Yep, back from Ireland! Land of rolling emerald-scapes, sheep o' plenty, bustling cities both large and small, pubs galore, friendly peeps AND a booming economy! As you may know, not long ago Ireland was considered a third world country. Not. Any. More. Currently Ireland is kicking some economic butt and the once impoverished nation and people are thriving. Truly wonderful to see and experience, if not expensive. But in true LadyLinoleum shopping fashion, my dollar was their euro for which I converted and spent aplenty, thereby doing my part to further stabilize the country's current economic bliss.
Needless to say I spent quite a bit of time shopping on Grafton Street with my mom, the hubby being the designated shopping bag holder, buying lots of tweed and indulging my personal addiction of choice - shoes! Oh shoes, how I love thee. Okay, yes, I've just gone from zero to completely shallow in 2.5 seconds (more to come on this front I assure you). Let's move on, shall we?
We, the travelers three (my husband, my mother and meself), decided that when in Ireland, stay in castle. So, we made reservations at Clontarf Castle. Located approximately three miles from Dublin City Centre, once owned by many a historic figure including Oliver Cromwell and peppered with the heads of dead animals past, was a very comfortable accommodation that served as our base of operations for the length of our stay. Incidentally, the Clontarf area was the former neighborhood of Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. Cool, eh?
One of the many animals who gave its life for wall ornamentation:
Neato lobby shot:
Having rented a car upon arrival in Dublin we were free to travel the country at will due to wheels. So travel we did, up and down the east coast of the Emerald Isle to destinations such as Lisburn and Belfast in Northern Ireland and Slane, Newgrange and Waterford down in the south of the good ole Republic.
First stop, Lisburn, Northern Ireland!
Home to the Irish Linen Centre and Museum and quite the picturesque stop on ye old map, Lisburn is a beehive of activity. Lots of shops, restaurants, pubs and as I mentioned above, home to the story of the origins of Irish linen manufacture. This is a must-see for those of us with a penchant for fiber!
Although the museum does have intriguing current exhibitions relevant to linen and fiber in general on its ground floor, I recommend their permanent exhibition which tells of the origins and production of linen found at the top floor of the building. Complete with mannequins demonstrating the various stages of linen production and a real live docent present to answer any questions you may have, this exhibition is both informative and a little disturbing due to its Village of the Damned styled mannequin workers. Ending the mostly self-guided tour through the exhibition and making sure that none of the mannequins has suddenly sprung to life, seeking to make you part of the um, err, experience (okay, so I've watched House of Wax one too many times), the viewer is then met with several working floor looms dressed with linen fiber and their actual-in-the-flesh weavers producing amazing linen specimens for sale. Very cool.
Irish Linen Centre:
Next stop on the northbound very narrow two lane Irish road, Belfast!
It 'tis strange that my rather reactionary husband has a distinct interest in urban guerrillas, which was our main reason for a visit to Belfast, for it is so contrary to his political bent. The man continues to be a puzzle...Anyhow, despite Gerry Adams and crew having put down their weapons in favor of ballots, this modern city rests just above not so distant images of bloody urban conflict.
So what to the travelers three do in Belfast? They drive their rental Beemer around in search of Sinn Fein HQ to purchase t-shirts. No, I'm not kidding. Are you thinking ugly American tourists? Yeah, me too...
Ahem, well if you're not completely appalled by that last travel tidbit, then stay tuned because there's lots more to come from our travels about the green isle in the North Atlantic...