It’s on to Youghal on the south coast, home of Walter Raleigh

The Ireland trip continues into Day 5 with the Smiths and Gareys. We pick up the travelogue on Sunday, Sept. 2. We departed Birr, heading south toward the south coast of the Republic of Ireland with Arlene and Mary Ann in the maroon car. There is no straight shot to our destination, the small town of Youghal which is located near St. George’s Channel of the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, we had a number of “rural” highways to use. These seemed to be the narrowest ones, but they probably are all the same. I guess I felt that way because we encountered a number of 18-wheelers and huge tractors. (I’ve never seen so many tractors, earthmovers, etc. on public roads in my life. They were everywhere). The first town we passed after leaving Birr was Roscrea, a typical Irish village but with several old buildings. Mary Ann, Arlene’s navigator, sitting in the left seat, had read that one structure in particular was “really” old so we stopped and made a bunch of nondescript photos. It being a Sunday morning, there didn’t seem to be many people on the streets, but maybe it was before the late morning mass. As we continued south, we passed another centuries-old castle outside of Thurles, but my picture didn’t turn out well. It was drizzling rain, and Richard was driving too fast. It’s a bit out of focus. We arrived in Youghal (remember, it’s pronounced “y’all”) and we stopped at the visitor’s center and found out where our hotel, the Walter Raleigh, was located. It was just across the street from the ocean. After lunch, the girls went shopping or at least touring the small town while Richard and I headed for the golf course. It was on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. . .a magnificent sight. The Youghal Golf Club was established in 1898. I don’t think I’ve ever played a golf course that old. It didn’t matter. This was was a parkland course which basically means it’s a lot like ours with trees, bunkers, etc. One thing unique about it was the fact that four of the holes on the back nine were about 150 meters down the road, and since we walked that day, we were beat when we finished. Richard beat me by a stroke, chipping in for a par on the 18th hole. He shot 84. We had an Irish pizza that evening and headed for bed, but we realized that even though we were on the third floor, the road noise from the highway below, was again a factor in our sleeping. Day 6 The next couple of days were probably the highlight of our trip. We left the next morning for Waterford which was about 75 miles east, down the coast, and the location of the world famous Waterford Crystal Co. Those people know how to market their crystal’there is a modern two-story showroom building in front with a manufacturing plant behind. The four of us took the tour through the plant, watching the complete process from the 2,000′ furnace of molten glass to its completion as a beautiful piece of cut crystal. And yes, the goblets as well as all other pieces are manually blown by masters (it takes 12 years to be a master blower). During this elaborate procedure involving many steps, each piece continually goes through quality control and is sent back to be destroyed if there is even the tiniest flaw. Records are kept of which crew did it, and if it’s too many errors, they are released. In the showroom were displays of elaborate pieces, like, for instance, the last trophy to the Super Bowl winner. A Waterford representative told us that three identical trophies are always produced. Two go to the organization that ordered it and one stays at Waterford for display. Why two, you ask’ So in case some klutz drops and breaks it at presentation, later at the celebration party or simply loses it, it can be replaced immediately. After the tour through the plant, we had a lengthy discussion with master wedge cutter, John Minoque, a 48-year-old man who had been on the job at Waterford since he was 16. Afterward, we, of course, had to purchase a couple of pieces, but due to the expensiveness of the items we settled for a vase and a wine glass. Some of the items that Waterford has created include the Times Square Millennium Ball that officially welcomed in the New Milennium on New Year’s Eve in New York City. A replica of the Ball itself, which measures six-feet in diameter, was on display. Those men and women who work in that fantastic plant have to have nerves of steel. One slip, and it’s back to the hot, molten glass again. From the crystal factory, we headed to our destination and hotel of sorts, the Waterford Castle, which was across an inlet of about 200 meters to an island that measured some 320 acres. We took a special ferry across the narrow channel of water to the 600-plus-year-old castle. Upon checking in, the Smiths went to the Rose Suite and the Gareys to the Wedgewood Suite. Let me tell you, this was the fanciest suite of rooms I’d ever stayed in. It had a sitting room with a couch, two chairs and a TV. The bathroom, complete with an old-fashioned footed tub with shower overhead and lavatory, had a toilet that actually had a chain! All pieces were beautifully decorated with lavish flowers and vines. The bedroom was large enough to accommodate a dance and had a canopied double bed with two couches, a desk and two chairs, and of course, another TV. The four of us walked around the grounds, lavishing in the beauty of the majestic trees, flowers and gardens, and then checked out the 18-hole golf course, not playing but getting our bearings for the next day. That evening we had an elegant four-course meal in the Munster Room. We went to bed early that night and had the best night’s sleep since we’d been in Ireland. There was no road noise pollution and it was nice and cool with the windows open. (To Be Continued)

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