Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day 18: Ferns Castle

It is actually May 23.  Time to head to Wicklow toward our final BnB home.  First we see a sign for Mahon Falls.  Not mentioned on the sign was the distance or the amount of hiking, but we had all day to make our way to Wicklow.  The place was peaceful and open.  Only a couple of other tourists were there, and lots of sheep with big blue dots on their bums called the place home.
If you click on this pic, you get to see the whole thing much bigger.
Brave sheep.  Not shown, blue rear end.
 On our way out of the area, we saw "Magic Road."  I WISH we had known what it meant when we were there...  unfortunately, we did not, so we did not test it!  (look it up :-)  )
MISSED scientific fairy experimentation!
 You know what we deserve after that hike?  A 99!  Mmmmmmmm!
Crazed Abby loves ice cream stops!
Along the road we see a sign for Ferns Castle.  We still have plenty of time in our day.  We head toward it and land a parking spot directly in front.  There are two men hanging out at the gate, and one of them is wearing an OPW shirt.  Office of Public Works runs many of these sites.  Larry, the OPW shirt wearer, greeted us with alarming enthusiasm.   Being Americans, we are not used to such enthusiasm, and it made me a bit cautious.  He asked if we'd like a tour.  It's free.  I considered the facts:  there were two of us and only one of him; he seemed unarmed; we were in sweet safe Ireland, and he was wearing an official OPW shirt.  OK, sure, let's go.  He hopped into action leading us first into the office so that he could get a torch (flashlight).  Another fact added: if we went missing, there were now several witnesses.

We walked to a park bench facing the ruins and he told us to have a seat.  He told us the history of the place.  Then we followed him around to the corner of what is left of the building.  The corner has been restored mostly to original, with some exceptions.  When we would come to an exception he would tell us how awful some restorations were and then quickly tell us about something else.  He was funny and fascinating.
Enter the castle from this modern staircase.
 We made it to the top where we could see the entire countryside.  He answered many of our burning Ireland questions like, "what is with the rows of plastic in some of the fields?", "and what are those yellow flowering hedges?"  Answers: Keeps the potatoes warm, and Gorse.
View from the top.
 As we came back down, I snapped more photos.  I was too busy listening to take photos before.
Door leading to restored space.
 After the tour, we went back into the office where Larry sent us on with maps and information enough to keep us busy for another month stay in Ireland.  Lesson learned.  If an OPW employee stops and asked you if you'd like a free tour.  Don't even hesitate.  YES is the only answer!

We went to have a look at Ferns Cathedral and graveyard.  On to Waterford to do a little gift shopping.  We made it to Wicklow a little bit early, but perfect time for dinner.  Our host was about a block from a pub.  I ducked in and asked about dinner.  They weren't serving today.  A man in the pub asked if we wanted a recommendation.  Again, when strangers offer to point you toward good local food, accept their advice.  He sent us to a place called Jacob's Well.  He gave us directions in a very typical Irish fashion, You can't miss it!  As luck would have it, a man was leaving and asked if we'd like to follow him that direction.  We plugged the place into the GPS for safe keeping and followed the man until his turn took him one way and we needed to go the other.  He stopped and told us which way to continue.  It was so very friendly and kind of him.

Beer and a lasagna.  This lasagna was so heavy, meaty, and quite tasty, I couldn't come close to eating it all.  Because we had driven 15 minutes away, now we were late to our BnB, but I sent our hostess a message and she let us know that her daughter would let us in and she'd be home after an errand.
Lasagna and a local beer.
We made it to our BnB and got settled into the large upstairs room with private bathroom.  Quite nice.  Edel came home and told us to chat with her husband Brendan in the morning.  He was the king of destinations and directions.  I just looked forward to a really good night's sleep!

To be continued!!! ....

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