Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ireland: Days 2 and 3

The first few days in Ireland, we stayed at the Carton House. It was built in 1739 and was the country house of Earl Fitzgerald and his family. It stayed in the family until the 1920s, when a son of the 6th Duke sold his birthright to pay off a gambling debt. Now it is a hotel and golf course, and the location of the conference Sean was attending.

The house and the grounds were gorgeous. While Sean was busy during the first day of the conference, Davis and I slept in and then set out to explore the grounds. It is 1100 acres, so we weren't lacking for area! Davis and I took one of the nature trails and saw a lot of beautiful scenery.

Notice the church steeple in the background.

We hiked up a big hill to this old tower, called the "Prospect Tower."

View from the other side.

When Sean was done for the day, we drove into the nearby city of Maynooth for dinner. We actually chose an Italian restaurant with good reviews and it was amazing! 

After dinner we drove through the McDonald's drive thru for two reasons: 1) We wanted to see what it was like going through the opposite direction 2) They have Cadbury Dairy Milk McFlurries!

The next day Sean was busy in the conference most of the day and was leading a round-table discussion in the afternoon. I worked up the courage to drive Davis and I back into Maynooth to do some exploring. I really did have to talk myself into it. Aside from the fact that I would be driving on the opposite side I am used to, I was driving a manual transmission and having to shift with my left hand. Also, Ireland has hardly any stop lights and uses round a bouts instead-- remembering to go through them the opposite direction is surprisingly really hard (or maybe it's just me!) Oh, and on most of the roads there is ZERO shoulder. No possibility of pulling over, ever.

Thankfully, Davis and I made it safe and sound. We ended up having such a fun day walking around the city. It was full of cute little shops:

When Sean and I drove through for dinner the night before, we had seen some tall towers, but didn't know what they were. I headed that direction, and to my surprise, learned the towers were part of a medieval castle!

Inside the keep with my little prince :)

The church that was originally part of the castle.

After looking through the castle (which luckily had just opened for viewing a few days earlier), I walked next door to Saint Patrick's University Maynooth campus.

This was in their quad area:
What you can't see in this picture is that to get to this area, you walk through a narrow tunnel from a tall, plain building. I had no idea this was waiting on the other side! I think I actually gasped when I made my way out of the tunnel and saw this in front of me!
The bells in the tower rang while Davis and I were in the quad and it was so cool. 

After a quick lunch in a cafe next to the University, (where I met an awesome Irish lady who had a daughter, Hannah, the same age AND SIZE! of Davis) we headed back to the hotel to meet Sean. Sean said the discussion he led went really well, so I am glad he got to have that experience. 

We packed up our stuff and then took off for Killarney, where we would stay for the remainder of our trip. We passed through several charming cities on our way. It seemed like every time we turned around we saw ruins of old castles and churches. 

We loved the city of Adare with its colorful buildings and thatched roofs!

The scenery on the drive wasn't bad, either ;)

We made it to Killarney around 8:30pm and still hadn't eaten dinner, so we stopped and ate at a nearby hotel. The sun was just setting, and it was a beautiful night!

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