Dan in Ireland
A business trip to do an on-site training class at Analog Devices got me and my wife, April a trip to Limerick Ireland in May, 1990. I had been traveling a lot in my first few months at Credence (with more to come) and while my wife was visiting me at work, my boss, Steve Nurse, apologized to her for all the travel I had been doing and offered to make it up to her by saying "If there is anything I can do, just let me know.". Well, April, not being shy said, "OK, I want to go to Ireland with Dan!". He kind of stumbled a bit and then said he would look into it.
At the time, Credence was paying for Business Class travel on flights more than 8 hours, and they had a policy that allowed you to take Coach Class if you brought your wife. Steve Nurse confirmed this with Martin Silver, the CFO at the time, and then said, yes, April could go along on this two week trip. Only problem was, the kids. Grandma and Grandpa could only handle a week with them, so we shortened April's trip to a week so my folks wouldn't go nuts while she was gone. See what happens when you're not shy?
We flew over and landed at Heathrow on Sunday morning, where Air Ireland put me in business class while April had to sit in coach (shocking cockup) but it was only an hour flight anyway. We landed in Shannon, got the rental car, a right hand drive mind you, and headed for the hotel. We both had driven right hand drive in Australia so that was no problem. We checked in to this nice hotel in Limerick and almost immediately took off for a drive to find the place I had to go to work the next day (Monday). On the way back to the hotel we came across a car in the middle of a roundabout, and stopped to check on the driver. We were one of several folks doing that, he was an older gent who found that the road he had been driving for most of his life suddenly had a roundabout in it.
Here is a shot of April in front of the seawall at the Shannon river in downtown Limerick. Behind her you can see Saint John's castle, which was under rennovation, so we couldn't go inside.
We settled into a simple routine, April would drop me off at Analog Devices to teach class that day, then she would drive the rental car all over Ireland taking pictures. At 5:00PM every day she would pick me up and we would head off and explore until 9:00PM or so. You see, this was late May, near the Summer Solstice and Limerick is at 52 degrees latitude, so it stays light until 10PM every day. So basically we got what seemed like two days for every one. This would make up for the fact that April had to fly back home on Sunday, so we wouldn't even get a full weekend together.
We went everywhere, and saw amazing things. Near Shannon is Bunnratty Castle which is a favorite tourist destination.
Especially nice is that it is very close to Shannon Airport so many folks headed for other places stop off at Shannon for a short layover, go to Bunratty Castle for lunch, then go back to the airport and continue on their way. Bunratty was fun, but we started finding castles with no tourist hoards, and there are a lot of them. We could just drive in the country, see a castle in the distance, ask some folks on the road about it, and sure as your granny is Irish, they would tell us how to get there and give us permission to check it out. This happened again and again, people were so accomodating, they were perfectly happy to let you wander around the grounds, climb around to your hearts content with nary a thought about it.
Our favorite castle was a busted up old place called Carrigogunnel on a hill overlooking the Shannon River. Click here for more on this fantastic castle ruin.
A little research told us that this castle was used to stage attacks against occupying British forces in the middle of the 17th century. Britain's "Lord Protector" Oliver Cromwell ordered Carrigogunnel blown up so the place was pretty much just of bunch of overgrown ruins, but what ruins!
In this photo you can see a standing wall with fireplace still intact built into the wall.
April also went lots of places on her own, she went to Tipperary and all points in between, she had a whole 9 hours every day to roam the countryside.
We also came across a place named Billy's Castle in Askeaton. While looking at an old friary we saw a castle in the distance. We asked a local who was visiting his mother's grave in the friary and he said, "Oh, that's Billy's castle, just go to the house and ask Billy, he'll let you take a look around!". Actually the castles name is Ashkeaton.
There was plenty of natural beauty there as well, we went out to the West coast of Ireland and checked out the Cliffs of Moher. Just lovely.
When Saturday finally came we went South to see Blarney Castle, another tourist place and of course famous for the Blarney Stone. April just had to kiss the stone, which involves laying on your back 50 or so feet above the ground and holding your head upside down to kiss the stone. We also went to Cork to look around, then headed back so we could get April to the airport in the morning.
After dropping April off at the airport and watching her plane take off, I continued touring Ireland up to Galway. I came across the Dolman in County Clare. This structure is a grave, there were over 30 people buried in this tomb.
The next week in Ireland was kind of boring, with April gone there wasn't much reason to go running around, so I concentrated on my work and missed my wife. A common theme in my life with at Credence where I traveled about 30% of the time.