April 29, 2018
After attending the House of Flynn 2017 Ireland Workshop with a group of other photographers for a week, I spent the following one week in Ireland traveling alone. I traveled from Shannon to Cahir, Cashel, Cork, the Dingle Peninsula, Dublin, and Northern Ireland. Instead or renting a car, I took advantage of the available public transportation. I got around by trains and buses, and a lot of walking! In this blog I share all the details of of my trip, and show you how you can make the most out of one week in Ireland!
My stop in Cahir was short, but the time I had to explore was well spent at Caisleán na Cathrach (Cahir Castle), surrounded by the beautiful moat above. Later in Cashel I had several hours to explore the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. It’s a small hike uphill to the castle, which sits on a hill above the town, but the castle grounds and view from the hill were amazing. You could even see Hore Abbey a short distance away, but it was a much further trek downhill when carrying a camera bag and rolling luggage over non-paved terrain!
I spent a day in Cork walking around the city, and met my friend Caitilin, whom I met at a workshop, at a pub one night in Cork! While I was staying there, I took a Paddywagon Tour of the Dingle Peninsula. We drove through Killarney on our way to the beautiful Inch Beach. Later, we stopped at Slea Head where I held a lamb and saw beehive huts. These huts are like the ones on Skellig Michael seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We also drove by the Blasket Islands and saw the “Sleeping Giant.” Then, we stopped at Sybil Head and Three Sisters, which are also seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
In Dingle I went to both Murhpy’s Ice Cream shops! I’ve decided that the Dingle Sea Salt flavor is my favorite ice cream of all time. I also had fish and chips for the first time. It was so good that I continued to order that at every pub in Dublin the next few days, but it was never as good as it was in Dingle! On the way back to Cork we stopped at Aghadoe Heights in Killarney, co. Kerry. Queen Victoria liked to visit this view of the lakes and mountains. There was a small, cylindrical stone structure there that I investigated, which I later found out was a lookout for for a prison across the lake!
My first day in Dublin I took a tour of Trinity College. I was extremely excited to see the Book of Kells alongside three other manuscripts. The folios on view that day were folio 32v “Portrait of Christ” (or St. Mark or St. Luke) and facing folio 33r “The Carpet Page” featuring a double-armed cross with eight circles. I later went to Lanigan’s Pub and O’Neill’s with Melissa, whom I met at the workshop the week prior.
My favorite day was visiting Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. I’ve always wanted to see Newgrange since minoring in astronomy in college. Newgrange is a Neolithic burial chamber and passage grave built in line with the rising sun of the winter solstice. We saw a simulated light demonstration of what happens on that day. A mysterious triple spiral symbol is carved inside the tomb. It is called a triskele, and is thought to symbolize birth, death, and rebirth. This symbol is evidence of an organized belief in an afterlife.
After Newgrange, we went to Hill of Tara. There we saw the Stone of Destiny. The mounds were beautiful, but I especially loved the fairy trees. Fairy trees are hawthorn trees growing in the presence of a holy well. When the hawthorns bloom in May around Beltane, people tie ribbons to the trees, and fairies grant their wishes. I tied a silk ribbon I brought with to the tree to honor this tradition.
On my last night in Dublin I booked a ticket to see Once at The Olympia Theatre. It was an amazing musical! For my last day in Dublin, I went on a Game of Thrones Tour of Northern Ireland with Melissa and Casandra, whom we met on the bus. We took photos at the Dark Hedges and briefly stopped to view Dunluce Castle. My favorite part of the tour was exploring Giant’s Causeway and climbing its hexagonal basalt columns. Afterwards, we stopped in Ballintoy, Larrybane, Loughareema (Vanishing Lake), and Cushendun Caves. Ultimately, Ireland was a dream. I am so lucky that I was able to spend two weeks in Ireland. As you can see from this blog, even one week in Ireland is worth it, too! You have the opportunity to see so much and travel easily. I love Ireland and hope to travel there again one day.