Monday, January 29, 2024

Thatched Roof Houses of Adare, Ireland


On our October bus tour of Ireland and Scotland, we stopped at the pretty village of Adare. Adare is a village in County Limerick, Ireland, located south-west of the city of Limerick, It was founded in the 13th century and is designated as a heritage town by the Irish government.

Adare is widely known as a major Irish tourist attraction and is regarded as one of the prettiest and most picturesque towns in Ireland. as it retains many thatched cottages, historical buildings, and churches.

A close-up view of the thatch that makes up the roof

A thatched roof is a roof made from dry vegetation, such as straw, heather, rushes, water reeds, palm branches, or sedges. The vegetation is layered so that water runs away from the inner roof. The vegetation is also densely packed, trapping air and functioning as insulation. They can last as long as a regular roof. Our tour guide said they are now very expensive to replace.

Many of the houses were semi-attached to their neighbor's home.

They were so charming!

I loved looking at all their details.

Quite a few were now businesses.

I was surprised to see the Dunraven Arms Hotel as the Fourth Earl of Dunraven had a connection to Colorado.  In 1872 he visited Estes Park to go hunting and enjoyed it so much that he acquired much property there.  You can read more about this on this link on Rocky Mountain National Park 

I learned that the present village of Adare was mostly developed in the 19th century by the Dunraven family. In the early 19th century, the Earl of Dunraven developed plans for townhouses and streets, which are present to this day. It was in these plotted lands that the famous Adare cottages were constructed.

Although we were visiting in late October the house gardens were full of beautiful flowers!

We also came upon the picturesque Adare Town Park, which still had roses blooming!

We enjoyed walking around the entire park.

We headed toward the shops in town to window shop.

Please click on the photo above to enlarge it to read the poem "O Sweet Adare," written by the poet Gerald Griffen.  It is located on the side of a local pub.

Holy Trinity Abby Church in Adare has a long and fascinating history! Although there is no record of the precise date of the foundation, the only Trinitarian Abbey in Ireland, sources suggest that it was established between 1230 and 1240. Dissolved in the 1560s, the Abbey eventually became a ruin. In 1809 the 2nd Earl of Dunraven restored the ruins of the Trinitarian Abbey and gave it to the Catholic Church in Adare. No major structural changes have taken place since 1884 though several modifications and much development have happened during that time.

Please click on the photos above to see a placard that shows how the church developed over time. You can read an online booklet on the church's website that goes into great detail about the church's history and features on this link.


Some views of the inside of the church.

As our bus drove away towards Limerick, I snapped the photos above.  In the collage above on the upper portion is the gate that leads to the magnificent Adare Manor, which is located on the banks of the River Maigue, and was the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven. The present house was built in the early 19th century, though retaining some of the walls of the 17th-century structure. It is now the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, a luxury hotel, and contains the Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant. The Adare Manor Golf Club will be hosting the Ryder Cup in 2027. 

The ruins seen in the upper right of the photo collage above are that of Desmond Castle, which also lies on the bank of the River Maigue. The castle was erected with an ancient ring fort around the early part of the 13th century. It became a strategic fortress during the following turbulent years. It was the property of the Earls of Kildare for nearly 300 years until the rebellion in 1536 when it was forfeited and granted to the Earls of Desmond who gave the castle its present name. The castle has tours available in the summer months.

I could have spent much more time in Adare--perhaps a future visit?

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Killarney National Park and Ross Castle. Ireland

I am continuing with a recap of our October 2023 Cosmos bus tour of the "Highlights of Ireland and Scotland" with my husband, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law.  You can see my four earlier posts under the "Ireland 2023" tab on my blog sidebar or here.
I will periodically update my memories of this trip interspacing with blogs about more recent events.

Killarney National Park is located near the town of  Killarney, County Kerry, and is the first National Park in Ireland, created when the Muckross Estate was donated in 1932. The park has since been substantially expanded and encompasses over 25,425 acres (10289.132 hectares) of diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, oak and yew woodlands of international importance, and mountain peaks. It has the only red deer herd on mainland Ireland and the most extensive covering of native forest forest. remaining in Ireland

Our tour offered a Jaunting Cart Tour of the park as an optional outing, and quite a few of the tour guests came along on an early misty morning in October.

The clip-clop sound of the draft horse's hooves pulling our jaunting cart through the deep forest and lush greenery was mesmerizing. It was hard not to imagine mystical fairies and leprechauns living here!

Killarney National Park is one of the very few places in Ireland that has been continuously covered by woodland since the end of the most recent glacial period approximately 10,000 years ago. Locals were walking by the road, some walking their dogs.

We approached Ross Castle and left our jaunting cart to get a closer look at the castle ruins

Ross Castle is a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park.  It is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of the Clan O'Donoghue, later associated with the Brownes of Killarney.

The castle was extended in the 17th century. It has been restored and is open to the public, although it is basically ruins. When I saw swans swimming on the nearby Lough Leane they reminded me of the famous Irish folktale called the "Children of Lir." For 900 years the Children of Lir were doomed to live as swans by daylight and only in the light of a full moon could they take their human form. They lived on lake Davra, the sea of Moyle and the lake Isle of Glora in Mayo, before their spell was broken with the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.

Please click on the photo above to enlarge it. This shows what the castle originally looked like and also after its enlargement.

Please click on the photo above to read the description sign on the walkway towards the castle.

We walked all around the castle and enjoyed marveling at its magnificent construction and imagined how it appeared in its glory days.

Please click on the photo above of a placard near the castle that has information about Killarney National Park.

After visiting the castle we all returned to our Jaunting Carts for a return ride to our tour bus.

As we approached the town we could see some interesting architecture near the park...

...and I turned around to see this beautiful vision of the misty clouds lifting up off the mountains in the park.

I will always remember the beauty of the mountains that seemed to be rising up above the clouds!

Our tour guide recommended we grab a coffee before boarding the bus to continue our tour. I was surprised to learn that coffee has become more popular than tea in Ireland since my last visit to Ireland fifteen years ago!  I was also so happy to see this cafe was named after the folktale I remembered in the park.

We then returned to the bus and were on our way north towards Adare and Limerick.

As I looked out the bus window the vast view of the sky amazed me... did the beautiful "forty shades of green" along the way!

Monday, January 15, 2024

the Future Era for the National Western Complex

My husband and I enjoyed going to the annual National Western Stock Show Parade in Denver in early January --read that post here--and we decided to take another trip into Denver last week to visit the stock show grounds on the free admission day. We visited the stockyards before, years ago--click here to read that post--and we were excited to see the new construction that we had heard about being in progress.  The construction consists of more than 2.2 million square feet of new indoor and outdoor spaces is underway, designed to host innovation and research labs, farmers markets, international conferences, outdoor festivals, and everything in between.

The National Western Center is being built by the City and County of Denver in partnership with the National Western Stock Show and Colorado State University, along with programming support by History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Information about the new buildings from the National Western Center website:

"The National Western Center will be a year-round, global destination for agricultural innovation, western heritage, and culture. People worldwide will convene at the National Western Center and online to lead, inspire, create, educate, and entertain in pursuit of global food solutions. The National Western Center will be the future home of the National Western Stock Show and exploratory learning opportunities through CSU. The National Western Center Authority is the nonprofit that will operate the campus; its offices are located at 4701 Marion St., Denver."

The signs on the construction fences gave more information and some photos of what the buildings would look like.

Construction is expected to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026.

From what we could see the new buildings will be amazing amenities to the city of Denver!

We walked around to see some of the remaining outdoor stock pens...

...and we watched a few of the bull demonstrations and auctions.

We then walked over to see the two new Colorado State University -CSU- buildings called CSU SPUR.  CSU Spur hosts programming from many partners — including the Dumb Friends League, Denver Water, the Temple Grandin Equine Center, and the CSU College of Agriculture. It is home to real science and research and has laboratories, a veterinary clinic, a market, a museum, an art studio, classrooms, a garden, and an innovation center.

CSU Spur is always free and is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day during the National Western Stock Show (Jan. 6-21, 2024) for dog and cat surgeries, rooftop greenhouses, interactive exhibits, and special demonstrations. There was so much to see and do there--we know we will return again to do more.

You can watch a YouTube video at this link to see more about what wonderful things are happening in these buildings.

We then went inside the Stockyards Event Center where there were hundreds of vendor booths selling a multitude of goods and services during the stock show days.

There were also indoor stock pens inside the event center with animals from A --Alpaca on the right--to Z-- Zebu on the left.

I was amazed to see the girth of these two well-fed bulls!

We also added some girth to our waistlines by having a delicious barbecue lunch at one of the food vendors at the event center! I had brisket with coleslaw and a broccoli salad, and my husband had a sausage and ribs platter with beans and potato salad. It was all delicious!

We enjoyed our day out and look forward to many more visits in the future at the new National Western Complex. It really has made Denver remain the premier center of the West!

Monday, January 8, 2024

The 2024 National Western Stock Show Parade in Denver, Colorado

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that 2024 will be a healthy and prosperous year for all! 

One of our favorite first activities for the new year is attending the National Western Stock Show parade in Denver, Colorado.  I've blogged about it in the past--see those blog posts here and here and here, but we haven't been able to attend the parade for quite a few years as COVID shut it down a few years and then we were avoiding being in crowds for a few years when it came back.  But this year feeling all boosted and healthy we decided to go to the National Western Stock Show Kick-off Parade on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. 

The Parade route in Denver is on 17th Street from Union Station to Glenarm Street and down 18th Street to McGregor Square. This year’s parade featured the 30 longhorn cattle herded by many cowboys and followed by many professional photographers, down the parade route. They are always an exciting sight to see!

The Stock Show runs through Jan. 21 at the National Western Complex, featuring everything from cattle auctions to professional rodeos, mutton busting, sheep shearing, and bluegrass. In the past we attended rodeos--see those blog posts here--and here --and a Draft Horse Show--post here.

An estimated 700,000 people visit the Stock Show each year in Denver. The event officially dates back to 1906, but there were earlier cattle shows and auctions in Denver as far back as 1874. The 2024 show runs through Jan. 21, 2024.

Former Denver Broncos All-Pro middle linebacker Randy Gradishar was the official Grand Marshal of the 2024 National Western Stock Show Kick-off Parade.

Mike Johnson, the Mayor of Denver, was also in the parade.

There is a definite Western flair to the parade!

Many horses and carriages passed by... well as mini horses, a college mascot Ram, and a scooter-riding Bronco football mascot!

To see a video reel of this group of Westernaires passing by go to this link on my Mille Fiori Facebook page. Turn on the microphone icon on the upper right of the video.

Information from the Westernaires web site: 
"We're a non-profit organization located in Golden, Colorado, comprised of over 1,000 dedicated young people, aged 9 to 19. We encourage self-respect, responsibility and leadership through horsemanship and family participation. Since 1949, Westernaires has proudly trained young people to use their talents and skills in the best traditions of the West."

There were many men and women on horseback... well as marching bands.

Another group of Westernaires pass by.

There were 59 different groups in the parade and traditional Mexican dancers performed, as did a group of Native Americans in traditional dress.  To see a video reel of the Mexican dancers click this link on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook page.  To hear the Native Americans dancing and chanting go to this link.  Be sure to click on the microphone icon in the upper right corner of each video to hear the sound.

There was a wonderful representation of 4 H groups. 4-H is a community of young people, across America, learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills, and in Colorado, it is supported by the Colorado State University ExtensionIt was the first time I saw chickens in the parade!

There were even some  National Western Extreme Dog Show dogs in the parade. 

More Westernaires... a long line riding down 17th Street in Denver.

One of the last floats is usually the Grizzly Rose--a country music nightclub and dance hall in Denver that hosts country western music six nights a week.  

With all the horses that passed by this becomes the final. well-needed sight following the parade is a parade of street cleaning vehicles!

As always we enjoyed the National Western Stock Show Kick-Off Parade, even though the chilly overcast skies made it the coldest one that we've experienced. It was good to finally put my gloves back on after taking so many photos!  I hope you enjoyed seeing it here on my blog. I missed you all while on my holiday break and it's good to be back!