Friday, September 27, 2013

WIcklow County

We were ready to leave Dublin this morning and head for the countryside. We have a GPS but we were able to navigate our way out of the city using the atlas I had brought. (We couldn't figure out how to tell the GPS where we were going -- we didn't have an address!) We were on everything from a four-lane divided highway with exits to a just-barely two-lane country road. However, the roads so far haven't been nearly as narrow as we were told. But that may change. Dan is doing an excellent job of driving -- stick shift and on the left side of the road.

Our first stop was the village of Avoca. It is the home of the oldest handweaving company in Ireland. We were able to tour the weaving area, enjoy looking at the shop, and have a cup of tea in the cafe. Avoca is also well-known as the setting for the TV serial "Ballykissangel," about an English priest sent to an Irish village. I have enjoyed it and recently watched a few episodes to remind myself of the location.

The Avoca Handweavers

Colorful warps ready for the weaver

Avoca village church

Fitzgerald's Pub -- only interesting if you've seen the show
 Heading north from Avoca we made a short stop at The Meeting of the Waters. Two rivers join to make the Avoca River. There is a small hotel and a park. Beautiful little spot!

View of the park from hotel grounds
We thought we might visit Avondale along the way, the home of Charles Parnell, a famous figure in Irish history. However, when we pulled into the grounds we realized it was more than we wanted to do right then. But I did get a picture of the wonderful small gate house, now sitting empty.

Our next stop was Glendalough, the site of a well-known monastery from about 600 to 1200 A.D. The buildings are all in ruins now, but you can see the remnants of the large thriving community it once was. I was a bit surprised to see that the main area of buildings is in a graveyard. It seemed that many of the graves (when we could read the inscription) were in the late 19th century, and I even saw one dated 2001. Many could have been much older, as the weather has eroded much of the writing.

Entry gate to Glendalough; notice the Irish piper on the left

View of round tower after entering through the gate

A small church building

FIrst of two lakes at Glendalough
There was a very nice path through the woods up to the two lakes (=lough). It was a bit too far for me, but we went far enough to see the first lake. It was indeed a beautiful and peaceful place.

Although it was only about 2:30, we decided to find our B&B, just a mile outside Laragh, the nearest village to Glendalough. It is a pleasant house, appears to have about four guestrooms, two of which are occupied tonight. Around 5:30 we headed out for supper, having more or less skipped lunch. We went to the main pub in Laragh, right on the main corner, not easy to miss.

Wall decorations included a large bellows with a wooden pitchfork resting on it

Dan enjoyed his non-Guinness stout

Haddock with chips and mushy peas

Delicious Irish beef stew with balls of mashed potatoes and soda bread

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