Saturday, January 23, 2021

#14 Castle Ross

 


Castle Ross

        In County Kerry, Ireland we stopped to investigate the massive Castle Ross. It was built sometime before 1652 on the shore of Lough Leane in Killarney. It is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of the O'Donoghue Clan, later owned by the Brownes of Killarney. It is considered to be a classic example of an Irish Chieftain’s stronghold during the Middle Ages. The formidable walls fronting the lough must’ve seemed impenetrable.  We could imagine arrows raining down on hapless invaders from the highest ramparts.

        A few days before we arrived, a large storm hit the area, so things were still pretty well "soaked" The castle was open but the lines of visitors were extremely long. So, we decided to stretch our legs and took a walk along the lough (lake)!  It was beautiful. The water was still, surrounded by tall trees and the sky was a light gray with no sun (typical of southwest Ireland.) As we walked we came across some century-old trees that were blown down by the fierce winds from the storms.

Immediately we got the idea to "secret" some information.

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

#13 Carrickfergus Castle

 

Carrickfergus Castle 

County Antrim

While in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, we took in a tour of Carrickfergus Castle. It was founded in 1177 by John de Courcy, an Anglo-Norman knight who led military expeditions into Ulster, in northern Ireland. It is reported to be one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in Northern Ireland. Besieged in turn by the Scottish, native Irish, English, and French, the castle played an important military role.

            During  WW1 the castle was an army garrison.  Great Britain took over the castle in 1928 and began restoring it. With the outbreak of WW II, it functioned as an air-raid shelter.

          It was amazing to tour the castle as it was completely restored. The inner rooms, the Keep, and Chapel along with towers and battery was amazing. They had life-size mannequins dressed in period clothes depicting the work they performed in each area/room. We were amazed by the Great Hall, where, historically, the Baron and Baroness received guests.

     

This tour gave us a real sense of what daily life was like for the owners of the castle.

As an added note:

 Over the weekend of January 13 and 14, 2018, the castle was transformed into Hogwarts and was the Mecca for those two days for all those who followed Harry Potter.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

#12 The Sheep of Ireland

 

 The Sheep

Throughout Ireland, herds of sheep can be found dotting the landscape, in some places making the fields, appears covered in snowballs.

          As we traveled west into the less populated areas of the countryside, the herds became larger and more frequent. It’s not uncommon for flocks of sheep, and their shepherds to hold up traffic as they saunter along and across the narrow roads. The sheep may occasionally look up at the cars or break away from the herd to scan your car or even come up to the car window and greet you. They were friendly animals, always looking at travelers, bleating, and enjoying tourists.

          The Ring of Kerry we came across a very narrow road carved out of the side of a hill. We rounded a curve and suddenly, only a few feet from the road, the side of the cliff was straight down. We weren’t sure if we were going to end up over the side until we saw a sign telling us the road we were on was called "Goat’s Pass.” That explained it all! Though it was difficult to think of sheep or goats, with their shepherds, straddling the hillside on that narrow road not falling off the cliff!



Tuesday, January 5, 2021

#11 Blasket Island

 

Blasket Island

          In the extreme southwest of Ireland we found the Blasket Centre in DĂșn Chaoin. It’s situated on the bleak tip of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.  The Centre (museum/visitor center) honors the people who lived on Great Blasket Island, three miles off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula. The last residents abandoned the island in 1956. The Centre overlooks the six Blasket islands, with Great Blasket Island being the largest.

          When we visited the center, the dark gray sky, fierce wind, and biting cold sleet made walking to and from the parking lot difficult. This is where we got the scenes of our characters walking into fierce headwinds.

          The Centre features displays and artifacts offering a heartwarming remembrance of those hardy Irish people who called the barren island home for many years. Because of their isolation, and the fact they were completely Irish-speaking, the islanders became the subject of much anthropological and linguistic studies.

          Those same strong people raised families there, but the older people were the last to be reluctantly evacuated, having to abandon their dreams of watching their grandchildren play and grow up on the island

Saturday, December 5, 2020

#10 Trinitarian Abbey, Adare

 

Trinitarian Abbey, Adare

Driving through the pouring rain to Dublin, we stopped to stretch our legs in the village of Adare, in County Limerick.

          Looking out our car window, we saw the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, founded in 1226. We figured the Abbey would be dry inside and we would be able to walk around without getting soaked. As with almost every place we’ve encountered in Ireland, it was an amazing place. In fact, the 1856 restoration kept a portion of the original medieval nave! The original eight hundred-year-old stone walls and timber ceilings still stand in sharp contrast to the later additions.

          We read all the plaques and other information posted around, outlining the history of the abbey. We could feel the history of the building as we touched the walls and breathed in the air. The fact that so many important things occurred under the spots where we stood gave us chills. These feelings, which we put in our book, would hopefully accompany our characters as they travel through the country in search of the truth for Patrick Lyons..

  

 To see more of the inside of the church click below.

http://monastic.ie/history/adare-trinitarian-abbey/

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#9 Milltown, County Kerry

 


Milltown, County Kerry




We spent our first three days of our Ireland adventure in Milltown, County Kerry, population, 928.



          Milltown is a small village with a huge Catholic Church. The B & B we stayed in was upstairs from Larkin’s Pub. It was comfortable and warm. In the evening the Larkin’s Pub came to life. During the week they had a  jukebox (even though this was 2014) which people played while enjoying a drink...or two...or three. Later in the evenings, there would be more people and lots of music. Occasionally, someone would bring a guitar or another musical instrument and play old Irish songs. As noisy as it was in the pub, it was dead quiet in our upstairs room.



          Interesting enough, throughout our travels, we stopped periodically to stretch our legs and get either something warm to eat or, herb tea, or cold, bottled water. Local pubs seemed to be the place to share news of the town or the world and discuss politics or world affairs. Basically the hub of the town. The bigger the town the more pubs and taverns.

          When the music was going full blast, the dance floors were crowded, shoulder to shoulder (it was a small dance floor!). Then it hit us. This was a perfect place for a murder and body dump.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

#8 Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena Castle/Theatre

 




Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena Castle/Theatre

As we arrived in Northern Ireland, we found the Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena in County Antrim. It was a perfect place to stretch our legs. From the front entrance, it appears to be a traditional country manor, but there is a lot more to it than what is seen from the entrance. The gleaming white hotel is beautifully decorated and welcoming since it is considered a resort. The vast grounds are well manicured.



    In our book, a murder takes place in the dressing room of a theatre. This hotel and resort features a spa and golf, plus areas large enough for weddings. It provides guests with almost anything they could want.  That inspired us to add a small, fictional theater for the location where the first murder would be discovered.

          The hotel has a golf course, and on the 10th green is the Galgorm Castle on the grounds. This ancient building is flooded with a history dating back to 1607 (some of it, macabre).  The castle’s architecture is described as Jacobean in style and through the years there have been many owners, each with their own history.

          If you are curious of the history of Galgorm Castle here is the link. It is fascinating!

 http://www.galgormcastle.com/the-castle/