Ireland Christmas 2006


The highlight of 2006 was our trip to Ireland for the Freed Christmas. This trip was sister-in-law Kristy's idea. Since my brother Darren is doing a fellowship at Cambridge this year, and Kristy has Irish roots, it seemed logical to have the Freed Christmas in Ireland. You can rent castles from What an experience! For nine days the whole Freed clan (8 adults and 3 kids under 7) enjoyed games, good food (self-catered!), and quality time visiting historic and scenic sites in Ireland. No presents, just time together. We stayed in the Ballyportry Castle, about 30 min. away from Shannon.
Living in a 500 year old castle is like staying in an unfinished stone basement four stories high. On the right you can see the entrance to the castle. If we didn't keep the gate locked, tourists would wander in.
There were 90 stairs up to the very top, and we all got lots of exercise huffing and puffing our way up. Exactly 16 stairs in a full circle, the mathematicians of the family figured out.
On the right is a picture of one of the larger rooms, the only one with a wood floor.

On the left you can see the hearth in the bottom floor kitchen, where we spent much time eating and playing games and keeping warm.
Here are a couple views from the top of the castle. It's pretty cool, when you think about it!

We left Chicago on Tuesday December 19 at 6 p.m. and arrived in Shannon the next morning around 9 a.m. Then we basically slept and relaxed all day. This is a picture of us on the first day. We were tired and grumpy.
By Thursday, December 21, everyone had arrived and we were still relaxing, getting settled, exploring the castle and surrounding area, and shopping for groceries. In the evenings we read Christmas in My Heart stories. No internet, no microwave, no TV or radio, no washer or dryer! Just simple times together.

Friday, December 22, we went exploring. Here we are at the spot where the cruises go to the Aran Islands in the summer. It was just cold and no one was there. See also the picture of all the signs on the road.
Here's a castle we saw on the path up to the Cliffs of Moher. (Yes, the road seemed like a path it was so narrow!)
We also hiked the trails near the Cliffs of Moher.
Another view of the cliffs.

Friday night we read Christmas stories, did Bible dot-to-dot, and enjoyed each other's company.
On Sabbath, we took a drive to see the Corcomroe Abbey. Along the way we looked at the Burren landscape. Very rocky.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring the Abbey and looking at the monuments in the cemetary. Very fascinating history.
On the way home we noticed some people thatching their roof.
We also stopped to see more castle ruins.
When we came home we listened to Dwight Nelson's sermon on the Wise Men from the Wise Men from the East series. The sun sets so early in Ireland - about 4 p.m. In the evening we played Chutes and Ladders with the kids, and after they went to bed we watched The Princess Bride, a fitting movie for a castle!
On Christmas Eve, several people were sick with colds so we took it easy. We did work on preparing our special Christmas dinner. Note James making a pie crust for pumpkin pie in a cast iron frying pan!
On Christmas Day, before dinner, we went into Lahinch to see the locals take the "plunge." Which being interpreted means, they ran into the ocean for charity. This activity was recommended by the shopkeeper at Kenny Woollen Mills in Lahinch.

On December 26, we drove south hoping to see some sites. But everything was closed. It's amazing how everything, shops, tourist sites, gas stations, everything closes for holidays! These Irish know how to take a holiday!!

We did get to hear the bells in this church next to King John's Castle. The word "tintinnabulation" comes to mind! It was delightful!

December 27, things were open. So we started by going to see King John's Castle in Limerick. A military castle by an English king. Interesting tour and history.
After that we were hungry, so we stopped at Durty Nelly's, popular with the locals, and had lunch.
Next we toured the Bunratty Castle and Folk Village. You could spend hours there exploring everything!

Grass growing in the roof of one of the huts in the Bunratty Folk Village.
Enjoying the view from the top of the Bunratty Castle.
Someone, in celebration of the holidays?, put bubbles in this fountain. A laugh at the pranks of the locals.
A final picture from the top of our castle. What a trip!!


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Last Updated September 20, 2011

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