Travels with Ivar the Boneless

Ivor the Boneless in Kilkenny B & B carparkI’d like to introduce you to Ivar the Boneless. He’s a Hyundai i10, which we don’t have in Canada, and despite his backseat and four doors, he was very small. His hatch could barely fit our two carry-on cases, nothing else, and those two cases had to be arranged just so.We had him for a week, picking him up in Dublin and dropping him off at Shannon Airport. PG very quickly mastered both driving on the left-hand side of the road and manoeuvring in roundabouts (which we do have, just not so big and not so numerous as in Ireland).

We drove on motorways a bit, but mostly on roads that looked like this:DSCF8416

or this:DSCF8447

or this:DSCF8463

or even this:driving through the Irish countryside again

We went to Kilkenny and saw things like this castle:DSCF8306 I thought it was much more like a palace than most of the castles that I have seen in Europe, as it’s been restored to what it looked like in Victorian times rather than to its 17th century construction. Nice portrait gallery, though.

DSCF8335DSCF8321We spent a morning at the Rock of Cashel, historic site of ancient Irish kings from about 300 to 1100. After that, the site was given to the church, and now there are five stone buildings in various states of repair, the oldest being the Round Tower (early 1100s) and the youngest being the Hall of Vicars Choral (early 1400s). And as is my European travel curse, Cormac’s Chapel, built in the 12th century, is currently covered in scaffolding for renovation purposes. However, the Rock of Cashel is a fascinating place with a cool graveyard and wonderful views of the Plain of Tipperary.

We went to Waterford and at the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre, saw how crystal is made into vases and bowls and knick-knack type things (yes, yes, of course I bought something) and in Reginald’s Tower, learned about the Viking presence there, beginning in 819. And of course, there we christened our very own Ivar the Boneless, simply because we loved the name!DSCF8346DSCF8354

Kinsale is a very pretty medieval town with a lovely harbour. We spent a lot of time just wandering the streets and enjoying the laid-back ambiance of the place. DSCF8368DSCF8363

One day, we took a five-minute ferry ride on the cutest wee ferry you ever saw, and checked out the town of Cobh (pronounced “cove”). Cobh ferry about to dock Cobh’s big claim to fame is that it was the major port of Irish emigration form 1815 on. And because it was such an important port, it was actually the Titanic’s last stop before heading out across the Atlantic Ocean. At that time, it was known as Queenstown, because Queen Victoria had come there first on her first visit to Ireland in 1849. There is a super-interesting museum called The Queenstown Story that goes into great detail on the history of Cobh as a port town. There’s also a big Titanic exhibit somewhere else in town, but PG and I skipped that, because we felt that we’d thoroughly done Titanic back in Belfast. But Cobh itself, Titanic or no Titanic, was adorable!DSCF8397

Another day, Ivar the Boneless took us to Kenmare, yet another picturesque Irish town in the countryside. There, the big attraction for me was the ancient stone circle. How ancient, you ask? Well, they (whoever they are) figure it’s about 3000 years old. That’s pretty ancient! Now, I’ve seen Stonehenge and I’ve seen smaller stone circles in Scotland, but this particular stone circle at Kenmare was by far the most accessible. The circle is maybe 15 metres across, with about 15 stones and we were the only people there! It was great fun to clamber over and around the stones and pose for silly photos (which I won’t show you here!)Kenmare ancient stone circle (3000 yrs old)

I’ve already raved about how gorgeous the Dingle Peninsula was, but I haven’t yet shown you the beehive huts that we visited along the way. These are like stone igloos in which people lived – they think – from around the 12th century. Often, they are linked with circular stone walls, suggesting a defensive purpose. Not a whole lot is known about them, but they certainly fired up my imagination!DSCF8452DSCF8451

And the town of Dingle is, to me, quintessential Ireland, especially on a sunny day such as we were lucky enough to experience!DSCF8442

There’s SO much more that we saw and did, of course, but how can a few blog entries even begin to do justice to a trip like this? It’s impossible. So although I’ve shared with you many of the highlights of this Irish adventure that PG and I had, really, the best parts will remain wonderful memories in our minds always.

You’ll just have to go to Ireland and see for yourself!

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10 responses to “Travels with Ivar the Boneless

  1. Was there a paint sale in Kinsale? Surely those are not historical colours ๐Ÿ™‚
    All kidding aside, it is all just so lovely. Even those tiny, windy roads.

    • Most of the buildings of Kinsale were, I admit, not quite as vibrantly coloured as those – but then, why would I take photos of drab, boring buildings anyway? That would be way too boring!

  2. Damn but I’m enjoying your trip, dear sister. You are leaving me longing to go back. Looks like your weather was pretty decent, too.

    • Our weather was wonderful: hot and sunny every single day till the last two, and even then, the temp was warm and the rain was only intermittent. NOT what I’d anticipated at all, but very much appreciated!

  3. Ireland is definitely on my bucket list.

  4. Jealous that you saw the beehive huts! My friends didn’t want to stop.

    Kilkenny castle is gorgeous. We missed the Butler Gallery though – the day we were there it was closed while they switched exhibits!

    • There were really only two stops I absolutely HAD to make on the Dingle Peninsula, the beehive huts and Gallarus Oratory, so it wasn’t too hard to do both. PG had no idea what I was on about, but ended up thoroughly impressed with those two places. And Kilkenny overall was a tiny bit of a disappointment to me. As I said, the castle wasn’t quite as castle-y as I’d expected, and the town itself wasn’t quite as charmingly medieval as I’d been led to believe. Still, we did find a couple of excellent pubs, and it was fun to drink Kilkenny beer in Kilkenny! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I really liked Kilkenny… probably because I had literally no expectations of it, so I couldn’t be disappointed. And we ate the most AMAZING sandwiches there.

        • Maybe part of the reason I didn’t “take” to Kilkenny as much as I wanted to was that they were ramping up for this huge Bruce Springsteen concert to take place the day we left there. Bruce was EVERYWHERE, from banners on pub roofs to poster and old record album displays in clothing shop windows, and the upcoming concert was pretty much all the residents wanted to talk about. Of course I understand that modern life does go on in historic towns too, but it was a bit jarring to me when I just wanted the lovely medieval ambiance that all my readings had assured me was there in abundance!