ISSUE 6, July 2003
Editorial
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Elementary, my dear brother
Travel: Magic of the Emerald Isle
Letters
Masonic clocks
Quarterly Communication and Annual Investiture
Masonic charity: 200 masons run for Crisis and Grand Charity and The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
Supreme Grand Chapter: Annual Investiture
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Exhibition on ladies nights
Gardening
Book reviews

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A visit was not complete without seeing the country's only fjord, The Killary. On board the Sea Cruise Connemara catamaran, I watched salmon leap from their sea farm cages, and saw row upon row of mussel farming. Unfortunately, I did not see any of the bottlenose dolphins which are said to be sighted at the fjord's entrance.
     My next port of call was across country at the Mount Juliet Conrad hotel in Thomastown. The hotel was the former Georgian mansion home of the Earl of Carrick as well as Major McCalmont, one of Ireland's leading horse breeders.
     Within its 1,500 walled acres it is still a centre for horse breeding as well as offering a huge range of activities. Last year, its 18-hole golf course was used for the American Express World Golf Championships at which 49 of the world's top golfers took part.
     Their health spa specialises in holistic treatments, and offers a whole range of treatments for both men and women. This includes some unusual therapies such as an aromatherapy body massage, which uses hot and cold stones. I particularly enjoyed the St. Tropez session, which meant that I returned to England with a suntan!
     Nearby, in the medieval city of Kilkenny, is Kilkenny Castle, Ireland's first stone building, which sits on the site of a 12th century Norman fort. From the 1300s it was owned by the Butler family, also known as the Earls of Carrick, and was sold in 1935 to repay large debts, along with their estate at Mount Juliet, where I was staying.
Victorian Splendour
The castle is now owned by the State, and its interior is slowly being restored to its former Victorian splendour. The guided tour is well worth taking. The eighteenth century stables opposite have been converted into a design centre, and is a great place for picking up souvenirs.
     An absolute must to visit is the incredibly pretty village of Inistioge, used as a location in the movie Circle of Friends. There is even a restaurant there called after the film.
     I approached down a hill to be confronted with a flowing river, and the village itself, which has buildings dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Beyond, on a hill top, is the Victorian Woodstock Gardens, covering over 50 acres of land.
     My last stop was close to Shannon Airport, but hidden away in its 360-acre estate is the impressive Dromoland Castle. The castle is everything you would expect in terms of luxury and splendour, including offering all types of country pursuits.
     Large amounts of money are being poured into it, including bringing their golf course up to championship standard. This was the only place I visited where men were requested to wear ties for dinner, but then their superb restaurant with its glittering chandeliers does boast a sommelier.
     One of the things that I didn't expect was to hear another language. That is, I needed to become adjusted to the accent before I could understand what was being said.
     And of course they have another currency too - the euro. Petrol prices are more or less the same figures, but the bonus is that they are quoted in euros, making petrol about a third cheaper than in the UK. Another plus point for a relaxing holiday is the total lack of sophistication that I encountered during the trip. I shall return.

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