Tuesday, 31 July 2012

July 13 - Seal of Approval

Our second morning in Ireland we packed up and drove to Bunratty to see the Rossmanagher Estate and the toll bridge built by Henry d'Esterre in 1784. I loved this place last year.

It's just such a nice solid family history spot.

I need to put this picture together with last year's pictures as well as the pictures from 20+ years ago with Ken's brothers. I'd be interested to see how quickly the stone marking the building of the bridge is deteriorating.

The pretty river.

But wait! The day got so much more amazing! We drove to Thurles to visit Raymond who is in possession of some family heirlooms. He was so friendly last year when he shared the original plaque of the de Herez Smyth Family Crest, and the documents of the Grant of Crest as well as the Grant of Arms. But at that time he didn't realize he had the family seal.

It was so cool. The seal was on an elaborate gold ring, along with another seal, carried a long thick gold chain (probably a watch chain). The yellow one is the family crest, the red one is a joke seal with a little devil in the middle, that when read says, "Who the (devil) can this be from".

Thanks to Ken's mom we came prepared with some wax, and I brought some parchment envelopes to make the impressions on. A couple for Grandma, and a few for us. The girls had their impressions made right into their travel journals. (They did both the family crest and the joke seal).

All the de Herez Smyth descendants had a picture done with the seals.

Afterwards, Raymond showed the kids around the old house and the ruins out back, and then had us follow him down the road (With his dog in our car, wait how did that happen?) for tea. We stayed and chatted with his family for an hour. They were so hospitable with scones and pie. We had a lovely time!

Monday, 30 July 2012

July 12 - Irish Family History

After a luxurious sleep at the Radisson Blue Resort and Spa (that priced out the same as our London hotel) we went on a treasure hunt (with maps and everything) to find all the sites Ken's parents guided us to last year.

The road we took last year to Temple Michael was closed, but Ken found a back way in to this Mason temple and family graveyard on the Ballynatray Estate.

Across the water from Temple Michael you can no longer walk all the way up to the house, though you can rent the house for special events. (It was a little out of our price range for this trip.)

Jaclyn's umbrella is still looking good in this picture - it got much worse. (Molena Abby in the background.)

More spider webs.

Youghal is a fun little town. There was a time it when was a larger port than London!

Tynte Tower

St. Mary's Collegiate

Sir Walter Raleigh's house - first Tudor house in Ireland.

A memorial plaque inside St. Mary's Collegiate. See the punctuation happy face?

Igthamurrah was inaccessible due to rain and simultaneous *organic fertilizing*.

No one home at Rathcoursey this time.

It was still fun to see.

Jane Green Smyth's home in Passage West has been renovated in the past year.

Hey, we saw this car last year parked in the same spot across the street!
(No, I wasn't the one who noticed that.)

We even found Old Kilmurry Cemetery which we didn't get to see last year.

And with excellent directions from Grandma, we found a significant family headstone with several ancestors identified in the engraving.

Jaclyn and Carmen copied it down word for word.

This cemetery we did visit last year.

Just the girls - Steven was done with getting wet.

Whereas what did Chloe and Carmen want to do when we got back to the hotel?

That's right, get more wet. Even if they did make all guests wear swim caps.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

July 11 - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The moment Pembroke Castle came into view it started. And how could they not quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail with a stone castle right in front of them?

(Our french photographer would be proud of our *romantic* picture here.)

Pembroke Castle in Wales is where King Henry VII was born to his widowed 14-year-old mother. He was entitled to the throne through both his parents, and won his position in battle against his cousin Richard III. 

The castle dates back to the 1200's.

It was fun to explore, and a great way to use our time before we caught the ferry to Ireland.

I don't imagine it had this beautiful lawn back in the day.

If only Chloe had some flue powder! (It all comes back to Harry Potter.)

The spiderwebs didn't help Jaclyn's arachnophobia.

We nearly had the place to ourselves, quite a change from the big cities we'd been in the first half of the holiday.

Beneath the castle, facing the water, is a limestone cavern called Wogan Cavern.

It was huge (cavernous). Think oversized gymnasium.

Very echo-y.

At the castle Steven was jumping up onto everything. I only thought to get a video after we left to head back to the car. This jump was no big deal - as you can see from the shrug he gave me at the end of the video.

When I arranged the car rental I didn't realize that we needed to complete more forms and pay more money to travel out of Enlgand. Ken made the necessary arrangements earlier in the day, though the Alamo guy told him that 'knowing the Irish' they wouldn't check. They didn't.

We waited to load the ferry long enough for Carmen to get some in-car spa treatments from Chloe. The foot massage proceeded the facial massage. (Perhaps a strategic mistake on Carmen's part.)

We rented a cabin on the ferry in the spirit of family history. Ken's grandfather emigrated to Canada by boat just after WWI. Here Steven and Chloe are reenacting a story of seasickness recorded in Great-grandpa's memoirs.

We did use the room for napping. I got a beautiful nap myself.

Jaclyn found some free Wi-Fi and enjoyed her time on the boat.

Here is the true cost of travelling by ferry.

The arcade! (And the food.)

Steven now holds the high score on Big Buck.

Travelling was as big a part of this holiday as the destinations were.