IRELAND

IRELAND is a great country. My family rented a car and drove around seeing lots of things. Ireland is only about the size of New York so it is very small and we practicly drove the whole thing! Before I start let me announce that since this is Ireland I will write my “FUN FACTS” in GREEN instead of my usual RED.

IMG_3947 Our itinerary of driving the around Ireland. We researched and mapped out the places we wanted to visit. Then followed this map.

(Not sure why the photos upload fuzzy. Believe me they are not like that, we cant seem to figure out why it does this but if you click on them they come much clearer.)

 We visited both the Republic of Ireland (southern Ireland) and also Northern Ireland.

Our first stop in Ireland was the capital, Dublin. It is a cool city and there was a lot of Irish decorations hanging around because they were getting ready for St.  Patrick’s Day. This is a big deal all over Ireland!

IMG_6129 IMG_6141 St. Patrick’s Church.

Dublin: My favorite part was walking through Trinity College. It is the best college in Ireland.  We went to the old library and saw the Book of Kells.IMG_6115 This library was awesome. IMG_3747

Fun Fact:  The Book of Kells is a very precious book. It was written in 800 AD. It is a book of the Gospels of the Bible written in Latin by hand and beautifully illustrated with color pictures.  (no photos allowed of the book of Kells so these are from the internet)

 

 

I learned a lot about the Book of Kells.  Here is a brief history.

The Book of Kells was made in 800AD. It was written in a monestary by some religious monks. Sicentists do not know who exactly wrote it, but they can tell that 4 people worked on it. The Book of Kells was made to be a copy of the Bible. Sometime in history, the Vikings invaded the monestary, they did not care about the book but they stole it for the cover which was made of Jews and Gems.  To this modern day, no one has found the cover. The book was found and is now considered a UNESCO site for its  historical significance.

Isn’t that amazing! This book has been through so much in its long years. It was a big discovery for whoever found it because before this book, they did not think that people knew how to write back then. The Irish Monks were excellent scribers. The best in their day.

Fun Fact: The reason that the Book of Kells hasn’t been decintegrated is because it was not written on paper. The monks wrote it on Vellum, which is animal skin. For  the ink they gathered jewels, like emerald and ruby and other natural material of all different colors and grinded them until it was liquid (back then no one knew that they were valuable, plus the monks don’t care about money). They used tree bark and shaved it to a point for a pen.

I saw the different materials used and the grinded up stones. It was interesting.

I think the most amazing part is that the monks actually HAND WROTE the whole thing. Just so you can get an idea of how thick this book is, it is well bigger and fatter than the Harry Potter books (and that saying a lot because they are huge)! Scientists say that the Book of Kells took about 30 years to write! I could never have that much patience. There are pages in the back that are still blank.  It is unfinished.  I think its cool that all the letters look exactly the same. The Irish monks  defintily weren’t sloppy. 

As well as the writing, the Book of Kells is also a work of Art. It has richly illustrated pictures. Some are only 1 inch and others take up half a page. The pictures show scenes from the Bible.  I really liked seeing the Book of Kells and learning about it.  I suggest you research it because it has a fascinating history.

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BLARNEY CASTLE

On our drive through Ireland, we saw a lot of castles. We even got to see the Blarney castle.IMG_6213 IMG_6182

the Blarney castle has a very nice park area around it with trails and  flowers and nice lakes and rivers. The Blarney Castle is smaller then you think.  The inside is destroyed. There are 126 steps to the roof, yes we counted.  The spiral staircase was very thin and did not look sturdy. At the top of the staircase is the roof where you get to kiss the famous BLARNEY STONE.

FUN FACT- The Blarney stone is located on the top of the Blarney castle. Legend has it that if you kiss the blarney stone you will recive the “gift of gab.”  It meant that you  will have the power to talk and persuade people and not be shy.   Back in the old days, the Kings and Queens would kiss the Blarney stone so they could have better power and persuade their Royal subjects.

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Before we went to the Blarney Castle, my famliy and I didn’t think we would kiss it. We said “who would want to kiss that ugly stone… you have to get upside down and kiss something that other lips have touched. Disgusting!” Once we got up there we all realized that we had too because when will we all ever be back here together???? My parents didn’t think I needed the gift of gab because according to them I already talk WAY too much and WAY TOO loud.

Kissing it was cool. You can see from the picture that there is a gap between the wall and the roof.  People added bars in the gap so you can’t fall through.  Just to be safe, someone holds your feet as you lean over the edge and kiss it.  Since Sawyer and I are kids, my parents didn’t think that we would be able to reach the stone, But we did!  I wonder who stared this legend?

By the way, on a crowed day the line to kiss the Blarney stone wraps all the way around the roof and onto the stairs too! We had no line at all. Not anyone at all! Like I continue to say, visiting Europe in winter is the way to go!

Some other Castles we visited along our journey…Some  huge and some in ruins.

IMG_6162 The grounds here were empty and the guard let us play soccer right in front of the castle.  We played soccer every day here in Ireland.IMG_6353   We loved all the stone walls that are everywhere in Ireland.

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THE RING OF KERRY ROAD

One day my famliy drove the “Ring of Kerry”. It is a scenic drive along the coast with lots of stops and incredible views. We drove it on a very foggy day.IMG_6246 IMG_6254

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This is a stone wall that is about 20 feet high and 6 feet thick. This wall is different from other stone walls because it is in a circle. The wall is only stones stacked on each other, no cement in between the stones. There used to be houses inside a long time ago to protect the people from invaders.

My famliy and I went inside.  I wonder what life used to be like for the people that lived inside  these stone walls? When we visited there was no one there but a few sheep.

Another stop on the Ring of Kerry Road was to see the cliffs. I do not know the name of them but we walked to the top of a cliff and saw amazing views. We were very high up and there were rocks below. In the distance we saw what is called “puffin island” there is said to be a lot of puffin birds flying around in the summer time.

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FUN FACT- I learned from our summer trip to Alaska that a Pufinn has to poop before it can fly because it is too heavy after eating. Feel free to look at my Alaska post to find out more on that trip.

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Another day we drove to  ” The Cliffs of Moher“. These were a longer set of cliffs with a hiking trail along the edge.

When I say along the edge I MEAN along the edge! Some parts of this trial had NO FENCE on the edge. We kept our distance and mom was very nervous and went really slow.

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There were people  sitting over the edge of the cliffs. From my personal experience I learned that everywhere you go there are always the idiots!! Its true. You wouldn’t belive how many people sat with there legs hanging over the edge taking selfies. I don’t understand the point in that.  If you fell over you would be dead!

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               NORTHERN IRELAND

I bet most people do not know that NORTHERN IRELAND IS A DIFFERENT COUNTRY THEN IRELAND!

Northern Ireland is an extremely small country.  It is smaller then long island and has way less people. See my map at the beginning of this post to see the border line. We drove right into it.   Northern Ireland country side looks like southern Ireland and they have the same accent. You would never know that they are 2 separate countries except that Irelands currency is the Euro while Northern Irelands currency is the Brittish Pound.

Giants Causeway:  Up north this is the main site to see.  It has hexagonal collums wich were formed by lava millions of years ago. I read all about it.

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This place was very interesting. We got an audio guide and there was so many facts to take in.  These columns are really old. They are actually Millons of years old! They were here before the ice age! A volcano used to be here and when it eruped all the lava poured out. I don’t know exactly how it harded but somehow it did. After the lava harded into rock the sea water and ice from the ice age made it into the hexagon shape.

It must be cool to be a scientist and study this stuff.  I would like that.  I liked climbing on all the lava columns. It was really cool because one area would have columns only 2 feet off the ground when another area had coullums 39 feet off the ground! You can see in the pictures above.

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The formation consists of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, most of which are hexagonal. The columns form huge stepping stones, some as high as 39 feet, which slope down to the sea.

  • The Giant’s Causeway was actually formed by intense volcanic activity about 50 million years ago. As the lava rapidly cooled , it contracted into the distinctive shapes.
the rocks are SO COOL! very fun to see, climb, and learn about them.
On the way from Giants Causeway to Belfast we stopped at a rope bridge.
IMG_6422that is me, Sawyer and Dad.
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BELFAST- Capital of Northern IRELAND
According to Dad, he would NOT recommend driving in Belfast, we got lost on the way to the Hotel.
TITANIC MUESUM
Almost everyone in the world knows about how the Titanic was a big ship that sunk.  In northern Ireland my family and I went to the Titanic museum (just a reminder- if you don’t already know anything about the Titanic I suggest you look it up right now or you wont understand what I’m about to write). Actual photo from 1912.
There was so much history to the Titanic. It was built right here in Belfast. It was a huge task to build the biggest ship in the world at that time. There were jobs for anyone who wanted to work, tons of men from all over the world came here with their families to help construct the ship.  The city of Belfast grew twice as big from the families that moved here.  The big jobs that they always needed new people for was to screw and hammer in the bolts. Through demonstrations we learned that the Titanic was made of millons of 4 inch sized bolts.  Some peoples jobs were to heat up the screws, others then had to put them in the proper place and others had to then hammer in the bolts to make sure they were all safely intact and not loose. Many living in Belfast at that time described the building of the Titanic with always hearing bolts being hammered in day and night. In fact, some people went deaf from doing this work!
 The Titanic was built to be a luxury boat. The company built a fancy boat because at the time none of the boats were like that so the Titanic was the first ever! (now there are tons of cruise ships. We went on a cruise on this trip so you can see that post).
There were 3 different groups on the Titanic that you were associated with. First class, Second class, and (last and the least) third class called “steerage”. We got to see a model of all the cabins. The first class one was very fancy. 2 queen beds with very fancy bed spread, a closet, bathroom with hot and cold running water, carpet floor, wallpaper, comfy chairs and a table. It was very spacious. (Some rooms that we have been staying in on this trip were smaller). Third class was really tiny. All it had was a set of bunkbeds, a fold up chair and a sink and shelf. There was a bathroom in each hallway that everyone shared.
FUN FACT; I thought it was interesting to learn that while the Titanic was sinking, the captain ordered some people to play the violin on the top deck to attract people and keep everyone calm while boarding the life boats. The people that were playing the violins went down in history as heroes. We read their stories and the stories of others who helped women and children board the lifeboats.
 
ICE BERG STRAIGHT AHEAD! that’s what comes to mind when your thinking of the Titanic and if you saw the movie.  My parents let me see certain parts of the movie, like from when it hit the ice berg!  The museum showed what happened from the accounts of many survivors.
In 1912 the Titanic was expected to arrive at the port in NY on wendestday. But the reporters on board convinced the captain to go really fast and arrive on Tuesday night. At first he said no, but when he thought about all the press that would say “Titanic arrives a day early” that would be a big deal! So he went faster then normal and when the person at the watch spotted the iceburg the boat was going to fast to turn around. I wonder what would have happened if the Titanic went at normal speed? But don’t think the captain was selfish. When the boat was sinking he helped as many peole as he could and refused to get on the lifeboats. He went down with the ship and survivors call him a hero too.
At first, only the first class people were notified that the boat was sinking. They were brought to the top deck and onto the lifeboats. A lot of lifeboats left when half the boat was filled. The people that couldn’t get on the life boat jumped off. They might of survived if the lifeboats went back. But most of the life boats didn’t turn back. They thought that everyone would bombard them and too many peple would get on the life boat and it would cause them to sink. Many accounts from women survivors on the boats talk of this.
The Titanic sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and was finally located in 1984.  We learned about the expeditions to find Titanic.  Amazing, isn’t it?
 
I learned lots more about the Titanic while at the museum. I can’t include it all on my blog or that would be too long. Watch some of the older movies about it.
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I really enjoyed Ireland. Everything was great. I hope to came back here someday. I noticed that Ireland is a little less expensive then other places in Europe.
If you have any questions I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com
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