For me, the worst part of traveling an extended itinerary (both distance and duration) is actually getting to the destination. From LAX to Dublin, via Atlanta, was a bit of sitting. And, in my dreadfully customary way, I couldn’t sleep at all on the plane. I arrived dried out (think: eyes stick shut), exhausted, and grumpy.
On arrival in Dublin this morning before the sun came up, the weather was very gusty! It seemed we had to land with a good bit of speed to compensate. By contrast, customs in Ireland is a breeze. :o)
The sun came up to find me waiting under a little covered outside area for the car rental shuttle. The wind was blasting the misty, drizzly rain in every direction, yes, including upside down. I was cold and wet. Everyone’s greeting, and these are amazingly friendly people, was the same, a cheery, “Lovely morning we’re having today.”
I named the car “Droplet” because it looks like a little tiny bubble or water droplet–a very rounded and red Nissan something-or-other, cute really. [The car is a Nissan Micra. I checked.] Upon immediately getting lost trying to get out of the huge car park, a lady at the entrance of what looked like a construction site, came out into the miserable rain and gave directions in the most lovely Irish accent. “Yes, love, you turn right, then right, then left, then right, then right. Do you want me to right it down for you, love? I’d be glad to.” Again, very friendly and helpful people.
Kilkenny, about 90 kilometers from Dublin, was destination one. The 170 acre, Lyrath Estate Hotel is a lovely spa and convention center sitting on beautifully pastoral acreage. [In the photo to the left, you can see the house, which is part of the hotel, in the distance on the left. In the photo in the center below, the house is in the center.] Apparently the original estate was purchased by a local photographer who pulled together a group of chemists back in the 1970s to start a photo developing lab that became a world wide business success. This hotel/spa and conference center is one of his investments. (I learned all of this from one of the 3 people who attempted to get the room phone and internet connection working. They never did, but seeing the camera equipment in the room, we all had a delightful little chat.)
Fortunately, even with a 10am arrival yesterday morning, they had an available room. The doorman, an elderly gentleman with old world charm: a jovial, welcoming, gracious face framed in his top hat, overcoat, and gloves welcomed this weary traveler to the estate. (I had hoped to get his picture later today before leaving but wasn’t able to do so.)
After a 3 hour nap, the weather had cleared, the sun was out, and I was heading back about 50 kilometers to shoot the skeletal remains of an old cathedral I noticed off the road in Castledermot on the drive in. The weather changes quickly and often here.
I also was treated to an interesting view along a ridge: the rain clouds were moving rapidly over the ridge at sunset with the sun casting a unique orange glow through the wind-dirven drizzle and rain atop the ridge. To the south of the clouds hovering along the ridge was an area of clear sky with the moon prominently showing in the blue sky at 4:30pm. I was only able to get one picture through the car windows as the weather was just not going to allow me to get out of the car. They have had so much rain this year, according to the local papers, flooded areas abound. I saw several of them.
The Fox and the Geese Pub was the selected authentic local dining experience. Obviously a popular community pub (the place was huge as if 2 or 3 businesses had grown into 1 at this location) though I ate there earlier than the locals. Only 4 or 5 families or groups were in the pub around 3:30pm. I had fried cod, mushy peas, and french fries. I haven’t had mushy peas since I was last in London.
I returned to the hotel to engage with the staff for some time about the phone and internet connection before retiring early (around 6). One last thing, before trying to go back to sleep in an effort to get on local time: I purchased 2 wool base layers from REI before making this trip. This is the softest wool I’ve ever felt! (By the way, sheep are everywhere here!) Warm, not hot, and delightfully comfy! Tim likes!!