Monday, March 30, 2009
While I have not touched my violin since my highschool days, Orinda5 continues to play her viola. She was far more talented than I was. I pretty much stayed in orchestra that last year so I could eat lunch with my friends.
Orinda5 now plays with the Roseville String Ensemble, and she writes, I think quite movingly, about how important this group is to her and also why she is so glad she is still playing (how can you not be touched when she talks about her son?).
Well, the economy is kind of bad (what?!), and the ensemble finds themselves in a funding pickle. That is where you all come in!
She is having a drawing with some fabulous prizes to bring awareness to their financial need! You can make a donation if you wish, but the drawing is free. When I saw the Malabrigo, I swooned.
So, please head over to her blog and check it out. Conveniently, you can click on Orinda5 anywhere in this post and get there!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
That is about the extent of my souvenir purchases while in Ireland.
The whiskey is from the old Jameson distillery in Middleton, County Cork, Ireland. It's aged 12 years and can only be purchased at the distillery. I plan to share this with family as I make the rounds sharing the pictures from my trip.
The yarn is Aran Wool from the Kerry Woolen Mills. Each skein has 200g, and I believe the color is called "Blue Fleck". I bought this at Spin a Yarn in Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland. Here is what they had to say about it on their website: "traditional bainín spun in Kerry’s very own woollen mills, which have been in production in the same place and in the same family for over 300 years. How’s that for continuity? When you buy a skein of Kerry Woollen Mills yarn, run it through your fingers, cast on for that special project, you’re playing your part in history."
Remember when I said Vinnie taught us a song about a prison ship? Actually, the prison ship was only one part of the song, and judging by how upset he was when that was all we remembered about the song, not a very important part either. The song is called the Fields of Athenry, and you can read more about it and see the lyrics here.
The song is set during the great famine and is about love lost, or at least shipped off to Australia.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This is what it looked like when we got back to Minnesota. Rain, wind, and cool. Exactly what I had expected in Ireland. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the weather in Ireland.
The trip back was uneventful. Continental is a pretty nice airline. We got lots of food on the flight, and I watched Singin' in the Rain, Australia, and an episode of House on the flight over the ocean. We flew in to Newark where going through customs was a breeze and then sat around in the absolutely awful Newark airport waiting to leave.
We had to go through security again on the way to our gate, and wow...that TSA agent was thorough.
To Me: Do you have any lipstick, lip gloss, anything metal in your pocket? What's that? What's that in your pocket?! What is that?
Me: It's a chapstick, It's all plastic.
To Erin: What's that?!? What is that in your pocket?
Erin: It's a used kleenex.
To David: What's in your pocket?!?!?! AAAARGH! Must check all pockets.
David: My passport.
Yeah. She had an eye for people's pockets.
I couldn't get connected to the free wireless at the airport, which was a bummer. It was also a bummer paying $6 for a yogurt parfait. The way they have the airport set up there, once you are at your terminal, the options are very limited. There was also only one bathroom, so there was always a line out the door for the women's, where apparently only one toilet worked.
Oh, how it made me miss the Irish loos, freezing and toilets that never quite worked right and all. The nicest loos in Dublin (dare I say all of Ireland) are at the Jameson distillery. You can sneak in there even if you don't do the tour (ask me how I know), so if you are ever in Dublin looking for a loo, head over there. There aren't a lot of public restrooms in Ireland, so you find yourself drinking a lot of Guinness and then desperately looking for a bathroom. Not so much fun!
Anyloo...it was nice to get back to Minnesota. Our friend Andrew was kind enough to pick us up and take us all home.
Now it's Tuesday and I'm sitting in White Rock Coffee Roasters, enjoying listenting to someone play the piano while I get my blog all caught up. I miss Ireland, but it is good to be home.
Monday, March 23, 2009
We started the day off with a traditional Irish breakfast. I'd been looking forward to this all week! We started off with cereal for most of us, but Noreen made porridge with strawberries and cream for Amit and Lea.
Next up was toast, bangers, rashers, black pudding, tomato, mushrooms, and egg. The mushrooms were so good. I'll, have to e-mail Noreen and ask her how she prepared them.
The consensus was that people wanted to go shopping, we we headed back to the Ring of Kerry to check out Killarney, and to drive to the tip so we could see the Skelling Islands.
We wandered around Adare on the way. Nothing was open, but it sure is a cute town...
with thatched roof cottages...
a GIANT ice cream cones.
Again, we got so lucky with the weather. Look at that sunshine over Dingle Bay!
We drove over to Valencia Island, where it turned out there were a lot of sheep...
and a nice trail up to a point where there was a nice view of the Skelling Islands.
There was also a geocache up there.
I was too chicken to walk right up to the cache. I left that to David, and as he walked I told him no less than 32 times, “Be careful. Be careful. Be careful”. Uh, yeah. He was a little annoyed with me. It was bound to happen at some point.
Here is a view looking back over Valencia Island and Portmagee on the Skelling Ring.
And a self portrait with sheep!
We then headed to Killarney. In February, David and I found a geocache travel bug that had a goal to visit as many state and national parks around the world as possible. While the rest of the gang shopped, David and I took the opportunity to find a cache that was just inside Killarney National Park and not far from the city center.
Someone from Green Bay had been there...
We left Pooh safely in the cache. I hope his travels continue!
The park was lovely!
The park was lovely, and then David and I had a few minutes to do our own shopping. He got a really cool rugby jersey for the Ireland national team - to celebrate the victory and all.
The it was back to Adare for dinner. We ate at Collin's Pub.
Sadly, it was getting late by the time we left the pub so it was back to the B&B. Flights were early Monday for all of us. It would be hard to say good bye to Ireland.
We had some time to kill, so we headed in to Nenagh to visit the internet cafe one more time and to have lunch.
This is the church in Nenagh. It was cloudy that morning, but then it cleared up.
Then it was off to Dooneen Lodge near Limerick for the last two nights.
Noreen greeted us when we arrived and she could not have been nicer. She brought each of us an Irish Coffee (yay!) and then most of us headed off for a much needed nap. I stayed up and got some more knitting done on the rpm socks (I am working on the gusset now).
After a rest, we drove to Limerick for dinner. We ate at Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant and it was very good. David and I shared a delicious capese salad and some pasta that had “streaky bacon”. I'm not sure what that means, but it was good.
Today was a big day for Ireland. Ireland played Wales in the championship match of the. Six Nations tournament. This is an annual Rugby tournament among Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, and Italy. Ireland has not won for 61 years, so the whole country was excited. Kind of like when the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 80 years or whatever it was.
We could hear the waitstaff and kitchen staff cheering in back when ever Ireland scored.
And, Ireland won! There was lots of cheering in Limerick, and I imagine all over Ireland.
Whiskey, Guinness, The Star Spangled Banner, and Garrison Keillior - Just Another Friday Night at the Pub
There was a stag party going on that night. About a dozen guys in matching red t-shirts that had come to Gerrykennedy via Lough Derg. Their boats were in the marina. I've never seen men go the matching shirt route, but okay.
One guy spent quite a bit of time chatting with us. Ivan (well, his name was Vinnie, but I kept calling him Ivan). Ivan was a Garrison Keillor fan and had also seen Fargo several times it seemed, from how well he could recite whole scenes. I thought this was odd...I know Fargo is well known in Minnesota, but I didn't realize it would make such an impression on someone from Ireland. Ivan was quite friendly, and I was excited because he was the first person in Ireland we actually had a conversation with, other than waiters and waitresses.
He and an Englishman named Matthew chatted with us quite a bit and even convinced Lea to get up and sing. She has a beautiful voice and sang some Gershwin, and then had a request to sing our national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner in an Irish pub. Great!
Ivan asked me if we were drinkers, and of course I said yes, which may have been a mistake. Eventually, he had bought us two rounds of Jameson and two rounds of Guinness (this on top of what we had already drank). So much for being home early. Before we knew it, we were singing some Irish song about fields and a prison ship (as well as God Bless America and bits of Oh Canada) and the pub was closing.
And Ivan's crew had left.
And he was locked off his boat.
And it was cold.
And he didn't have a jacket.
And there are no taxis or buses in Garrykennedy.
Do you see where this is going?
Alan is a better person than the rest of us and invited Ivan in. Lea, Erin, and I ran around the cottage like crazy people hiding all our valuables. I should say, Ivan was very nice and we had no reason to believe our valuables were in danger. But, we were drunk and we didn't know him very well.
The last I saw of Ivan, he had found the Guinness and wine in the fridge and was headed to the dining room, where Alan and David waited. I think he tried to teach them the Irish National anthem because all I could heard through my earplugs was “Ireland! Ireland! Blahblahblabblhb! Ireland! Ireland!”
Sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. the stag party returned and David and Alan were able to return Ivan to his boat. They were all quite grateful and tried to thank them by giving them more alcohol – Budweiser to be exact.
I think the two of them actually ran off when everyone had their back turned.
So, that was our last night in Garrykennedy – lots of whiskey, Guinness, singing, and an Irishman quoting Garrison Keillor.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
By that time, it was after 6 so we stopped at the grocery store for provisions (wine) and waited for the rest of the gang. Then we were off to Larkin's Pub, conveniently located next door, for food and Guinness. Perfect way to end the day.
And, we have seen the stereotypical postcard shot...older man walking along in his tweed jacket and cap, cane in one hand, firewood in the other.
Ireland is great!
And in case you are wondering, lough means lake. So, we are staying on Derg Lake, but I think Lough Derg sounds a lot better.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Our first stop of the day was Kenmare, a cute little town ( like all Irish towns) on the Ring of Kerry.
The views were beautiful along the way. If you think Ireland is all green, all the time, think again.