2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

JFK's Great Grandfathers homestead

Believe it or not the speed limit is 60 Kms on track

An ancient stable near New Ross

The Famine Ship at New Ross

Church ruins near the Munster in Waterford

Private Dining Rooom at the Munster

Swans near our hotel in Waterford

Reluctantly departing Dublin this morning and with all the last gales of Hurricane Katia now passed we made our way out of the city. Well we tried to. The unfortunate and then aggravating part of trying to make one's way through the maze of narrow streets, alleys and not much more than ox cart trails is that if one misses the exact turn off, one cannot simply go around the block to recover one's bearing. If you miss your turn you are officially hooped! Or in certain circles the saying is you are Frenched! We indeed were Frenched. It took us an hour to finally find our way out and be on our way down the in land route through the Wicklow Mountains. Motoring then merrily down the dual carriageway an endless vista of pastoral verdant countryside, terraced hillsides and gently flowing streams joined our journey. Now the Wicklow Mountains are not really mountains as we think of being mountains, the tallest being not more than perhaps 3000 feet, and certainly not with thick forests. The Wicklow Mountains are filled with ancient abbeys and monasteries, churches and Norman castles. Now a part of the EU, Ireland uses the Euro as currency and in all other measures is metric. The UK is different somehow managing to use their own currency and imperial measures as in miles as distance and miles per hour to denote speed limits. Our rental car being English has the big numbers on the speedometer in miles per hour and the secondary numbers in metric. So I have to focus to see how fast I am going. Not that it matters, no one pays any notice anywhere over here to traffic speeds, parking or staying in one's lane. If you do not drive aggressively you will go nowhere. Using a turn signal is a sign of weakness, an unmanly act deserving of scorn, ridicule and rejection. One may park anywhere; on the sidewalk, half on the sidewalk, fully in the travelling lane so vehicles must use the on coming lane to go around, but it seemed the preferred to park on the wrong side of the road as so to face oncoming traffic. This is most disconcerting to a North American as suddenly rounding a corner to face a long line of vehicles all in your lane and all facing you. It is with sudden relief when you realize they are all parked. Heading to Waterford at the southeast of Ireland we stopped at the ancestral home of JFK. Far off down narrow and dark and walled country lanes just south of New Ross is the farm/estate of Patrick Kennedy, JFK's great-grandfather. JFK visited here in June of 1963. The plaque commemorating the event failed to mention which bimbo accompanied him or if he was visiting an Irish mistress. From there, after encountering semi-trailers on this country lane and other vehicles at reckless speeds we went back again to New Ross and visited a replica of the Famine Ship of 1845, the SS Dunbrody. These ships were virtual floating coffins as the starving wretched Irish, desperately abandoning Ireland for the hope of a new life in America perished at sea through tragedy or disease. At Waterford we are staying at the Waterford Marina Hotel right upon the tidal River Suir in a revitalized area of this smallish city. Waterford is famous for its crystal and tomorrow we shall visit its large store. We dined at The Munster, named for the area of Ireland we are in. A gorgeous authentic Irish inn with all the charm and atmosphere we had been seeking, with real Irish food. As with England and Wales, Ireland too is plagued restaurants serving every manner of food expect that native to the particular country. And I hope to be poxed if I will go all the way to Ireland to have a Genuine Beef Burger or a plate of God-Knows-What Fried Rice to go. What I do know is if I continue to eat Colcannon (a most delightful and savoury mixture of mashed potato, green onion and cabbage spiced with butter, salt and pepper) I shall soon look like Frank Cannon that rather portly 1970s TV detective. But enough for tonight. It is dark and quiet the river is still and tomorrow we are off to Blarney Castle and Cork, the birthplace of my late Granny's father, Jim Hall. Born in Paradise Alley I am certain it is anything but. Until tomorrow Steve & Joan & Patricia say goodnight.

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