The banner photo is of Dunguaire Castle, modernized in 1642 by the mayor of Galway. Its original construction is apparently lost in the mists of time.
Ireland may seem like England's poor cousins to us, but it has its own rich history going back to Roman times - although Rome did not actually get to Ireland, which was a mixed blessing. Since the native clans in Ireland were never conquered by the Roman legions, after the withdrawal of Rome from Britain, England had the benefit of Roman roads and infrastructure, whereas Ireland was still pretty much a wilderness. But eventually the Anglo-Normans invaded England's little neighbor to the west and medieval commerce and wealth - as well as rule - came to Ireland. England colonized the Emerald Isle nearly 500 years before Chris Columbus discovered the Americas.
Vast land grants were made by the English monarch to both native Irish and to expat Anglos. English laws forbade the intermixing or intermarrying of English with the Irish, but those laws came too late and fell on deaf ears. An aristocracy grew up in medieval Ireland and mighty castles. churches and manner houses were built over the ensuing centuries.
Two centuries after the improvements to Dunguaire Castle, a much larger and more elegant home was built near the town of Killarney in the Tudor style with sixty-five rooms.
We rented a car (2016 Prius, it turned out) for our entire stay in Ireland and used it to travel from town to town. Except for the few motorways, or "carriageways" as the Irish call them, the "highways" from town to town are narrow, shoulder-less strips of asphalt. Like all English and former-English colonies, they drive on the left. The colors of the center and shoulder stripes are the reverse of our paint colors. In the towns, there is no traffic or parking enforcement, so people just stop their vehicles where they find it most convenient and other traffic must go around. Driving the Irish countryside is largely a white-knuckle exercise for a Yank. When in Dublin we used the "hop-on, hop-off" bus which gives a guided tour of the major city sights and allows you unlimited access for a 24 hour period. The Prius stayed parked for two whole days.
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.