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Exploring Ireland Series

Knappogue Castle, Quin, Co. Clare, Ireland

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Exploring Ireland

Dark and Foreboding, Knappogue Castle tower looms over the countryside.

Alison and I recently returned from a week-long road-trip of Western Ireland. One of the highlights was visiting the castles and heritage properties of the Shannon region.

While there, we visited no less than seven castles, abbeys, and tower houses. Even so, we barely scratched the surface, as there were hundreds of tower houses built during Norman rule, in the 12th century, and beyond. We decided to concentrate on properties maintained by Shannon Heritage. Each one had something special to engage the visitor and bring Ireland’s ancient history to life.

Studying history in school often requires boring memorization of dates and names. Luckily, I was inspired, early on, by a public school teacher who showed my class slides of his travels in Italy, Greece, and more. His personal descriptions of the places and their history made it more real to us as students.

Twenty-five years later, having had the opportunity to travel, I understand his passion for history.  When you visit historical locations in person, the story becomes much more engaging. If done right, such a visit should make you feel like you have stepped back in history. This is exactly what we found at the Shannon Heritage castles.

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Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Exploring Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

When I was in university, I had a poster on my wall of a beautiful castle. It was built of pale grey stone and had turrets and arched windows. It was perched on the edge of a lake and was surrounded by forest. I didn’t know what it was called or where it was located but, for my young self, it represented all that was wild and romantic about travel. I longed to visit it someday.

It wasn’t until many years later, I learned my dream castle was actually Kylemore Abbey, located in the stunning mountains of Connemara, Ireland. At that time, it wasn’t open to the public and I believed I would never get to see my poster castle in person.

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Bunratty Castle

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Exploring Ireland

Bunratty Castle

Visiting historical sites is a great way of gaining an appreciation for events and places. In my previous post about the Castles of Shannon Heritage, I wanted to show history doesn’t have to be boring. I’d love to travel back in time, but sadly the time machine hasn’t been invented. However, there is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, which does more than just present the history, it immerses you in it.

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The Book of Kells

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Exploring Ireland

The Book of Kells

I love books. I love holding them in my hands; I love organising them on my bookshelves; I love losing myself in their pages on a rainy day; and most of all I love how they smell. But despite visiting Dublin on numerous occasions, I had never visited one of the most famous books, in one of the most famous libraries, in the world – The Book of Kells in the Trinity College Library.

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The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Exploring Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

As a photographer, I am always looking for destinations rich in natural beauty.  While I love architecture, and other man-made tourist sites, there is something particularly special about naturally occurring landmarks. One such place is the Cliffs of Moher, on Ireland’s west coast.

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