Blarney Castle

As always, spending a week in a place is hardly enough time to understand the history, culture, and people of that area.

But we certainly got a firehose-worth of stories about Ireland and the Irish in the short time we were there. All of it interesting, fun, and slightly embellished in some cases.

On this page are just a few of the photos I made during the trip, and you can find the full friends-and-family gallery here.1 I have many more if you’d care to take a look.

We begin at the top with an Irish travel cliché, Blarney Castle. It’s actually a very impressive structure and the beautiful grounds surrounding it are worth a visit by themselves. I climbed to the top but did not kiss the stone.

Herding Sheep

I’m betting Ireland has more sheep than people. One rainy afternoon we visited a farm in County Kerry and got a look at how all those animals are managed with the help of a few well-trained dogs. And how your wool sweater got started.

Cutting Glass

Another stop was in the town of Waterford where they craft those expensive crystal vases and other glass items. Actually most Waterford items are now made in places like Croatia (and the company is owned by Fiscars, a Finnish conglomerate) but enough work is done in the original location so that we could get a close-up look at the process.

Dublin Side Street

A side street in Dublin, with stores and restaurants you might expect. Only with an 18th century church at the end. During a week in Ireland, I’ve never seen so many imposing stone churches. In use, repurposed, abandoned, and in ruins.

Viking Tour

I love the odd things to be found by walking the streets of any city in the world. Vikings were a big part of the early history of Ireland so having a viking-themed version of the usual duck boat isn’t surprising. I just wonder if their passengers are required to wear the horn helmets.

1. A “friends-and-family” gallery is the set of photos I could reasonably expect people I actually like to sit through, usually around 40. For contrast, flash back to being trapped in a room with a friend or relative presenting a slide show of their trip using one of those old Kodak Carousel projectors, filled to the max with 35mm slides (around 140). Even worse, if they had a second tray.