Arriving at 7 AM local time at Shannon Airport meant getting to my hotel (Oakwood Arms) while they were still serving breakfast and before my room was ready. Had some marvelous coffee and a light snack and got into my room before 9 AM. I had made arrangements to meet with Evie, another participant in the Ireland tour who was also arriving on the 28th, for lunch at which point we would figure out what to do for the afternoon. Neither of us wanted to sleep even though we were both jet-lagged.
We decided on visiting the nearby Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, a 10 minute cab ride away from our hotel. The castle was built in 1425 and was "restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times." Taking pictures inside without a tripod was problematic but the following collage contains a few pictures of the animals on the grounds, a lovely flower in the garden and a view of a portion of the castle, complete with a tourist walking toward me.
The male goat had a unique style of grazing... I never once saw him stand up. Guess he wanted to be as close to his meal as possible without too much wasted motion.
For our adventure on the second day in Ireland, we had contracted with the same cab driver we'd hired the day before to take us to Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate and both the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort and the nearby town of Adare which has some lovely old thatch-roofed cottages and dates back to the 11th century.
A word of advice about hiring a cab for a day-long 'guided tour' (really 5-1/2 hours)... bargain and don't take the first rate you are offered. Both Evie and myself had been offered cabs for a day hire by the drivers who took us from the airport to the hotel... mine offered 200 euros for 5 hours, hers offered 100 euros for 5 hours. BUT, we could only understand every third or fourth word uttered by those drivers! The cab driver who took us to Bunratty offered us the same 5 hours for 150 euros but we could understand him! And eventually, we worked out to have him for that price for 5-1/2 hours so we could see Dromoland, Adare Manor and the thatched cottages in the town of Adare. Four collages from Dromoland and two from Adare follow. Enjoy...
Dromoland Castle with tourist for sense of scale (a HUGE place, hard to believe it was someone's home hundreds of years ago), a water lily and some roses, both in the walled garden on the grounds.
A huge old tree in a clearing in the "forest" on the grounds at Dromoland Castle Hotel, a vine covered building and a charming brick bridge over a water feature. The latter two images are from the beautiful walled garden on the grounds.
The ducks near the lake at Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate were quite tame and only wandered away from us when we got within 10-15 feet of them.
From the lake again... one last duck image (not sleeping, just caught blinking), four of the gorgeous Mute swans (Cygnus Olor)and one more water lily (from the walled garden) complete with tiny bugs. The swans hung around long enough for me to switch lenses and get some 300mm telephoto shots. Our cab driver said that this one is a male which is determined in part by the pinkish/orange tinge on the beak which females don't have. (I think he was having fun at our expense because so far, I've found no reference to this "fact" but have found that males are larger than the females.)
We met up with Evie's friend Felice at the Adare Castle Hotel and Golf Resort just before we left there. She was with us for the stop in the town of Adare where we had about 30 minutes to grab a few images and do a tiny bit of tourist shopping. But first, a collage of images from the hotel and golf resort... an amazing place!
The ruins in the top left are from a Franciscan Abbey, the middle, left image is the Adare Castle Hotel, the bottom left and top right images are of the gardens. (I loved the intricately pruned boxwood hedges.) The middle, right image is of a bridge over a tributary of the River Shannon and is for access to the golf course (not open to casual day visitors). And the bottom right image is a close-up of the window seen on the middle, left image. I loved how the sky reflections were visible and the way the colorful leaves set off the scene.
Several of the old, thatched roof buildings in the town of Adare house restaurants, some are craft shops and others are private residences. All are charming. The fourth image is of a newer building (as compared to the thatched roof buildings) that is also a restaurant. I rather liked all the roof lines, the curving sidewalk and the textures in this last image.
A slide show of the images from which the collages were made, including a map of the complete journey we made once the tour started, is available. Subsequent posts will cover the 10 days of the photo tour. Who knows when! (am about to travel again)