Whisky tasting at the Kilbeggan Distillery
Friday, May 29: Galway
This morning we set off eastward. We stopped at the scenic site of Clonmacnoise in a stunning setting on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs. In 1979 Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at this site. We also stopped at the Kilbeggan Distillery to see how Irish whiskey is now being made in the traditional manner. The Distillery is said to be the oldest licensed pot still whiskey distillery in the world, now run by a team of young enthusiastic craftspeople. We ended the day at Dunboyne Castle, built in the 1700’s and now a lovely hotel and spa – the ideal spot to relax and celebrate our Irish adventure.
This is our last evening in Ireland. We had an amazing trip. Great tours, made wonderful new friends and laughed, laughed, laughed
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
Overnight: Johnstown House Hotel, Meath
Thursday, May 28: Connemara
Today we discover Connemara, a land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas. We visited Kylemore Abbey; the architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. We continue on to Moycullen and visit the Connemara Celtic Crystal Factory. This family-run business has been pioneering the incorporation of Celtic Designs and Gaelic Motifs on a unique range of ornate, exquisitely-crafted Irish Crystal for over 39 years. All pieces of Celtic Crystal are hand- cut using the old traditional methods. After dinner, we enjoyed entertainment at Trad on the Prom, celebrating the passion of Ireland’s past with a contemporary production of world class music, song and dance derived from the pulsating energy that has survived from the dawn of Celtic mysticism to become the record breaking phenomenon it is today. We show was amazing. The dancers, singers, the music and the engery was outstaning.
It is coming close to the end of our amazing trip to Ireland. Many don’t want to leave or they plan to return someday. We had a group drink and I handed out a small gift so everyone can remember this trip each day they take a look at their gift. :O)
Overnight: Salthill Hotel, Galway
Ruins on the country sideHere is our hotel Randles, the ladies most favour hotelHere is where you could kiss the Blarney stonelollie pops and a pintIrish gardencheers
Wednesday, May 27: Killarney to Galway
After breakfast we took the Shannon car ferry across the Shannon Estuary. We explored the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. BUT it rained so hard we couldn’t see it. So we went for a seafood lunch. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. Our scenic route continues on through the Burren Region, a truly unique geological phenomenon. It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern. This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and river which suddenly flood when it rains.. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic cresses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 13th century. We have now arrived in Galway.
Day 4 up and on our way to airport and off to X’ian. Smooth flight and all checked to the Grand Noble Hotel. Lunch at a huge theatre and off to Big Wild Goose Pagoda built 625. This is Xian’s most famous landmark and one of China’s best examples of a Tang-style pagoda. Temples and gardens surround the site. We’ll also visit the Provincial History Museum, a combination of traditional architecture and modern technology, which embodies folk tradition and local features. Our guide Linda is a fountain of knowledge and had pointed out so many details of the Dynasties and their history here in China. We ended our evening with a 15 course dumpling dinner and show feature the Tang Dynasty. No one could say they are not feeding us well. Sorry no photos today a small camera issue. Will be back with more tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 26: Beijing
This morning we explore the Famous Tian’anmen Square. The size was very impressive. On our way back this afternoon we stop to see two of the most famous Olympic sites, the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. We’ll also visit the Summer Palace, the former summer retreat for the imperial family. In the evening we enjoyed a Peking Duck in wonderful brightly decorated restaurant. This meal is considered a national dish of China.
Tuesday, May 26: Kenmare
Kenmare’s location nestled between the high mountains and the sea explains its name in Irish, Neidin meaning ‘little nest’. A heritage town, Kenmare is an important example of a planned town. Designed and built by the first Marquees of Lansdowne in 1775, the town is laid out in an X-plan and has a fine, wide main street and square. Situated on the Ring of Kerry it is better known today as an attractive tourist town with many fine restaurants, and interesting craft shops. Kenmare retains its links to a more ancient past, with its Bronze Age Druid’s Circle, consisting of 15 standing stones once a burial place and a site used for worshipping the Sun god. Enjoy some free time here before returning to Killarney, passing some of the highlights of the Ring of Kerry en route. Molls’ Gap is a spectacular photographic viewing point. Close by is Ladies View viewing point with gives a different perspective of this magnificent countryside, with the three Lakes of Killarney all surrounded by the Kerry Mountains. We enjoyed some free time in Killarney. In the evening we enjoyed dinner and traditional entertainment at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, picturesquely situated at the entrance to one of the most beautiful valleys in Ireland, the Gap of Dunloe.
Overnight: Randles Court Hotel
Monday, May 25: Kinsale to Killarney
Our first stop today is at Blarney Castle. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Many legends tell the story of the Stone, but why not kiss it and find out the truth behind the legend. We spend some time at the Blarney Woollen Mills. The presence of the Woollen Mills during the famine shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the famine, due to its employment of local workers. Driving along the shores of Lough Leane we stop at Muckross House, an elegant 19th century mansion for a guided tour of the elegant rooms and rich furnishings.
After dinner a few of us went out to hear some Irish music and have a pint. And lots of laughs. The Irish knows how to take care of their guests.
Overnight: Randles Court Hotel
We had a wonderful day exploring the Great Wall of China. What a work out but the view was amazing. We had a lunch on the Great Wall and then off to the Olympic square to see famous Birds Nest and Water Cube. All 16 of us had a blast on the rick shaw ride the Hutong area in Beijing. Closing out day having dinner in local family home and even making dumplings ourselves. A wonderful group and we are having a Blast.