Day 10 – Friday Aug. 25, 2006
After breakfast we checked out of the Carrigeen Castle B&B. Noël wanted to stop at a store to pick up some more fudge for gifts. We worked our way back through Cahir and headed north toward Tipperary town and then on to Limerick.
When we arrived in Limerick it was very congested and we decided to head west to see Adare village and then to Rathkeale to see Castle Matrix and then up to Askeaton before heading back to Limerick. The village of Adare was a real village and not a recreation of a medieval village like the one at Bunratty. I had read a review on the Internet that compared its “tourist index” to that of Kilarney but it was really nowhere close in my estimation. Of course, the village was accommodating to tourists but they didn’t go overboard.
There was an old church just down the street from the Tourist Center that was still in use. I tried some different settings on my camera to get some pictures of the stained glass windows. The “Adare Castle” appeared to be under going some renovations even though it was in a ruinous state to begin with. The bus tour was going to something called “Desmond Castle” which was supposed to be on the road into Adare but we never saw it even though we passed by the location three times. We skipped that tour.
We walked up and down the village streets of Adare looking once again for those elusive Terry’s Twilight Mints. Finally we gave up that search and went back to the Tourist Center for a couple drinks and to share some apple crisp. By now we were Adared-out and got back on the road and headed for Rathkeale, which turned out to be a real sorry looking place. It supposedly held the ruins of Castle Matrix. The signs sent us east and we wound up back on the road headed for Tralee in County Kerry. So, we took the very next exit that was on the west side of Rathkeale. Why a sorry little village like Rathkeale would deserve TWO exits is beyond my understanding. However, following the road around, we caught a glimpse of Castle Matrix. Here it was, on the west side of the village, even though the signs had sent us off in an easterly direction. The castle, or what was left of it, looked pretty run down and it was also located on private property so we passed on Castle Matrix and drove out of the village and headed toward Askeaton. [Note: The Glenview B&B owner later told us that Rathkeale was where the Travelers lived in their “Million Dollar Mansions.” It seems we were just as well off leaving that village as soon as possible.]
On to Askeaton – this would turn out to be the best of the three. There were many ruins and sites to see here – more than we were going to have time to see. Anthony Sheehy, a local history expert, gave us a personal tour of Askeaton Castle. He was a retired butcher who had lived in Askeaton all his life and had developed a love of history along the way. He said he had started giving tours of the old Priory in Ashkeaton shortly after his sister’s funeral had been held there after her untimely death at the age of 18. Over the years his expertise grew and he included Askeaton Castle in his repertoire. Anthony had left the butcher trade in 1997 because of the increased governmental regulations that made it difficult to make a profit in that business. Just this year (2006) he reached the magic age of 65 and he officially became retired with his government pension, free television and the rest of the benefits that go with the government retirement program.
Anthony knew everything about Askeaton Castle and all the other structures on the grounds. Until just three years ago the castle had been locked up. He took it upon himself to write to the powers that be in Dublin and three weeks later he had the keys to the castle and could begin giving his tours on the inside the castle. He knew every inch of that castle and had played in the ruins as a boy.
Anthony knew why everything was the way it was and how it would have been used by the owners. He even had some of his own theories on why the castle was constructed in the manner it was. As a boy he and his friends would climb to the top of the castle even though it was a most dangerous undertaking.
After a most thoroughly entertaining tour he offered to take a couple pictures of Noël and myself next to the castle. He then recited a poem for us and bid us farewell in Gaelic. We walked back to the tourist office with him, signed the visitors’ book and gave him a 20 Euro donation and headed back to our car for the journey to Limerick – and the rush hour traffic.
There was just too much traffic in Limerick. We had originally planned to eat dinner there but we quickly abandoned that idea. Instead we headed for Ennis to find our B&B for the night. Traffic was still pretty heavy heading into Ennis and we missed the turn off the first time by – which is par for the course. It was down at the end of a fairly narrow road with a bunch of other houses around. Along the way, we crossed a very strange, one lane, S-shaped stone bridge that went over some train tracks. However, it did slow down traffic on what had become a short cut into Ennis that avoided the traffic jams on the main road. At the B&B we met the host and hostess – they were very nice and very talkative. They loved Clinton & JFK and hated BUSH.
We finally decided to eat dinner at the Queens Hotel in downtown Ennis, near the Franciscan Friary. We checked out the Old Ground Hotel and that looked too fancy and expensive. Brogana’s was crowded and too expensive.
This was our last chance – one more search for Terry’s Twilight Mints. Dunne’s on Abbey Street was still open but we came away empty handed. We walked back to the car and then filled up the gas tank on the way back to the B&B so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning on the way to the airport. Once back at the B&B we emptied the car and started stuffing the suitcases for the flight home in the morning. We had bought a duffle bag for the dirty clothes so that our suitcases could hold the books, maps, candy, etc. that we had bought while in Ireland.
Day 11 - Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006
Airport – fly home. One more search for Terry’s Mints at the gift shop at Shannon Airport – nothing. We would return home mintless. We had turned in the rental car and asked them to mail our rental cell phone back for us and started to walk away when one of the other agents asked us to wait a minute. It had seemed a little odd that the first agent hadn’t given us a receipt before wishing us a good day. The second agent seemed to be more aware of what was going on. She looked up our accident report and informed us they were charging us 120 Euros for the two rims and the two tires. I explained to her that I had taken out the optional insurance that reduced my deductible to zero. It was then that she pointed out the small print that stated the insurance didn’t cover tires, rims, glass, etc. I asked why no one had pointed that out to me when I purchased the extra insurance and she told me I should have read the small print. And that’s the approach that guarantees that you don’t get any repeat business.
At Boston’s Logan Airport we had to go through customs. While we were waiting for our luggage a fruit sniffing beagle caught Noël trying to smuggle a banana and an apple into the country. My wife – a fruit felon.