Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 18

This morning we were up bright and early – our bags had to be out at 06:45 and breakfast was at 07:00.   We left straight after breakfast.  Our first stop of the day was at the Irish National Stud and the Japanese Gardens.  The stud was way more interesting than I had expected, quite fascinating in fact.

We were lead around the place by a cute young student who clearly enjoyed what he was doing.  He showed us the various paddocks, some with young colts, others with mothers and foals

and finally we got to see the stallions.  I found the stallions absolutely fascinating – these horses can cover up to 3 mares a day, totalling about 150 mares a season, the bottom price for one of their moderately “famous” stallions  (i.e. he has won a few big races and his off-spring are proving to be quite successful horses) to cover a mare is €10 000!  The prime stallion at the stud is charged out at €60 000 a "shot"! 

Good grief, who knew?!   These horses each have a large paddock to themselves and you should see their stables… great big fancy affairs, with skylights so that they can see the stars!

Then it was off to the Japanese gardens on the property… nice, but at that point I was busy working out how much money we could make from sending Rud out on stud duty, so my mind wasn’t properly on the gardens…

After a quick coffee break (and some shopping… what do the Richardsons do when they have a problem with over-weight luggage? They shop up a storm at every available opportunity… duh!) we were off on the next leg of our journey, to Killarney. 

The drive was lovely, Ireland is really, really pretty.  Killarney was a very attractive town and the castle was beautiful, with lovely rolling lawns lined with trees spreading out from it… lots of people picnicking there.  That’s one thing I’ve noticed in Ireland, they have so many lovely parks and people flock there because they’re all free and in tip-top condition, spotlessly clean and beautifully cared for –  you see so many people in the parks; walking their dogs, playing with their kids, sitting on the grass, jogging, cycling… it’s so nice.

We had lunch in a nice restaurant and then walked down the hill, crossed over a pretty bridge and found a geocache near the river. 

It was a quick walk back upto the castle (we’re getting nice and fit on this holiday!) and we had time to sit on the grass near the castle before boarding our bus for the final leg of today’s travels.

Our final stop of the day was Waterford.  I really liked Waterford.  First up was the Waterford Glass Factory.  Sadly, much of the original factory has closed down (economic down-turn and all that jazz) but a small part remains open and caters for the specialised market, making trophies and other special pieces.  We had a tour of the factory and it was really interesting, watching how crystal vases etc get made.  The prices in the shop were jaw-droppingly expensive, they had a great big grizzly bear for €30 000!!  So I guess I won’t be getting any Waterford crystal for Christmas then!

Our hotel in Waterford is right on the quays, next to the lagoon, complete with swans.  Very pretty! 

We had about 45mins to freshen up before boarding the bus again for our optional extra excursion – a drive along the bay to a lovely old pub. 

There we were entertained by 3 fairly elderly men who have a little band and play in the pub about 3 x a week or so.  What characters!  We had a really lovely evening, listening to them play and sing and joining in here and there.

Grant even got to do some Irish dancing! 

And Roxy won a minature hurling hurling stick (traditional Irish game that they take very seriously here, it’s like hockey on steroids, they had the champs in Dublin last weekend and we got to watch a bit of it on TV!  Looks very fast and very scary!!)

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