Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanksgiving with an Irish Twist

Ashford Castle, County Mayo
The greenest place we've ever seen. We flew out of Gatwick on Thanksgiving morning to Shannon, Ireland.  Our destination was The Ashford Castle and we were all really looking forward to this trip...even Nick...he wanted to find a mischievous leprechaun.  We stayed two nights here and it was incredible.  The castle was built in the 1200s and the views were spectacular.  We all tried "falconry" and learned a lot about it's history.  We walked through trails with two falcons, all the while they flew on and off our arms.  Definitely a first for all of us, but really had fun.  The kids were fascinated.

Ireland's Falconry School



Next, we left County Mayo and drove three hours to Ireland's
capital city, Dublin.  The ride consisted of long, narrow, windy roads where we saw plenty of sheep, stones, Gaelic signs, and the
greenest pastures ever.  A truly picturesque ride to say the
least.  Upon our arrival in Dublin, we headed straight to the "Home of Guinness".   We had scheduled a tour and Kyle wanted to taste Guinness at it's birthplace.  We were taught all the beer ingredients, the art of pouring, and of course enjoyed the taste testing.  The top floor of the plant, "Gravity Bar", is where we saw 360 degree views of Dublin.  It was there that we poured, drank, and enjoyed our perfect pint...Slainte! (Slaan-cheh...which is the Irish toast to "good health"...and as you can imagine, it is said often here! 
Dublin was a busier city than I expected.  I guess the most well known street we visited was Temple Street.  Lots of Irish music and pints poured here.  So many pubs...all in a row...and all busy!  We basically did a walk through, but the kids were able to see & listen to Ireland's customary traditions.  Kyle conveniently had to use the restroom when we happened to be standing in front of "The Temple Bar" we all went in to check things's known to be the "friendliest watering hole" in Dublin.  I can still hear the Irish band playing and those Irish accents :)...
We were running short on time and had to move on.  We walked to Trinity College Library where we saw the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world.  We continued our walk around the city (...and Nick's quest to find his lucky leprechaun.)  Such a fun place and nice people.
Although, we were only in Ireland for four days, we certainly saw a lot of new sights.  We wished we had a few more days to explore other areas, but unfortunately work and school await.  It was a cold week, but the bonus was all the holiday decor and lights.  A memory made as it was definitely a unique Thanksgiving for our family.  We'll have our pie when we return to the States!

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