Castles Here & There

Limerick has a castle… King John commissioned it in 1210. He never set foot in it because he died in 1216. It was built anyhow.

Harold & I spent today strolling through the castle which takes you through the long 800 year plus history of the castle, the Limerick area and Ireland. Through video, maps, text and visual display, we see what transpired. Creation, the building of a wealthy merchant trade, The Plague, wars and sieges… That sort of thing. Harold was very excited by the hands on history, model recreations, and the excellent views from the top of the castle’s turrets. However, we missed the “Ghost Tours” the previous evening and this made Harold a bit sad. 

 Yesterday, we toured a different castle…Bunratty Castle outside of Limerick. It was less steeped in political history and certainly not as large, but quite interesting.

Apparently it was purchased some years ago, refurbished to its period appropriate glory and opened to the public along with a folk village… Historic cottages and structures from elsewhere saved from demolition and relocated to the grounds. It is a tourist attraction with shops and things but quite pleasant. There’s sheeps and cows and animals and things. There was a Halloween fair there whist Harold & I were visiting… Even with the rain. 

  Here is Harold and a wonderful fella we met … Who had the gift of tongue… An Irish storyteller and singer of Irish songs. I believe his name was Tom. Harold enjoyed listening to him even though he had trouble understanding much of what he heard. 

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The Macnas traveling theatrical and performance group was our finale in Galway… Part of the reason for coming to Galway was to see this event spectacle. Every Halloweentime, this traveling Irish theater group performs a fantastical parade in Galway… The narrow cobbled streets were lined with folks that came from all over to see it. The Parade itself was entirely amazing with giant puppetry, roaming costumed musicians and street performers.  I only wish it were a longer parade. As an artist person, I appreciated the art direction; the costumes were well made and the creatures brought to life were incredible.  


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  … On the Bay… Spotty Rain… Rainbow… Tight streets, narrow sidewalks… Very touristy. 

The Irish don’t drink cream in their coffee. It is milk… They look at you funny when you request cream and ask “you mean whipped cream?” The Cafe Noir in Limerick seemed to be the only coffee establishment that didn’t look at me suspiciously . 


But the butter here is off the charts good. As is the soda bread. (Harold shown here at Cafe Noir).

The comedy circus is in town. 

Galway has a lovely cathedral which was built in 1965. Prior to being a cathedral, the site was a prison. 


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Limerick… City of Culture 

I’ve been in Limerick now for about four days. I’ve walked about the Medieval Quarter along with St. Mary’s Cathedral , visited the art museums and have found it to be a lovely city. People here have talked about the grittyness and gang problems of its past… But the city is reinventing itself with a vibrant arts community and a try for a European city city of culture distinction. I see it Working .

Last night we took in a trio of short plays at The Locke Bar presented by the Torch players and Octopus Soup theatre group. I enjoyed the local theatre and enjo hearing the Irish accent in any situation.

As I write, I am in the Hunt Museum… A private collection of art from antiquity to today. And there’s some sketches fromGauguin  and Picasso, too. 

Here’s a few pictures of Harold’s adventures in Limerick.


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Random Scenes of Ireland


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Dublin and gone… 

  There was so much to see and do in Dublin… Including a Very long and very informative history walk through the city.., 2 and a half hours of Irish history… From the Vikings sniffing up the Liffey (the river in Dublin) to the peaceful truce and the upcoming 100 year celebration of independence. 

We strolled around Trinity College, Temple Bar, the former Parliament buildings, the castle, and back around. 

  Harold got a little lost in all the history lessoning, but enjoyed the walk about. My feet hurt by the end… But that is what coffee shops are for!
  After our history walk, we looked at the Book of Kells at Trinity College… What an amazing achievement… Colorful Art and word, together… Like, say, comics… Except cartoonists don’t crush their own pigment and make their own paint and vellum. As far as I know. 
  Above the Book of Kells(no photos allowed), is the long hall… An extensive library of books Mr. Wilde used as a student of Trinity. Another amazing sight.
With a light rain to mark our final evening in Dublin, we had a nice dinner at the Farm on Dawson, and back to the hotel to pack. The road to Limerick awaits. 

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Art & Pub Crawling

Nelson, Harold & I spent Saturday walking about Dublin. We discovered the art museum (under renovation), and the history museum (amazing artifacts from antiquity and medieval times), both free and terribly interesting! I will return when the renovations are complete at the art mueseum to see what was unavailable. Like this fellow(?) 

Harold found the crayons at the museum and a nearby bakery … 

   Later in the evening, after a stroll in St. Stephen’s Green and a fine dinner at Balfes, Nelson and I decided to take in literary Dublin and some ciders on the literary pub crawl. We thought it best to leave Harold at the hotel for fear that he might wander off. He is so friendly and gets very sloshy at bars … So I think it was a good decision. 

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Dublin-Ing around

… Until the legs gave out!

We arrived in Dublin a tad late… Tardy passengers held up our flight from London, but other than that… It was a very long but straight forward trip into Dublin. Taxi’d to our hotel where showers and teeth brushing was tres necessary. 

   Harold wanted to head to a pub for dinner and a pint… So we literally trotted next door to Bruxelles Pub where Harold, Nelson & I had some adult beverages… Nelson shared a cider with our stufftie pal, and I took a gin and tonic.

Let me just say that the brown bread i had with my potato leek soup was tasty, but the real irish butter was off the charts good!

  After dinner, we had to walk about a bit… And we walked to Temple Bar, which was rather congested with drinking peoples… All seemingly in their early to late twenties. We ducked into a place i had found prior to the trip called Art Jam … There, Ruth was a joy to talk to… Turns out, she’s a Steinbeck fan! We talked about Dublin’s where to go and not go… Limerick’s issues, and cats ownership and its ups and downs. Ruth met Harold and I introduced her to Squid Row, of couse.  What a serendipitous meeting. 

Now… It’s off to bed… For tomorrow will be full of more adventuring! 

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To SFO and Beyond

So after a day of milling around San Jose, Harold and I made it to San Francisco International. As I write, I am watching massive planes taxi to the runway. The cafe I am at is just above the ridiculously large Air France A380… Which we have lovingly named “Chuckie” … We flew this a few times to Paris. Our British Airways 747 is no tiny slouch either. The little baby domestic flights look so pip squeaky next to these behemoths. I guess I am marveling a bit at the achievement of air travel… Harold absolutely loves watching the planes take off and land. He and I both. 


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Harold is Really Excited…

He’s a few days early yet.  


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