The Enduring Writer in Ireland 2018, Part 7

My final day in Ireland was one of sadness. I would be leaving the airport early the next morning, and I was not yet ready to leave this country of emerald green fields. It was as if I had just arrived. I was starting to get into the groove of the cities without skyscrapers. I was beginning to make new friends and talk wherever I traversed. And, most importantly of all, I wasn’t ready to leave the castles, cathedrals, or breathtaking views.
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I decided to make my last day in Ireland a memorable one. I credit this feeling to the adventure I had from the day before, where I traveled to Great Blasket Island and roamed through ruins for an afternoon. Excitement, and possibly adrenaline, still spurred through my veins, and I needed to spend it on something worthwhile.
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I must say my morning started out very slow. I expected my first stop of the day at the Kerry Writers’ Museum to be boring and tedious. In my mind, I envisioned a droll lecture from a museum attendant on the lives of writers I didn’t care a wit about. Works I never read from writers I never heard about.
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24
Outside the Kerry Writers’ Museum. On the left is the museum.
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However, this experience exceeded my expectations. A museum attendant dressed in 18th century clothing shepherded us around the museum, each room dedicated to a different writer. There were five rooms in all, and the attendant gave a performance in each one. Singing, acting, reading from plays. She had a lovely voice as she thumped away on a tiny drum. She acted boisterous in an excerpt of a humorous play. Oh, and she told jokes. She made the museum lively and a real treat.
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Now, the museum attendant did specify photos cannot be shared on social media. Unfortunately, I will not be able to share any in this post. I do wish to respect the museum and its staff in not sharing too much about this stop, except to say this. If anyone reading this ventures to southern Ireland, I recommend stopping at the Kerry Writers’ Museum. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where anyone interested in literature will enjoy a few hours of learning and entertainment.
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Next up I took a tour of Limerick on the Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour. Now, I read the book a very long time ago, but it does a good job of evoking the scenery and history contained within the memoir. My group and I visited many places written about in Angela’s Ashes, such as Frank McCourt’s house. We had quite a bit of discussion about McCourt’s life and his childhood.
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18
St. Joseph’s Parish Centre in Limerick.
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However, the walking tour expanded on more than just Angela’s Ashes. Our tour guide talked about the history of Limerick, giving background and stories. He pointed out Georgian architecture, which got him talking about the culture and society of the time period. He showed us the Broken Heart Memorial, which was dedicated to the one million victims of the Great Famine (1845-1849). He showed us a mural dedicated to the famous women of Limerick, ranging from Lola Montez, courtesan and mistress to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, to Constance Smith, an actress for 20th Century Fox who served prison time for stabbing her beau.
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16
“Limerick Women” Mural.
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It was enlightening. It was interesting. It was fun with a capital F. Honestly, I enjoyed more of the discussion about the history of Limerick than I did about Angela’s Ashes. It made it a more rounded tour, and allowed readers and non-readers of the memoir to enjoy Ireland’s third largest city.
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I’d walked a good walk in Limerick. I had received some entertainment in Kerry. However, I needed more to make this an unforgettable day. I needed to have some kind of festivity. I found it at the Bunratty Castle Hotel .
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Now, this is the most exceptional hotel I’ve ever stayed at for one sole reason: it rests in the shadow of a castle. Bunratty Castle was constructed in 1425. It’s name means “river basin” or “Ratty” in Irish, because it is settled next to the Ratty river. Around the castle is also a pub and a few shops. It’s very scenic, and there’s plenty to do. Not to mention, there’s a castle! Or did I already say that? 😉
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11
Bunratty Castle.
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After settling into my room at the hotel, and a quick nap, I explored the grounds around the hotel. First, I spent a little time at the pub for a drink, feeling pretty indoctrinated into the country. I had a Jameson whiskey in one hand. I was talking to a few Irish locals. There was a castle–a castle!–in the background. I felt like I belonged.
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However, I thought this too soon, because I was about to embark on the most touristy entertainment. I enjoyed a medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle. Yes, the most touristy thing I did on my entire trip.
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9
Donkey!
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Even the walk up to the castle is very touristy! I stopped and took a few pictures of an adorable donkey. I walked up to the castle, staring up at the structure through the glow of spotlights pointed at it. I waited in line with a ticket to get into the castle, and I saw historical reenactors dressed in some seriously awesome medieval garb.
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Everyone stood in this large room, gathering around a dais. I was confused, because there were no tables or chairs around. Only a single chair. I thought this was a dinner, and yet I was crammed into a tiny room with way too many people. I must admit I hate being crammed and confined in a small space with many people, but a nice reenactor came around to greet us with honey mead wine. This made me forget all about my fears.
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7
Beautiful singing, but all I could think was, “Where is the food?”
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Another reenactor came around to hand out bread to dip into a bowl of salt. Still, the music played. Still, reenactors walked around. Still, we stood. I started to think the honey mead and bread was our dinner, and nothing else. 
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6
Would you like some more bread?
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But then a voice boomed through the castle, echoing into my tiny corner of the entrance hall, as it turned out. A reenactor, who I liked to think of as the “lead guy,” stepped onto the dais with a female reenactor, who I nicknamed “Fanny.” These two declared the king and queen of the castle, chosen from our large audience. Crowns were placed on these addled tourists heads, and we were led down a narrow staircase to the banquet hall!
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We sat down to tables littered with silverware, but there was yet any food! Any food other than bread, which was laid out on platters for everyone to share. We were given choices of white wine and red wine in decanters. We had to pour for ourselves! And did I start pouring.
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4
First course was a warm, thick soup.
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Soup came as the first course. The main meal was chicken with diced potatoes and carrots. The final was an apple pudding dessert, which I cannot remember the name of for the life of me.
The food was gone, the company wonderful, and the wine plentiful.
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Everyone ate and sang. The retinue of historical reenactors sang songs authentic to the time period in a mixture of Irish and English. We swayed on our benches as we let the notes fall over us.
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3
Chicken with a side of diced potatoes and carrots.
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There was a bit of theater with the king and queen of the castle for the night, locking away a prisoner for carousing with the ladies of the court. Deciding if the food was good for the court’s consumption or not. And then more singing! Ah, it was a wonderful time with the soft glow of the castle, the crammed quarters, and the lilting music. All  within the walls of a medieval castle.
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A grand finale ended the festivities, which everyone in the audience was asked not to record. Again, I respected the wishes of the reenactors and didn’t record the final songs for the evening. We were let go, with many of us being tipsy.
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1
A glimpse inside the medieval banquet hall.
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I went back to the pub for another Jameson whiskey. My last for the night. A fiddler was there, stamping his foot to his own tune. Others danced a little jig, gearing up for a late night of festivities. I chose to go back to the hotel, because I would need to be up early for my last flight.
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I remember walking back up to the hotel wishing the magic would stay with me. Just a little bit longer. Just another day more. But it wasn’t to be. I couldn’t stay in Ireland, although I would go back many times more.
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2
Bunratty Castle at night.
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I fell asleep in my bed and woke to an early sunrise. Ireland’s days are long. The sun starts to rise around 5am, and the sun doesn’t set until between 9:30 and 10:00pm. I straggled to the airport thinking I would forever miss this country. Even as I type this, I feel my heart crossing the Atlantic and into those emerald green fields.
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I will forever remember walking back up to that hotel, remembering all the things I had done in my week in Ireland. I stood in the same room Queen Victoria had spent two nights in, and I visited the castle Anne Boleyn had come so close to being the mistress over. I walked through the narrow streets of Dublin, and I had the most delicious hot chocolate of my life. I discovered my love for white pudding and Jameson whiskey. I indulged in my adventurous side in venturing onto the Great Blasket Island, exploring ruins and running into a wild donkey. I had done so much, and I could’ve done so much more.
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I think it would take a lifetime to uncover all the magic, but I can positively say my trip improved me as a person. I’m reading even more than before. I found clarity of mind for life decisions made after my trip. And I found inspiration for new stories. There was so much history, literature, and folklore, my head is awhirl with ideas. It will take time to write them all, but I can say I am ready for my journey to begin. And it starts in my writing chair, not in an airplane.
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That is the end of this blog series: “The Enduring Writer in Ireland 2018.” I spent seven days in Ireland, and each was more beautiful than the last! Go back and read my previous posts if you haven’t yet.
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Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

I do plan on traveling to more countries in the future. Most likely within the next year, all for the sake of researching and writing! Stay tuned for more travels.

Please like and share. And please (I promise, this is my last “please”), drop any comments or questions below! I love talking to readers. 🙂

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