are spread out on the sides of the mountains as far as you can see. The bog grass has a beautiful reddish hue. There are many small waterfalls flow down both sides of the valley. Josh saw many places that would have been perfect to fish... (next time!).
Kylemore Abbey: the monastic home of the Benedictine Order of Nuns in Ireland. We did not have time to stop for a tour... we plan to do it next time! (Josh pulled over to the side of the road to take a picture, of course!)
Last, but certainly not least, the Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara. This was the place we stayed for our 2nd to last night in Ireland. It was such an amazing stay! Set in a private 450 acre estate of woodland, rivers and walking trails. It is overlooking it’s famous salmon fishery, with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain range. Again, Josh was drooling over the fishing opportunities. Next time, next time!