Friday, August 18, 2017

Isle of Skye

This morning we thought that finally our luck had run out and the Scottish weather had finally caught up with us. as we walked down into Portree , the largest town on the Isle of Skye, it was raining, as we waited in the large glass encased bus stop for our tour bus, it was dumping down.

Today we took a tour around the Isle of Skye. This post is not going to be very wordy, I think I will just let the pictures do the talking



If you zoom in on the image above you will see a rock formation that is remarkably like Bart Simpson ( sitting at the back of the large rock)





Portree . .



The view from our window  

A h-uile la sona dhuibh
‘s gun la idir dona dhuibh!

(May all your days be happy ones)

Googy Girl

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Edinburgh to Isle of Skye

Today seen us looking at spending a lot of time in the car as we headed north to the Isle of Sky.  
The first sprint from Edinburgh to Inverness seen us mainly on a motorway, so it really was fairly quick and uneventful. We were due to meet a boat for a ride and monster patrol on 

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is the second largest lake ( Loch) ,by surface area, in Scotland however by Volume it is the largest in the British Isles. Visibility in the lake is very poor due to the water being tannin stained. 
Of course whilst we cruised along we were on active Monster watch, of course Loch Ness is well renowned as being the home of "Nessie" whom has been reportedly been hundreds of sightings over the years, with the first dating back to 500AD and the most recent in May of this year.  Unfortunately we didn't catch sight of her, maybe it was too cold and blowy for her.

Urquart castle 

Our boat docked at Urquart castle. Urquart castle is reputed to be the largest ,by area, castle in Scotland


The present ruins date to around the 13th - 15th centuries, however archaeological studies have identified that below the ruins of the South Bailey are the remains of a medieval ring fortification

We were very fortunate to have an excellent guide when we were at this site who provided us with the history of the site and provided us with a great explanation of the how the defence 's were created and operated.

After this we traveled northwards through the mountain ranges I was just awe struck at the view. I spent most of my time slack jawed gazing out the winter, Gadget kindly pulled over to let me get some photos. 


Unfortunately it was rainy so we really couldn't see them clearly, but what we could see was magnificent.


We arrived to a very wet and rainy Portree at about 6pm to this gorgeous view.
We enjoyed a lovely meal and a chat with some Aussie's and had a reasonably early night

A h-uile la sona dhuibh
‘s gun la idir dona dhuibh!

(May all your days be happy ones)

Googy Girl

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Edinburgh, Sterling castle and Rosslyn Chapel

We arrived in Edinburgh around midday, picked up our hire car and headed into the city. We were unable to check in, so I grabbed my camera and headed towards the royal mile. 

Couldn't believe my eyes as we rounded the corner and this is what we seen. Can't wait to get a closer look in a few days.


The Royal mile was absolutely packed with people and closed to all traffic. Currently the fringe festival is in full swing and I have to say it's pretty amazing with street performers everywhere.  We had a little wander around whilst we waited for our tour.
Our first tour in Scotland was the 

Real Mary King's close

Mary King's Close is a historic close ( lane way) located under buildings on the Royal Mile, in the historic area of Edinburgh, Scotland. The close was partially demolished and buried due to the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, and later closed to the public for many years. The area became shrouded in myths and urban legends, including that the streets were sealed up with plague victims inside to protect the city.  This was a really good tour, we were guided through various "Houses" (some were really just rooms) and provided with a background of how people lived in those days, it was really interesting. The guide explained that as the buildings were 7 - 8 stories high the people living at ground level ( the poorest) rarely seen sunlight in there homes. Also as cattle were valuable and Edinburgh was a walled city, it was common that cattle were kept in a barn type room at the same level as the poor. It was really interesting. Sadly no photo's were allowed. 

The next day we decided to take a have a bit of a rest and we went on a bus tour to see a few places of interest close to Edinburgh. 
The first place we visited was   

Dunfermline Abbey 

This lovely church is the second largest final resting place for Scottish royalty. We had a really lovely tour, with a very informative guide, he walked us around explaining key aspects of various parts of the abbey.

The most Important resident of the Abbey is King Robert the Bruce.  King Robert fought successfully against the British during his reign and succeeded in making Scotland an independent country. 
We then headed to 

Sterling Castle

Sterling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. It s buildings date from the 15th and 16 th Century.


It was the home to many members of the Scottish Royal family, with many Kings and Queens, including Mary Queen of Scots being crowned here and several being  Born or died here.
It has withstood 8 sieges during it's time with the laser being in 1742 when Bonnie Prince Charle unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.


Today it is owned by historic environment Scotland and has been having major work done to bring the castle back to its former glory.
After Sterling castle we headed to the monument for Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn.


The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence, and a landmark in Scottish history, this battle resulted in re establishing of Scotland as an independent country. Robert the Bruce is seen as a national hero.  After meeting King Robert we headed to 

Rosslyn chapel.

Rosslyn chapel was founded around the 15th century as a catholic collegiate chapel.  After the Scottish reformation in 1560 the chapel could no longer be used for Catholic worship and was closed for public worship until 1861, when it re opened as a Episcopal church. 


Whilst the original plans for Rosslyn chapel have never been found, it is believed that the Chapel was not finished as originally planned.  Unfortunately I was unable to take photo's inside but it is truely


The carving and detail throughout the chapel is just so intricate and there is so many little things hidden in the carvings  that you could visit everyday for months and still never see it all.  
As we headed off on our bus trip our driver informed us we should enjoy the rare bit of Scottish sunshine as it won't last throughout the day, but he was wrong we had a beautiful sunny day all day 
It was wonderful and topped off by the discovery of a gin bar in downtown Edinburgh 

A h-uile la sona dhuibh
‘s gun la idir dona dhuibh!
(May all your days be happy ones)

Googy Girl

Trinity college and Mulahide Castle

Today started off with a walk to the trinity university campus, we were amongst the first few to line up to see the book of Kells, it was definitely worth the short wait to get in, it was absolutely amazing, of course they wouldn't let you take photos, so I don't have a photo for you but if you google it, there are many images available on the web.


We were fortunate to have be waiting outside whilst a tour guide operator was educating his group about the book, the book was originally encased in a leather cover that was coated in gold and jewels, during one of their raids the Vikings, obtained the book, fortunately they had no interest in its contents so they ripped the cover off and dumped the book in a recently plowed field, the farmer soon discovered it and returned it to the monastery.
The other Interesting thing we overheard was that they only change the page once every two months and it takes between 6 - 8 hrs, as the room were the book resides needs to be air locked and dehumidified prior to the case the book is in is opened.

 After seeing the book we headed up stairs to the long library.

Oh my gosh, it was the most wonderful room, as you can see the library is huge and is filled with the most interesting books, which we could of course not touch. But I just loved the room and it's bookie smell, I know lots of people whom would happily be locked in this room, myself included.

After a lot of shopping in the college gift shop, we grabbed some lunch.
And boarded a double decker red bus , to head out to 

Mulhide castle.

Mulhide castle was first established in 1185, when Richard Talbot a Knight in the service of Henry 2nd was bestowed the lands for his service to the king.  The Talbot family maintained almost complete ownership of the castle for 791 years.

Throughout the years the Talbot family added to their castle creating the home you see today.

during the battle of the Boyne period, 14 members of the Talbot family sat around this table for breakfast, by evening they had all died. Sadly the last two members of the family Milo and his sister Grace never had children and thus with them ended the Talbot line. Milo was a keen botanist and was particularly interested in tropical and Australasian plants. When Milo passed away. Grace inherited the estate, however she could not afford the taxes so she sold the home to office of public works and she moved to the family property in Tasmania.
After leaving Mulahide , we travelled to Knowth , a village and outer suburb of Dublin. Sadly we didn't have a lot of time there, but our guide assured us that it's the one of the best places in Ireland to get seafood chowder and fish and chips.
It had a huge Marina with hundreds of fishing boats and some lovely old shops and homes and is a popular place for Dubliners to visit on the weekend

sláinte mhaith 
( good health, in Gaelic)

Googy girl 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Killarney to Dublin

We had a few busy nights in Dublin and so the blog is running a bit behind, so I have a couple of Ireland posts to do then we will get to Scotland where we are now.

  As we both packed up to leave Killarney we did so with heavy hearts, Killarney is such a beautiful place and our hosts at Friars glen were so warm and welcoming. I just loved watching the wild deer grazing just outside my window, as I ate breakfast everyday.
As we headed off the rain was coming down and again we were a little concerned, however again Ireland was kind to us and the ran stopped just as we arrived at our first destination.

Blarney Castle


Blarney Castle was originally built in about 1210, it was destroyed about 200 years later and subsequently rebuilt by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, lord of Muscry. It had a turbulent time passing through many owners, being besieged during wars and surviving a fire of the manor house, which was built against it's walls. The castle now is a partial ruin, with all of its wooden floors long gone, but some of its rooms remain intact.

The fireplace was in the entrance hall, at the moment with its wooden floor gone it appears strangely suspended In the middle of the wall.

Of course Blarney castle is the home of the Blarney Stone, in the above image you can see people lined up waiting to kiss the Blarney Stone.  There are so many stories surrounding the origins of the stone but I think my two favourites are these.
Cormac Teige McCarthy was lord of Blarney castle during the reign of Elizabeth 1, Elizabeth wanted all Irish landowners to "occupy" their land under title to her ( so they signed their land to the crown) Cormac wasn't very keen on this idea, he approached the local wise woman and she told him to kiss the stone and it would give him the gift of eloquence, Cormac managed to use his words and wit and somehow managed to never sign his land over to the English crown.

The other story was that when Cormac Laidir MacCarthy was building Blarney Castle he was involved in a law suit. He was quite concerned and sought assistance from the goddess Clíodhna, she told him to kiss the first stone that he seen in the morning on the way to court, he did so and subsequently using great eloquence he managed to win his case, he then collected the rock and had it built into the battlements of his castle.

The grounds that the castle sits in is a gardener's delight and we could easily have spent hours in the Blarney park.

We continued to head north with our next stop in the town of Cashel.

The rock of Cashel

We continued with our good Irish luck and the rain stopped when we were maybe 20 mins away from Cashel.

The rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years, however in 1101 the king of muster , whom had recently converted to Christianity gave the rock of Cashel  to the church.

The oldest building on this site is the round tower you can see below

The tower was built sometime around 1100. The doorway to the tower is approximately 9 feet off the he ground, this is due to the tower having very shallow foundations. Access would have been via a wooden purpose built staircase.

The next oldest building on the site is the cormac's chapel 

Cormac's chapel was built around 1127.  It was quite sophisticated for it's time and had vaulted ceilings and elaborate carvings above the doorways and arches in the chapel.

The chapel also
contains one of the best-preserved Irish frescoes from this time period. Sadly however over the years the sandstone ( of which the chapel is built) became waterlogged and this significantly damaged the frescoes.


During the past 10years approximately the whole chapel was shrouded in a waterproof tent and they have managed to dry the stone out using dehumidifiers, 

They also discovered that the frescoes were being attacked by a form of bacteria so the frescoes are currently undergo a form of radiotherapy several times a week

Around the 1200's the church decided that they needed a cathedral on site so the built it right in the middle of round tower and Cormacs chapel.

Unfortunately around the 1700's the church decided to build a new church down in the town. They decided that they would take the roof of the cathedral with them.

The site was then abandoned and left to ruin 

The view from the rock of Cashel were stunning, 360 degrees of beautiful lush Irish farmland.

After our visit at Cashel we drove back to Dublin
And had a lovely quiet evening at one of the Dublin pubs.

sláinte mhaith 
( good health, in Gaelic)

Googy girl