Sunday, September 13, 2020

"Just" an Older Person

 Before I begin let me warn you that this is going to be a rant. Ever since we first heard the terms Corona Virus and Novel Covid-19 and the media, social and otherwise, have been filled with information and misinformation about this scourge, I keep hearing the phrase "just older people" crop up in conversation. As in: "the virus only seems to be adversely affecting older people; or "just" older people have complications from this virus, or "just" older people are dying from Covid. 

I heard it again last night in casual conversation with a long-time friend out on my own porch (social-distancing, of course). And each time I hear a younger person insensitively toss about that phrase I'm sure that steam begins surging out of my ears as I sit quietly fuming. 

Lately, I have been speaking up instead of biting my tongue and feeling my shoulders tense up, because, people, I am one of those old people and I refuse to believe that my life and the lives of many of my friends are expendable. I'm here to tell you now that most of us, though retired from the daily grind of a job, are, never the less, still valuable, contributing and even necessary members of this world! Even my oldest friend, at 84, still volunteers regularly at the local hospital during times when there is no pandemic threat. 

We old people do more than just spoil our grandchildren, bake cookies and sit around and crochet cute toilet tissue covers. 

Speaking for myself, in addition to running the business side of our small alpaca farm, I do all of my own laundry and house cleaning. I paint any of the rooms in my home that are in need of a more long term clean up. Although retired from teaching for the past  seven years, I am still teaching in a different capacity when I am able to see people in person. I teach people about our animals during in person farm tours, which we still are able to do in nice weather because the large area of our pastures allow for social distancing. I teach young people how to spin alpaca fiber into yarn and how to hand dye and then knit that yarn into soft, warm garments. Because I am fortunate to have been on this planet for quite a number of years, some of them pretty rough and many more quite happy, I am able to offer advice to many young people who seek me out for that purpose. I like to think that young people whom I have taught in the classroom and have become friends long after they were out of school have stayed in touch with me both on social media and in person visits are still learning from our conversations.  I have offered support, both financial and emotional, to many younger people that I call friends. I may even have saved a valuable young life or two along the way. Or just given hope to those in despair by telling bits of my own story and encouraging them to hang on because it does get better. 

None of this is heroic. It's just what older folks do. These simple, natural actions that we older people never think twice about doing, add so much to the lives of younger people and to the world. I have so many fond memories of my grandparents and the unconditional love they gave me and the gentle lessons that they taught me just be spending time with me. It would be difficult to imagine what my life would have been like without that precious time that I spent with them. 

So, please, the next time you're having that casual conversation about Covid, stop and think before you carelessly utter the phrase, "JUST older people." Think for a second about what you're actually saying. Do you really mean that this world would be better off without older people?

I say, proudly, that I am "JUST" an older person and my life is not only, not expendable, but adds considerable value to this world.

Post Script: Wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience. That small scrap of material, worn properly over the mouth and nose, protects other people. It's not a loss of personal freedom to be considerate of others. It's a thoughtful and polite thing to do. RESPECT!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Blogging and Covid-19 and Ireland - Installment IX - The Last

 It's the last day of August and school has been in session for a week already. The pandemic is still going strong, although they report that the numbers in Ohio are going down. I don't mind saying that I have been stalled, unable to get much of anything productive done much less blogging. When I realized that this time last year we were getting excited to depart for Ireland, I decided that it was time to finish the blog about the trip (and the pair of socks I began on the trip). Finally the streak of super hot and humid weather has broken and it is pleasant enough to  turn off the air conditioning and open some windows. The sound of crickets and the slight breeze and sunny skies are beginning to hint of autumn.

The Last Leg of Our Ireland Trip

After leaving Kinsale we headed to Kilkenny with a stop along the way at the famous Medieval Rock of Cashel in the town of Cashel in Tipperary County. The Rock of Cashel is known as the seat of the high kings of Munster. It is said that St. Patrick came here to convert King  Aengus. It is here that the legendary Brian Boru was crowned king. It's a majestic ruin, parts of which are under reconstruction and preservation work. The famous high cross of St. Patrick is also located here. The Rock of Cashel stands high above the small town overlooking miles and miles of green fields where sheep and cows graze. We were lucky to see it on one of Ireland's sunny and unusually warm days. 

The Rock of Cashel above the town
The view from the Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel graveyard

The Cross of St. Patrick

From here we drove on to Kilkenny where we stayed two nights at the Bridgeview B&B. True to it's name the B&B was located directly across from a footbridge that crosses the River Nore. We could watch the local sculling team practicing on the river. From the front of the inn we could see Kilkenny Castle and the old town of Kilkenny. The original Matt the Miller's Pub was just at the other end of the block within easy walking distance from us. 

Bridgeview B&B

Across from the B&B - Rowing on the River Nore

This little detail was important for Rich because this was one of the pubs on his must see list ever since he had seen a picture of it in it's namesake pub, Matt The Miller's, in Dublin, Ohio, one of our favorite places to eat! Of course, the first evening we had to walk down to the corner pub and tip a Guinness or two and dine on fish and chips. As we sat in a little window snug drinking in the atmosphere, we were taken by a portrait of John Smithwick of Smithwick's ale fame. It was a very modern portrait of an historical figure and as we sipped, my peripheral vision fooled me into thinking that John Smithwick winked at me! Closer inspection revealed that the portrait was, in fact, a digital image and the subject periodically changed position and with an ornery looking smile did indeed wink. This was almost as fascinating as the old pub itself.

The Original Matt the Miller's at Night

Rich sipping a cider at Matt The Miller's

Inside the snug at Matt the Miller's

We awoke the next morning in our sunny, blue bedroom in the front of the house. We could see moms walking their children across the bridge to the school on the block behind the b&b and hear their happy chatter. Emer, the owner and cook made me a  lovely breakfast of Irish porridge and good strong coffee. Thus fortified we headed over to the Kilkenny Castle in order to be there as soon as it opened and beat the crowds. Kilkenny Castle is over 800 years old although due to renovations and remodels by the various occupants through the years, what you see today is mostly a Victorian version inside. 
Kilkenny Castle gate

Flowers from the Castle garden

Kilkenny Castle side entrance

I strongly recommend that you wear study walking shoes since the tour takes you through what seems like miles of hard stone corridors. Rich was feeling the long walk in his back and I in my knees by the end of the hike. It was well worth it and quite impressive in its opulence. My favorite room was the great portrait hall that held portraits of all the important past occupants of the castle.

Portrait gallery

At 3:00 we had an appointment to tour Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny. I had made this appointment months before our trip and was really eager to see the operations. The original mill had been established in 1204 by Cistercian monks and the Cushen family has operated a mill on the site since 1778. Philip Cushen, a descendant of the original Cushons is the current owner and he gave us a personally guided tour of the mill operations. Using only fiber from Irish sheep they create some of the lovliest yarns and fabrics. They are still using a spinning "mule" from the 1800s.

After a quick lunch in Graiguenamanagh we headed back to Kilkenny and wandered around town, stumbling on The Smithwick's Experience. Although they actually brew their ales at a much larger location, the informative tour takes place at the original brewing site. 

Monks had been brewing ale in this area for 300 years before the reformation. At that time they were forced to close their doors in 1537 when Henry VIII came into power. John Smithwick moved to Kilkenny in the early 1700s and went into the brewing business with Richard Cole. Because of the penal codes Catholics couldn't own property so Smithwick 's name couldn't be on the business. In the late 1700s the Smithwick family could finally add their name to the enterprise. In 1827, Edmund Smithwick finally put the family name proudly over the doorway. At the time of the great famine, Edmund Smithwick joined forces with another brewer, Richard Sullivan, to put rivalry aside and jointly opened a soup kitchen to feed the poor and hungry. 

There were several digital portraits in the gallery, each "telling" the story of a segment of Smithwick history. Rich and I found this to be a unique and engaging way to tell the story. I couldn't help but think about current circumstances in education and wonder if this might not be a great way to teach history and other subject matter to school children. Imagine how neat it would be for an English teacher to have an author actually reading her own stories or poems!

We ate that evening in Lanigan's Pub where there was a guitar player playing traditional Irish tunes. The food, as I remember it, was good but the guitar player was wonderful. There weren't many people in there at the time as it was early on a Thursday evening so it seemed like it was entertainment just for us.

The fairy door in the tree beside the B&B

After another hearty breakfast be bade Emer goodbye and headed to another fascinating local site before heading on to Bunratty near Shannon where we would stay the night before heading home. St. Canice's Cathedral is an amazing church that has been operational for over 800 years and still holds regular services today. As we wandered through the sanctuary on a self guided tour we marveled at the number of knights, lords and ladies entombed within it. The round tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny city. Rich braved the climb and went to the top of the tower. I chickened out!

St. Canice Cathedral

The Round Tower, St. Canice Cathedral

The Round Tower

Rich Climbed the Round Tower

The narrow lane beside the cathedral, called Church Lane, is lined with charming  doorways that open right onto the lane. Pots of colorful flowers stand outside nearly every painted door, making this one of the unexpected delights found throughout Ireland.

Doorway on Church Lane

Church Lane

From here we took a meandering drive to Bunratty, located near Shannon. We had decided to spend the night a bit closer to the airport to lessen the chance that we would miss our flight home the next day. We had booked a room in the Bunratty Castle Hotel, a modern hotel across from Bunratty Castle. The original plan had been to tour the castle while there but, alas, it was not open on that day. No problem, there was a Blarney Woolen Mill store and two pubs within walking distance of the hotel. We had planned on lunch at the famous Durty Nelly's pub but it was so crowded that the wait for a table was too long for a couple of hungry travelers.  So we had lunch at The Creamery Bar just across the street and conveniently located near the small shopping area containing The Blarney Woolen Mill store! After a quick lunch, it was time for shopping. I had already purchased a sweater for Amy along our way,  Christmas gifts for members of the family at Cushendale Woolen Mill, and skeins of yarn at several different places, but I did find a lovely soft sweater for Susie's birthday and a couple more skeins of yarn! Ireland is a great place to find lovely woolen items and yarn. 

The Creamery Bar

Bunratty Castle

After shopping we popped up the hill to the hotel to check in. In preparation for our flight the next morning I condensed most of our clothing into a single bag and all of our (my) purchases into the larger bag. I had to quite literally sit on the bag so that Rich could get it closed. I held my breath and crossed my fingers that it would make it home without breaking the zipper. (It didn't, but I didn't lose anything because some thoughtful baggage handler along the way taped it shut before it could come completely unzipped.) After a short nap we strolled down through the lovely hotel grounds to The Creamery Bar for dinner at the pub. All during our meal I kept noticing a gentleman at the bar that looked vaguely familiar. When I pointed him out to Rich, he recognized him right away as Dave, whom he had met at a pub in Kenmare. Dave drives tourists who don't wish to attempt navigation of Irish roads themselves. He is a jovial man who recognized us right away and we were able to get further acquainted with him before we said goodbye to Ireland. 
Dessert at the Creamery, Irish Coffee and Sticky Toffee Pudding

We rose early the next morning and had breakfast at the hotel's elegant buffet before we reluctantly headed to the airport. As the plane took off we could see Ireland and the outer islands disappearing below and both of us agreed that, unlike other vacations where we are eager to get home, this was the first vacation that we really hated to see end. We vowed to return someday.

Some of my "loot" spread out on the kitchen table.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ireland - Installment VIII: Isolation Lessons Learned and Kinsale Continued

I have been reflecting upon the current pandemic isolation thinking about what I've learned so far. Most of all I miss my family; my daughters and grandkids. That goes without saying. But maybe the biggest takeaway I've discovered is that I really miss my friends. I have always fancied myself as a bit of a loner. I really enjoy my "alone" time so that life out here in the sticks has been no real hardship. But when something like a pandemic takes away all of my socializing options I become a bit down like so many other people. Who am I kidding? I got really depressed and angry for a while until I realized what was happening. Poor Rich! 

I miss my lunch bunch girlfriends; the retired teacher group of friends that I have known for years. We haven't seen each other since February. We call, text and email each other to keep in touch but it's just not the same as sitting down to a meal to discuss our kids and grandkids, books that we've read and just plain gossip. I miss my two knitting groups, a bunch of ladies from different backgrounds who have our crafting in common. It's so much more fun to knit something when I can look forward to sharing my progress with those ladies who appreciate it because they are occupied with their own creative skills, too. I miss my international women's club meetings. This group of women from across a range of age groups and very diverse ethnic and national backgrounds who come together in joy just to share a meal and laugh together has added so much enrichment to my life. 

We have been able to have meals on the deck with some of our couples friends because we are able to remain six feet apart outside. Our double dates are restricted somewhat by the high heat and weather conditions but we're adapting and it has been lovely to see each other in person even though we cannot meet at restaurants. 

No one is sure when these conditions will end. I feel the most sorry for children who can't play with their friends and teachers who cannot be face-to-face with their students; young athletes who cannot practice with their teams and face the probable cancellation of their 2020-21 seasons. For most of them this is the first serious hardship that they have had to face in their young lives and explaining that there are worse things that can happen to them is no consolation. It's difficult to counsel patience for others when patience has never been one of my own strongest qualities. 

Maybe that's another lesson we've all had to learn from this. Be patient.  From the news reports it seems that many are still needing to do some work on this lesson.

Back to Kinsale, Ireland:

Another unplanned sightseeing stop that we found so moving and very much worth the out of the way drive was the Lusitania Monument on the Old Head of Kinsale. We drove out to the seaside and parked precariously on the edge of the road then made the short hike up to the Old Head Signal Tower that was built over 200 years ago during the Napoleonic Wars as a lookout for French invasion forces. It has become the site of a monument to the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine on May 17, 1915. Within 20 minutes of being hit the ship had sunk killing 1,198 people.  The names of the passengers and crew are engraved on the monument listing both victims and survivors. Many of the rescuers were Irish fishermen who sailed their boats eleven miles from shore to aid in the rescue operation.

Parking on a cliff, Old Head of Kinsale

Lusitania Memorial

From here we headed back through Kinsale and on to Killkenny. The road led us to the infamous Kinsale round-about just 3 miles south of Cork center. We had been through there on one of our earlier excursions around that area of the country. We didn't find the five road intersection so intimidating to navigate this time around. We also didn't find out until we had returned home that this was quite well known by both locals and visitors for it's complex traffic patterns! Another piece of advice for travelers new to driving in Ireland: look up this route in advance and memorize which road will get you to your destination because coming upon the signage in this intersection without prior knowledge will surely confuse those who are concentrating on driving on the left! You've had fair warning.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Reflections On a Mourning Dove

Yesterday I woke up to cheery sight of the bright sun shining into my window and the sound of a mourning dove cooing somewhere nearby. At first I smiled thinking that we were going to have another beautiful day at the farm. As I lay there listening to the mourning dove, its cooing brought me back to the reality of the current conditions in our country. Most people don't realize that the spelling of that soft gray bird's name is not spelled m-o-r-n-i-n-g for the early morning hours, but is spelled m-o-u-r-n-i-n-g dove because of the sadness in the sound. To me it suddenly felt like the dove was sending a message of mourning for the turmoil happening in our country. Mourning for the over 100,000 deaths from the novel Covid-19 virus and simultaneously the death of George Floyd and so many other black and brown people at the hands of police officers who use unnecessary force first and ask questions later (if at all.) 

As a woman who came of age in the 1960s and thought that the Civil Rights Movement had really changed things in this country, I never thought I would see rioting like this in the streets again. And before you assume that I am naive about racial inequality let me assure you that I am painfully aware that racial inequality is alive and well and that we as a country have a lot of work still to do. After the election of Barack Obama I felt that there was a definite change in the air and that attitudes were changing.  That all changed when the current person was elected. 

I'm not writing to preach or pontificate.  I'm not qualified to preach to anyone. Even though I live on a farm in the middle of the cornfields of northwest Ohio, far away from the turmoil in the streets, this issue is so very personal for my family and me. All you need is to read my daughter's facebook post the other day to understand. 

        "day 75: white privilege is not having to teach your white teenager how to not get killed when they’re pulled over by a cop. it was the first part of driver’s education in our house."

My beautiful fifteen-and-a-half granddaughter, adopted by our whole family at the age of one month and so very loved by her parents, Yia Yia, grandpa, aunts and cousins, is bi-racial. 

I wanted to stop there. I cannot. I am worried for her. I have worried for all three of my grandchildren when they learned to drive so it's natural that I worry for her. But more than that I am afraid for her and I am angry, too. For me and the rest of our family we have only ever thought of this girl as the funny, intelligent, beautiful and loving person that she is. This has forced me to look at the racial aspect of my own grandchild, something that never occurred to me as I held that curious, month-old baby in my arms.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Ireland - Installment VII

The Rocklands House in Kinsale was aptly named. Perched high atop Compass Hill above the village of Kinsale, we were gifted with such beautiful views of the town and the port on the River Bandon. Kinsale, much like Dingle, was a very tourist oriented town. It was full of gift shops, both budget and upscale types, and restaurants of every variety. The first evening after John drove us around the main part of town and dropped us off, we strolled a bit and then settled on a pub called The White House.

The White House proved to be your average pub with congenial company. We were seated at a booth across from another American couple with whom we shared experiences of our travels in this lovely country. After a Guinness or two it seems that everyone in the pub is an old friend. This held true for all the stops we made on our trip with both tourists and locals. The White House was decorated with art work and oddities, one of which impressed Rich so much that he came home and recreated it with odds and ends that he had around the farm. He originally placed it in a prominent place just inside the front door of our store where it sat all winter. When he finished his winter project, carving out space in his wood shop and building an office for himself, I insisted that he move "the Thing" into his new man cave!
It has no function other than as a conversation piece!
After a very restful night in one of our host's comfortable rooms we ambled down to breakfast a few minutes early when the smell of fresh coffee wafted up the stairs. John told us to pick a table and he would pour us a coffee. Then while we waited we took our coffee to the dining room windows to enjoy the breathtaking view once again. Our second cup of aromatic coffee was served with breakfast where I couldn't get enough of John's delicious, warm, homemade scones. When I asked for the recipe he told me that I could find it on Mary Berry's website (The Great British Baking Show judge). I have tried it but mine were just ok.  They must need the atmosphere of Ireland and someone else to bake them for me in order to come out so tasty.

After breakfast that first morning in Kinsale, we drove out to Charles Fort  which also overlooks the River Bandon. Charles Fort is a 17th century bastion star fort. It was constructed in 1682 by the British and was in continual use until 1922. It housed British troops in the Williamite War, WWI, and through the Irish Civil War. Rich and I wandered up and down through the massive stone walls of the fort and through the Officers' quarters, Governor's house, soldiers' quarters and the stables. It was a beautiful and peaceful site in spite of it's original use. We stopped here for our late morning snack, deciding to forego lunch and have an early dinner instead.

Charles Fort Governor's Quarters

Officers' Quarters

Outer Defense Wall

Coffee Break

Governor's Quarters from battlement (soldiers quarters are below)

Ireland - Installment VI (Writing in the time of Covid 19)

Shortly after my last post on March 11, Governor DeWine issued the stay at home order. So from March 23 onward (and a little before that for me) I have been doing just that. Staying at home. With so much time on my hands you would think that I would have finished my account of our Irish trip by now but that's not the case. The first thing I did after the order was to go through all of the drawers and closets on the second floor and do a massive clean out. Gone are all of the unworn clothing that I had intended for months (years) to donate. Gone are over 20  years worth of craft and sewing supplies that I knew I would never revisit. I have culled all of those items from the second floor that I had intended to get rid of for years.

I had figured that this would be the opportunity I had been waiting for and making excuses for not doing. My intention was to finish knitting the pair of socks that I had begun in Ireland and to complete writing the tale of our Irish trip. You know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. I just burned brightly for the first couple of weeks and then suddenly fizzled out in a shower of ennui. I lost the energy to do much of anything productive and buried myself in the comfort of reading books all day and the escapism of  baking and watching Netflix, Prime and Acorn TV.

When I shook myself awake from this daze I realized that what they say about moving your physical body is also true about writing. If you don't use it you lose it. So here I am, wide awake now and back into the routine of exercise, riding the stationary bike and doing yoga since the weather is so awful still, and now back on track with my writing.

On Monday, September 16th we left the luxury of the Shelburn Lodge in Kenmare and headed around  the Ring of Kerry and then on to Kinsale for our next evening.On the way we drove through narrow winding roads that ran  through the Killarney National Park. The sylvan landscape held surprises for us at every turning. Typical of the ruins was an abandoned church that we glimpsed through the windshield. I couldn't help wondering what kind of stories this old church could tell if it could talk.

The ID on my phone says Muckross - Incheens for this ruin
A  little farther on in the drive through the Killarney forest we were met with another surprise. Their expressions made me feel like I was the intruder in their home. Can you see the wild goats in the second picture? The big guy was in the center of the road staring disdainfully  at us and took his time crossing over.

On the way we made an unplanned stop at a place called Muckross House in Killarney. The beauty of an independent driving trip is that we could take time for spontaneous stops along the way. This one did not disappoint. We had been noticing signs for a place called Muckross House. Curious, I did a quick Google search and found out that this was a Victorian mansion and estate that was open to the public. On the spur of the moment we made the decision to stop at the site. May I say here that we were not disappointed. This was probably one of the most interesting and beautiful sites that we visited in a country that is full of beautiful sites of all variety.

Muckross House

Muckross House was built by Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour Herbert. Construction was begun in 1839 and completed in 1843. Apparently the original plans called for a larger, grander structure, although I don't know how it could be grander without becoming a palace. In the 1850s they began an extensive and elaborate garden renovation in preparation for Queen Victoria's visit in 1861. In September the gardens were filled with blooming things and were certainly as beautiful as any other time of year. 

Also on the Muckross estate grounds was a reconstruction of farm houses and outbuildings typical of the era. Instead of waiting for the tram we trudged uphill to the display of large, medium and small farm houses that showed how the commoners would have lived at that time. 

Large farmhouse

Schoolhouse (note: I got rid of this unflattering top after I saw the picture!)
The farm displays were liberally populated with the animals that would have been on pretty much every small farm of the era. My favorite were the donkeys.
Mama and baby donkeys outside the small farm house
Chickens and other assorted fowl
Sheep alongside the walk to the farms
As we meandered in, out and around the farm houses and buildings you could hear the donkeys loudly braying at the intruding tourists. They were actually very friendly when approached and seemed to enjoy a nose rub.
We lunched in the very modern and well stocked cafeteria at Muckross, shopped in the Muckross Weavers gift shop and then headed out for Kinsale where we would be spending the next two nights at the Rocklands House B&B. Let me pause here to recommend that if you ever decide to travel Ireland by car it's wise to plan on at least two or three nights in any one place. Because the country is so much smaller the distances between sites is usually under a couple of hours drive. We used each b&b as a sort of hub for traveling out in different directions each day. This meant that we were not constantly unloading and reloading luggage into the "boot" of the car.

We arrived in Kinsale just before suppertime and wound our way up a steep and narrow road to the Rocklands House where our host, John, met us and showed us to our room. As we were pretty much tired out from the drive and a bit hesitant to drive back down to town, John offered to drive us down and point out the restaurants that he would recommend for our supper. He also showed us where the local taxi service was located so we could pick up a cab for the drive back up the hill. Later, we found out that John was pretty much a one-man-band when it came to operating the B&B. But more on that in the next post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ireland - Installment V

Saturday evening, September 14, in Kenmare was the evening of the big All Ireland Senior Football Championship 2019 - Kerry vs Dublin that we had been hearing so much about all along our trip so far. Due to all of the flags, bunting and banners in Kerry's colors, green and orange, that we had been seeing everywhere as we drove the highways and byways, we knew that we were in Kerry territory. Rich and I were also careful to pick a pub for dinner where we were pretty sure the game would be on all of the TVs. PF McCarthy's  was our choice based solely upon it's appearance and it was a great one.

The Guinness stew was to die for and the Fish and Chips that Rich picked was one of the best of our trip. But the best part of the evening was the conversation we had with the two young German women at the table next to us. Neither they nor we knew the first thing about the game going on which made the talk at our tables even funnier. One of the young ladies was furiously trying to Google the rules each time a referee held up a different colored penalty card. In the end all four of us chose to just cheer along with the crowd when Kerry did something positive, or groan when they committed a mistake. I did notice though, that the actual Irish fans in the pub were much better mannered when Kerry received a bad call than the Ohio State fans here at home when our team was in a similar situation! Hmmm? Ultimately Kerry lost and everyone in the pub when on drinking congenially.

Sunday morning, after a lovely breakfast in the dining room of Shelburn Lodge where I had the delicious porridge with whisky sauce, we decided to  stroll around town a bit to check out the shops.  I didn't really expect for any of them to be open on Sunday but since Kenmare is such a tourist town there were a few open. Of course I found a woolen shop with yarn in it and couldn't resist another purchase.

We also noticed a long line outside a lovely French bakery so of course we had to stop for mid-morning coffee and a pastry. We were not disappointed as we sat at a table on the sidewalk and watched the crowds.

After our delicious break we decided to go in search of the Kenmare stone circle that we had seen on an episode of Rick Steves PBS travel show. Tucked away in a grassy, out of the way corner of Kenmare, we found an actual stone circle. This was another one of my favorite places to see in Ireland.  I'm beginning to think that in another life I may have been an ancient Celt, or maybe a Druid Goddess. Who knows?

Rich dared to lay a hand on the center stone (sacrificial altar?) Luckily he didn't disappear into another time and place and we were able to continue on our trip the next day.

Later that same day we drove aimlessly around the country roads surrounding Kenmare. One of our discoveries was a small gourmet chocolate shop, Lorge Chocolatier. With a full showcase of chocolates to choose from we made a modest purchase of a variety of chocolates. They didn't even make it out of Kenmare as we began tasting after dinner and, well, one thing led to another! I suggest you check out the link that I provided so you can enjoy a feast for the eyes if not the palate. Lorge also offers classes in chocolate making and if I lived nearby I would certainly love to make myself sick in one of those classes!

That evening we had our supper in a small pizza shop in town and decided to turn in early because we had quite a few sites to see on our way to Kinsale, our next stop.