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The Irish Holiday
Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday

Heritage Group
Heritage Group Trip to Ireland September 25th to 29th 2008

Thursday, Its come at last! We set off in High Spirits. The sun was trying to shine; all was well with our world.

After a brief stop at Chester Motorway Services, we bowled up the motorway,over the Menai Bridge into Llanfair P.G.There,wonder of wonders,we found ourselves in an Aladdin's cave of bargains at the James Pringle Weavers Centre.A quick lunch was followed by an hour's delightful browsing.

In next to no time we reached the port of Holyhead.During the hour we queued to board the Stena ferry there were few signs of activity(Hello,Marie Celeste!)Then all at once vehicles appeared:cars and gigantic European lorries.The ferry was a hydrofoil,the sea as calm as the proverbial millpond and the sun shone on Ireland as we approached.Outside Dun Laoghaire the sighting of a flotilla of about sixty yachts,in full sail,was a bonus.
Our regrettably slow progress to Bray through the outskirts of Dublin in the rush hour gave us time to appreciate the beauty of the Georgian houses and the quaintness of the old cottages.
This is going to be a memorable trip!

Dublin Castle visit on Friday.
Refreshed after a good night's sleep and a full Irish breakfast(no oysters or Guinness in sight),we set off for a guided tour of Dublin Castle.The present day 18th century Georgian castle,built on the site of a 12th century medieval fortress,is an impressive building now used mainly for state functions.It contains grand staircases and elegant public reception rooms with magnificent Waterford crystal chandeliers,Donegal hand-woven carpets,ornate moulded cornices and intricate painted ceilings.The "Special Needs"of were catered for in the furnishings with wider Chippendale chairs to accommodate their dresses,and"petticoat mirrors" placed strategically below side tables so that ladies could ensure that they were not considered to be "loose women"by showing their petticoats in public!The throne room was used by visiting Kings and Queens and for the inauguration of Viceroys.We were fascinated to learn that the green,white and orange Irish flag represents the
Nationalist and Unionists,with the white in the centre representing peace between them.This is a building on a grand scale with a real 'Wow'factor.

Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle Dublin Castle King George's Chair

In the afternoon we were left to our own devices!Many enthuse about the Book of Kells-a wonderful copy of the gospels with magnificent illustrated pages,some enjoyed open-topped bus tours in the sunshine,others explored churches and cathedrals,keen genealogists took the opportunity to trace family history,whilst a few visited the Georgian House Museum.A truly memorable day.

Molly MaloneDublin Christ Church CathedralO'Connel Street

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Saturday - Visit to Kilkenny

On a bright sunny morning we travelled south-westwards to Kilkenny,the ancient medieval capital of Ireland.Kilkenny is of great architectural interest with its medieval"slips"or alleys,a fine Tudor merchant's house and elegant Georgian facades.The High Street is dominated by the 18th century"Tholsel"(City Hall)with its distinctive clock tower.As a brewery city,Kilkenny boasts about eighty pubs,one being Kyteler's Inn,a coaching inn named after Dame Alice Kyteler a local 14th century witch.
The highlight of the visit was an excellent guided tour of the castle.The predominant family were the Butlers,whose power and wealth stemmed from Royal privilege with the appointment as Chief Butler of Ireland in 1185,which brought in taxes from wine.The family inhabited the castle until the 1930s after which it remained empty until the 1960s when it was "sold"to a government-backed restoration trust for £50.It has been faithfully restored to reflect the exuberant spirit of the Victorian age.The library and Chinese bedroom are particularly fine,but the high-spot for me was the long gallery with its hammer-beam roof displaying hand-painted pre-Raphaelite images and scenes inspired by the Book of Kells.There was just time to visit the Design Craft Centre and excellent restaurant in the restored stables and peep into Butler House with its tranquil garden,before heading back to Bray after another enjoyable and interesting day.

Kilkenny Cathedral St Canices Inside the Cathedral Outside


Sunday,  The Village of Avoca - (Ballykissangel!)

Fitzgeralds Pub!On the next day we visited the village of Avoca which was the setting for the BBC series Ballykissangel.We watched a demonstration of hand weaving at the Avoca Handweavers,which is the oldest mill in Ireland being in operation since 1723.

In the afternoon our destination was Wicklow founded by the Vikings around 870AD.We had an excellent tour of Wicklow Gaol,built in 1702 when conditions were appalling.We visited various cells and areas which depicted the horrors of prison life through the ages of its existence until it finally closed after the Civil War in 1924. Over 50 000 Irish people were transported to Australia during this time.

ChurchWeaving Shed
Our Party outside the jailSchoolroom

Monday - First to Powerscourt Gardens and then on to Jameson's Distillery in Dublin       
The last day of our holiday dawned,another sunny day.The first stop was Powerscourt Gardens,at the foot of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain,which has one of the greatest collections of ornamental trees and flowers. Since it was built in 1173 the house has changed ownership several times and unfotunately was destroyed by fire in November 1974 although it has been partially rebuilt.After lunch we moved on into Dublin to visit the Jameson Distillery-a must if you visit Ireland!!The distillery was founded in 1780 being one of the finest whiskey distilleries in the world.In 1971 whiskey production moved out of Dublin and part of the remaining building has been restored with displays set out as a working distillery.Our guide chose eight of our party as tasters.They were to taste three samples-Jameson's 12 year old whiskey,Johnny Walker Black Label and American Jack Daniels and to say which they preferred.Seven of the volunteers chose Jameson as the smoothest and the remaining voluteer chose Johnny Walker.(Jameson is distilled three times,Johnny Walker twice and Jack Daniels once)
The Tower Japanese Garden
The Fountain Fountain
Jameson's Distillery - The Tasting!
It was soon time to board our coach for the last part of our journey in Ireland,to Dun Laoghaire for the ferry to Holyhead.The crossing was quite smooth and it was not until we arrived in Stockport that we encountered rain so disembarking from the coach was a very wet affair!
Thank you Margaret for another superb holiday.
                                            June Griffiths
                                            Margaret Meekley
                                            Loanne Collins
                                            Pat Thorne
                                            Edna Bentley

Moments Caught on Camera!
Now where are we?

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