Day Two
Arrival in Dublin, Travel to Kingscourt

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not sure where the division between day one and day two should be, but I guess wheels down in Dublin is as good as any.

We landed in Dublin around 10:30AM local time, and we were actually early (good tailwind!), so we had to wait on the tarmac for a few to let our gate clear out. After arriving at the gate, the de-plaining process was pretty quick, followed by an equally as quick customs process. I handed the gent my passport and info form that I filled out on the plane, he stamped my passport, and that was it!

We grabbed our bags from the carousel, and headed to the Hertz counter, who directed us to the shuttle to the regular car lot. We hopped the shuttle (from the VIP lot – they were nice enough to give us a lift), and showed up at the main Hertz building. We were given a Ford Ghia – the equivalent on this side of the pond being a Ford Focus – and it was clearly used by someone not of the UK or a former UK holding. The outside of one of the mirrors was broken, there were multiple dents in it, it was just quite a bit beat when we took a closer gander at it. One other issue we found, and we didn’t realize it till we were on the road, was the fact that the cigarette lighter didn’t work. This was an issue, and became a bigger issue later in the trip, when the Garmin didn’t hold a charge for as long as we needed it to. This led to some innovative power management of the Garmin by Jill as we navigated the Republic and Northern Ireland.

I drove whilst in Ireland, and at first – actually throughout the first day – it took a bit to get used to being on the opposite side of the car, and on the opposite side of the road. The bigger issue being, many, many of the roads we found ourselves on were much more narrow than what we’re used to in the States, especially with other vehicles coming at you!

Our first destination from Dublin, and the first of three castles we would be staying in for our week in Ireland, was Cabra Castle near Kingscourt, County Cavan. All told, it was about an hour to hour and a half drive to the castle from the airport.

Ironically, of the three castles we were staying at during the week, this one got the lowest ‘rankings’. As we were to soon find out, and as we knew by the time our trip was done, the rankings were WAY off as this was our most favorite of the three for many reasons.

Check-in to the hotel was quick, and our room was ready straightaway, and what an awesome room it was! Lots of room, with a large king size bed, couch, table and chairs, and big bathroom as well – very, very pleased with this venue! After settling in the room, we both grabbed showers and laid down on the bed for a few minutes – which ended up being quite a bit longer! The travel and time change finally caught up with us I guess, and we took a good nap, waking up around 3:30.

When we woke up, we decided it was time to search out some food. The receptionist at the castle gave us a suggestion in Kingscourt, so we were off! Kingscourt was a short 5 minute drive down the road, and proved to be one of our two favorite towns of the entire trip. Most of the businesses in the town were situated along a two block stretch of main street, and it’s here where we parked and had lunch. The Kingscourt GAA team had just competed for, and won, the county championship, so the blue and white flags and banners dotted everywhere along main street – what a great show of support for their team! We found the Wishing Well along this main street. It was an interesting pub/restaurant kind of place, with the traditional looking pub – complete with dark hardwood bar, as well as darker wall and ceiling in the front, and the restaurant, separated by double doors, in the back. The restaurant was different than the pub in décor, with a fancier feeling, and lighter colors there.

For lunch/dinner, Jill had chicken vol au vant over a puff pastry, and chips on the side, and I had fish and chips, with a side of mushy peas. To wash it down, Jill had some water and I had my first pint of a few in Ireland – a Smithwick’s.

After the meal (which came to only €19.99), we set out to wander the main street in Kingscourt. We went into a couple of the drug stores, a grocery store, and a convenience store of sorts. Always neat to be ‘somewhere else’ and wander their stores to see the different and unique – at least unique to us – products. One thing we made sure we found in our wandering, and we did so in the convenience store, was a map of Ireland. With our power issues with the Garmin, nothing like having a bit of backup!

We headed back to Cabra Castle at this point, where we walked the grounds a bit, through the garden that we could see from our room and out front where we found a nice bench to sit on for a while. We weren’t hungry for dinner yet – having just had a meal – so we went back to the room and sat/laid down on the couch and turned on the telly…and then proceeded to fall asleep again until about 8:30 (the time change and travel was really kicking us today). When we woke up, we realized we didn’t want a full formal meal in the dining room of the castle, so instead we headed to the bar. We each grabbed a pint – Jill had a Bulmer’s, and I had a couple Smithwick’s. To go along with this, and as our dinner I guess, we each had a scone with jelly and fresh cream – very yummy! It was nice just to sit and talk and soak in the atmosphere of this place.

Not sure where to fit this in, but whilst talking about the atmosphere there is one thing to note. Whether it was in the room, or in the hotel bar, or even in Kingscourt for that matter, the silence was deafening! The usual ambient and background noises we are used to hearing here in the States just didn’t exist in Ireland – and it was glorious!

As we sat there in the bar, the dinner in the ballroom upstairs let out. A few of the people came downstairs to the bar, including one gentleman in a full military uniform. At first, we thought he was Irish military, until he said hi to us as he walked by, and we saw the ‘US’ on his collar. A full, blue, almost cavalry looking uniform, complete with ribbons and all, and bloused boots, right there in the bar in County Cavan, Ireland. Jill and I just kind of looked at each other and shook our heads. It’s one thing while your home in the States to wear that, but to truck all of that stuff across the ocean to a different county and get all gussied up for a dinner in a castle, well, I guess that’s just not our style – but its obviously some peoples.

After this gentleman wandered through, a group of about eight Americans came into the bar as well – and stereotypically epitomized why Jill and I are embarrassed at being Americans ourselves with the way these people acted. We’ve seen it many times before, in many other places, and it’s the way these types of people act that give the rest of us a bad name. Our usual saying is, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. In other words, be respectful of the peoples and customs of an area you happen to be in – be it a different part of the US or a different country.

As soon as this group came in, they took to rearranging the furniture there so that they could all be accommodated in their little circle. Then, one of the men in the group went around the corner to the bar and informed the bartender, in not so polite terms, that there was a group of people out here that would like some drinks! When the bartender did come out to take their order, of the group of eight, only three actually ordered something! It was unfortunate and embarrassing, and why they couldn’t just go to the bar and ask for something (like Jill and I did) is beyond me!

We finally figured it was time to call it a day, and try to get our bodies on some sort of an (Irish) schedule, so it was off to bed for us!

Tim adjusting to the opposite side of the car and road!

Driving on the M1

Along the M1

Exit sign on the M1

Entering the grounds of Cabra Castle

Our first glimpse of Cabra Castle

Our awesome accomodations!

The view from our room

Tim chillin' in the awesome room

Tim's first pint of Smithwick's in Ireland

Tim's first plate of fish and chips

Mushy peas!

Main Street, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Main Street, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Tim Keenan's long lost relatives?

The Wishing Well - where we had lunch

Cows in the distance - think they made that good butter?

Our wheels whilst in Ireland - damage was already there!

Jill in front of the door to our room

Our 'building'

Jill at the entrance to the castle garden

Tim next to a freakish weeping willow pine tree

Thought this was a cool sign/building

Jill in front of Cabra Castle

Jill and I sitting on a bench outside of Cabra Castle

Jill enjoying a Bulmer's cider on ice in the hotel bar

Think 'RED-RUM, RED-RUM' from 'The Shining'

Tim with yet another Smithwick's pint in his hand, imagine that!

The remnants on our scones!

Tim, very full of scones!

The end of a very good first day in Ireland!

Total Miles Travelled:
187,788 Miles!

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