Monthly Archives: June 2015

Time to Meet the Duggans: MCD 5

Waking up in Kilkenny we took a final look at the hotel grounds and made for the famous Rock of Cashel.  The Rock was an important religious site in Ireland for many centuries.   

frescos from the chapel at the Rock Cashel


Carvings from Cashel


kids @ Cashel

 We toured the area and looked at many of the remaining frescos.  We also enjoyed the views from The Rock.  We toured the restored choir hall and took a quick walk through the town.    

Cashel Abbey through a slit in the wall


Next stop was Blarney Castle to kiss the stone!  I was surprised there wasn’t a major line to kiss the stone.  Cinco and The Princess weren’t really interested in getting up close and personal with the stone– both because they thought it was scary and a little gross. While walking the grounds on the way to the castle, The Princess declared it was, ‘neither sanitary nor entertaining.’  Haha.  I had to agree. 

The Captain, however had childhood memories of kissing the stone.  It seems his parents took him to Blarney back in the day and he even had a certificate to prove he had indeed kissed the stone. 

I was forced to kiss the stone to provide a good example for the kiddos!  But this didn’t  help.  Both kids made an attempt to kiss it, but neither could follow through.  Personally, I don’t blame them.  It wasn’t as gross as I thought it would be.  We were traveling in the shoulder season, so maybe the crowds were fewer.  But, the drop down is pretty unnerving.  The Princess is only 6 and I do not think it WOULD HAPPEN, but I could see a senerio where she could have fallen through!!!  

While castle is something of a tourist must do, it does have lovely and extensive grounds, including a tiki garden and fairy forest.  We wondered for a little while but had to get a move on and meet the Cork Duggans.

You see part of my father’s family still lives in outside Blarney near Cork!  He’s 100% Irish and even has an Irish passport!  We Americans still keep contact and so of course we had to pay a visit. 

The night was delightful and the Duggans all lived on the same road so MANY of the cousins came by.  Even better there were some younger ones in hand for Cinco and The Princess to play with!!!  We got to see their farm and share dinner.  

We got to hear some family history and I even saws photo of another cousin (absent) who shared some facial features.

The kids started to get pooped so we had to depart around 10pm.  But it was highlight of the trip meeting them! 

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Ireland Day 4: Things go sideways

Mom Camp Day 4: This was one of those days when things just seem to go sideways on you. We spent the night at a rather odd hotel in New Ross (a town founded by the Marshal) and we overslept.  We had a full day’s agenda that had to be majorly altered.  We skipped the Dunbrody Famine Ship as well as Waterford and made our way to the Irish Tintern Abbey.  

We made a trip the parent Abbey in Wales last year, (for those interested in the original Abbey).  For those of you who don’t know, the Irish Tintern Abbey was founded by the Marshal.  He had a pretty rough sea crossing to Ireland.  He pledged to found a new Abbey if he made it to shore.  Thankfully he made it and he was as good as his word and founded the Abbey.

Personally, having been to both, I prefer the Irish Abbey.  The grounds at the Irish Tintern are far more lush and evocative of the past.   Unlike it’s parent abbey in Wales, the Irish Tintern is surrounded by lovely forests and walking paths.  It also features a lovely bridge that crosses over a small river near the abbey.  It is very picturesque!  My only complaint was that we didn’t have more time to spend there!

inside the abbey 

Next, it was off to Kilkenny another Anglo-Norman city. In Kilkenny we stayed in the castle’s old carriage house that has been converted to a hotel.  Very nice.  It had an English style garden between the carriage house and the castle across the way.

Kilkenny also prides itself on maintaining a lot of its medieval history.  They have the medieval mile you can walk and imagine what the city might have looked it. In town there is also a pub that date backs to the 1300s.  Back in the day it was run by a witch!  Of course it’s a tourist trap.  But with two kids, who could skip it?  We were treated to an Irish drum circle lesson.

The Captain also discovered Kilkenny is where Smithwick’s Beer is brewed.  So we stopped into the shop for a t-shirt.

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Out of Dublin: MCD 3

Day 3: By day 3 it was time to leave Dublin. We drove down the old military road and the Sally Gap on the way to Glendalough.

We stopped road side to explore a stream and the poor Princess fell in! We had to do a roadside outfit change… It was horribly cold for a Vegas kid with soaked pants and all… Then it was get back in the car for another bit of driving. 

At Glendalough we walked the grounds and forests. It’s easy to see how the Irish folk tales started about various bad fairies. The woods were far more lush than our trip to the 100 acre woods in England. Darker and certainty more mysterious! 

There we also a high number of ferns!!! This of course was very exciting for us because we love the Incorrigible books (See our reviews: book #2, book #3, book #4.  We are still reading #5.  But, look for a review of it soon!) In the books, there are A LOT of side bars on the different types of ferns.  The desert kids loved seeing them in their natural environment.  

And speaking of ferns leaving Glendalough it was time to rush to Ferns! Okay, why Ferns you might ask?  Well, it was the seat of power for the kingdom of Leinster.  The castle there was built by none other than William Marshal (Shameless plug for my book here!).  

Ferns Castle built by William Marshal


Two fire places at Ferns. The lower more primative fireplace may have been built by Strongbow


We made it to the castle just in time for the last tour of the day.  Our guide was a delightful young man who was pleased to see we were interested in the Marshal, Strongbow and Diarmait Mac Murchada (Modern Irish: Diarmaid Mac Murchadha), anglicised as Dermot MacMurrough or Dermod MacMurrough.   He spent a long time with us discussing the castle history and the history of those men. 

Dry moat at Ferns

We also made our way to the Abbey founded by Strongbow as well as the place thought be be Dermot MacMurrough’s grave site.  After visiting the grave a small lady bug and we took it as sign from the warlord himself. 

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Mom Camp Goes Abroad, Again  (Part One –The Dublin Days)

This year Mom Camp set off across the pond one more time.  This year we took advantage of the cheap Euro and made our way to Ireland. 

Hello cold weather and shamrocks!  

Day 1: On arrival, it was off to the races.  I am a believer in never giving into jet lag.  No rest for the weary! 

We hit Dublin Castle and saw the underground Norman Castle section of the old place. 

We went to Christ Church as well as St. Patrick’s and walked the old Viking portion of the city. 

Next stop was a little shopping for father-son matching Irish caps. 

The final experience of the day was a visit to the book of Kells. 

Day 2: We took a walk to the famous Kilmainham  Goal.  The jail held prisoners who stole nothing more than a loaf of bread during the famine as well as the Irish rebels from the 1916 rising.  We saw their cells and the place they were shot. 


Next, we had lunch in Temple Bar and walked around the area.  A stroll through St. Stephen’s Green followed.  Cinco made the observation that it seemed a lot like St. James Park in London.  I had to agree.

At the National Museum of Archeology we entountered ET… 


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Mom Camp 2015 is back!

I know many of my loyal followers were concerned that this might be the summer that  I ended Mom Camp.  No such luck.  It’s just that we took a quick trip to Ireland as soon as school ended and Mom Camp got a slow start.   

However, there are quite a few odd ball activities in store…  HONG KONG HANDOVER DAY!  We will also be revisiting our old favorites—  Dino Days, fairy houses…  And more.  So start tuned for all the Mom Camp glory! 

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Book Review.

A History of County Wexford: A comprehensive study of Wexford's history, culture and peopleA History of County Wexford: A comprehensive study of Wexford’s history, culture and people by Nicholas Furlong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A History of the County of Wexford is clearly not a book for everyone. It is about a county on the East Coast of Ireland. However, if you have a reason to read it you will certainly enjoy the text. The author takes a lot of time to go through the history of the area and places in the context of the greater history of Ireland. If you want to know who was involved in the 1798 Rising or which men ran the IRB in Wexford this is the book for you.

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Michael Collins

Michael Collins: The Man Who Made IrelandMichael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland by Tim Pat Coogan

Yes, it took me forever to finish this book. But now it is done. In my defense, the book is rather dense and the author writes with the expectation that the reader has a more intimate understanding of Irish history than I possess. The book has TONS of information about Collins. I would suggest you read a basic book on the history of the 1916 Rising and the Civil War and then move to this more detailed account of Collins’ life.

I also suspect the author is white washing a few elements of Collins’ character. He hints at Collins drinking and his potential affairs with women. But, Coogan dismissed many of the stories.

All and all I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.

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