Ireland - Day 7

July 19, 2009 (click here for pictures) We left the Cong Hostel this morning a little after 9. It seemed like we were the only ones stirring around there. We had to backtrack to get to Galway before heading towards Dublin. The skies were beautiful this morning and we wondered if we should go back to the Cliffs of Moher. We decided not to since we did have a few miles to drive today. Before long we had made it into the town of Birr. After reading a little bit about the town, we found the Birr Castle and walked through it. The admission was a little steep but it was a nice time to get out and stretch since we had been in the car for a little bit. The castle is lived in by some family. One of the men who lived at the castle at one time, invented a huge telescope. It was the world's largest telescope from 1845 until 1919. They had a nice little science museum and another that talked about the estate family's inventions. The gardens were plain and not fancy but they were huge. We walked well over 2 miles beside a little stream. The whole time we followed an ederly couple and I was convinced that they were the owners of castle out on a stroll. But since they parked in the visitor parking, I guess they were not.

After stopping at a few stores looking for ice, we finally gave up and drank our cokes warm. We stopped to have a picnic in a gas station parking lot. It was after 2 and we were getting hungry! Not too long later, we made it to the Irish Stud Farm. The Japanese Gardens there were incredibly impressive. They told a story of birth (walking through a cave), learning (climbing a hill), marriage (walking over a bridge), disagreement (the path separating but them coming back together), the later years of life (a flat path). It was beautiful and we could have stayed there a lot longer. Next was another garden, St. Fiachra's Garden. It was interesting too and not as formal. The kids would have loved both of the gardens-lots of climbing and things to step on and over. I found the gardens much more interesting than the Stud Farm. The horses were beautiful but mainly stayed away from the gates. We saw their stables and even watched a film of a horse being born (so glad we don't live on a farm!) As we were walking out of the farm, we bought ice cream cones-mint chocolate chip for me and toffee crunch for Robby-delicious!

From there, the drive to Dublin was about an hour. We drove to the airport and then followed our directions to our hotel, a Holiday Inn Express. Before checking in, we stopped to buy gas and then had a quick supper at McDonalds, our first McDonald's meal in Ireland. We unpacked and already feel like we are back home-ice machines, free breakfast and even a US plug. We decided to return the rental car early since we are close to the airport and that way we wouldn't have to deal with it in the morning. The rental car place was easy to get to and from there we caught a bus to the airport. We only had to wait a few minutes before catching the bus to the hotel. We have unpacked and repacked for our trip home. We will not have to leave until around 7:30 to catch our 10:30 flight. It has been wonderful trip and rated all of the sites on the way here. We couldn't think of anything that we had missed in Ireland.

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