Saturday, December 29, 2012


Departing Galway on a sunny day, we drove the “cow path” looking roads to Clonmacnoise. The stonework of this 5,ooo year old monastery were remarkable to see. I have never seen as many Celtic crosses as I did in the graveyard. The stood dramatic and intense against the blue sky. Pope John Paul II had even visited this place. The giant carved crosses inside the information center were thousands of years old and in pretty good shape. Through the countryside we traveled to the outskirts of Trim. Our little “eco-car” unfortunately uses a good bit of gas even though it’s tiny… and we were suddenly riding with the gas light on. This made for a stressful few minutes. After entering historic Trim, I asked a local the way to a petrol station. The first time we actually got accurate directions in Ireland was this time thanks to the Lord. We pulled into the Cranmore House B&B through a flowery gate. No, the directions to the house were not correct but we finally made it. This place was a fantastic looking country house with a bright red door, vines scaling the walls, sheep in the fields, and two ponies out back… not to mention a very relaxing and picturesque garden area. The sky was blue with only a slight chill, but warm in the sun. The proprietor, Anne, suggested that we head down to Trim Castle right away and take the tour before the grounds closed. Great advice! Got lost a little on the way to downtown Trim (go figure), but found that searching for the castle became easier when we looked up. In the search we past by Kiely’s  Pub (distant relative?). I didn’t get a picture but man, there are Kiely’s everywhere. Parking outside the main gate of the castle we realized the massive size of the medieval structure. Inside the gate and in front of the massive keep, the tour guide told us that the grounds and the castle were used in the movie Braveheart. In fact, a lot of the movie was shot in Ireland. I remember seeing a sign around Glendalough that indicated some scenes were shot in nearny fields. Aside from seeing “the rack” that Mel Gibson was drawn and  quartered on, the castle itself was amazing. It is without a doubt 100% haunted btw. The English castle was a brutal place and the vibes are still within the walls. My camera malfunctioned and shut itself off as Liza was taking a picture of me by a gate area. The wind was blowing hard and cold. Even with the sun it was hard to stay too long. We headed back to the Cranmoore House to relax a bit. A good amount of photography, filming, and songwriting went on for a time. We were advised to check out Brogan’s Pub for supper as they did something called a stone grilled steak. Great old time atmospheric pub and the steak did come out on a heated stone that cooked it through as it sat on the table. Excellent cut of meat as all the meat I’ve had in Ireland was. Last night for a live music pub experience so we headed down the street to James Griffin’s Pub. We opened the door to low lit rooms filled with people as a traditional session was in full swing. There were seats available in the back so we were on to a pint of Guinness Peter the bartender was having quite a time with his associate Lydus who seemed to be a little slower functioning in carrying out his instructions. A lot of confused looks out of Lydus.. This provided great entertainment on this last night. I wish we could have stayed longer but had to wake up very early. I did enjoy talking to Peter and found out that he to is a musician and producer. A great part of the evening was when Peter told his partner to pour some drinks for the folks at the end of the bar. Lydus answered,”Who are the folks?” Peter snapped back, “The people! Those people down on the end.” This was some classic comedy and great for a laugh. We returned back to the inn and packed for the next days journey back to the states. It was an amazing trip of a lifetime that I hopefully be able to repeat again. Until next time Ireland….   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Galway... Guy

We woke up to an overcast day and hopped onto a tour bus that was arranged through the inn. Well the rain started and we though, “enough of the confusing Irish roads for today”. It was a good day to let the tour guide navigate the twisting mountain roads. We had quite a character for a driver.. cracking jokes, telling stories, and supplying us with historical facts for hours. We travelled to Cong, the town famous for the movie ‘The Quiet Man’, and stopped into a café for cappuccino and scones (yep, I was seriously eating scones for ten days straight). Not a very long stop but we were able to take a few pics of church ruins and some colorful buildings in town. Looks like it would be a great place to spend a considerable amount of time. Through a mountain pass, we slowed down next to a field with a white Connemara pony. The ruins of an abbey on a previous stop were great for pics and architecture, but something different was about to happen here. The bus slowed a bit more and the bus driver honked. He slow a bit more still and honked again. We were trying to figure out just what was going on. The pony came running from behind a building over to the bus. It was like we were racing. Talk about a great photo op! The bus pulled to the side and the driver opened the doors. The pony was there at the gate to meet the driver. He was a spirited little guy… and so was the horse. He divided an apple into pieces with his hands and passed them out to the riders. No wonder the horse was excited upon hearing the horn.
Up and down hills and valleys we travelled over rough and majestic terrain. We arrived at the famous Kylemore Abbey and it was a grand structure. It was set amongst the tall green trees and a lake filled with birds and swans.. Unfortunately I forgot an umbrella and the rain really came down. The walk from the amazing gardens to the castle and over to the neo-gothic chapel left us on the cold and wet side. It would have been nice to have had warmer weather and now we were beginning to understand why people were walking around with umbrellas and hoodies… note to self. After the arrival back in Galway, we jumped off the bus right down the street from the inn and walked very quietly through the cold rain. It seemed like this night was going to become somewhat of a wash… so to speak. A wind was blowing the cold rain off the ocean with good force. This was not walking around weather. We decided to drive down to the Salthill area which is right next to Claddagh (where the original Claddagh rings were made). Taking a guess, we found a gastropub called Oslo right by the sea. This minimal looking pub, with an outstanding beer selection, turned out to be a winner. The food was very good and the overhead music was Irish. After a few duck burgers and mash (yea, duck burgers) and a very fresh fish and chips we decided to have a pint. As I was sampling the local irish brews I struck up a conversation with the bartender and a fellow sitting by us. He actually turned out to work for Garda, Ireland’s police force. Music, sports, and Irish ways of doing things were some of the topics of conversation We found out that certain last names were associated with certain counties. He also told us that he worked security on our President’s last visit.. lot’s of talk and ale. The bartender even played one of my songs through the pub’s system. We ended up closing the pub down and making a couple friends. A great night and a great end to our Galway visit.           

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Burren & the rocky road to Galway

Off to the cliffs of Moher. The sun was shining, sky was blue, and the wind blew strong and cold. After a walk from the parking lot across the street, we dashed into the gift shop straight off. I was getting a cold headache just in that short walk. Time to buy a ridiculous but cool furry Guinness hat with flaps on the sides. Guess it was a good time to look like a tourist. Comfort over coolness sometimes eh? The cliffs were grand and filled with squeaking sea birds like puffins, guillemots, gannets and more. The pathway was a bit short and lined with strange signs with symbols indicating "don't fall off the cliff", "don't crawl over the wall", and another one that I just plain could not understand. It looked like a person, fire or water, and a bird...? We decided to make up our own meanings for the signs just for amusement. Into the visitor center we went for some French lemonade (I don't know the difference) and checked out the virtual cliffs exhibit which was very Imax like. The weather warmed up a bit now that I had my silly Guinness hat. This is about what I expected, but hey, another souvenir. We headed up the coast past Doolin into the burren. This monolithic area was stark and intense in history and landscape. Limestone rising up out of the grass in shapes and patterns with sheep and cattle scattered through the almost "Badlands" looking fields. Approaching the Poulnabrone that influenced Tolkien in some of his writings was a spiritual and amazing experience. One might look at the stones as...well, a bunch of cool looking rocks they called the "Portal Tomb", but taking a step back one could feel a sense of ceremonial ancient life. There were tour buses and groups of people everywhere but the 7,000 year old site was still magnetic.
Down the road... and further down...and a few turns later... down a very small road we found the Burren Perfumery. It is a comfortable, scenic, and sweet smelling place in the middle of nowhere. Some scones (which I'm eating every day), fresh tea (handpicked), and scents in hand... we were off to Galway... or as I call it " The rocky road to Galway". The road was great and twisting surrounded by ruins of abbeys, towers, and walls. Once we entered the city, it took a bit of stressful driving to find The Bayberry House due to road construction and confusing signs and maps. We found something like an American WalMart down the road, with directions from the proprietors, where we could buy some Guinness and pharmaceuticals in the same run. I was able to do a bit of writing in the outdoor garden for a bit as well.  Tom and Maeve were very accomodating and allowed us to charge up my now completely dead video camera. Tom suggested that we hit the Quay St. area so we took his advice. He even drove us over! We traversed the extremely busy college kid filled Saturday night crowd to eventually find an Italian place. Well, frozen margarita with cheddar might not be traditional, or I don't know what it is, but it was good in a strange way. Having enough of the crowded streets and filled pubs of Galway, we hired a taxi to a place, that according to our driver, we could find a seat and hear some great music. O'Connor's was like a trip back to Tombstone. Look this one up online to see what I'm talking about.It turned out to be really cool yet really packed... and yeah, the band was incredible. They were a three piece with acoustic guitar, stand up bass, and old piano, and some distortion on the vocals. They were laying down some rockabilly versions of popular songs and were easily the best band I've seen in the country. This being what it is, we left after another pint due to the time of night and gigantic crowd packed inside this room.  It was back to the Inn for some Irish tele and some sleep...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doolin IRE

The mist burned off the foggy mountains on this early morning in Killarney. Waking up and ready to get moving, we hopped onto the N22 and headed Limerick way. After many hills and rock lined turns  we reached a town called Adare. We stopped into a very cool and still operational Catholic Church from the 1200's. As we peeked in the door to see this magnificent medieval structure, a group of red uniform clad school kids blessed themselves with Holy water and ran past us inside. It was a strange connection between antiquity and youth that pervades everyday life in Ireland. Again the rain came down as we jumped into a small cafe for some Irish coffee. Back on the road, we headed to Bunratty Castle which Louise suggested after this mornings breakfast. This 15th century structure was amazing. I've been wanting to physically see a castle since I was small and now I was standing in front of one. From the guard room to the dungeon, from the great hall to the chapel... Everything had been restored to bring a reality to the distant history that we learn in school. Down the steep stone steps we crept outside to the "folk park" which is a collection of historical Irish buildings and exhibits that displayed a time long past. We had a nice pint of Guinness and some warm soup inside their pub. We visited Irish Wolfhounds, chickens, pigs, and some ducks that decided to get very friendly with each other in the barnyard area. The gnarly old trees and numbers of black sqwaking birds almost seemed to know the story of the grounds from long ago. Very much worth the visit to the old fortress.
Rolling hills, stone fences, and green pastures surrounded us as we drove from Limerick to Doolin. We travelled to todays destination up and down slim winding roads with the sea in the background. The landscape became almost surreal as we approached town. We needed no map to find the Churchfield Inn as Doolin is a small former fishing village. We were greeted by Maeve the proprietor at the door to this country b&b. This place was grand and homey. After a short walk over a stone bridge we decided to step into McGann's for a pint and some supper. The peat fireplace was lit and our table was right next to it. You can't get more authentic than this. Again, this was a great locally sourced dinner of hamburgers and chips with a bit of a gourmet flare. The bacon on the locally raised beef burger was like nothing I've seen. Absolutely brilliant in its smokiness and resembling ham actually. Enough about food.... We traveled not more than half a block to a well known pub in Doolin called McDermott's. The young guys (teenagers) up on stage were really layin down some good ceili music! Really impressive for their age.... Or any other age. After a couple pints watching them traverse musical scales more than any jam band I met the lead singer up at the bar. He asked if I would like to get up and do a song. This was a great and unexpected treat in a place so well known for traditional Irish music. I'm not as technically skilled as the session players, nor do I know many of the songs but I through down a version of The Waterboys "Fisherman's Blues" with some flute accompaniment. I was a little rusty on the tune but the guys asked me if I'd like to do another... Hmmm... Ok. I didn't expect that either. "Is this what it is?" Is the first song that came to mind so I played a shortened acoustic version. This "mini-set" was great fun and was partially captured on a really poor cell phone recording. My Flip camera was out of juice.. Ugh. The previous day I met a music supporter from Chicago at our b&b. Funny who you meet in Ireland. Well, after a few more pints and listening to the locals at the bar we wrapped up the night and got ready to head home. The place seemed to be closing up and a peculiar drunk character was asking us if we could drop him off at his house... Well, no... That was not going to happen, but it was an interesting conversation all the same. He ended up traveling to the next pub that was open and we headed back to the room for some tele....

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kerry and Killarney

The foggy mist lifted a bit and after breakfast. We told Louise that we would be interested in the guided bus tour of the Ring of Kerry which she offered up as a suggestion the night before. Driving this route would have been impossible for the driver to catch any of the sites along the way due to the twisting narrow roads into the mountains. Well, turned out the tourist thing worked quite well in this case. We climbed aboard the tour bus driven by an older Kerry islander with a bow tie, fedora, and distinct accent as the drizzle started back up. Off we were, traveling to a tourist village of old thatched roof houses, peat fireplaces, bog ponies, and other things you think of in the “old Ireland”. We however opted for an Irish coffee in the souvenir shop/pub next door. Too many tourists… too little time. The Americans and Germans are driving me nuts at this point btw.
On our way, we stopped at one of Ireland’s best attractions. We watched as a shepherd commanded his border collies to herd a flock of sheep down a steep mountainside. It was amazing to see how the dogs listened to every word and whistle the shepherd uttered, even at a great distance. The demonstration was cool and worth the 5 Euros indeed. We continued the journey through small towns, valleys, peaks, and viewed some amazing scenery that cannot be captured on camera. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant on top of a peak overlooking a deep valley that ran to the ocean. Shepherds pie and seafood chowder were the crowd pleasers here. Yes, people in Ireland actually do eat shepherds pie, corned beef, fish & chips, Irish stew etc… and they do not drink their Guiness warm…and yes, it does taste better here. I think it’s the freshness factor…. Past the gap of Dunloe and under the “kissing bridge”  we approached Killarney. The bus driver broke into song with (you guessed it) “Too rah loo rah” as we past some wild hogs and red deer by the side of the road. The day was long and filled with touristy things, but well worth it all the same. We walked down to the city center and ate at Quinlan’s Fresh Seafood restaurant. You can’t get seafood more fresh than on the west side of Ireland. I’ve noticed that everyone we have met has been very friendly or kind of cold… yet friendly. Very different than in the states. Also, there are a lot of foreigners working in the shops and restaurants. We were told that there was a big job boom years back and a lot of Polish, Malaysian, and Asians came for the big CelticTiger computer revolution. The jobs disappeared and many of them stayed. At the same time, very many Irish are emigrating to Australia right now due to job shortages. Interesting day, and we ended it with some traditional music in some sort of an old man pub… yet cool....
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Carrigaline and Killarney- Tim Korry Music 2012 Blog

The day began with a fine fresh fish breakfast inside the dining porch area of The Atheneum House. This grand Georgian home, previously owned by ship builders, was a great backdrop for a quiet breakfast.   I love the choices in an Irish breakfast. While Americans are stuck with pancakes, waffles, processed cereals, GMO corn, and wheat based breakfasts, the Irish are using locally sourced fresh ingredients. The local meats and sausages, tomatoes, fish, cheese, and even the old “beans on toast” are an outstanding change. After breakfast we took some pics, packed up, and headed out.
A man working outside the house gave us some great tips on what to see around Cork and Carrigaline. He also mentioned that there were a lot of Keily’s in the Waterford and Cork area. It would require weeks to find out if anyone was a relation… cool all the same and it did confirm that the Keily part of our family indeed was from this area.
We were blessed with some wider roads today on the way to the Jameson Distillery. Still, it was very tight passing through the streets of Middleton. Jameson stands as a really interesting historical marker from the 1700’s regardless if you like their whiskey or not. Well worth the trip and their café isn’t bad either… Jameson and ginger is a new favorite…We continued on to Carrigaline to search for Coolmore Castle where my great great grandparent’s worked. We found the location after asking directions at a petrol station and receiving some tips on getting there from a delightful lady with bright red hair. As we drove the rainy winding road up to the gate houses, we noticed a young guy bringing in his groceries. We asked if it would be okay to follow down the road to the estate, which had a threatening private property sign posted out front. He told us we could walk the 1K or try to drive it. We opted for the driving but it proved to be too intense for our little Euro car. The potholes were downright unnerving. It was very cool to at least see the area and the gate houses that my relatives may have even lived in. So we were off again, back through some of the Cork traffic on the road to Killarney.  
After some confusing direction and disorienting roundabouts, we finally made it to the Chelmsford House where we met the very kind and gracious innkeepers Pat and Louise Griffin. We were literally in a residential neighborhood overlooking the mountains. Yes… the rain and mist continued as it seemed to follow us the entire time. After a pint of room temperature Guinness and a good chat with Louise, we headed down to the Killarney town center. Although we arrived a little late, some stores were still open and most pubs. I bought a Mucros tweed hat to wear in the constant drizzle. This proved to be a slick idea. The hat was made locally at the Muckross House which in itself looked like a glorious estate to visit. Well, maybe next time. After a bit of walking through the stormy streets of Killarney, we settled on Spanish tapas for dinner. After feeling a bit tapped out on energy, we retired early. It had been a long day of drizzly driving through several different locations. Tomorrow it will be on to the Ring of Kerry

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Waterford, IRE 2012

Waterford 5/8/12
So there we were, checking out of the Trinity Capital Hotel and grabbing a cab for a short yet confusing ride to the rental car place. See ya Dublin, now it starts…. Hey, whats bigger than a Smart Car and smaller than a Mini? The very nice people behind the desk of the car rental place explained just how to get out of town… an easy way that didn’t require GPS. The truth however is that it took about 25 minutes of left hand turns, asking strangers for directions, and completely stressful roundabout driving… and I wasn’t the driver. Somehow by the grace of God we made it out of the city and continued a somewhat “white knuckled” trip on very small tight roads to Glendalough. This place was now the oldest I had ever seen (11th Century) Medieval and absolutely brilliant! This is the ancient Irish place one envisions with its Celtic crosses, weathered graves, monastic ruins, and fantastical landscapes. The Wicklow mountains contained fields of the sweetest vanilla smelling yellow flowered thorn bushes. It was misting and a bit wet but absolutely incredible and intense experience.
 After several trips down the left side of the same roads (one was an area where ‘Braveheart’ was filmed) we found our direction. We continued on to Waterford fully frazzled from the drive. I personally, not being the driver, could have used a few pints… We stopped into a kind little pub along the road for a chicken and dressing sandwich then continued into the unknown. A few passes by our hotel in Waterford and we finally found it. The Atheneum House was a stately ‘Downton Abbey’ looking place and a breath of relief after a stressful driving but amazing day. We were told that walking into town would take about 15 minutes. Driving at this point was out of the question, yet I believe we walked at least 2 miles into town. I was beginning to notice a theme in the  “Irish directions”…I’ve heard that part of my family comes from the Cork/Waterford area so this was a great opportunity to sort out the vibe of this town. We walked passed several pubs, Inns, and colorful buildings all in a row on our way to Reginald’s Tower.The ancient Viking tower was absolutely brilliant and now the oldest thing I had seen (900 A.D.) It was a fantastic museum in a tower of vibes and history that I did not expect to encounter. Off a tip from the locals, we headed to T & H Doolan’s pub which is the oldest pub in the area. We stepped in for some traditional Irish stew & local ales and ended up staying for live traditional music several hours later. This place is a must see for the blown glass windows, a wall inside from the ancient city of Waterford, and the place that Sinead O’Connor regularly sang at before becoming famous. It was  a great time despite the old drunken homeless guy outside talking to himself and everyone else in very expressive language…oh, and the smelly Austrians at the pub who must tend not to be fond of deodorant. Oh, “Stinky Rick Steves” looking guy and the sometimes rude “Euro”crowd could not keep us away from the local cool Irish folks. Now out of concern for safety, the darkened un-researched streets, and unfamiliarity with the town I was all over hiring a cab for the way back. No, we were not going to walk back in a dark strange sea port… Liza and I found a cab after visiting a now vacant cab stand on George St. Thank God he was looking out for us. It’s been a long amazingly interesting, and intense day. A wee bit of Jameson & Coke and it’s off to bed as the RTE plays on the tele….
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