Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Limerick we shall go.....

King John's Caslte, Limerick, Ireland
Linda and I were up early and made our way to the train station. The train was a 9:20 a.m. and we arrived in Limerick about 2 hours later. I know I've said it before, but it is nice to travel by train (or bus) in Ireland and have access to the Internet!! Once in Limerick we asked some directions and found we could just walk out the front door and keep going. The city was ahead of us.

Linda in the McCourt classroom.
Unlike Cobh and Killarney, Limerick seems more "city-fied" and less touristy!! As with the other cities we've seen, the buildings are only 2 or 3 stories high. Even though it was around 11:30, the streets were quiet. The traffic wasn't very dense and there didn't seem to be many people around. As it turns out, we were on the "outskirts" of the city center and as we walked deeper into the town it become busier. Downtown Limerick is much like many larger cities we've visited. There were many businesses, restaurants, pubs and small shops -- all catering to the local residents (Limerick has a population of about 184,000 people).

We located the tourist bureau and got the usual "go here, go there" map from a nice young woman behind the desk. We set off to visit St. Mary's Cathedral and King John's castle -- yes a castle in the middle of town. The cathedral dates back to the 12th Century while King John's castle dates from the 13th Century! Both buildings were beautiful stone structures and had a commanding view of the River Shannon.

In The Rock pub belonging to EI4GJB.
Declan, Limerick, Ireland.
As we made our way back into the center of town, I noticed some "ham antennas" on the top of a 2-story corner building. I followed the wires into a window and located the door. After knocking we were invited in. Neither of us realized it at the time, but the door was to a pub called "The Rock Bar". It was darkly lit, warm, cozy with the pleasant smell of "Guinness". The bar-keep asked if he could help us and I explained I was a ham radio operator. I had seen the antennas and wondered if he knew who the "radio operator" was. "Oh, that would be Declan," he said. "But he isn't here just now."  Everyone in the bar -- there were only 4 customers or so -- joined in the conversation, and we enjoyed a 10- or 15-minute chat about Declan, his radio station and Guinness. Before leaving, Linda and I enjoyed a "pint" and I bought a round for the guys. It was great fun.
Facetime with Jim, Norm and Michael
on the train from Limerick to Cork
and to Palm Desert, California.

After leaving The Rock Bar, we made our way across town to the Frank McCourt Museum. It was only a 15 minute walk through the shopping district and into an area called "The Gregorian Quarter". The McCourt museum is housed in the actual "school" building and residence McCourt lived in during the late 30's and early 40'. We visited a "bedroom" as well as a classroom. The docent, Patrick Brian, was friendly and informative. We spent about an hour there, talking about McCourt and his early life. If you recall, I'm sure, he wrote "Angelas Ashes" and "Tis" in the 1990's (and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work).

I managed to put my ham radio
callsign on the blackboard in the
Frank McCourt classroom!!
By now it was getting late in the day, so we made our way back to the train station for the trip to Cork. One enjoyable event occured when I tried to call my good friend Jim on Facetime. He was in his car and answered. Facetime is similar to "Skype" with audio and video. Once I was on-line, and on the train I might add -- I called Jim's cell and we enjoyed a 10-minute conversation. As it happens, he had arrived at his destination where our good buddies Norm and Michael joined in the conversation. One can only marvel at the technology we have at our disposal these days!

When we thought of having dinner, we chose to revisit Market Lane. Their food is so good and their helpings are so ample, we couldn't help ourselves! Once again it was a wonderful meal. We enjoyed a few minutes talking to Mark, the manager, and he bought us a "pint" for being such good customers.

With the end of another wonderful day in Ireland, we're ready for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we have a special treat awaiting us -- so, stay tuned and I'll report about that later.