On the second day of our tour of Ireland, we visited New Ross. Home of John F. Kennedy’s ancestors, the town of New Ross has a replica of the Dunbrody. This ship shuttled the rich and poor to the New World to escape the potato famine. The poor were packed in bunks like cargo while the wealthy dined with the captain and slept in private cabins with beds. From 1845 to 1852, one million people died and 1.5 million fled to other countries. The famine was caused by a blight, a water mold called Phytophthora infestans. The Irish fled to New York, New Orleans, Boston, and Quebec.

Memorial to potato famine immigrants.

Memorial flame at the Dunbrody.

The Dunbrody famine ship carried up to 300 people.

Many died on the ship because of hideously poor hygiene conditions and tuberculosis. The poor were allowed to come up on deck once a day for thirty minutes to cook food. The Dunbrody carried up to 300 passengers per trip. A story about the orphans who arrived in America is called The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

After seeing the Dunbrody, we traveled to Wicklow, the garden of Ireland. Movies like Braveheart were filmed here. Wicklow in Gaelic is Cill Mhantáin, which means the church of the toothless one. I’m telling you, everything here has a story. Handbuilt stone-stacked walls and hedges mark property boundaries. The tallest mountain in Ireland is 3,800′. Ruins of ancient cathedrals and castles are left in place out of respect for the dead.

In Waterford, we had a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal. We witnessed the various stages of production and craftsmanship in action. The stages are: blowing, marking, cutting, finishing, and engraving. Each stage takes eight years of apprenticeship. The factory operates 24-hours a day.

A craftsman at Waterford Crystal.

A 9/11 tribute in Waterford Crystal.

Other famous Irishmen and women: Edmund Burke, Peter O’Toole, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter), Bono, Michael Gambon (also played Professor Dumbledore of Harry Potter), Brendan Gleeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Bob Geldof. Where would we be without our wizards and actors and singers from Ireland?

We ended the day at a Malzard’s Pub in Stoneyford. There we sang Irish ballads and pop tunes and learned a bit about the national sport of hurling, Just for the record, the hurling came before the Guinness. Lesa and Debra, in our Trafalgar tour group, tore up “Sweet Home Alabama.” The musicians said that Johnny Cash wrote Forty Shades of Green from visiting Ireland. Of course, with an Irish accent, it sounded like he said “Farty Shades of Green” which gave me the giggles. I know. So mature.

Nancy draws a proper pint of Guinness.

Tom learns the fine art of drawing a pint of Guinness.

Congratulations to Tom and Nancy for learning how to draw a proper pint of Guinness.

Many thanks to musicians, Jimmy and Billy, for entertaining us. Also thanks to our host at Malzard’s and his son for demonstrating the basics of hurling.

Here’s a sampling of the live music. Click here.