But yes, Carrickfergus. We arrived here (still in Northern Ireland, still along the coast, but heading down towards Dublin) and immediately got some fish and chips and headed to Carrickfergus castle to eat 'em by the water. It was some good stuff.
The seagulls were mighty appreciative of our lunch, as well.
Getting ready to go in...Cannons! Cannons are cool. Also "cool," was when Bran totally slid off his cannon in the top pic, landing in a crumpled heap and making sure the whole castle, if not the whole city, knew of his fate. Then Nuala slid off funny and was dangling precariously and loudly while we were rushing to Bran's aid. Can't let him get all the attention, you know.... Maeve did NOT fall, but just didn't like sitting up there. Or didn't want to be left out of the racket-making.
This picture is unrelated to the cannon issues. I can't really remember why we were lucky enough to get this glare... honestly, it's not that rare of an occurrence, so it has to be a reeeeaaaally special glare to stand out. But it's still funny. Not so much at the time, I'm sure. Luckily she can switch it on and off pretty quickly. When she wants to.
Carrickfergus Castle was Bran and Nuala's favorite. They liked Dunluce Castle a lot, but that was just a big, wild shell of a castle, and Carrickfergus had cannons, and all these great statues dotted throughout.
It was more informative in a fun way, and I can see why little kids would like this one better. But Dunluce was just so rugged and wild. I'm glad we got to see both.
In a banqueting hall. That ship in the middle of the table is called a "nef," and salt was kept in there to display the banquet-giver's wealth. Salt was quite the expensive commodity back in the day.
Up at the top of the castle there was this awesome game room. A huge chess set (obviously), a crossbow and some other weapons you could hold, a giant game of chutes and ladders with DRAGONS, and some other fun stuff.
Then we left, after Bran agonized for about 20 minutes over which little knight figure he should buy to add to his Baby Warriors (a post of its own... he's so cute with his "baby warriors" :) collection.
We slept at another great B&B just down the road from the castle. Actually, we almost ditched and looked for a hotel because no one answered the door or our calls for about 20 minutes. We were in the car looking for hotels on the GPS when the lady who runs the B&B pulled up. Poor thing, she was quite frazzled. She'd been stuck in traffic in Belfast for 5 hours after a bomb scare was called in. Yeah. Anyway, the B&Bs all served us deliciously artery-clogging Ulster Fry breakfasts, which is an egg or two, sausages, bacon, soda bread and/or potato bread, usually fried... hmmm... I guess that's it... It differed from the traditional Irish breakfast by omitting the black pudding, which is 100% okay in my book! And the fried breads were yummy :) And we had the MOST amazing brown bread one morning... Mmmm... but anyway... There's Maeve asleep in her little tent. The twins used these, and only one is really surviving right now. Bran totally ripped holes in the mesh of the other one when he was two. These tents are so perfect for traveling with little ones.
Then, we went to Dublin! We spent the day Saturday and flew out early Sunday morning.
We went to the Natural History Museum, where we ooo-ed and aaaah-ed over the size of the ancient Irish Elk and Maeve had a nice long conversation with some bottled squid.
It was a pretty neat (and free) museum. Loads and loads of animals. The first floor was full of animals native to Ireland, and the second of anything else. The kiddos enjoyed it a lot.
Then we went to St. Stephen's Green to have a little picnic and let the tykes run off some of that quickly-regenerating energy. I like this pic of Maeve. She's chasing birds with a little stick that totally looks like a shillelagh, which is basically an Irish walking stick.
Wheee! Yeah, it was a fun playground.Then we went to the nearby little town of Swords, to see its castle. Unfortunately, the castle was closed. We WERE able to stand outside of it, though. See?
Then we went back into Dublin and went by the GPO, or the General Post Office, which was the headquarters for the Republicans during the 1916 Easter Rising. As I mentioned before, I was reading a great book (1916 by Morgan Llewellyn) about the Rising, so it was really neat to go see the GPO in person, and see the bullet holes in the columns and walls.... I'm sure I've been by here in visits past, but that was before I could actually appreciate it.