Galway Girl Part 2

This is post #7 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts:

#1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,

#2, Ireland: Dreams Come True,

#3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland,

#4, Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, and the fairy village,

#5, The Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher, and

#6, Galway Girl

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“If you’re going to be lost, there’s no friendlier place to get lost in than Ireland.” —Rebekah Crane, The Upside of Falling Down

Ireland green fields & stone wall
Ireland green fields & stone wall

As I shared in my blog post Galway Girl, Galway was definitely mine and Leah’s favorite city on our Ireland trip. The city was alive with energy; it was just FUN! We loved Galway!

I bought my souvenir in Galway: a beautiful, sterling silver Claddagh Ring. Its meaning is about love, loyalty, and friendship. I’d seen them before I went on the trip, and knew that’s what I wanted as my gift!

The Claddagh Ring has been the traditional wedding ring in Ireland since the 17th Century. There are four different ways to wear it:

Claddagh Ring
Claddagh Ring

Single: You should wear the ring on your right hand with the heart facing outwards.

Relationship: You should wear it on your right hand with the heart pointed inwards.

Engaged: You wear it on your left hand with the heart pointing outwards.

Married: You wear it on your left hand with the heart facing inward.

The saying goes that if you’re taken, you wear the ring with the heart on the ring facing your heart, and if you’re searching for love, you wear the heart facing outward.

I’m interested in fashion, but I noticed what other people were wearing as I traveled. This young woman’s white sneakers and backpack were cute. I noted a lot of people wearing backpacks everywhere we went.

The Latin Quarter of Galway
The Latin Quarter of Galway

 

Young woman's cute white sneakers & backpack
Young woman’s cute white sneakers & backpack

I wanted to stay much longer, but I had booked a different B & B each night throughout our journey and since it was starting to rain, Leah and I both thought it best to start heading out after our lunch at The Quay Street Kitchen located in the thriving town’s center.

Thriving Galway center <br/>A talented street musician--guitarist
Thriving Galway center
A talented street musician–guitarist

 

Menu at Galway restaurant
Menu at Galway restaurant

 

flowers on our table
gorgeous fresh flowers on our table

Leah seemed more interested in the bird (a pigeon, I believe) that stayed near our table outside than anything. Throughout our trip, Leah took several pics of birds, to my amusement. This is a good shot below. Now you know what a Galway, Ireland bird looks like!

pigeon near our sidewalk cafe table
pigeon near our sidewalk cafe table

Before we ate lunch, we enjoyed window-shopping at the shops. One of the first things we saw was a pretty street mime in a French cap, turtleneck shirt, big hoop earrings, black and grey leggings, and boots, performing on the sidewalk. A man playing a guitar accompanied her. This was the first time that Leah and I had ever seen a mime in person, so it was interesting.

Galway street mime
Galway street mime

 

Galway street mime
Galway street mime & town center

I saw a music store and asked Leah if she wanted to go inside. Naturally, she did (she plays the violin and other instruments). She later told me that I should know better than to go into a music store, where she’d want to spend all her money! She actually didn’t buy anything there, but wanted to buy a lot!

I took a pic of a harp at this store, because our granddaughter Annabelle–who plays the violin, too–wants to learn how to play the harp. 

Music store in Galway where we stopped
Music store in Galway where we stopped

 

Harp in music store
Harp in music store

Leah was captivated by all the street musicians, as I knew she would be. Here is a shot that is closer up of the guitarist, who reminded me of the musical prodigy in the movie August Rush.

Leah and I listened to him for quite awhile. Leah said he was really good. As he played, he gathered a much bigger crowd than shown here.

amazing guitarist in Galway
amazing guitarist in Galway

 

A big crowd began to gather to listen to this young man
A big crowd began to gather to listen to this talented young man, who played incredibly on the guitar

One of the historic landmarks in Galway is the Wolf Tone Bridge over the River Corrib. The bridge is named after revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone, who helped found the United Irish Society, which worked to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants. We were trying to find parking to walk across the bridge.

Wolfe Tone Bridge Image source: Google
Wolfe Tone Bridge
Image source: Google

Leah found parking lots on my phone using the GPS, which I didn’t even know you could do. But it proved to be challenging as traffic was INSANE in Galway!

We just drove in circles, with me trying to listen to my phone’s GPS lady Siri, as I drove through unknown and ridiculously narrow streets and tried to avoid hitting cars in our rental car! Leah was getting frustrated with me, and I was getting very hungry!

Car GPS
Car GPS lady’s voice Siri telling me where to go

I winded up mistakenly going down a dead-end street and having to back up (not an easy feat, as the automatic cars in Ireland are a little hard to put into Neutral or Reverse!).

Leah and I decided to forget the bridge!

We did see this pretty stone bridge pictured below. I believe it was near Galway, but can’t be postive. There are a lot of bridges like this across Ireland. Unfortunately due to parking, I was unable to get a picture on the Wolf Tone Bridge.

Ireland has many legends, and the Wolfe Tone Bridge has one, too: in the 1800’s, it was that any Claddagh person traveling west over the bridge at midnight would be attacked by a ‘gliomach’ or sea monster. We were there in the daytime, not midnight, but good thing I don’t believe in legends, anyway!

stone bridge
stone bridge

In my next post in this Ireland Blog Post series, I’ll share about one of the scariest times that Leah and I had in Ireland: driving in the rain up Corkscrew Mountain!

Driving through mountains in Ireland
Driving through mountains in Ireland

 

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Galway Girl

This is post #6 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts:

#1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,

#2, Ireland: Dreams Come True,

#3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland,

#4, Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, and the fairy village, and

#5, The Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“Your feet will bring you where your heart is.”–Irish Proverb

beach in Galway, Ireland
beach in Galway, Ireland

One of my favorite romantic “chic flics” is PS: I Love You, starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank. Shortly after Gerry (Gerald) first meets Holly (Hillary), he plays his guitar in a bar and sings to her the fun Irish song Galway Girl.

Gerry & Holly in PS: I Love You
Gerry & Holly in PS: I Love You

I love the song and I couldn’t wait to go to Galway on my and Leah’s first trip to Ireland. I just had a feeling it would be a fun place, and it was! Galway was Leah’s and my favorite city in Ireland!

Leah, being a violinist, loved all the street musicians. We are definitely a “Galway Girl”!

One young man played the guitar in the town center and he was amazing. We stood and listened for awhile. He reminded me of the musical prodigy in the movie August Rush.

Galway guitarist
Galway guitarist

Unfortunately, when Leah came home and tried to transfer her pics and videos to her computer, she lost all her street musician videos! She was so frustrated with herself (thank goodness, she didn’t lose her photos! She took over 600!). I told her we’ll just have to go back so she can video them again. We both want to return to gorgeous Ireland!

We stayed at the lovely Abbeyville B & B in Freeport Barna, Co. Galway, owned by Bernadette, who is an artist. I deliberately chose this B & B, as our daughter Leah is an amazing, self-taught artist. All the B & B’s we stayed at in Ireland were very clean and neat, which I loved and was so thankful for!

wall art
wall art

 

art from B & B owner in Galway
art from B & B owner in Galway

 

Abbeyville B & B, Galway
Abbeyville B & B, Galway

 

Abbeyville bathroom
Abbeyville bathroom

When Leah was three years old, she would lay on her tummy and color and draw with crayons. When she was older, my husband Ray bought her a graphic art tablet. I homeschooled her throughout the twelve years of her education, and Leah honed her craft and now is enrolled in a digital art, online college program to achieve her Bachelor’s degree.

Leah enjoyed talking with the owner Bernadette about her art, some of which she has displayed locally. I believe this was a Divine appointment from God, as Bernadette encouraged Leah to pursue her art interest and to display and sell it online! Leah does have her own online store here.

Driveway at Abbeyville
Driveway at Abbeyville

One unique technique that Bernadette enjoys painting with is melted bee’s wax. She showed us some of her projects, and they were beautiful, textured with vibrant colors. 

I was so proud of Leah doing her classwork even as we were vacationing in Ireland! While she worked on her homework, I sat outside at a glass patio table. I admired the gorgeous blooming flowers and the lush, green plant life and trees everywhere, journaled, and created my first video in Ireland. I’ll upload it later and add the link here! It felt surreal to be in Ireland!

Beautiful fresh flowers
Beautiful fresh flowers

 

Journaling outside
Journaling outside

All the B & B’s provided coffee pots/tea makers in the room. Leah made us tea, with our cookies. One way we saved money in Ireland was to buy groceries sometimes, instead of eating out at restaurants.

At the grocery store, Leah bought a sandwich, sour cream and onion potato chips, and a chocolate mint bar, and I got a salad, salt and vinegar potato chips, and a Galaxy chocolate bar, which was delicious Irish chocolate!

Pubs are often more reasonably priced than the restaurants, so we frequently ate lunch at the pubs. This was fun. You’ll find pubs in almost every town, even the remote places. Some of the pubs play live music. They all offer alcohol, including the infamous Guinness beer (which neither Leah or I tried! I hate beer!)

The King’s Head is a famous, 800-year-old historic pub in Ireland.  It is supposedly the building given as payment to Richard Gunning for beheading King Charles I. No, we didn’t eat there!

The King's Head pub
The King’s Head pub

 

Deli/grocery
Deli/grocery

 

Chips and chocolate
Chips and chocolate

Bernadette served a wonderful, full Irish breakfast, which included delicious home-made scones with jam. Leah and I enjoyed having a French press coffee maker just for us at our table.

Fresh fruit & yogurt
Fresh fruit & yogurt

 

French press coffee maker
French press coffee maker

Bernadette was such a friendly, welcoming hostess. She encouraged us to go view the Atlantic Ocean on Salthill Promenade. I’d already read before coming to Ireland that parking was a big problem, especially in big cities, but on this busy street there is free parking on the side of the road! 

The Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean

 

Galway beach
Galway beach

 

The Atlantic, Galway
The Atlantic, Galway

It was overcast and windy, and it began to sprinkle, so the cute, comfortable, and practical raincoats I’d bought me and Leah came in handy that day. I found my blue, gently used one for only $7.99 at a thrift store and got Leah’s navy blue one on sale at Amazon. We got some great pics of each other by the ocean. It was very peaceful there.

The Atlantic Ocean beach
The Atlantic Ocean beach

 

big rocks on Galway beach
big rocks on Galway beach

Leah couldn’t believe that people were actually swimming in the water and said the water must be cold. 

In the pic below, you can see a swimmer behind me in the water, staring at the camera. Leah gets upset with me for taking photos of random people, but they often make the best pics!

In the other pic, I love how the woman’s sneakers made footprints on the wet sand as she walked. It reminds me of the poem Footprints.

Swimmer in ocean
Swimmer in ocean

 

Leah at beach in Galway in her rain jacket
Leah at beach in Galway in her rain jacket

 

me in my blue rain jacket in Galway on the beach
me in my blue rain jacket in Galway on the beach

 

Random woman walking on the beach in Galway
Random woman walking on the beach in Galway

I thought these pictures of Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean were poignant and powerful. She also took one of me, without me knowing about it. 

Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland
Leah looking out at the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland

 

Leah looking at the ocean on Salthill Promenade
Leah looking at the ocean on Salthill Promenade

 

Leah walking on the beach
Leah walking on the beach

 

me looking out at Atlantic ocean in Galway
me looking out at Atlantic ocean in Galway

The beach is my place of peace and refilling. Leah liked the seagulls on the beach; she loves any kind of animal.

The ocean is my place of peace.
The ocean is my place of peace.

 

seagull on Galway beach
seagull on Galway beach

Leah and I saw a telescope on the sidewalk and looked through it to see a ship and an island across the ocean, which had houses. The telescope cost a couple of Euros coins, like parking does in most places. 

Leah putting Euro coins in telescope
Leah putting Euro coins in telescope

 

Leah looking through telescope
Leah looking through telescope

We ate a delicious sidewalk cafe in Galway called The Quay Street Kitchen that I’d read great reviews about, where Leah tried her first Irish fish and chips (she liked it). This was one of the funnest, most peaceful times we had there, eating delicious food and people-watching in Galway.

Our waiter was brand new, and did a fabulous job waiting on us. At the table right next to us, a young couple dined together. In the background on the sidewalks Irish music played, which Leah noted. 

It again felt surreal, to be eating at an outdoor cafe in Ireland! I felt so happy sitting there with my sweet, beautiful daughter Leah. God is so good!

The Quay Street Kitchen
The Quay Street Kitchen

When I visit Ireland again (I am praying to go back!), I would love to stay in Galway several days. I wanted to stay in Galway much longer, but it was beginning to rain so Leah suggested that we leave to drive to our next B & B.

In my next post in this Ireland blog series, I’ll share more about Galway’s town center.

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We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland

This is post #3 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts #1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland, and #2, Ireland: Dreams Come True.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“My heart is quite calm now. I will go back.”–James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

 

Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Bunratty Castle, Ireland

I booked my and Leah’s vacation through Great Value Vacations, and our first night’s lodging was at the beautiful Bunratty Castle Hotel, the only hotel we stayed at during our trip (the rest were B & B’s). It is located near Bunratty Castle. The staff was so friendly and welcoming; the hotel and the rooms are gorgeous and elegant; and the breakfast in the dining room serving a full Irish breakfast was delicious!

Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room
Bunratty Castle hotel hall to dining room

 

Bunratty Castle hotel room
Bunratty Castle hotel room

 

cute window in hotel room
cute window in hotel room

 

Leah at breakfast at Bunratty Castle hotel
Leah at breakfast at Bunratty Castle hotel

 

Full Irish breakfast--yum!
Full Irish breakfast–yum!

 

Pure and mineral water provided at hotel
Pure and mineral water provided at hotel

 

Pretty rose painting in our hotel room
Pretty rose painting in our hotel room

Leah really liked the coffee and tea makers in our hotel room and in our B & B’s. Each morning we’d enjoy our hot, creamy coffee with the full Irish breakfast, and in the afternoons we’d have hot tea with cookies or chocolate wafers. She especially liked the little packets of sugar and cups of cream provided for the guests. I told her we should continue this afternoon tea tradition after we went home. I’m having a cup of tea right now as I blog about this!

tea & coffee cabinet in hotel room
tea & coffee cabinet in hotel room

 

tea kettle
tea kettle

 

packets of sugar
packets of tea & sugar

Since we arrived at the Bunratty Castle hotel our first day a little early before check-in at 3 PM, the staff person suggested that Leah and I visit Bunratty Castle nearby and its wonderful gift shop, where I bought a few souvenirs–some postcards for my family and friends, and a beautiful sterling silver pocket watch with the Trinity knot for one of Ray’s gifts. He’s always wanted a pocket watch.

Irish postcards
Irish postcard

 

One of Ray's souvenirs: a sterling silver pocket watch
One of Ray’s souvenirs: a sterling silver pocket watch

After we browsed the gift shop, Leah and I decided to tour the castle the next morning after we’d eaten supper and gotten some sleep from our long international flight! This is a great pic of Leah below in front of the castle.

Leah by Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Leah by Bunratty Castle, Ireland

There are castles and castle ruins all over Ireland. The castle was interesting to visit. It is huge with many narrow, winding stairs and low door frames overhead. This castle is not for the faint of heart or anyone with bad knees or back problems. The stairs are very hard to climb!

Narrow, winding stairs
Narrow, winding stairs

But Leah and I did make it to the roof of the castle, which has a spectacular view! It made Leah happy to reach the top of the castle.

Leah on roof of Bunratty Castle
Leah on roof of Bunratty Castle

 

castle roof
castle roof

 

View of Ireland's green fields from castle roof
View of Ireland’s green fields from castle roof

Bunratty Castle is located in the village of Bunratty, Ireland, and was built in the 15th Century. It’s between Limerick and Ennis, near the Shannon airport where we flew into Ireland, which is why I booked our first night’s stay at Bunratty Castle Hotel.

If you aren’t interested in the history part of this blog, just scroll on down to see pics and other interesting things!

The Ratty river runs alongside the castle flows into the nearby Shannon estuary. The first settlers around this site were Vikings. 

Ratty River view from castle
Ratty River view from castle

Around 1250, King Henry III of England granted the district of Tradraighe (or Tradree) to Robert De Muscegros. These lands were later taken back by King Henry III and granted to Thomas De Clare, who built the first stone structure with lime white walls (the second castle).

Me by Bunratty Castle
Me by the 4th castle at Bunratty

It stood close to the river, on or near the site of the present Bunratty Castle. In the late 13th century, Bunrattty became a large town of about 1,000 inhabitants. The castle was attacked several times by the O’Briens (or O’Brians) and their allies. In 1284, while De Clare was away in England, the site was captured and destroyed.

It is awesome to think that at one time in history, people actually lived inside these castles and fought to defend them and the land. What and who are you and I willing to fight for today?

soldier's armor
soldier’s armor

In 1318 Richard De Clare, son of Thomas, was killed in a battle between the Irish and the Normans. His followers were routed and the castle and town were completely destroyed. The castle was restored for the King of England, but was laid waste in 1332 by the Irish Chieftains of Thomond under the O’Briens and MacNamaras.

It lay in ruins for 21 years until it was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby, but was once again attacked by the Irish and after that, the castle remained in Irish hands. What’s in ruins in your life? What needs rebuilding through Christ’s love?

cannon at Bunratty Castle
cannon at Bunratty Castle

Other battles and wars occurred at the site, with a third and finally a fourth (the present structure) being built  by the MacNamara family after around 1425. Around 1500, Bunratty Castle came into the hands of the O’Briens (or O’Brians), the most powerful clan in Munster and later Earls of Thomond.

Leah’s relatives on her dad Ray’s side were Irish, and I believe my father’s ancestors were Irish, too. I just know I have Irish blood somewhere–Ireland was calling me! Leah really wanted to go, too, and I’m so glad she did! We had a fun time!

Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah
Our beautiful, precious daughter Leah

The O’Briens eventually made it their chief seat, moving it there from Ennis. The castle was surrounded by beautiful gardens and they supposedly had a herd of about 3,000 deer. I have a feeling these guys didn’t want Bambi because they thought deer were cute. They were likely made into sausage and deer jerky!

helmet & gun
helmet & gun

 

Bunratty Castle door
Bunratty Castle door

 

Leah inside the castle
Leah inside the castle

One interesting bit of trivia is that the Studdert family who owned and moved into the castle in 1720 later moved out, from family arguments over the oldest son marrying his first cousin! (Resource: Wikipedia) Family dysfunction at its finest. 

In 1956 the castle was purchased and restored (re-roofed, and saved from ruin) and is now a major tourist attraction and a National Monument. The castle is famous for its medieval banquets with entertainers dressing up in the medieval clothing. My friend Pat who just visited there with her husband attended the banquet. 

castle entrance
castle entrance

At the door a pretty young woman in a purple gown greeted me and Leah. She told me her name was Brianna, which means “noble and virtuous,” very fitting for her role there. 

Brianna, who greeted us
Brianna, who greeted us

One of the first rooms you see as you enter is the Great Hall, where the soldiers spent a lot of time. One wall has an enormous decorative wall hanging. There’s also a king’s chair, soldiers’ helmets and guns, and a fire place in the middle of the room. The king’s chair was made of beautiful, ornate wood–but looked so uncomfortable! Did you know that there is only one true King–the Lord God?

The castle has furniture and works of art dating to the 1600’s. One was an enormous wardrobe. I teased Leah about this one and the huge one in our hotel room, that we could go inside them to visit the land of Narnia and see Aslan. (This remark comes from one of our family’s fave movies, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the books by C. S. Lewis.)

wall hanging decor
wall hanging decor
castle wardrobe
castle wardrobe

 

painting in soldiers’ room

 

Great Hall and furniture

 

soldiers' room
Great Hall

 

the king's chair
the king’s chair

 

castle floor
castle floor

 

fire pit
fire place

 

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross

I was curious about one little window which had a sign by it, “Buttery Hatch.” What on earth is a buttery, I asked Leah aloud. A room for making butter? Just kidding! After googling back home, I found out it was a service room in which large barrels, or butts, of alcohol (ale) were stored and from which they were served in the Great Hall. I thought it was a cute little window. It should be used for coffee instead!

buttery hatch
buttery hatch

I’m an extremely nosy person, so it was fun poking around in someone else’s (big!) house. Leah enjoyed it, too. I found bedrooms, one with a desk and writing quill in it (which blessed me, being a writer! I didn’t think that was an accident, since I paid for this trip to Ireland with money I made from one of my books, selling it to God’s Glory Box!)

One of the things I noticed was how dark some of the rooms of the castle were. I can’t imagine what it was like with no electricity and just being lit by candles. When it stormed, I’m sure it was a little scary!

desk & writer's quill
desk & writer’s quill

 

castle bed
castle bed

Then as we explored, Leah found the dungeon! We both went down the narrow, winding stairs to look at it. The dungeon had bars across it, so you can’t go in there. I didn’t want to, anyway. It’s dark and eerie!

the castle dungeon
the castle dungeon

There were also unique, pretty aspects to the castle, like narrow windows and stained glass windows.

castle's narrow window
castle’s narrow window

 

pretty window
pretty window

 

castle's stained glass windows
castle’s stained glass windows

The castle was intriguing. Next to it is Bunratty Folk Park, which is 26 acres of a “living village” reconstructed of the homes, shops, and environment of over a century ago. It has 30 buildings, including the school, doctor’s house, pub, grocery, pottery house, and post office reminiscent of 19th century Ireland.

They’re furnished as they would have appeared according to their social standing, from the poorest one room house to the gentry home built for the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle. 

In the early 19th century the country people provided for most of their own needs in food, clothing and supplies and bought only luxuries like sugar, salt and tea. Fairs and markets at the Village gave the farmers and the rural craftsmen an opportunity of selling their products for cash, while shops provided for their needs.

Bunratty Folk Park village home
Bunratty Folk Park village home

On our second day there, I was eager to drive straight to the Cliffs of Moher (about 1 1/2 hours away), which is one of the main reasons that I wanted to visited Ireland. But I’m so glad we visited the Bunratty Folk Park first. Leah loves the outdoors like I do, as well as animals which the park had.

This was a very peaceful, relaxing, much-needed time for me and Leah, since we were tired from our long day of flying.

We walked around in the beautiful outdoors of Ireland (it felt surreal!), looking at the animals in the village, the little shops, the church, and I was so happy to see a small, beautiful waterfall. We also found a delightful, little fairy village.

I’ll share more about this and pics in my next blog post in this Ireland Blog Series. I invite you to come along with me for this exciting adventure in Ireland!

Bunratty Folk Park
Bunratty Folk Park
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