Ring of Kerry
2 - May 21, 1999)
You can click on "photos"
get directly to the photo page. Please disregard any
dates on the photos as Diane's camera seemed
to have a mind of its own as far as inserting a date on the photos she
Before I start this week's note, I will rectify something that I forgot
to do last week. I got a couple of notes that basically said,
"What, no pictures?" about Johnnie Fox's Pub. We don't yet own a
digital camera. That will happen as soon as I retire and start
setting up a web site for our RV travels. However, I did forget
to put the URL for Johnnie Fox's Pub into last week's note (the job
does sometimes get in the way of my personal life). ;-) So
here it is: http://www.johnniefoxs.com/index.html
There are some photos and also some RealPlayer video
of the singers and dancers. Unfortunately, I have not been able
to figure out how to make it work on my new PC. I recently got a
Thinkpad 600 and, for the life of me, can not get RealPlayer to work
with anything. I was able to use RealPlayer on my old Thinkpad
365 (e.g., the Star Wars trailer when it first came out).
Sigh. No time to play to figure it out. Anyway, maybe some
of you will get it to work and tell me how good/bad it looks. Now
on to this week's note. I have had absolutely no time to work on
this note during this past week as work consumed me. By the time
you receive this note, we will be home in Atlanta and I'll probably be
up in NY for a meeting the week of 5/24.
Some of the folks who made up my team in Ireland started to leave early
in the week. Patrick left on Monday afternoon with his wife
Sharon for vacation the rest of the week. Joan left on Wednesday
for vacation the rest of the week. Rufus headed home to San Jose
on Wednesday. That left Colin (from the UK), Joe (from Scotland),
Tom (from CT), and me and Diane. We ate a couple of nights
together at some old favorites. Diane and I ate together at
Cooper's, which was a bit pricey, but good. On Thursday evening,
the three guys went to see Sarah Brightman in concert while Diane and I
went back to Gallagher's for boxty. At first, we were told we
couldn't get in until 9 PM, but some pleading (begging?) got us in
within 10 minutes. I'm not too proud to beg if I think it will
work. ;-) Although we like to go to dinner with the group,
we enjoyed the two evenings by ourselves this week.
I was able to take one of my optional holidays on Thursday and it
turned out to be a great day. As you know, there has to be a
'highlight' on each trip and the tour we took to see the RING of KERRY
was it for this trip. It was one of those train-bus-train tours
that had us out of the hotel at 6:45 AM and back to the hotel at 10:30
PM. It would have been much too far to drive. The train
ride was 3 1/2 hours long to hook up with the bus and then the trip
around the Ring of Kerry was 110 miles. The road (N70) goes
around the mountains on the Iveragh Peninsula. In the heart of
the mountain range are The MacGillycuddy Reeks and Carrantuohill,
Ireland's highest mountain at about 3,000 feet, as relayed by our
knowledgeable tour guide. I had read that this was the single
most popular tourist route in Ireland. There were great mountain
and coastal views as the tour progressed. We were blessed with
perfect weather the day we took this tour. Anything less would
have blocked the views across the water and into the mountains.
We took the train to Killarney and started the tour from there.
It turned out to be the same bus driver we had for the Killarney part
of the tour we took on the first weekend. He recognized us,
too. We headed out of Killarney and along the river which takes
water from the lower of the three lakes of Killarney all the way out to
Dingle Bay. Our first stop was the Red Fox Inn for a quick snack
or Irish coffee. Also at the Red Fox Inn was the Bog Village,
which is a cluster of reconstructed and furnished cottages showing how
life was lived in the early 1800s. Due to poor drainage in the
area, there is much bogland, which is turned into fuel for furnaces and
even provides the fuel
for power plants in the area.
After we were all back on the bus, the driver told us he was talking to
some of the other drivers about a stop a half hour down the road that
many tourists said was a highlight of the tour (along with the
scenery). Some guy rented some land behind a restaurant and gave
demonstrations of his Border Collies herding sheep. This was
mountainous terrain and there were thousands of sheep on the
hills. You could see these white specks all over the
mountainsides. It would be much too difficult for sheep owners to
climb the mountains to get
their sheep, so they train the dogs to do the work. It is one
thing to see sheep dogs work on TV, and another to see them do work on
flat ground at a show, but it is quite another thing to see the real
thing. There were three dogs and the guy said it takes about two
years to totally train these dogs. Two were older veteran dogs
and the other was just 16 months old. What an incredible
display. Everyone was in awe of how these dogs worked with only
voice or whistle commands. There were times the dogs were several
hundred yards up the hill and the guy would have them move the sheep
left, or right, or down, or hold them. Then he demonstrated how
the dogs would work as a team where one does the work while the other
rests, and then vice versa. Each dog knows the tone of the
whistle that is meant for them. It was truly an incredible
demonstration of dogs at work. He ended the show by letting the
young dog move the sheep back up the mountain to their grazing area.
After the sheep dog demonstration, we headed to a restaurant for
lunch. About a mile before the restaurant, on a road along the
mountain and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we stopped at a lookout
point where lots of other buses were already stopped. The view
from that point was magnificent. Then we went to the restaurant
for lunch. Diane and I both had the Shepherd Pie. We sat at
a table that had a view out over a valley and off to the distant hills
and out to the Atlantic. Once again, that feeling came over me
that my first manager told me I would experience if I took the
assignment in Audit. I said to Diane, "Can you believe where we
and what we are experiencing? I can't believe they are paying me
to do this.".
We then continued on to the next stop, which was in the town of Sneem
(the Irish word for 'knot'). We passed through Waterville on the
way, which has the claim that Charlie Chaplin would spend some summers
there. It also has an 18 hole championship golf course designed
by Tom Watson. The Irish Open has been played there, and
President Clinton played there when he toured Ireland. Sneem is a
busy little town. We were told it is favored by artists,
climbers, walkers, and cyclists. It has its back to the sea and
faces the mountains. The houses are painted in different colors
and is a very quaint, tidy town. Lots of stores for the tourists,
too. After some quick shopping and an ice cream cone, we hopped
on the bus and headed out.
The tour continued as we headed back to Killarney and through the
Killarney National Park. We saw part of this on the first
weekend, including the Torc Waterfall and the Muckross House and
Gardens. We had about a 35 minute wait for the train and then
headed back to Dublin. We saw Tom and Colin in the lounge, so we
stopped for tea (for Diane) and Irish coffee (for me). A long,
tiring, and great day before leaving for home.
From about 33,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, here are some
final thought and impressions about Ireland:
* there isn't much sun, at least not in May. The weather
was ok, but not as warm as I like it. Mostly it was cloudy,
windy, cool, mist or rain. I had read, and was told, that one can
experience all four seasons in one day in Ireland. One T-shirt
had that saying and indicated that the four seasons that could be
experienced were: Dry, Misty, Raining, Raining Harder. That's why
we were so grateful that our last day in Ireland was magnificent.
* I liked Dublin and would have liked to have seen more of
it. I don't get much time to tour other than to/from dinner, and
we do try to go off in different directions as much as possible to find
a restaurant. There was so much more to see, like St. Patrick's
Cathedral, the Dublin Viking Experience, Phoenix Park (which we saw as
we drove through it to/from work, but we never got to walk through it
on a Sunday when one could see cricket or polo being played).
There were churches that caught my eye while driving to work that we
never had a chance to visit.
* St. Stephen's Green Park with all its nicely kept lawns and
flower beds, small lake, and very peaceful setting. We walked
through this park many nights on the way to dinner. It was
surrounded by four busy streets, but it was totally isolated inside the
park with lots of trees and bushes to dampen outside noise.
* Grafton Street. I'm a sucker for pedestrian streets with
lots of shops and people, but especially the street musicians.
Music is like a magnet and I am immediately attracted to it so I can
check it out and get some video (and reward the musicians
accordingly). It is what I remember vividly about all the
trips. I haven't watched the video in a while, but I can still
picture the trio (two guys (guitar and mandolin) and a gal (violin)) in
Retiro Park in Madrid (in 1994) on Sunday afternoons playing classical
my being there when I first heard them start playing the Ave
Maria. I was beside myself because I love the Ave Maria.
The two guys played that great background music in that hymn while the
gal (she was from London) played the melody. And
she was so expressive. I actually got it on tape on two different
occasions. As for Dublin, there was:
- the old guy playing the guitar via keys.
I've never seen a guitar like this before. The neck was a normal
guitar with six strings and he played as one would normally play a
guitar. What was different was where a guitarist picks the
strings. In place of the strings were six keys that, when
pressed, would pick the string. So it was sort of like
'keytar'. ;-) I like to see new and unusual sites and
sounds and this guy was great. He was probably in his 60s, looked
a little worn, wore a scraggly hat, had one bad eye, was sort of
hunched over at the shoulders. When he took a break, I told him
he was great. He engaged me in conversation about where we were
what I was doing in Dublin. Nice guy, great musician.
- there was the 1-man band. He was set up on a
chair on a small portable stage. He played guitar, and harmonica,
and drums, and he had two other band 'members'. They were
actually dummies attached to the foot pedal such that it seemed they
were playing along with him. He was also very good.
- there was the kid with the Elvis haircut who
wasn't all that good, but he was out there lots of evening playing and
singing his heart out.
- and then there was the kid who was playing
'silent' guitar. He was out there a lot, but you could never hear
anything but low volume sounds coming from his small amp. It was
as though he was playing 'air guitar'. Funny.
* Temple Bar with all its pubs, restaurants, and
* In lieu of spending a lot of time in the city, we
toured. I have never taken three tours in any country that I have
been to. We usually stay in the cities or take public
transportation to different places and then walked around. It
would not have been possible to walk around the Ring of Kerry or get to
Glendalough or Powerscourt or Cork or Blarney or Killarney. Those
were great tours and afforded an opportunity to see a lot of the
countryside without having to do all of the driving which, after seeing
the roads the bus took around the Ring of Kerry, would not have been
very relaxing for the driver. The scenery out in the countryside
is marvelous: pastures, mountains,
thousands of sheep, rugged terrain, seashore with beaches and/or
cliffs. There were places we didn't have time to go see, like
Galway, the Dingle Peninsula, Newgrange, Malahide (although Diane did
get there), and much more.
* And finally, there are the Irish people. Of all the
places we have visited in the world, the Irish are some of the nicest,
pleasant, and fun loving people we have met.
We really enjoyed this trip. Diane had a great time. She
was constantly busy and left wishing she had another week to spend
there to see the places she didn't have time to go see. All in
all, a great trip.
One of the reasons I wanted to re-join the audit team was for the
travel and so the time would go faster than it was going in 1997 when I
was chained to a desk. Well, I got my wish, and then some.
I came back to Audit in April 1998 and can't believe that 14 months
have gone by already. The time just flies by as a result of the
job and the travel. Already in the past 14 months, we have been
out of the USA for 21 weeks. Sure, I have to spend lots of time
in Poughkeepsie and Rochester and Boulder but, in return, we get to do
Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Dublin. Everyone on our team does this job
want to travel and see the world. In the end, it's worth enduring
hard times to be able to do this kind of traveling.
It is no secret that this will be my last full year of work and then
it's off to retirement and implement our plans to travel around the USA
in an RV. I'm in the final phase of an almost 34 year career and
coming up on our final few trips. I can't say yet exactly where
we are going. In some cases, I don't even know myself yet, but I
know we will be going to at least one new place for us and probably
back to some places we have been to already. We plan to take two
weeks in Europe sometime this summer and take my mom on vacation with
us. I'm sure that will make for some "interesting" travels.
taken more that two years since my dad died in 1996 to get her to want
this trip. Now she has her first ever passport and is champing at
the bit to go see Paris. We'll probably take her to see Bavaria
and swing by Zurich to visit my friend Peter and his
Until next time, take care.
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