Ireland: Harry Potter and The Princess Bride

The third day of our Ireland tour began with a scenic drive through the Ring of Kerry (lush green landscapes and picturesque puffy white clouds):

Ring of Kerry scenery
Ring of Kerry scenery
Ring of Kerry beauty
Ring of Kerry beauty
Standing on top of the world!
Standing on top of the world!
Ring of Kerry – because the first 3 pictures weren’t enough!
Ring of Kerry – because the first 3 pictures weren’t enough!

We also stopped at a farm to watch a sheepdog herding demonstration (link to video below).  The border collie has a natural herding instinct and was the star of the show.  It takes 18 months to train each dog, each with their own unique whistle sounds. The local farmer also talked about various sheep breeds and how some are used exclusively for either wool or meat.

Sheepdog herding demonstration video (a bit slanted)

Playing with the sheep!
Playing with the sheep!

 

The next day we visited the Cliffs of Moher which are made of limestone and reach over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The Cliffs are one of the top tourist destinations in Ireland and have been featured in many movies, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (shown before Harry and Dumbledore enter a sea cave to search for Voldemort’s horcrux) and The Princess Bride (as the ‘Cliffs of Insanity’). While grabbing some lunch, we met an Irish college student who was taking his work break. It was interesting to learn that he was leaving in a month to study in Spain. He explained how Spain is generally cheaper than the rest of Europe which is why many people choose to study there (our friendly taxi driver in Dublin had also lived in Spain for the same reason).

At the Cliffs of Moher - inconceivable!
At the Cliffs of Moher – inconceivable!

 

For dinner that night, we enjoyed a medieval-themed banquet at the BunrattyCastle (built by the MacNamara family around 1425). ‘Medieval’ meant that we were not allowed to use silverware. We tried mead which can be described as honey wine while the entertainers serenaded us with violin, harp, and beautiful voices. It was a great end to our Ireland tour and we enjoyed meeting a group of new people.

Medieval banquet serenade
Medieval banquet serenade

A few items to note:

  • We saw many signs that read: “To Let”; Shelby and I weren’t entirely sure what that meant, so we googled it and found out that it means the property is available for rent.
  • We learned that while the spoken language is English, the official language of Ireland is Gaelic which everyone begins learning at about 9 years of age.
  • After finally getting accustomed to all of the roundabouts in Spain, I had to get used to them all over again, backwards (to the left)!

The next day (July 31) brought the end of our Ireland tour and the beginning (Aug 1-4) of our four days in London!