Sunday, May 31, 2015


Okay, giving you a break from Paris and bringing us back to the present. I am currently in a little town in Ireland, simply because it was the cheapest acceptable place to spend several days until my little Paris studio became available for another few days.

I needed to be in a place outside of the Schengen countries, to have as many days as possible to spend in France and Italy when my family gets here, and anywhere in the UK was fine for that. Or so I believe.

However, the passport control guy at Shannon airport threw me completely for loop when he said I was only allowed in Ireland until June 18, just a couple of days after the kids will be arriving. Definitely no bueno. Unfortunately, because of the way he got around to saying that and the fact that my AirBnB host had been kept waiting due to a delayed flight, what he was actually saying didn't connect to my brain until I hit the airport waiting area. So I didn't get a chance to ask him about it, and I've been worrying about it ever since.

But I don't think he can possibly be right. His premise is that June 18 is precisely 3 months after I first entered Ireland. But I haven't been in Ireland all that time. The rule is usually 90 days out of every 180, which certainly seems like a rolling measure. I mean, if someone goes to Dublin for a 4 day business conference March 10, the 90 days ends on June 10. According to the way this guy is thinking, that person would not be allowed back in Ireland from June 10 to September 10, and I don't see how - or why - that would be. 

I am going to try and speak with someone at the airport when I go back for my flight out. I've got the dates of when I've been where, and the stamps on my passport to support that data, so hopefully things will work out. Otherewise, I've just provided my family with a lovely vacation that I won't get to share with them. Because however they figure it, I'm sure the Schengen area works the same way. 

Anyway, I can't do anything about it right now, so let me tell  you about Limerick.

It's not a big city, only about 100,000 people in the greater metropolitan area, which happens to be a size I really like. The people are wonderful, very nice and with a great sense of humor. Though the weather was cool and overcast, I enjoyed walking around. I like both the look and feel of the place.

The big attraction there is King John's Castle, and I am always up for a castle, palace or stately home. This one was a little different. It starts off with a lot of exhibits containing historical facts, both written and explained on video screens. I actually like history, and found a lot of it interesting, but there was so much of it that I was starting to wonder if any of the actual castle was on display.

Some of the exhibits were a little grisly, to match the facts. But I have to say that I found a display of family heads on spikes a little unsettling. Ireland has a violent history, no question. But I find reading about it sad enough without looking at graphic depictions, even though they are just white plaster. 

Maybe I'm just a little too sensitive, but wouldn't children hearing about other children being slaughtered and then having their heads put on spikes in public places be a little upset at seeing even a sanitized version like this?

It certainly dampened my mood, which the weather hadn't succeeded in doing. So I went off to see the rest of the castle feeing a little somber, but it was interesting enough that I soon forgot about the exhibits.

All of the areas on display at this castle were those of the workers, none of the King's apartments or kitchens or any of that type of thing seems to have survived. But what was left was still interesting.

In the wide open area on the ground floor was where the blacksmith took care of his many responsibilities, and there were a couple of people in costume who spoke about what went on there, if anyone came by to ask.

The chapel was housed in a tiny plain cabin on this floor, as well.

Stairs led down to where the moneyer had a one person mint, making all of the currency.

Upstairs, there were quarters for the soldiers, the constable and others who were responsible for the protection of the castle. 

Very authentic looking clothing was on display, as well.

In some of these, there were more video screens showing people - usually in costume - offering all manner of details.

The armory was a separate area; showing guns, spears and more costumes. 

I thought the spears were much more aesthetically pleasing than I expected to find in weaponry.

By now, regular readers of the blog will be aware that I have a pet peeve regarding the way new structures are added to ancient buildings. By my standards, the gift shop and cafe tacked on to King John's Castle failed miserably.

However, the castle itself definitely held a great feeling of authenticity, especially in the staircases.

And the views were fabulous.

Alll in all, I very  much enjoyed my visit there.

Afterward, I stopped in at St. Mary's Cathedral, which is a lovely Gothic church. There is a small, but impressive looking cemetary in front, which is not something you see often.

It was really nice inside, too, but I wish I could find the trick for photographing stained glass windows. 

So many churches have really impressive ones, but they either get washed out by the sunlight behind them or stand out with everything else in darkness.

This church isn't nearly as big as most we've seen on this trip, but it is truly lovely.

From there I went on to a market type thing which had very nice fresh produce...

and flowers...

even fresh fish.

But most of the rest of the stuff looked like just cheap junk. It wasn't very big, but the food looked great, so it must be really wonderful for the people who live in the city to have access to that on a regular basis.

By then I was pooped, so I got a bus back to the little town where I'm staying. It's a nice ride, about 25 minutes and non-stop. I enjoyed seeing the countryside from my comfortable seat, after all my walking. The stop was just about a ten minute walk away from my lodging, also very pleasant - especially the last bit, down a winding lane.

Lots of horses here.

Some people get quite elaborate on their property where it meets the road.

I like Ireland a lot. I have since the first time I visited here many years ago. So I have plenty to show you from here, until I go back to Paris next week. Stay tuned.

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