Ireland part five - the Rock of Cashel, and Dromoland Castle

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On Saturday we left Tramore on the southeast coast to drive back to Ennis, on the southwest coast, on the way stopping at the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland's most historic sites.   

The Kings of Munster, rulers of all of Ireland from 300 to 1100, based the center of their successive reigns on their ability to command this natural outcropping or promontory, just like at Stirling, or 'The Mound' at Edinburgh, and similarly for centuries clan warfare was the norm, with different clans trying to take and hold the high ground. 

But Irish clans and incessant warfare long ago passed out of existence, and visitors today see what's left of chapels built from the 12th century onward. 

Pub in Cashel Dahlias & red  Japanese Maple first look at Rock of Cashel period furniture
  13th century  tapestry smiling monks in the woodwork  listening to our tour guide   
  Celtic designs    
  Mary and QE 2 posters   Celtic cross
nearby Cistercian Abbey from 1261-1550 AD   Paul & me one with the Rock
  some German tourists in town flowers cruising for scones

Dromoland Castle is near Ennis and the Shannon Airport.  Doris and Paul stayed Saturday night at the Castle while Mary and I went into Ennis, having watched the first half of the hurling championship between Counties Cork & Clare in the Castle bar.  Clare was ahead by a little at halftime.

I'd never seen a hurling game before and players make soccer moves, and can score soccer points in a net below the goal-post, for 3 points, or, they can kick the ball through the uprights, for 1 point.  It's easy to understand and like.  The majority of shots seemed to be long-distance one point certainties.

When we knocked on the B&B door in Ennis, the owner's stand-in friend-as-host was beside himself, a total basket case, barely able to talk, because County Clare was ahead, and only a few minutes remained in the game. 

We saw the last 4 minutes on TV and County Clare put the game away with a minute or so left & held on to win, possibly 27 to 23.  Like in any European soccer game, the fans as seen on TV went nuts, for a very long time.  

Apparently Mary, who owns the B&B & her son were at the match, in Dublin, a two hour drive away.  Their stand-in house-sitting friend was speechless, as he slowly explained that he knows so many of the players for County Clare, because they are locals.  Some of them are local firemen. 

Once the game was over he told us that Shane, the 19 year old just named MVP of the game, is the long-time best friend of the B&B owner's son, and they both attend the same College in Cork, and, Shane visits here all the time. 

"He sits right there" our host said, wide-eyed, as if a divine miracle had happened....that a local kid who you've known for decades is being interviewed on national TV, as an MVP.  As a result, our host is pointing like a crazy man, at a black leather chair. 

Mary & I dutifully looked at the chair with a sense of reverence for local sports heroes becoming MVPs, or, for nutty Irishmen in general.   

But it was a big deal because shortly thereafter the town blew up.  Just as Mary and I arrived at a dinner spot downtown, a two minute drive away, we were surrounded on the streets by a sea of sports-crazed revelers, screaming and hanging out of car windows, with horns blaring.   

Once inside the subdued-noise restaurant, Mary and I toasted to the reality that we had made it to Ireland, the home of our ancestors, for a week's touring.  We had a really good dinner & bottle of wine. 

The next morning after driving Mary early to Shannon Airport, for her return flights to Colorado, I met up with Doris & Paul back at nearby Dromoland Castle, and we had a good walk around the place. 

Doris and Mary, Saturday  afternoon   since the 1500's  
Sunday am Dromoland the owner his son the  manager  
more of our family history (at the bottom)     Doris & Paul
    on his daily walk, he said  
  classic walled garden    
    roses in October variegated hydrangea
  our last day in Ireland    
      County Clare beat County Cork the night we got to Ennis
19 yr old MVP is best friend of the B&B owner's son both attend college in Cork professional hurling athletes are paid nothing at all to play   QE 1  

On the turbo-prop ride from Shannon to Glasgow - late Sunday afternoon - we got to see some sunshine.  It can be rare around here.     

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