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Thatched Roofs and Angela’s Ashes

At the recommendation of our neighbors back home, we traveled down to Adare, a precious village just south of Limerick.  Thatched roof cottages abound, and yellow daffodils brighten up the modest plots of vibrant green “gardens” (the sweet way in which they describe their yards).

Flanking the road as you enter the town is the Franciscan Friary (on the grounds of Adare Manor) and Desmond Castle.  The neo-gothic Adare Manor was built by the second Earl of Dunvargen in the mid-1800s, which provided labor to the surrounding villages during the potato famine.

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It has since been converted into a hotel that is both breathtaking and stately.  The manor is surrounded by over 800 acres, much of which is taken up by one of the most stunning golf courses in the country.

The Maigue, a pretty stout river, cuts its way through the 18 holes, which are spread out among ancient stone walls and ruins of the 15th Century Friary.  By the bridge over the river stands a Lebanese Pine from the 1600s, making it the oldest pine in the country.

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The pool is on the ground floor in a room encased by glass and it looked to have been built in the 1920s, judging by the tile that lined the pool.  I have a thing for old pools (and Ted has a thing for golf) so we made the obvious decision to stay a night or two here during our next trip over…for which our goggles and golf gloves will be packed.

After lunch in a precious little café, we walked around the village.  We went into the Trinitarian monastery, which was built in the 13th century, then modified and expanded over time. It too had a thatch roof at one point.

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After saying some prayers in the monastery (a tradition of mine whenever I’ve visited an old church), we drove an hour up to Limerick for the rugby game.  When we were in the city center studying our map, a really helpful woman came up and “got us sorted out.”  These seriously are the sweetest people!!  She said we could easily walk to the rugby stadium from there and suggested we take the path along the river.

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Having watched Angela’s Ashes before we left the states, we recognized the areas of the River Shannon where it was filmed.  There were several scenes that were shot on the bank just on the other side.  It looked just like it did in the movie as we were having the same dreary weather that was throughout the movie.  One of the more famous shots was of King John’s Castle on the river bank.

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We learned on our walk that the Irish are serious about a lot more than just stouts and whiskies, they’re serious about their ringbuoys as well…

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So I take it that the lads have stolen these things on more than one occasion.  I mean, the Shannon River is no Chattahoochee, I don’t know that you’re going to want to float down it.

Mmm hmm.

We ducked into a pub for a pint to kill some time before the match.  When we told the bar maid we were going to the game, she had a look of surprise as there was no game scheduled tonight.  The bartender from yesterday must have gotten mixed up but the good news was that a soccer game was scheduled for Sunday!  So that was even better news – Cork City vs. Limerick, also at the new stadium.

We were really hoping to be able to catch a soccer game while we were over here so this is so exciting! Ironically, we learned yesterday that soccer is actually tied with rugby for Ireland’s third most popular sport.  When we were cleat shopping in the sporting goods store, I chatted up the attendant who was helping Ted.  She said hurling and Gaelic football are actually the sports that kids want to grow up playing and she herself played both for years.

Ennis’ hurling uniform in a shop window

Gaelic football is a mix between soccer and rugby and it’s played with something that resembles a soccer ball.  Hurling is played with wooden sticks that resemble a hockey stick with the functionality of a lacrosse stick.  It’s played on a pitch wider than a soccer field and the goal is combination of a soccer goal and American football-style upright posts.  One point is awarded to shots through the uprights, and three points are awarded for shots through the soccer-style goal (which are harder to make as there’s a goalie).

We heard this was must-see when we were over here, so we were thrilled when the attendant told us there was going to be a county match in Ennis between Clare and Galway (also on Sunday). Soccer and hurling in one day?!?!  This is better than salt and caramel (that didn’t take long).

Hurling sticks – different sizes for players of different heights