Denise and David in Europe 2016
September 16-18
  Ireland - Athlone

last updated 22 September 2016 (pic fixed)
Back to Ireland - Dublin Forward to Ireland - Omagh, Londonderry, Donnegal

Friday 16 September - Dublin to Ballydangan

Pictured below are the gates to Phoenix Park. The Park at 707 hectares (1752 acres), is a historic landscape of international importance and one of the largest designed landscapes in any European city.  It was originally established as a Royal deer park in the 17th century.

Inside the park a huge War Memorial, The Wellington Testimonial was an extremely impressive site.  It was designed by Robert Smirke as a testimonial to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who is reputed to have been born in Dublin.  It was completed in 1861 and is the tallest obelisk in Europe at just over 62 meters tall.  There are four bronze plaques cast from cannons captured at Waterloo - three of which have pictorial representations of his career while the fourth has an inscription at the base of the obelisk.

And here is what we have been waiting for. Pictured below, Ashtown Castle. A medieval tower house that dates back to the 17th Century.  Today was a special cultural day and everything of this nature was supposed to be open for free entry.  However due to short staffing they were only opening the fort.  Disappointment gauge from 1 to 10 was 20!!!!!  Not happy Jan. We were compensated by a 20 minute audio-visual display that was very dated and the sound track quality was awful.  David, as usual, fell asleep.

Hitting the road much sooner than anticipated we forged onward to Emo Court.  Emo Court, located near the village of Emo in County Laois, Ireland, is a large neo-classical mansion, formal and symmetrical in its design. It was designed by the architect James Gandon in 1790 for John Dawson, the first Earl of Portarlington. 

Pictured below the dinning room of the mansion.  The symmetry of the home was its main feature.  False doors were also included in parts of the home to provide the symmetry.  The entry foyer was classic for this.

The lounge, light, airy and pleasant.

A ticket to board the Titanic.

Emo court from the gardens.  Emo court is surrounded by well manicured gardens but little in the way of flora.

All in all an enjoyable look around Emo Court.  A little disappointed that we did not get a tour of upstairs.  The tour probably was only about 20 minutes.
We settled for a bit of lunch in the adjoining cafe, housed I believe in the servants quarters.

The Rock of Dunamase in County Laois is a very prominent outcrop. Standing at over 45 metres in height, the outcrop with its castle ruins totally dominates the surrounding countryside.   The earliest historical reference to Dunamase is in the annals of the four masters where it states that Dun Masc was plundered by the vikings in 843AD and the abbot of Terryglass was killed.

The views from Dunamase are spectacular and 10 out of 10 for the visit.  A must do if you love Ireland's countryside.

Finally we get to Yvonne and Patrick's.   (We started to have mechanical trouble with our rental in the middle of nowhere)  Needless to say we were relieved to arrive safe and sound.


Saturday 17 September - Ballydangan (near Athlone)

Denise's blog for the day -

Down the lane from Yvonne's a lovely old gate.

Here's a surprise.  Hazel and I call it ' the secret house ' Hazel is  Yvonne and Patrick's daughter.  We were out walking the dogs, Roxy and Dusty when we made this find.  (Pictured below) is one of very few of the older places that still exist.  The couple who lived here had passed away and it never again had any one live in it.  Apparently the house is part of Patrick's families history.  The two overgrown trees on the left have completely concealed the house from the road.  There is a lovely old gate to the left as well that give the whole house a very 'movie location' feel.

Around the back I could visualise a lovely little courtyard one could enjoy themselves in during the afternoon.

Oh oh.... Hazel has a music lesson and Pat was out and about looking for her.  He wasn't happy she was not ready.  I felt a bit guilty. We took to long walking the dogs and exploring.

Whilst Hazel was at her music lesson Yvonne, David and I hit the shopping centre and guess what?  I found them........'French Fancies" my favourite treats of all time!  I cannot wait for afternoon tea :-)

On our way out this afternoon (Pictured below) the river Shannon.

Our destination for the afternoon was The monastery of Clonmacnoise, situated in County Offaly, Ireland on the River Shannon south of Athlone.

Clonmacnoise was founded in 544 by St. CiarĂ¡n, a young man from Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon.  Below is one of the high crosses that dot the area.

One of two round towers at the monastery.  Their front doors were pretty high so as to keep undesirables out.

A view of a high cross through the Monastery door.

On the way back from the Monastery - The old Fort.  This is next to the Shannon river.

Sometimes black faced sheep can be an issue on small country lanes however this time we have discovered a cow that has escaped from her paddock.  We all jumped out the car to help a cousin of Yvonne's. Yvonne and Patrick have heaps of relatives that live in very close proximity to each other.  No sooner we got the cow back into its paddock it escaped through the side fence again! Smart cow.

Dinner with Yvonne and Patrick.  A lovely Lebanese restaurant in Athlone that Yvonne had always wanted to go to.  I am so happy we could share this special evening with Yvonne and Patrick.

And now .......what better way to round off the evening - the oldest pub in Ireland.  c. 900 AD.  Once you get inside it is very narrow and the ceiling is extremely low.  It is a very popular pub.  We had a couple of drinks and a good laugh and made our way home about 11.30ish.   For more information on Seans Bar go to

Seans Bar is located in Athlone, on the banks of the River Shannon. Between the river Shannons and the Esker Riada is the ancient route carved by glaciers that gave safe access to travellers across the bog for thousands of years.

Sunday 18 September - Ballydangan (near Athlone)

Today we are looking forward to visiting Athlone Castle. 

It's a little bit drizzly today but not enough to dampen our spirits.

View of the entrance below.

Lock and Key 1578 - This secured the East Gate.

Views of Athlone from the Castle walls.  There is a huge story that goes along with the bridge. It has undergone rebuilding throughout history a number of times.

View of Lough Ree at Athlone

Pictured above the exterior view of Athlone Castle.  It was much more impressive looking from the outside.  It had been modernised too much internally and now was more a museum of sorts.  Lots of reading!  I hate that and who can remember it all anyway. One particular item got my attention and it had nothing to do with the castle.  It was about a Mrs Rice and 4 of her 5 children that perished on the Titanic.  Very sad.

Tonight we went to see Hazel play in a game called Camogie (the female version of Hurling).  Interesting game.  A very hard game to score in if you are not too skilled in it.  

Game was due to start at 6pm.  About 200 people gathered for it.  Teams were out warming up.  Streamers were flying.  6:00 goes past... then 6.10... 6:30.... and the game finally started at about 6:40.  It seems the referee did not show up!  David shook his head at such a thing!  This was an under 12 team and they were having a bit of a hard trot because the other team was quite skilled and played the game rather hard.

Anyway, the game started - and the girls were dropping everywhere. Final score 2 goals to 1 point. 

Hazel's team before the match started.

Back to Ireland - Dublin
Forward to Ireland - Omagh, Londonderry, Donnegal