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Cathy is our angel now


It is with extreme sadness and sorrow that we tell you that Cathy, one of the fabulous "best women" at our wedding, passed away yesterday after a valiant fight with breast cancer. Maybe you didn't get a chance to actually meet her at our wedding, but she made each and every one of you smile and laugh with her toast. Cathy had a way of profoundly touching people she barely knew and many that she never actually met, and we hope, for a brief period, she was able to meet all of you.

Cathy was Alison's college roommate and the bestest friend we could ask for. She leaves behind an awesome husband, Dan, and a beautiful 4-year old son, Danny, as well as a loving father and brother. We know her mother welcomed her peacefuly into heaven.

A service will be held in Houston, followed by the funeral in Chicago. Please contact us if you would like the details.

honeymoon blog and photos...



after many, many months of procrastination work, we have finally updated everything regarding our honeymoon in ireland.  you should now see a menu item at the top marked "honeymoon" and a menu item on the right with all the honeymoon info by day. 


day 12 blog -- shannon to nyc

day 12 blog -- shannon to nyc

up before dawn. ugh. up so early that the u.s. west coast hockey games were still going on. which weirded us out. but we had to get a move on.

room at clarion limerick - limerick

we packed up the car and were on the road just as the sun was coming up. eerily reminiscent of our arrival!

the airport is about a half an hour's drive from limerick. the airport was quiet and surrounded by heavy security. we got the car returned and checked in with continental. with time to kill we hit duty free and stocked up on some more irish whiskey!!!! and we were headed home.

the flight was great.

in the sky...

another 757-200 with international first class. this time, the entertainment systems came in handy and eric watched a few movies while alison dozed off. the food was plentiful and tasty!


we touched down on time in newark and headed back home...

all told we drove through countless towns, stayed in galway, enfield, dublin, kilkenny, cobh, and limerick. we passed though 14 counties - clare, galway, roscommon, westmeath, offaly, meath, dublin, kildare, carlow, kilkenny, waterford, cork, tipperary, and limerick. we could not have had a better time. we want to go back. we want to travel to the north. and we want to spend some more time in dublin. we are already planning in our heads our next trip!

day 11 blog -- cobh to limerick

day 11 -- cobh to limerick

we woke up to an absolutely beautiful sunrise over the harbor.

sunrise over cobh harbour

unfortunately it was raining again. good news is that the rain stopped after our breakfast. and we were back on the road.

we drove through cork city. briefly.

in/around cork

cork was about as lovely as newark, nj. so we continued on to blarney. alison had promised a partner at her law firm that she would kiss the blarney stone to get the gift of gab.

blarney castle - blarney

blarney castle, other than being an enormous tourist trap, was nearly as cool as trim castle. and the grounds were gorgeous. you must must must check out all the pics. the blarney stone, for those that do not know, is at the very top of the castle, on an outer precipice.

blarney castle - blarney

which means... first you must climb to the top of the castle on the very narrow, uneven, spiral staircases. it is a treacherous climb, and an even worse descent. once you reach the top, you must lay down on your back and lean over a wide gap between the castle and the outer wall over a considerable drop. luckily they have a kind man that sits there all day and holds on to you while you do this craziness. it is highly recommended that you tip him generously! eric and alison both braved any fear of heights and kissed the blarney stone. are we now more eloquent? who knows...

alison on the grounds - blarney castle - blarney

after making the descent we wandered the grounds for a bit, bought some postcards and headed away from the rest of the tourists.

we got back on the road, and heard on the radio that there was a bomb threat in dublin on the north end of o'connell street, near the gresham hotel where we had stayed. we were glad to have missed that - we are sure it made traffic even more of a nightmare! (there was no bomb...)

we passed through cork again and the murphy's brewery.

in/around cork

unfortunately we had been brewery'ed and distillery'ed out and decided not to stop.

we drove straight through to cashel, to visit the rock of cashel.

rock of cashel - cashel

the rock of cashel is an historic site in ireland's province of munster, county tipperary. the rock of cashel served as the traditional seat of the kings of munster for several hundred years prior to the norman invasion.

rock of cashel - cashel

the entire site is walled, and the grounds around the buildings are home to an extensive graveyard, which includes a number of high crosses. the ruins are extensive and you are given total access to the grounds.

rock of cashel - cashel

we spent a considerable amount of time here and took many photos.

after walking a bit around the town of cashel, we were back on the road.

in/around cashel

we drove through tipperary on our way to limerick, our destination for the night. limerick was much more urban than we thought it would be after all of our travels. we chose limerick for its close proximity to shannon and the airport. we arrived late and did not see much of the town other than driving through it to our hotel.

in/around limerick

it was our final night in ireland. we ended up staying in a clarion, a high-rise hotel that was a modern looking building sticking up like a sore thumb in this old city. it was the only big chain like hotel we stayed in for the entire honeymoon. although the spa in enfield was run by marriott, it was uniquely irish in that it was in an old manor house and very quaint. we suppose the clarion was a good transition back to manhattan life, but it didn't have much character to speak of. the room was incredibly nice and being on a high floor we had a great view of the city and the river shannon.

views from our room over the river shannon - clarion limerick - limerick

the evening was uneventful. we ordered room service and spent a good amount of time creatively packing all the things we picked up along our journeys. our plane departed around 900am in the morning, so the goal was to get some sleep, as we needed to be up very very early to drive to the airport in shannon. this called for room service and an early night. it was sad to know the trip was nearing its end.

day 10 blog -- kilkenny to cobh

day 10 blog -- kilkenny to cobh

we woke up in kilkenny to bright blue skies. an absolutely gorgeous day. we were up early for breakfast, so before hitting the road we walked around town.

kilkenny is a very cute and colorful town.

kilkenny castle - kilkenny

at the center of town is kilkenny castle. it is quite a majestic centerpiece. the castle is fully restored and remained inhabited up to very recently.

kilkenny castle - kilkenny

the grounds surrounding the castle were spectacular.

then it was time to hit the road again and head further south.

at the kells priory

our first stop was a the kells priory. this is a different kells from the book of kells, if you are familiar with the book. it is a cool old ruin. check out the pics.

then we were off to waterford, the town famous for its crystal.

at waterford crystal

we made a stop off at the factory gift store. because we were pressed for time to get to the tour at the jameson distillery in midleton we opted not to go on the factory tour.

we continued driving along the south-eastern coast of ireland, driving through dungarvan, and arrived in midleton.

on the road to midleton

we found convenient parking and headed straight to the old midleton distillery.

this distillery and its tour were much better than the one in dublin.

eric at the old midleton distillery - midleton

there are some great pictures - especially of the large pot stills. they are humongous!

alison tasting whiskey at the old midleton distillery - midleton

and this time alison got to do the special whiskey tasting at the end of the tour. mr. & mrs. parucki are now both certified irish whiskey tasters!

after the tour we were back on the road to our final destination -- cobh. cobh is a small fishing village near to cork.

in/around cobh

it is most famous as being the last port of call for the titanic. we stayed at a quaint cottage-like hotel called the water's edge. and it was literally on the water's edge. our room had a beautiful view looking out to the harbor and the ocean beyond. unfortunately, this was the only hotel that did not have internet access.

view from our room at water

but the views more than made up for it.

we had dinner at the hotel's restaurant, jacob's ladder. the south of ireland is definitely dominated my murphy's stout, rather than guinness, so we enjoyed a few pints with a decadent fired brie to start and some rustic murphy's stout shepard's pie.

alison at jacob

we sat and watched the sun set -- an excellent way to end an enjoyable day. we also enjoyed talking with a nice couple from missouri, and keeping them updated on the fate of their home team (the st. louis cardinals) in the world series!

day 9 blog -- dublin to kilkenny

day 9 -- dublin to kilkenny

we woke up to miserable weather. rain rain rain. luckily this was our only day of bad weather. after looking outside we thought we would laze around inside and stayed in bed for awhile.

GPO - dublin

unfortunately we couldn't linger long as we needed to check out and move on. before we left, we walked, in the rain, to the general post office (gpo) in dublin, which was just down o'connell street from the hotel. it was time to send some postcards. there is quite a bit of history that surrounds the gpo. most notably, it served as the headquarters of the leaders during the easter rising of 1916.

GPO - dublin

the assault of the british forces extensively damaged the building - although it has been restored, the original columns outside are still pocked with bullet-marks.

spire/GPO - dublin

besides it was our last chance to walk by the spire of dublin, aka the spike, aka the stiletto in the ghetto, aka the stiffy by the liffey.

so we got back on the road.

kill (an chill) - on the way to kilkenny

it had been nice to not drive for a few days... the ultimate destination for the day was kilkenny, but we had marked off a few stopping points along the way. unfortunately, it was not a good day to be out wandering. we had planned to find the high cross near timoline and moone, and the brownshill dolmen near carlow. but the rain was coming down in thick sheets and visibility was very poor.

RAIN! leaving dublin...

neither of these were well marked, and after trying to chase some signs around we eventually gave up and decided to head straight to kilkenny and get out of the rain.

on arrival at kilkenny, we had our first, and only, difficulty finding the hotel, and more specifically its car park. didn't help that it was pouring. after trying in vain to find the right car park, we parked nearby and checked in. then went back out in the rain to move the car. we stayed at zuni, a small boutique hotel/townhouse. it was lovely, but definitely not our favorite. we picked it as it was rumored to have the best restaurant in town.

because there was still a good part of the day left, but nothing indoors to do, we ventured out in the rain. good thing we had umbrellas. we found the local grocery, and decided to pop in for some wine and snacks and call it a day as we were completely soaked through. we made a reservation at the restaurant and headed back to the dryness of our room.

zuni - kilkenny

dinner at zuni was absolutely wonderful. it is rated one of the best restaurants in the town for a reason! the guidebook called it "chic." and it was definitely one of the most hip and "modern" restaurants we went to. the atmosphere was a great as the food. alison had a mushroom and blue cheese phyllo appetizer and a tomato and onion risotto with goat cheese.

eric at zuni - kilkenny

eric had a tomato and blue cheese bruschetta to start, and seared scallops with a smoked haddock risotto with a hint of curry. again, we paired our meal with a nice australian shiraz.

after dinner it was still raining, so we made an early night of it, hoping for better weather in the morning.

day 8 blog -- dublin

day 8 -- dublin

as one may figure, early to bed, early to rise.

view from room at gresham hotel - dublin

which was great since we wanted to make the most of our only full day in dublin. and woo woo! it is eric's birthday!!!

we jumped back on the bus to dublin castle.

dublin castle - dublin

after trim, dublin castle was a great disappointment. the castle has had all the upkeep in the world, including "new" wings as it now houses many of the municipal offices for the city. there is really nothing historic left of the building. in fact, the main courtyard within the castle gates is now just a large parking lot. ugh.

then we were off to christ church cathedral.

christ church cathedral - dublin

another great cathedral. the best part of the church was its crypt.

christ church cathedral crypt - dublin
christ church cathedral crypt - dublin

entering the crypt was a bit touristy - lots of displays and short videos, but you could wander through most of the areas and there were definitely some interesting tombs and lots and lots of historic relics!

then back on the bus headed for the guinness brewery.

guinness brewery tour - dublin

the tour takes place in an old building that used to be a brew house, but it now dedicated to tours and such.

guinness brewery tour - dublin

the building was built out of the chicago school of architecture with lots of exposed steel. very cool. the building contains a large gift shop on its main floor, then 7 floors worth of a self-guided tour. some of you may have received video mail from us on the tour.

at the end of the tour itself you get a small tasting of guinness stout.

gravity bar view - guinness brewery dublin

the ticket also includes a free pint at the gravity bar - a glass enclosed bar at the very top of the building. this bar is one of the tallest points in all of dublin, so you get a spectacular 360 degree view of all of the city.

alison enjoying a guinness- gravity bar dublin

if the place wasn't so incredibly crowded it would definitely be a cool place to hang out. but, alas, we enjoyed our pint and headed out (with a brief stop at the gift shop).

our next destination was the jameson distillery.

jameson distillery sign -  dublin

unfortunately, by this time our 24 hours on our bus ticket had run its course, and the distillery is clear across town. none of the buses had been checking very closely so we decided to chance it. but of course getting on at such a tourist hot spot got us caught. luckily the bus driver was nice enough to let us aboard. we think he remembered us as his last riders on his bus the night before. phew.

the jameson distillery in dublin is no longer an active distillery.

jameson distillery tour - dublin

today jameson whiskey is made in midleton in the south of ireland (we get there in a couple of days). so the old distillery in dublin is now just a tourist destination. we did the tour, which ends in a tasting. jameson makes many different irish whiskeys - jameson (of course), powers, paddys, red breast, and even bushmills (among others). everyone on the tour gets a glass of jameson at the end. but for the lucky few that are chosen, there is a taste test that includes three irish whiskeys (jameson, paddys and powers), a scotch and a bourbon. whichever of the three irish whiskeys you like the best you get a glass of at the end. eric played the birthday card and got to do the taste test. woo woo! of course he liked jameson the best!

whiskey tasting - jameson distillery - dublin

strangely, we learned the irish on the tour tend to like the bourbon - jack daniels - the best. eric is now an official taster of irish whiskey and has a certificate from the distillery to prove it. we spent a considerable amount of time at the gift shop where eric purchased a personalized bottle of 12-year-old jameson!

we then strolled back to the hotel.

curry in a hurry!

we had been text messaging all day with our friend tanya who lives in swords, outside of dublin. we were hoping to meet up with her for a quick pint. unfortunately she got caught up in traffic and it wasn't meant to be. we would have loved to have seen her!

then it was time to change and head off to eric's birthday dinner. we made reservations at chapter one.

eric at chapter one - dublin

chapter one is one of the top rated restaurants in dublin. and has been reviewed worldwide, including by the new york times. it is amazing we got a reservation. thank god for internet reservation sites, and the fact we were willing to eat pretty early. the restaurant was located a mere couple blocks from our hotel, in the basement of, what is now, the dublin writer's museum, but was originally john jameson's house! our food was wonderful.

alison at chapter one - dublin

eric had veal ravioli to start, and a monkfish entrée. alison had a cauliflower and blue cheese soup and a slow-cooked beef for an entrée. this was paired with a nice australian shiraz. we shared a cheese plate for dessert, accompanied by a nice port.

after the nice meal, we stopped in at a pub.


the only one we visited while there. conveniently located next to the hotel. eric enjoyed some more whiskey, and alison enjoyed some more guinness.

back in our room the whiskey kept pouring - thanks to that bottle of tullamore dew! eric amazingly found a live broadcast of nhl hockey - ottawa vs. toronto. what a great way to end his birthday. we enjoyed the game as we mapped out our route to kilkenny the next day.

day 7 blog -- dublin

day 7 -- dublin

the beginning of a new week sees us leaving the pub, and the "country", as we were off to dublin.

enfield marriott...

we paid for the stay at the spa with points, but with the add-ons of meals and spa treatments this definitely was not a free stay! ouch. thank god we paid for the room with points!

alpine cleaners on the way to dublin...

we opted to stay off the main toll road as there was no good sight seeing from it. so onto the n4 heading east through maynooth. then a bit north (for the sights) to the r157 through dunboyne. no matter what the route, you will end up in city traffic. ugh. this is the first, and only, time we got stuck in any traffic. and the only place where we had to deal with "city" traffic. slowly but surely we skirted the river liffey to o'connell street and the hotel gresham.

beginning the bus tour -- dublin

we arrived in dublin well before our check in time, so we found a nearby car park and immediately purchased a 24-hour off-and-on ticket for a dublin city bus tour. we felt we would make the most of our travels through the city this way, as we had only scheduled 2 days in dublin. dublin can certainly be a walking city -- and was for us in many ways -- but the tour bus allowed us to do two important things: a) not have to figure out public transportation in the short time we had and b) have something that we could use to map out a plan of things we wanted to see by touring the whole city by bus first.

luckily the first stop on the bus was outside our hotel, so onto the bus we went.

we were on a mission to find the ticket booth for the viking splash tours. this is a similar tour to the duck tours in boston, if you happen to know them. basically you are in a amphibious vehicle, and do both a land and water tour.

saint patrick

the ticket booth was near st. patricks cathedral.

alison and the light of god...  at saint patrick

once purchasing the tickets we had 2 hours to kill before the tour, so we toured st. patricks. what an incredible cathedral!! there was so much to see inside, and outside, the building.

saint patrick

every three feet there was something of interest -- so you do the "museum shuffle" along the side.

saint patrick

it was both majestic and had a feeling of "home" as many great churches do.

we then hopped back on the bus to the hotel to get checked in. then scrambled back on the bus to make it back in time for the viking tour. and scramble we did, as we nearly missed the departure. (the last of the day)

so off we were.

alison the viking! - dublin

yelling and shaking our fists at tourists and wearing viking hats. the land tour was typical, but the water tour brought us into the grand canal basin. there is a lot of new development in this area, including lots of new waterfront condos.

U2 recording studio - dublin

but the best site was the recording studio where u2 recorded their last album.

now that we weren't on a schedule, we leisurely took the bus around the city and took in the history.

in/around dublin at night

by the time we returned to the hotel we were beat. so tired that room service was all we could manage to get ourselves to eat. the food at the gresham was great. eric had a nice steak. alison had a yummy prawn pasta. after dinner we were out cold.

this was by far our longest day of being out and about mostly by foot, and put us to bed the earliest yet!

day 6 blog -- enfield/navan/knowth

day 6 -- enfield/navan/knowth

today was a day for sleeping late. it is our last full day at the spa.

on the way to navan...

after lounging around for awhile it was time to hit the road again. we headed on a northerly route that took us through trim again, and through navan. our first destination was to see slane castle, although it was closed for tours. unfortunately, slane castle is quite set off from the main roads. so we continued on without getting a glimpse. we had spent enough castle time in trim the day before.

near bru na boinne vistor center...

our true destination was brú na bóinne. this is in the valley of river boyne, and contains both newgrange and knowth - ancient, stone age burial grounds. knowth is the largest of all passage graves situated within the brú na bóinne complex.

at knowth...

the site consists of one large mound and 17 smaller satellite tombs. what they really look like are huge grassy mounds held up with stone walls which contain some still visible megalithic art. although newgrange is more well known, knowth is where we visited. at knowth, you can actually enter the main tomb, which you cannot do at newgrange. the area has a long and varied history, which the tour includes a video of and extensive exhibits. knowth is particularly interesting, as the top of the main tomb continued to be a small village for many many years.

from the top of the largest burial mound you can see far and wide. drogheda is off in the distance to the east.

at knowth... from the top of the mound

to the southwest you can see the hill of tara - another spiritual place in ireland where tombs have been found, as well as the ancient home of the high kings.

alison - at knowth...
our knowth tour guide...

brú na bóinne is not too far from dublin, and if you are ever there we highly recommend visiting. not only is it ancient it is really super cool. and you kind of feel like a smurf while you are there. definitely check out the pics, they are worth it. and it will give you an idea of the scale of the main grassy mound! and, eric felt at home as our tour guide had a colorado avalanche cap on!!

sunset at the marriott enfield...

as we were tardy getting on the road, we headed straight back to the spa for our final evening in enfield. as expected we hit the pub for dinner and drinks!!!

day 5 blog -- enfield/mullingar/trim

day 5 -- enfield/mullingar/trim

alison at the spa!

today was our spa day. the spa was amazing. very relaxing and well worth it! there is even a picture or two inside the spa.

cathedral of christ the king in mullingar

although we were relaxed and comfy after spending the morning being pampered at the spa, we still made the most of our day. back in the car we go and hop on the n4 to mullingar. we visited the cathedral of christ king (check out the photos) and wandered about the town.

leaving mullingar we hopped on a smaller rural road (r156) to go to trim. on our way there it began to really rain. up to now we had a few sprinkles here and there, but mostly the weather was very nice and the clouds would clear for at least part of the day.

in/around trim...

upon arriving in trim we had to break out the umbrellas for the first time as we walked around town and then to trim castle.

trim castle is fairly well known. one of its claims to fame is that it was the castle used for almost all the castle backdrops in braveheart (which, of course, we rented and watched again upon returning home).

at trim castle...

trim castle is quite unique in that it has never been restored - it is a true ruin. they give daily guided tours and our tour guide was certainly a great source of info. as we were waiting for the next tour to start, the skies suddenly cleared and produced the most magnificent double rainbow we had ever seen!

rainbow at trim castle...

all it was missing was the leprechaun with a pot of gold at its end!

rainbow at trim castle...

there are many spectacular pictures of the rainbow posted.

the tour of the castle was fascinating. we learned a lot about the norman history in ireland, about castle living and engineering, as well as some insider information on the filming of braveheart. t

views from top of trim castle...

he views from the top of the castle are beautiful as well! by far, our trip to trim was one of the highlights of the honeymoon!

then it was back to the hotel for dinner. we had made reservations in the super pavilion restaurant. eric had a delicious tomato and scallion tart and diver scallops with beets and couscous. alison had am amazing cream of broccoli soup and a tomato and swiss cheese stuffed chicken breast. we enjoyed a nice bottle of australian shiraz and each other's company. this is also when we learned that waiters in ireland don't really come back to bother or check in on you once you've been served. we sat around for quite some time before finally getting their attention for a check!

then we returned to our room with full bellies to listen to the sabres game and call it a wonderful day.

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