Tag Archives: Travel

Forget Hotels – Stay in an Irish Castle!

Skip the cozy Irish Bed-and-Breakfasts. Skip the Maldron and Jury’s Inn hotels.  Spend a night in a castle instead! During our three weeks in Ireland, my search for a reasonably-priced hotel in Sligo brought up an unexpected surprise: the Markree Castle Hotel. It’s more a large manor house than a true castle and it hasn’t been turned into a 5-star spa resort, but it was delightful. (And we couldn’t afford a 5-star resort anyway.)  The long entrance drive made me feel like I was coming up to Pemberly, or Netherfield at least. Stained glass windows in the great hall show the family’s genealogy and connections to royalty – that’s King John, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I along the top. Fireplaces abound in the main areas, and the staircases put you smack into Downton Abbey. The other downstairs rooms have been restored to Victorian times, if not earlier. Upstairs, bedrooms are … Continue reading

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St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! But first, please save me from American advertising!  Whoever started the change from Paddy to Patty should be taken behind the barn and pelted with cooked cabbage.  Patty is a girl’s name, for heaven’s sake, and nothing to do with the venerated Irish saint. Patrick, in Irish, is Pádraig.  Pronounced something along the lines of pah-drig or poh-rig, depending on which part of Ireland you’re from (and how much this American can mis-interpret Irish pronunciation).  Pádraig is no doubt where the nickname Paddy comes from, so please don’t say Patty.  Madison Avenue, are you listening?  More to the point, local PR firms putting ads in local newspapers and TV stations, are you listening?? OK, rant over.  I promise.  Maybe. One more comment about St. Patrick’s name.  If the Irish shorten it to anything, it’s St. Pat’s, or just Patrick.  That seems to go for anything from … Continue reading

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Driving on Irish Country Roads – with video

Have you mastered The Basics?  That’s grand, then, so.  Onward to country lanes: First, disabuse yourself of the notion that you get to see the Irish countryside when you drive.  Make a rule that the driver looks at the road and the passenger gets to look out the side window if you want to avoid problems.  But don’t worry, the passenger won’t see much either.  Irish country roads tend to be guarded by tall hedges, which the farmers typically use instead of fences.  And which are not see-through. In the next picture, the thickish green brush curving up the hill is a tall hedge, with a smaller hedge to the right and the road in between.  Drivers here are lucky – they actually get to see to the right, provided they can dodge the potholes on the way up a 10% incline! Once you know what to expect, prepare yourself … Continue reading

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Driving in Ireland: the Basics

The first step toward driving in Ireland is to ride in the front passenger seat with an Irish driver.  When you’ve done that enough so you don’t cringe and lean sideways every time an oncoming car seems to be HEADED DIRECTLY FOR YOU, then you might be ready to shift to the left side and drive. Remember: The Irish very thoughtfully provide these signs on the main roads leaving airports.  By the time you stop giggling at the mental image of Hogan’s Heroes’ Sergeant Shultz yelling “Achtung! Drive on Left!” you’ve relaxed.  Until you realize there’s no center line on your small highway and you’re actually back on the right hand side.  But don’t worry, the Irish are generally very patient with dumb Americans and will just nod and continue when you’re finally back on the right correct side of the line. That center line turns out to be very … Continue reading

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Village of Lacock – Scenes from Pride & Prejudice

(Written 5/15/09) Since we had been to Old Sarum the day before, I had browsed around for what to do in the afternoon.  We were all museum-ed out.  So we drove up to the Village of Lacock, a small medieval village with people living there, but traffic is diverted so it’s really quiet.  The whole village is a National Trust site, so there’s no modern architecture, streetlights, etc., coming in.  They use it for filming a lot of period pieces, including parts of BBC’s Pride & Prejudice and bits of Harry Potter.  It was the village of Meryton in P&P. I took lots of pictures so I can watch movies and look for the places.  We had lunch at “King John’s Hunting Lodge,” one of the oldest building in the town.  Nice, crowded lunch/tearoom, food was so-so, the fun part were the photos of Harry, Ron & Hermione from filming … Continue reading

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