Once upon a time, there was a little girl who dreamed that she was a princess living in an enchanted castle in a far, far away land. There she would meet her knight in shining armor who would rescue her from the evil clutches of this ferocious dragon whom he slayed after a long battle. Then, they both lived happily ever after….. or so they say.
Fairy tales, you either love them or hate them. I suppose Ireland is the land of legend and magic. I would also like to believe, that it is the land of fairy tales. Call me childish or childlike but all my childhood dreams were coming true. Medieval castles, gothic churches, ancient monasteries…. all these were but found in my books or in the movies or in my imagination. As I come to see them before me with my very own eyes, I felt like I was transported back in time.
There were so many castles and ruins we saw along the way it was impossible to visit them all. So many oohs and aahs and wows were said either aloud or in quiet disbelief as I wandered into empty halls with my hand touching the stone walls wondering about the people who once lived there. My inner Lady Belle was working it. 🙂
According to one source online, there are over 30,000 castles in the island of Ireland! Most of them were built in Medieval times. It is also interesting to note that most of these castles were not built for kings and queens but rather as forts or defensive fortresses or what they call tower houses.
We took a tour at Ross Castle and actually, learned a lot of things about how they lived during those times and how each part of the fort from the wooden doors to the stairs had a purpose in helping defend its occupants from invading armies.
Dunluce Castle. Location: Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
Ross Castle. Location: Killarney National Park, Co Kerry
Ballycarberry Castle. Location: Cahersiveen, Co Kerry (along the Ring of Kerry)
Bunratty Castle. Location: Bunratty Village, Co Clare
Dunguaire Castle. Location: Co Galway near Kinvarra
Churches, Monasteries and Abbeys
My world history was being refreshed big time on this trip as it was actually fascinating to see all these history passing before us. At one point in our bus tour to the Giant’s Causeway, I thought of the thousands of people that were persecuted and had died defending their religion, i.e., the Catholics vs Protestants war in Ireland had me so troubled that I can say that we are so lucky today because of the freedom of religion.
St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney
Muckross Abbey, Killarney National Park, Killarney
Random church along the Ring of Kerry
Inisfallen Abbey, Inisfallen Island, Killarney National Park
Ruins (and a Stone Circle)
Ireland is dotted with them. Some you can’t really identify whether it was a castle or a farmhouse. All you see are scattered stone remnants of some sort of structure. And don’t get me started on stone circles. Although I only saw one at Kenmore along the Ring of Kerry, Ireland has a couple hundred stone circles scattered around. But it was enough to get my geek hat on.
There was that one day when I told my hubby though that I was afraid I was getting “castled out”! Eek! But I eventually resumed to my otherwise enthusiastic self the next day after having my 6th Irish breakfast in a row. Go figure.
Are you a history fan? Would you rather live in the past or in the present?