At one point during planning, I had hoped we'd have enough time to go into Dublin before our flight to Cardiff.  Having a rental car to return to the airport and then all our luggage in tow made that nearly impossible.  Then I thought that maybe we'd have time to go to the Kildare Maze but it didn't open until noon, which gave us very little time to enjoy the hedge maze and activities, get to Dublin and return the car before our flight.  We decided last night that we would try to make one brief stop on the way from Limerick back to Dublin so we would have time to eat, get gas, and get to our flight on time.  I spent some time researching ruins and castles on our route and the amount of time it would take to get to them, tour them, and get back on the road.

We finally decided to stop at Nenagh Castle.  From the information sign at the ruins,
"Nenagh was built as a military castle by Theobald FitzWalter, who came to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion in the latter half of the 12th century."

"The circular keep was probably constructed around 1200.  It served residential, administrative and military functions.  This multi-purpose role is reflected in the architecture of the Castle with walls 5m thick at basement level, an original entrance door at the first floor level. The keep had flanking towers with a defensive curtain wall, but there were demolished after the Williamite wars. The partial remains of the entrance gatehouse had a defensive portcullis and a drawbridge over a moat. The building at the rear of the gatehouse had two chambers, divided by the entrance passage at ground floor level with a large baronial half at first floor."

 "The topmost part of the circular keep was added in the 19th century and it was intended to be used as a belfry."

 "The Butlers resided here continually until the end of the 14th century when they moved to Gowran and again to Kilkenny Castle. In the 15th century, Nenagh was in the hands of the MacIbrien family, but by 1533 Sir Piers Butler, Earl of Ossory had returned to regain possession. However, in 1548, the Irish, under O'Carroll, burned it.  The castle had a chequered history and changed hands many times up until the end of the Williamite wars, after which, it was rendered harmless."

During our brief stop, the girls and I needed to use the restroom.  There was a self-cleaning pod that cost a Euro to use, but when nature calls, you have to answer. Chip and I had seen these on television but never in person.  The experience was interesting and the girls thought it was fun.

After a slight fiasco trying to find a gas station when we were laying on empty (only time we had to fill-up the car!) and the road signs that tell you to get off the highway but don't tell you which of the multiple round-abouts you should take to reach said gas station, we were able to return the car.  This lead to a further fiasco with the rental car agency claiming that a small scratch on the car was going to potentially cost $1800 to fix and charging the entire potential cost to our credit card!  They had also overcharged us for the per day insurance coverage. We are still arguing that point with Enterprise, but we made it to the gate on time.

Once at our gate, the airline bused us out onto the tarmac to board the plane.  It was very windy and we all hoped that no one dropped their passport as they climbed aboard.

The flight was about an hour and we landed in Cardiff, Wales with no issues.  There was no customs agent and we walked pretty much directly from the plane to the bus stop.

We took the bus to Cardiff Bay, walked about a mile to the hotel and got checked in.  We ended up with two non-adjacent rooms and the older girls decided they wanted to be in the second room by themselves.

We had thought that this hotel had laundry facilities, based on the website, but it did not.  Having packed 5 days worth of clothes for our 10 day trip, I ended up doing the wash in our bathroom sink and hanging clothes around the room to dry.

After getting the clothes hung to dry, we headed out and walked down to Mermaid Quay to find some dinner, passing the Wales Millenium Center on our way.

A large food festival had just ended and though the booths had all closed, there were people everywhere along the main paths.  We backtracked and took a different route to the waterfront.

Once at the waterfront, we found some stairs and wandered down on to the wharf, only to stumble upon the Ianto Shrine, a wall dedicated to a character on the television show, Torchwood.

Hoping the crowds had thinned a bit, we made our way back up to the main level at Mermaid Quay.  Many of the restaurants were still crowded and the younger kids were getting crabby, so we decided to stop at Eddie's American Cafe.  Imagine our surprise when we realized that scenes from several episodes of Doctor Who had been filmed inside the restaurant!

The food was good and the excitement that some of their favorite actors had been here was icing on the cake for the kids.

We stopped at a giant egg statue for a photo on the walk back to the hotel and have settled in for a quiet night!
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