May 5: Had breakfast at lodging; our hosts, Eddie and Helen, were quite gracious and Eddie entertained us with stories about Ireland.
Loaded up our car and was on our way to Dublin. But we stopped at the monastery of Clonmacnoise located on the River Shannon south of Arhlone. Clonmacnoise was founded in 544 by St. Ciaran and over the years, it was a great centre of learning. Many manuscripts, including the 11th Century Annals of Tighernach and the 12th Century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.
We were able to see three high crosses, a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. On our way again, we found a place for lunch. Then onto to Dublin; it took us three different passes but we finally found our hotel, registered, unloaded, and took the car back to the airport after stopping to fill off the tank. Returned car, took Hertz shuttle to the hotel shuttle, got back to hotel where we found the bar for a couple drinks and dinner…Sarah and I split a veggie pizza. Went to the room to sort everything and pack back up. Read for awhile and lights out around 10:00.
May 6: We had been told, because we would go through US Customs in Dublin’s airport, to be there three hours early so we were heading down to the hotel shuttle at 7:30 for our 11:00 flight. Check in with our airline and through airport security went quite smoothly and quickly. Sarah and I had our bags prepared for some last minute shopping but we did not stop at the shops because we were told to go directly to US Customs where it can take up to two hours to process through. Well, it took less than 15 minutes and we found ourselves in a terminal that had NO shopping with made Tom smile while Sarah and I frowned. And we had close to two hours to wait until boarding of the plane. But time did pass, we boarded, and arrived back in Atlanta with no problems. Fosters had a 5:30 flight out while mine was 8:30 so we found a Delta lounge, had a drink, and talked about the trip. I walked with Fosters to their boarding gate and then found mine. In order to kill time, I did walk through some shops but tiredness was starting to set in. Another Delta lounge was located and I “hung out” there until it was time to board. Arrived in Cedar Rapids about 20 minutes early; retrieved my luggage and the airport shuttle was ready to take me home. Got home around 10:30; Beauty and Cutie greeted me which was wonderful. It was a long day and I welcomed my bed at 11:30.
Summary: The trip was fantastic with the Irish being so friendly and helpful. Ireland is a beautiful country and we hope to go back next year to explore the upper western and northern part of the country. It was great to spend some quality time with Jeannette and Allan; with they being in Ireland, the opportunity to see them is quite narrow so really enjoyed the time we had together. And, like every trip, there are good or things to change which I am going to list.
Great Things: Jeannette and Allan supplying us with phone, card, and road atlas. Fosters being fantastic traveling companions. Automatic transmission in the car. Flying business class. Not making advanced reservations. Having flexibility in the schedule.
Things to Change: Need to pack more long sleeve shirts, waterproof gloves, stocking cap, and sweatshirt if going around the same time of year. Two people should pump gas. Shop after airport security and before US Customs. Do something about the 5+ hour wait in Atlanta.