Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Emerald Shores of Ireland - Part 14

The Emerald Shores of Ireland
A trip journal by David Bowers
September 2, - September 11, 2008
Part 14

The food came, and Bob's melon salad looked a bit small in a sundae glass, and I must admit I was thinking of chicken and bacon salad as in pieces of meat on top of lettuce. I must have totally blanked on the concept of chicken salad, like you would find on a deli sandwich, but that's what it was except it had big chunks of chicken and not a lot of sauce. The cream of potato soup followed the puree school of soup preparation, and tasted like watered down mashed potatoes, with no chunks of potato. The pork loin was good as well as the usual sides it was paired with, and the apple crumb cake was a cross between apple cake and apple pie, it looked like a cake with its rectangular slices, but it tasted like Dutch apple pie, complete with pie filling. Unlike Jurys Inn, towards the end of the meal the barmaid came back around to settle bar tabs making that process that much easier. We were informed to return to the same tables in the morning for breakfast.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

We then returned to our room, and turned the news on TV, it wasn't CNN, it was something like Skynews or something like that, but it had the 20 minute news loop format. I'd say there are most a dozen TV channels, maybe a couple more except in the 19 channels on most TV's some were taken up by audio feeds from radio stations. At first I thought it was just a limited hotel TV package, until I looked at the TV section of a newspaper and realized that yes, it really is just that limited. Jerry quipped towards the start of our trip that while in the hotels, we could take a look at Irish TV, and said "That will be good for about 5 minutes" He wasn't too far off, he would later quip that the state run broadcasting service, RTE, stands for "Really Terrible Entertainment", in actually it's the initials for Radio Television Ireland - in Gelic.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

It was soon shower time, and when Bob was finished he reported having all kinds of difficulties with the shower. Seems the water would not turn on unless you turned the cold water on first, and if you turned the cold water off, it all went off, and he couldn't get it quite hot enough to his liking. I brace myself for another sub par shower, but I do take slight consolation in the fact I have a bar of soap to use. I got into the shower and saw what looked like an old style two faucet system except the faucets were mounted on either side of a metal box like enclosure. Recalling that in Ireland, cold is on the left, I turned that one and yes water came on. Then I looked over to the right, and the other faucet was weird, I could see it was calibrated in degrees Celsius, so what we really have is another way of implementing the same shower setup we had seen the past three nights. Whereas before the outer knob controlled the flow, and the inner knob controlled the temperature, here the left knob is the flow, and the right know is the temperature. I noted the knob would not turn past 38C which just isn't hot enough for me, but then I noticed a red button that functioned like a child proof top, squeeze in on the red button and the knob will turn past 38 up to a more reasonable setting. Having figured that out, I had the best shower so far this trip, and I find comfort in the fact I get to have it again tomorrow. So with that, we prepared for bed, and with the help of ordering up a few extra pillows, had a good night.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

Day 6: Sunday, September 7, 2008

This morning we woke up, ready to start out Sunday morning, and after getting ready we appreciated the fact we got to stay here a second night, and we put the stuff we absolutely couldn't be without in a fold up gym bag and left the hand luggage in the room as well. We headed back to the banquet room and found our same table. We spotted the buffet setup in the next room. I liked how the juice dispenser sits in a bed of ice, but found the breakfast buffet to be lacking. Sure it had eggs, beans, and bacon, but what happened to the puddings I was acquiring a taste for. They did have breads, cereals and a fruit bar, so it was more than enough just no breakfast meat to my liking. So, we all got seated at table, and there was a hot thermos like pitcher, the kind you serve hot drinks in. One person at out table is feeling helpful and goes around, asking if we want coffee, and filling the coffee cups provided. We had just moved on to adding cream and sugar when the server sit an even larger thermos down on our table and says "Here's your coffee!" We slowly take a taste of the hot beverage we thought was coffee, and found out it was tea. Well, I've heard of people using cream and sugar in tea, so why not try something new. It wasn't bad by any means, but I chased it down with a real coffee.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

There was some confusion regarding our assigned time to be on the bus, and by confusion I mean strong opinions that the departure time ranged anywhere from 8:00-8:30. Our group usually does better than this, so I am thinking he may have stated two different times. We went up, retrieved our coats and the gym bag, and headed out. The elevator was full, so I took one for the team and dashed down four flights of stairs. Well, I guess those of us who thought 8:30 were wrong as our group ran out of the hotel bringing up the rear. Well, I hope this is the first and last time we are the last ones on the bus. We headed to our assigned seat rotation seat, but it was taken, so Jerry pointed us into the empty front seat. Sure, it's the same seat we were in yesterday, but we do have another scenic drive day, so maybe good things do come to those who wait.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

We headed out of the hotel, and we first passed alongside a domed indoor water park. What a neat idea given Ireland's history of bad rainy weather in the summer. Our first stop today is Killarney Cathdral for Mass. We arrive at the church, which owing to its position is hard to get pictures of and head inside. The church has a lot of windows which helps to allow a lot of light in which gives the place a light airy feeling. I noted that this cathedral, while the altar has been moved to center of the church, still has the tabernacle way at the back in its original spot. This led to a pause before and after communion where some people whispered "Where did he go?" An interesting piece of art was above the altar the church had the usual suspended crucifix above the altar except the two beams were different, and this time the vertical beam was short, and the horizontal beam was really long, it just looked different. I also noted the church has provided televisions for the benefit of those with out a clear view of the altar. What I noticed was that even though we had a small private mass, which seems unusual on a Sunday morning, the television system was still on, and it changed cameras from altar to podium as required so it was manned and operating. As we were finishing up, people must have started arriving for the 10:00 Mass as they came in and took seats off to one side. When Mass ended we headed out to the bus, by way of walking back past a large crowd in black suits, almost tuxcedos carrying black folders that looked suspiciously like music folders. I also noted another tour bus parked out front, so I am willing to bet that there is a touring choir heading into perform Mass right after us. Having been on a few church choir tours with Mom, I know what that's like.

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

Ireland - Killarney Cathedral

We next headed out of Killarney alongside a river to start the Ring of Kerry tour. The Ring of Kerry is another one of Ireland's famous scenic drives, and again we were lucky to enjoy perfect weather conditions for it. On the outskirts of town, we stopped, but did not enter Kerry Bog Village, which is another historical park where you can see thatched roofs and the like. Jerry commented that its much like Bunratty Folk Park on a smaller scale, and that we didn't really need to see it. We did though, stop in the neighboring pub for a rest stop, and I noticed the Bog Village and Pub were doing a big business with attendants parking busses almost as tightly as he could reasonably get them. We were told that the house specialty at this particular pub is the Irish Coffee, or coffee mixed with whiskey and topped with whipped cream. Bob and I decided we'd like to try them, so we headed into the Red Fox Inn.

Ireland - Bog Villiage gate

Ireland - Red Fox Inn

The pub was buzzing full of tourists, and when we entered we noted on one side they have the bar, but on the other side they have a sales table expressly for the purpose of selling Irish Coffee. We got in the short Irish Coffee line and they had row upon row of glass coffee cups sitting there with shots of whiskey already poured into them. All they needed to do when you ordered was add the hot coffee and the whipped cream. (Not from a can either). We took our Irish coffees and headed to the dining area. I noted a postcard rack where they sell "Their famous Irish Coffee recipie". And we tried to take photos of ourselves with our Irish Coffee when a tour mate came up and got our photos for us. I also took a close up photo of the large County Kerry flag in the pub before we headed to a quiet corner of the pub. They had plenty of tables, but we decided to just stand. I also noted the room we were in had a non-alcoholic coffee bar in it was well. After finishing our morning pick me up, we took a look around the pub using its large facilities, and I took a look in the gift shop. In the gift shop I noticed a nice green Ireland shirt with the word Ireland in celtic script, and its even in my size. So I bought the shirt and as I was heading out I made the big blunder of the trip. I snatched up a Ring of Kerry book in the wrong language. I think I got the French version, so that's €5.50 down the drain, but hey I do get the nice pictures that are in the book. The T-shirt was a good deal at only €9.95.

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - Kerry Flag

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - Red Fox Pub

After I left the gift shop I took a look towards the back areas of the pub and chanced upon a coin operated pool table that just didn't look right. Getting a closer look, I realized the table was equipped with Snooker balls just as I suspected. I returned to the main room o the pub and if I thought it was crowded before, well now the main room is just jam packed. I decide to head out to the parking lot and wait there, I left the pub and I spotted Bob outside as he had already decided to get out of the crowd. After the pub stop we started on the scenic drive

Ireland - Red Fox Inn - Bob and David try out an Irish Coffee

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - Red Fox Pub  snooker table

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - Red Fox Pub

The scenic drive was similar to Dingle Penisnula as we drove around the outer border of another peninsula like area with the sea to one side and the mainland to the other. In fact at one point I think Jerry mentioned we could see the Dingle peninsula from where we were. We also had a good dose of Irish history today, first hearing about the Penal Laws which might be of interest as this deals with all the laws Great Britain had passed to try to suppress the strong Catholic presence, really trying to make like so hard on them they would convert. Stuff like taking away rights to vote, hold public office, own a horse worth more than 5 pounds and so much more all aimed at making life very hard on them. He referenced some of the long tern hunger strikes that went on, and early forms of civil demonstration that went on. I liked the line where the leader, a Daniel O'Connell I believe who had rallied a lot of the Catholics at the time into a large group who were civil and not forceful in their protests and then saying "Would you rather me hand them over tp some hothead notw that they are well organized?"

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour

For stretches of time, instead of a narration, Jerry would let us enjoy the scenic drives on the trip with soft background music on the busses on board entertainment system. This caused a fair bit of trouble at first, as I suspect the other busses CD players worked like those in your car, but this bus had a high tech audio visual entertainment system that kept giving them fits. When they did put the CD's into the dashboard mounted CD player, they played only on a speaker clearly meant for the drivers personal use. Eventually they did figure it out and he played a variety of contemporary Irish music, stuff from the High Kings and Sharon Shannon. I liked the music so much I bought my own set of the CD's off of Amazon. He even threw in a CD with the traditional Irish songs being played on panpipes. Jerry had mentioned earlier that there is no sheet music with proper Irish music, it should be played as the musician feels when they play it, and also that the songs are either usually very happy, or very sad with no middle ground.

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour

Just like on the Dingle tour, we would occasionally make use of the roadside pull offs to stretch our legs, get some air and take photos. We did, in fact pull off where we could get a nice view of the Dingle Peninsula from the Ring of Kerry. What a way to tie the two days touring together. Shortly after the stop to see Dingle we passed by some houses, but what made one special is that it was equipped with a tall in ground flag pole, and on the flag pole was proudly flying the United States flag. Just something truly special when you see it displayed so proudly abroad. I suspect the owner of that house just might be a transplanted American. I hate to sound like a broken record but more greener than green heather lined fields, more breathtakingly clear bodies of water, I can easily see why anybody would want to move here. A bit later we passed a sculpture on the side of the road that Jerry referred two as the four monks in a boat, or 4 men in a tub sculpture., properly known as the Skellig which was built as a tribute to the Augustine monks. A bit further we passed a massive restoration project going on to restore the O'Connell Memorial church. I mean massive as in scaffolding almost completely covering the exterior of the building. Further along, we came to a storefront that announced it was a bookmaker. Given the large posters of horse racing in the windows, I doubt I would see the publication of any great works of literature inside. It is nice though, knowing that some nations take a "if you can't beat em" attitude and let it operate right out in the open, which may even mean its more regulated than shady back room operations, we then passed an Anglican church that has since been converted into a coffee house, and hey there is Tom's Tavern. We have a lot of Tom's in my family, I should feel right at home.

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour  - house proudly flying American flag

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - 4 monks in a boat sculpture - Skellig

As we circle the Ring of Kerry we pass a fairly modern looking school, complete with hurling pitch in the back, then a building claiming to be the Valentia Meteorlogical and geophysical observatory, showing there is room for education and science way out here in the midst of all this beauty. Speaking of science and technology a bit further he pointed out a building he said used to be a trans Atlantic cable station, now a Garda or police station. We got s short introduction to the trans Atlantic cable. At issue was Ireland's desire to communicate with the new world the problem was the only means they had was by sending messages on boats that cruised to North America and back. The speed of these boats was an issue of course, you were looking at a month each way, and that is if you were lucky enough to have good seas and good weather, otherwise it could get much longer. The idea for a sunken cable wasn't a new one, as it had connected Ireland to England that way, and other European nations had cables. Going clear cross the Atlantic Ocean however, was untested. From what I was able to read later, it actually took several tries before they finally got one to work, at great expense as they had to hire two boats, build the cable have two boats cruise the ocean carefully deploying cable and then meeting somewhere in the middle and hooking it up. Eventually they hit on the right combination and had a working cable. It worked, but it was also pretty slow taking 3 minutes to signal one word. He joked about now, they get impatient if it takes 3 seconds for an American web page to load. The problem was that people back then, even though they finally had a faster means of communication, it wasn't fast enough, and they tried to signal faster and faster, causing the electric lines to heat up as more juice was being put through them. Finally just 3 months after the first cable line opened for business, they burnt it out. The investors didn't want to sink any more money into the project, but one Irishman realized that if he could control the only source of instant communication to the new world, that position ought to afford him some power, influence and wealth. He bankrolled another cable, using a thicker cable with more insulation learning from the earlier mistakes. He also used only one boat deploying all the cable going one direction then hooking ti up to the other station. And thus trans Atlantic instant communication began.

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour  - bookmaking is wide open

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour

Ireland - Ring of Kerry Tour - former trans atlantic cable station - now a police station


Post a Comment

<< Home