Southern Ireland - 2

A drive through Southern Ireland

Day 2 - Waterford to Killarney

11:20 a.m.
Waterford

We have toured the Waterford crystal factory and it was well worth the drive down here. (Web aside: The Waterford crystal link is great; I encourage you to check it out!) What a fascinating place! I never realized that every single piece of Waterford crystal is hand made. The most amazing thing to us was the glass blowers, who are working with red hot molten glass and being so incredibly casual about it, while tourists watch and sometimes snap their picture. The workers here are apprenticed for 10 years before they actually begin to work. The cutters have to memorize hundreds of designs and hold them in their head--they cut from memory, not from any sort of pattern. The end of the tour was the chance to talk with one of the cutters, who was great fun. We learned that Ireland does not have safety requirements, like we do in the states, and it is the cutter's choice whether or not to wear a mask. It's amazing that there are no statistics on death from lead poisoning, since the cutters who do not wear masks are breathing in high quantities of lead all the time.

It had been my hope to buy some crystal at the factory, but the prices were extremely high and shipping would about double the price (and I certainly wasn't going to carry a piece of crystal home with us!) so we opted not to purchase anything but postcards.

Now we are off to points further south. We have new maps.

1:00 p.m.
Youghal

We pulled in at Youghal (pronounced yawl, Nora tells me) which was the first time we came to a major body of water. In the summer time this is a beach town and apparently full of people on holiday. However, it was grey and wet and the waves were high--and I loved it. We drove around a bit just enjoying being near water. From the beach we could see what looked like a hotel...and indeed it was, the Hilltop Hotel. We decided to go there for lunch, since we could see a huge window overlooking the bay and thought it would be nice to eat watching the scene. Unfortunately the dining room was closed, but the desk clerk served us lunch in the hotel lobby...first time I've been served a sandwich with a roll on the side (to go with my potato soup). How are there any thin Irish people???

Midnight
Killarney

We stopped in Cork after Youghal. Cork is Ireland's second largest city (after Dublin), but though we looked we were unsuccessful in our search for an internet cafe. By this time we discovered that we did not have the right phone number for Jane and were hoping Jeri could send her an e-mail with the flight information for our return to Gatwick. But internet cafes have not yet made it to Cork.

We parked in a car park on Paul St. and walked through a shopping center which was playing Neil Diamond, and into a shopping area which contained a Japanese bonsai shop, an Italian restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and a Chinese take-out! Nothing really appealed to us much in Cork, so we decided to press on to Killarney. Getting out of Cork was a major project, since all roads seemed to be gridlocked and those that were not were full of crazy drivers. Walt drove out of Cork singing "I killed the wabbit" over and over under his breath.

I love Killarney!! We stayed at the Beaufield guest house, somewhere between a B&B and a hotel. When the owner answered the door and reminded me of an affable Anthony Hopkins, I knew we were in the right place. There was another family there from St. Louis, whom I talked with a bit in the TV room when we were served tea after being settled into our own room. We decided to stay here 2 nights, which was a very wise decision.

It was dinner time, so we drove to town in search of food. We found the Sceilig [sic] restaurant and had a lovely roast lamb dinner. Walt loved the story on the menu which tells of the monks settling on the Skellig Islands in the 5th century to escape the crowded mainland, only to move off the island in the 12th century because the monks kept falling off the steep island. It isn't quite clear to me where the monks between the 5th and the 12th century came from. Surely they didn't grow 'em locally on the Skelligs.

But be that as it may... After dinner, we went to check out the tourist bureau and see what time it opened in the morning. The office happens to be across from St. Mary's church (protestant) and as we were standing there, I saw that there was light coming from inside through the windows, and thought it odd that the church would be open, but suggested we go in and have a look. Well, it was open because the Tenby male choir from Wales was giving a free concert. We had missed about 15 minutes of it, but sat in for the rest and bought one of their tapes. Great show!

Afterwards we went to a pub that had advertised "traditional Irish music" every night. What fun! This was what I had come for--Irish music in an Irish pub in Ireland. We stayed till the very end.


Day 1 - Dublin to Waterford

Day 3 - Killarney
Day 4 - Back to Dublin

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