Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 22

We had a slightly later start today, thankfully!  After breakfast we got onto the bus and went back to Bunratty Castle (the venue of last nights ceilidh.)  

First we did a tour of the castle, led by the dearest little elderly Irish man who I am convinced was a leprechaun in a past life!  Once he had given us a short tour, we were free to browse around the castle, it was absolutely awesome.  I loved history at school and wandering around the castle brought the lessons on the middle ages that I so enjoyed as a kid to life. 

Once we had finished in the castle we wandered around the folk park at our leisure.  The folk park was absolutely amazing!  It is an authentic replica of an Irish village from the 1800s, some of the cottages were brought stone-by-stone from other places and reconstructed at the folk park.  There were farm cottages of all sorts, one a poor tenant farmer’s cottage with the cattle stall in the house!  There was a school house, with an actor playing the part of the school master.  There was a doctor’s surgery, a blacksmith’s shop, a pub, village shops etc etc.  There were turf fires lit in the grates, animals wandering about, and in some of the exhibits, actors playing the roles of the people who would have lived there.  Really, really awesome!  I could quite easily have spent a few more hours wandering about.

But after about an hour and a half it was back on the bus, headed for Galway.  First stop was the beautiful Galway Cathedral, a really beautiful building, with probably the most impressive stained glass window I’ve ever seen. 

We then drove into the centre of town, on arrival we immediately saw a pub called…. “Richardson’s”, making a mental note to go there for a drink later on, we walked down the main street of Galway, which is pedestrianised and found a little restaurant to eat some lunch.  We shared a couple of pizzas and then took a slow wander through town, before heading back to “Richardson’s”  for a drink.  On hearing that we were in fact Richardson’s, the owner? Manager?, well anyway, the guy in charge, insisted that we sign the guest book.  The girl’s bought T-shirts and Grant bought a proper “Irish gentleman’s cap”.

It was then time to get back on the bus and head towards Dublin.   On the way our tour guide Geraldine chatted to us about various things, but what I found really interesting were the bits and pieces she told us about Irish superstitions etc.  I find this kind of stuff deeply fascinating!  She showed us the piece of highway that was shifted a couple of metres to the right because otherwise it would have meant taking out a particular hawthorn tree, an act that would have “upset the faeries”.  She also showed us a faeries rath – a circle of hawthorn trees on the side of the road that is believed to be a special place for the faeries.

We arrived in Dublin and went straight to the “Nancy Hands Pub” for our farewell supper.  It’s a lovely atmospheric pub and we had a really good supper there.  Can’t believe our tour is already at an end, it’s gone so fast.  When we got back to the hotel we said good-bye to everyone  and headed up to our rooms to sort out our suitcases and get organised for the next leg of our holiday.  We’re staying at the hotel where we started our tour, which is a very good thing as Paula had forgotted THREE pairs of shoes there when we left on Monday!!  Fortunately they had kept them and she was able to retrieve them. 

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