April 25: Breakfast at hotel; checked out of the hotel which was a clean, unique place to stay. Taxi to Heuston train station where we purchased tickets to Waterford. An Irish man, whose speech was difficult to understand because of his strong accent, “entertained” us with tales of the Irish while we were waiting for our train. The train arrived and we were off to Waterford.
Upon arrival, we discovered the hotel we were staying at was right across the bridge from the station so we were able walk over. Checked into the Treacy’s Hotel; Allan and Jeannette arrived and we settled in our respective rooms before meeting in the lobby. Lunch at Donnelly’s Hotel; while there, it really started to rain so Allan went back to the Treacy’s for my rain jacket. We walked to the Waterford Crystal Center and had a tour. In January 2009 its Waterford base was closed down due to the bankruptcy of the Wedgwood Group. After several difficulties and takeovers, it re-emerged later that year. In June 2010, Waterford Crystal relocated almost back to its original roots, on The Mall in Waterford. This new location is now home to a manufacturing facility that melts over 750 tons of crystal a year. The facility offers visitors the opportunity to take guided tours of the factory and also offers a retail store, showcasing the world’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal.
The tour lasted until 4:30 which was past the time for us to pick up the airport at the airport but Jeannette drove Tom and I to the airport in hopes the representative would still be there; however, the Hertz representative had left so I called him on way back to city center a couple times but no answer. He did call back before getting to hotel and we agreed to pick the car up tomorrow at 1:00. Had a green curry dish at Thai Restaurant in hotel; said my good nights to all, went to bar for a glass of wine to take to my room, went up, looked at pictures, read and fell asleep.
April 26: Out early but no place open for breakfast until 9:00; we wandered around until then and found coffee shop for coffee and scone.
We went to Reginald’s Tower; a historic tower built in Waterford in 1003. The tower has been in usage for different purposes for many centuries and is an important landmark in Waterford and an important remnant of its medieval urban defense system. It is the oldest civic building in Ireland and it is the only urban monument in Ireland to retain its Norse or Viking name.
After exploring the tower, we wandered around Waterford; Jeannette, Tom, and I went to airport at noon but had to wait for the Hertz representative to appear and, once he did, he remembered he left his keys at home. So we waited until shortly after 1:00 to get the car which we drove back to the hotel, met up with Sarah and Allan, and had lunch at our hotel with Cravery board buffet. We then drove to Jerpoint Abbey which is a ruined Cistercian abbey, founded in the second half of the 12th century, near Thomastown, Ireland. Jerpoint is notable for its stone carvings, including one at the tomb of Felix O’Dulany, Bishop of the Diocese of Ossory. The abbey flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. It has been declared a national monument and has been in the care of the Office of Public Works since 1880.
Our next stop was to Donway for Kilmogue Portal Tomb; also called the Harristown Dolmen, at 18 ft. tall, it is the tallest dolmen (a single-chamber tomb usually surrounded by three standing stones) in Ireland. Most dolmens were built around 3000 BC, and despite their being widely accepted to be burial sites there is little concrete evidence to identify them as actual tombs. Whatever the site’s true purpose, the Kilmogue tomb’s massive standing stones remain as a site that inspires awe in most visitors.
Jeannette, Allan, and I tried to skype Savanna for her 2nd birthday but no one there so left video message. We ate dinner at Gastrpo Brew Pub called The Revolutionary. Back to the hotel for night cap and in the room at 10:15.
April 27: Had breakfast with the kids and then headed out for our eventual destination of Kinsale. I drove and Tom navigated with Sarah’s help in the back seat; rain came down on our final way to Dungarvan, a coastal town situated at the mouth of the Colligan River, but stopped by the time we arrived. We found a place for coffee which helped to warm us all up and then set out to explore the town which is comprised of many shops along which was a shopping mall where we found a couple cards. Our hope was to tour St. John’s Castle, a castle commissioned around the 12th-13th centuries by King John of England; however, we discovered it is not open until May. Got back into the car and drove to Ardmore, a seaside resort and fishing village with a population of around 330, where we had lunch in an art gallery/tea room; I had the daily soup special of vegetable soup with brown bread. The vegetable soup is not the same in Ireland as in USA; it is parried but has excellent favor. Sarah and I were on the look out for pottery so went to the Ardmore Pottery and Gallery but was disappointed. Next we drove, in the rain, to Kinsale where we plan to spend the next two nights. Found a great resting place at the Old Bank Town House for €59 and breakfast; the room, bath, and bed are huge! Found a bar for libations and, upon the recommendation of our waitress, went to Jim Edwards which is known for their sea food.
I had small shrimp scampi with salad which was very good. After dinner, Sarah and I went to local grocery market for some purchases. Read and turned out the lights at 10:30; sadly, I got sick and am not sure if it was the food but certainly not a good night.
April 28: Went downstairs with Fosters for breakfast; what a spread! Delicious food but too much; cannot believe this was included with my room for a low rate of €59/night. We moved our car from parking area in front to free parking a few blocks from Main Street. There were a few shops open so we shopped; I found a knit cap and socks for myself. Next stop was tourist center where we got some information on Killarney, our next overnight stop, plus Rings of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. Upon the center’s recommendation, we signed up for a bus tour of Rings of Kerry instead of driving it; we decided all will enjoy it more. Outside the center, we joined a “historical stroll” of Kinsale with Barry, an excellent local guide. During the tour, it started to rain, then would quit and then would start again (we found this quite common many of the days we were in Ireland). During the last downpour, we took refuge in The Greyhound bar. We did learn much about the town and its history including the sinking of Lusitania which got the US into World War I.
Lunch was at the White House; good tuna sandwich and great chips! A short drive of narrow, winding road brought us to Fort Charles, a classic example of 17th century star-shaped fort. Early in the trip we purchased the heritage card for €20 which has paid off; we do not have to pay entry at any of these sites using our card. It was fun, even with rain, walking around the fort and there were two rooms of displays which helped tell the history of the fort.
Next we parked our car across from our lodging and walked to Desmond Castle which was build as a custom house in the c. 1500. It later, during the 1600’s war, was turned into a French prison. Today it now houses the International Museum of Wine. On our way to the Greyhound for liquid refreshments, we stopped at a local book store where I made a purchase. The Greyhound, nestled in the back lanes, is a very traditional Irish pub which steps you back in time. It was quiet, warm, and cosy and we got to talk to some locals because there were no tourists in the bar.
Dinner found us at the Blue Haven which had an expensive menu but none of us wanted to find another place, so we settled for salad or sandwich. Back to the hotel to settle in for the evening.