Blackhawk Chorus
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Blackhawk Chorus
St Pauls, LA
Holy Spirit, ILL
Christ Church, CT
St Marks, OH
Holy Spirit, PA
St Albans, DC
Christ Church, KY

 

 

The Blackhawk Chorus,
Musical Director Diane Gilfether

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London the Capital City of England & the United Kingdom         Within a few years of invading Britain in 43AD the Romans had built forts and towns across the land.  They linked these outposts with a number of well constructed roads, some of which had to cross a wide tidal river (Thames).  The Roman engineers eventually picked a crossing point from generally marshy ground on the South bank (with islands of firm ground) to an area on the North Bank situated on two low hills, these hills formed the highest and driest site on the tidal river.  At this point the Romans built their bridge and before long a settlement grew up on the hills and then a City took shape, the Romans called it Londinium.  The landscape that greeted the Romans now lies deep beneath the modern city, upto 8 metres deep, the reason, every new building over the past 2,000 years was built on top of the rubble of the old.
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London Eye                        Opened in January 2000 as a part of the Millennium celebrations it is 135mtrs high and is the worlds highest observation wheel.  The fourth tallest structure in London. It is 35mtrs taller than Big Ben, 30 mtrs taller than St Pauls, three times as high as Tower Bridge and a third taller than the Statue of Liberty.  The 360` rotation will take approx 30/35 minutes.  The wheel has 32 fully enclosed capsules holding up to 25 people each. From its highest point passengers can see 25 miles in each direction on a clear day.
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Museum of London          Telling the story of London from prehistoric times to the present day.  Highlights include the Lord Mayors Coach, together with artefacts, jewellery and furniture from all the periods of occupation.
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Horse Guards Parade      The former tiltyard or jousting field of Whitehall Palace, used for the ceremony of Trooping the Colour each June to celebrate the Queens official birthday.  The Horse Guards building by which one enters the parade ground from the direction of Whitehall was reconstructed in 1750 prior to which it was the gatehouse of the Palace of Westminster.  The horse mounted guards who stand duty under two archways either side of the clock tower stand guard for just one hour at a time not all day.  The soldiers belong either to the Life Guards (red tunics & white plumes) who formed the bodyguard for Charles I or the Royal Horse Guards (blue with red plumes) who grew out of a regiment formed by Cromwell.  Both regiments now belong to the Household Cavalry which provides the Queens Bodyguard on all state occasions.
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Houses of Parliament       The present building occupies the site of the old Royal Palace.  The oldest surviving part of this palace is Westminster Hall (some of the walls dating back to 1097/99).  In 1840 Sir Charles Barry with the help of his eccentric assistant, Pugin began building the neo Gothic new house which still graces Parliament Square.  Although it was badly bombed in 1941 the Commons Chamber was completely destroyed, the new one was opened in 1950.  As you look at the palace from the square the commons are on the left and the lords on the right.  Standing a little to the left of the building is Westminster Hall.  This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft wide and 92ft high, it was built in 1097 by William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399.  It was here that Charles I was condemned to death in 1649, Edward II abdicated in 1327, Oliver Cromwell was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators sentenced to death.  It was the centre of London life, a very public place in which to have sentence passed. it remains lofty, beautiful, impressive and empty, the oldest part of the palace and the most lovely.
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River Thames                     One of the longest rivers in England at 215 miles in length, it flows from its source near Cheltenham to the sea through some of the most beautiful countryside before becoming the main artery that the wealth of Britain has been bourn.  No river can have influenced a nations destiny more, from Roman times to the present day. 
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New Globe Theatre           Situated on the South bank as close as possible to the site of the original Globe Theatre stands the New Globe.  Faithfully reconstructed to the Elizabethan design using the same materials.  The Globe now stands as a fitting memorial to Shakespears work and also to the vision of the late actor/director Sam Wanamaker whose dream it was to rebuild a theatre in the round.
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Westminster Hall                This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft long and 92ft high.  It was built in 1097 by William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399.  It was here that Charles I was condemned to death in 1649.  Edward II abdicated in 1327.  Oliver Cromwell was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators sentenced to death.  It was the centre of London life, a very public place in which to have sentence passed.  It remains lofty, beautiful, impressive and empty, the oldest part of the palace and the most lovely.
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Cabinet War Rooms         In 1940 as the bombs rained down on London, Winston Churchill, his Cabinet, his Chiefs of Staff and intelligence chiefs were meeting below ground in a fortified basement in Whitehall, later to be known as the Cabinet War Rooms.  They offered shelter in which to work, sleep and live for as long as necessary.  When the war ended the lights were switched off and the rooms left silent and untouched for many years.  The rooms were in operational use from 27th August 1939 to the Japanese surrender in 1945 the war cabinet held more than 100 meetings in these somewhat cramped rooms.  Without doubt some of the most important decisions of the Second World War were taken here. 
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Buckingham Palace         Until the 18th Century the original site was occupied by Buckingham House which was bought by George III in 1762.  When George IV acceded the throne in 1820 he commissioned John Nash to build a palace fit for a King on the same site.  Much of the original structure and decoration survives to this day.
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The British Monarchy
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Banqueting House            Completed in 1622 and designed by Indigo Jones, it was the first building in London to embody the classical Palladium style together with the use of Portland stone in the construction.  Built originally as a part of Whitehall Palace it was the only building to escape the great fire which destroyed the Palace in 1698.  The main hall is 115ft long and 60ft wide but it is the ceiling which catches the eye.  Painted by Rubens for Charles 1st in 1629-34 it depicts the Apotheoses of the Stuart Dynasty in nine panels, which should be viewed from the far end of the room.  In 1649 Charles 1st stepped out of one of the windows of the hall on his way to the scaffold erected outside in the yard, to his execution.  Ironically Charles II celebrated his restoration to the throne here 20 years later.  Still used for state banquets and official functions by the Government and the Queen.  
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British Museum                 Founded in 1753, it is the oldest museum in the world.  The original collection was started by the physician Sir Hans Sloane but over the years it as been added to many times over.  The immense hoard of artefacts spans nearly 2 million years of world history.  It is stored in 94 galleries covering over 2 miles of displays.  Some of the treasures include Egyptian mummies, the Mildenhall Saxon silver tableware found after being ploughed up in a Suffolk field in 1942, Lindow man preserved in a bog since the first century AD, pottery from Greece and Rome, Lindisfarne Gospels from the 7th Century, an original copy of Magna Carta from 1215. Together with specimens from all over the world which bring the very history of our civilisation alive.
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Covent Garden                  Believed to have been the Convent Garden of St Peters, Westminster, where the Monks sold surplus vegetables.  In 1638 the area was very residential developed by Indigo Jones, with arcaded walks based on the Piazza D` Arme at Livorno.  In 1671 by right of charter it became a small market which gradually filled the Piazza.  In 1830 the 6th Duke of Bedford rebuilt it in its present form.  It became the largest fruit, vegetable and flower market in the country.  Since the market moved South of the river the area has been redeveloped.  Still keeping the magnificent canopy and many of the buildings from the early 1800s. the area is now well known for its restaurants, shops, market stalls and of course the Royal Opera House.  The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London Transport Museum, Theatre Museum and much, much more.
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10 Downing Street            Has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister lived here in 1732.  The street was named after its builder, Sir George Downing.  The iron gates were erected for security reasons in 1989.
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St. Paul's Cathedral, London        The original Cathedral was built on Ludgate Hill by the Anglo Saxons in 604A.D. built of wood it burnt down and was rebuilt on a number of occasions.  The present Cathedral was started by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 and it took 35 years to build.  The Cathedral was damaged during the Second World War with bombs falling through the roof and destroying the alter and one damaging the North transept.  A famous picture taken at the time shows the cathedral surrounded by fire and smoke and through the gloom appearing unscathed the dome of St Pauls rising dominantly and defiantly from the inferno below, a source of inspiration to the whole country in its hour of need.  In the crypt lie buried, Wren, Nelson, Wellington and many other famous British people.  The peel of 12 bells is outstanding and the choir of 38 boys and 18 men maintain a very proud tradition.
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Westminster Abbey                          Legend has it that the first Church built on Thorney Island in the Thames was built by King Segbert in the 7th Century, there is also mention of a Charter from King Offa of Mercia to the people of Westminster granting land.  We also have a Charter from King Edgar in the 10th Century for the restoring of the Benedictine Abbey.  It is also written that a substantial foundation existed in Westminster when King Edward the Confessor became King in 1042.  We do know that Edward started to build a Church here close to the previous building and it was consecrated on 28th December 1065.  Eight days later Edward died and he was buried in front of the high altar.
William the Conqueror was crowned in that Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. this Coronation began a tradition and all Kings and Queens of England (Britain) with the exception of Edward V & Edward VIII have been crowned in the Abbey since that date.
Work began in 1245 in rebuilding the Abbey. The work proceeded rapidly and by 1269 the Quire and one bay of the Nave was completed.  At this time the body of St Edward was removed and laid to rest in a Chapel bearing his name.  In 1272 Henry III died and his body was buried in the front of the high alter where Edward`s had once lain.
The complete history of this famous Abbey would take many pages to write, hence it is possibly to conclude by saying “many Kings and Queens together with famous people lie buried within its walls and therefore this one building is a unique testament to 1,000 years of the history of the British people”.

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Tower of London               Built by William the Conqueror because he did not trust his new people.  Over the years it has been a garrison, armoury, prison, royal mint and royal palace.  Among well known heads that have rolled or languished in the tower were Kings of Scotland, France and England.  Lady Jane Grey, Duke of Monmouth, Queen Elizabeth for six months, Sir Walter Raleigh and many more.  There is even a gate directly off the river called traitors gate.
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Southwark Cathedral                       Hiddern away beneath the modern arches and bridges of busy London.  This jewel is known as “Londons hidden glory” Londons oldest Cathedral.  The doomsday book records that in Anglo Saxon times a Monasterium was situated on this site, some recent excavations have unearthed some Roman remains but the origins of the church unfortunately are lost in the mists of time.  The church was rebuilt in 1106 and was closely linked to the Bishops of Winchester.  The present choir was constructed in the 13th Century, the tower in the 14th and the altar screen in the 16th Century.  It finally became a Cathedral in 1905 to serve what was a growing population on the South bank.
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Blenheim Palace          The home of the present 11th Duke of Marlbrough.  The first Duke John Spencer gave battle to the Frence and Bavarian forces at the village of Blenheim in 1704.  He took a force of 50,000 men on a 600 mile march to the Danube were the enemy was waiting in a strong position.  By tactical brilliance and by the personal inspiration he gave his troops, he achieved a great victory.  When he returned to England he was created a Duke and granted the Royal Manor of Woodstock with a promise that a sumptuous palace should be paid for by a grateful country.  The architect of Blenheim Palace was John Vanbrugh who worked with Nicholas Hawksmoor on both Blenheim and Castle Howard in Yorkshire.  Marlborough went on to other famous victories at Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.  The Palace was built between 1705 & 1722, it is set in over 2,000 acres of parkland (landscaped by Capability Brown) Blenhalm Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winstone Churchill who was born here on the 30th November 1874.
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Bibury                             Best seen in the fading light of a warm summer evening, the houses of golden stone many with cottage gardens facing the River Coln.  William Morris described Bibury as the most beautiful village in England.  Sit on the wall by the river watch the trout running in the crystal clear water and across on the island a protected nature reserve with wild duck and many species of bird.
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Cirencester                    The Capital of Dobuni when as Corinium Dobunorum in 43A.D. it became one of the chief Roman administration centres for South West of England.  In the 4th Century with the withdrawal of the Romans the town went into decline until an Anglo Saxon town was built.  It slowly regained its importance with the development of sheep rearing on the rich Cotswold meadow lands.  The wealth from the wool trade was tremendous, so much so that the merchants of the town were able to build one of the greatest wool churches in the town.  The 15th Century St John the Baptist Church with its superb tower and three storied fan vaulted porch.  It has been judged one of the most beautiful perpendicular churches in England.
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The Cotswolds               Developed from the Anglo Saxon words Cot and Wold, Cot meaning sheep pen. Wold meaning high windy ground, that certainly can describe the area well, especially in the winter.  The soil is poor on the Wolds and not a lot of it but a great area for rearing sheep.  Hence the numerous villages with lovely churches (known as wool churches) built by wealthy landowners centuries ago.  The area is also famous for the Cotswold stone a soft stone which yellows with age.  Many cottages will be seen built of Cotswold stone.
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Cotswold Images

Cardiff                                The capital city of Wales boasts a castle with 1,900 years of history first built by the Romans, some of the 10ft thick walls still remain.  The Normans came and built their castle which has been in continuous occupation ever since.  Some of the area surrounding the castle is now occupied by a superb modern shopping centre.  Hundreds of acres of parkland situated right in the city centre, museums, the civic centre, University of Wales. St Davids Hall, a 2,000 seat concert and conference centre.  To take the city into the millennium the new Cardiff Bay project, a redevelopment of the old Cardiff docks area.
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The Welsh Valleys          Historically the Coal Mining, Iron Ore and Steel producing area of South Wales.  In 1920 there were 256,000 people working in the 620 coal mines of the Valleys, producing a third of the worlds coal.  After WWII these industries entered a steep decline with cheaper imports and then following the miners strikes of the 1980's the government forced the closer of the remaining pits as they were not economical to run and by 1994 only one coal mine remained open.  The Valleys, as the name implies are an area of deep sided glacial valleys running from the Brecon Beacons 30 miles from the cost, these valleys flow like fingers towards the sea.  With few roads leading between the valleys over the mountains the main links are at the heads of the valleys or down in the lowlands near the coast.  This is great walking and and adventure sports country and the Military use the area extensively for training.  One of the things the Welsh Valleys are famous for are their Male Voice Choirs, known through out the world the deep voices are said to come from the coal dust that historically filled the air of the valleys.
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Wexford                    The area has been inhabited since at least 5,000 b.c. and stone age tools cab be seen in the local museum.  Christianity was established early in the 5th Century by St Ibar who founded a monastery on Beg Erin in Wexford harbour.  Viking raiders plundered the monastery in 819 a.d. but later returned and set up a small town which developed into Wexford.  The word Wexford is taken from the Norse word "meaning the bay of mud flats".  Wexford's first charter was granted in 1317.  The history of the town is associated with the sea and today the fishing boats still tie up at the quay.

Irish National Heritage Park    Journey through time visiting 14 historical sites depicting mans first settlements in Ireland.  Following over 9,000 years of Irish history and heritage.  From the stone age 7,000 BC to the Norman period around 1,200 AD
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Waterford Crystal    The name of the finest crystal in the world.  The history started as long ago as 1783 and between this time and 1851 the pieces produced are priceless.  Today the factory is situated on the outskirts of the city and covers over 40 acres.  The crystal produced here is exported all over the world and is rightly ranked as the best in the world.
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Waterford City           The history of Waterford city is inexplicably entwined with the history of county Waterford itself. Waterford city is Norse, the Norsemen had reconnoitred the navigable stretches of Co. Waterfords inlets and rivers as early as the 8th century.  In 1169 and 1170 the Norse were defeated by the Normans at Baginbun and the city withstood one of the great sieges of Irish history as the Norsemen under O`Faolain fought to hold their Byzantium.  It was not to be and on August 25th 1170 they lost the day, a new age had arrived.  The city was now in the hands of the Norman named Strongbow.  King Henry II was very alarmed at this new Norman Kingdom in his rear.  So he landed with a huge army in 1171 and declared Waterford a Royal City and tradition has it that the city remained loyal right though to the 16th Century.  In the years following the Henry landings Waterford saw a veritable pageant of armies being sailed up Waterford harbour, taking advantage of the wide sea lanes into the Irish hinterland.  Waterford has now become one of Irelands major ports and merchant centres, an enclave as it was almost in the Viking centuries.  As justice demands Old Waterford is discovered and savoured in the area of its early foundation, the city around Reginalds Tower, this wonderful area of little streets, memories and relics houses the remnants of a millennium and it might be the more prudent to select each century for its story rather than each building for there is a surfeit of interest which only the most comprehensive guidebook can satisfy.
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Waterford Cathedral                                 Christ Church Cathedral Waterford is built on a site of Christian worship which dates back to 1050.  The first worshippers were probably Vikings who had given up their pagan ways and become Christian.  The Normans followed who built a new Gothic Cathedral in 1210.  By 1773 the city corporation decided that the old Cathedral looked a little old fashioned so instructed that a new one should be built.  What we have today is this new Cathedral and is described by many as one of the finest 18th Century Ecclesiastical building in Ireland.
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Blarney Castle        Built approx 1446 by the then King of Munster, Dermont, one of the most eminent of Maccarthy Chieftains. the castle remained in the family until 1689. when having supported King James and lost, the family were forced to leave the castle never to return. two new owners then come and went before being bought by Sir James Jefferyes Governor of Cork in 1703.the castle has remained in his family ever since.  The castle of course is famous for kissing the stone, the stone forms the sill of one of the Machicolations of the castle.  We know it is everyone's ambition to kiss the stone it was once a dangerous undertaking but bars are now in place to render the undertaking less risky.  The gift of eloquence is now yours.
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Blarney Woollen Mills       
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Cork                            A city which grew out of a medieval marsh and whose fabric was woven round and over the river which the first settlement sprang.  The second city of the republic with a population of approx 150,000 people.  It is of course built upon a river with the centre actually built on an island in the River Lee just upstream from the harbour.  Most of the main city area dates back to the 1750s although older parts of the city from medieval times can be found.  Although a major city Cork still manages to retain it`s pleasant atmosphere and friendliness.  You need to try and visit the English market and also the Quakers meeting house in Grattan street, where William Penn embraced the creed before going off to the new world to found Pennsylvania.
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Ring of Kerry            To obtain a really panoramic view of Kerry's most outstanding scenery, this tour is a must! Extending for 112 miles and usually done in an anti clockwise direction, it follows the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula, along the banks of the River Laune to Killorglin, via Glenbeigh, along the southern shores of Dingle Bay to Kells and Caherciveen where Valentia Island comes into view.  The tour continues to Waterville and along the coast via Coomakista pass and Derrynane and onto Sneem.  From Sneem to Kenmare and up the mountain road to Moll`s gap, then ladies view and back to Killarney.
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Waterville                  The town nestles between Lough Currane and the Atlantic and is a world famous game fishing resort.  Fine scenery and many good beaches in the area.  Well loved by artists, archaeologists, botanists in fact everyone.  Also claims a world renown 18 hole golf course.
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Sneem                         Situated in a beautiful location on the estuary of the Arsheelaun River, Sneem is a past winner of the Irish National tidy Towns competition.  A colourful village and last resting place of Cearbhall 0`Dalaigh a former President who his buried in the local Churchyard
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Valentia                 The Island is approx 11kms long by 3kms wide and is one of the most Westerly points of Europe.  The surface is rugged and rocky but does provide good sea angling.  The first telegraph cable (now superseded) across the Atlantic from U.S.A. came ashore here in 1858.
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Cathersiveen            The capital town of the peninsula situated at the head of Valentia harbour on the Fertha river, the town is the main shopping area for this end of the ring.  In 1867 the great Fenian conspiracy led to an abortive rising here against the British.  It was planned to occupy the barracks and then the cable station in Valentia and from there inform a startled world that the Irish Republic had been proclaimed in Cathersiveen, but circumstances proved adverse.
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Killarney                    Renown for its beauty, famed for the splendour of its scenery, Killarney is one of the world`s best loved tourist spots.  It became a significant town about 1750 when the local magnate, Lord Kenmare, developed the tourist business and four main roads were built to the outside world.  The present population is approx 9,000 and the main economic base is tourism.  The great assets of Killarney are the lakes, mountains and woods, although scattered and difficult to get around they are so very beautiful.  Situated in the South Western corner of Ireland with its three great lakes reflecting the ever changing skies, it has been an inspiration for poets, writers and painters for centuries.
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Cashel                        Originally the Fort of Munster and once capital of the southern province.  The town is completely dominated by the very famous Rock of Cashel which rearing up from the plain dominated the land routes to the south.  Kings of Ireland came to this spot together with St Patrick who preached here.  On this limestone outcrop stands the most beautiful and complete Romanesque church in the country. a medieval Cathedral, a castle tower house, a round tower and a 15th century hall of vicars, all of the finest medieval Irish architecture.  The Hall of Vicars was built in the 15th century to cater for eight vicars who assisted in the cathedral services.  The Cormacs chapel was built circa 1127, a superb Romanesque church, the architecture as clear continental influences.  The Cathedral built circa-1227 Anglo Norman in conception, it has Gothic arches but without doubt it is a purely Irish built unit.  The central tower is excitingly grand but did not appear till the early 14th century.  The Round Tower is without doubt the earliest building on the rock probably dating back to the 12th century although locals suggest even earlier circa 10th century
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Dublin                        Even in 140 a.d. Ptolemy observed that Eblana was a place of note, Ptolemy refers to the River Liffey as Oboka, meaning a delta.  It was however not until 840 a.d. that Norse sea rovers landed here and built a base for their maritime expeditions that the area really began to develop as a town.  The history of the area is really tied to the history of Ireland, never really settled, just like the name, the Irish called it Duibhlinn, the Norse called it Dyfflin, and the Anglo Normans Dublinne from which the present name derives.  A city steeped in history, it as fine wide streets, squares and parks with wonderful examples of Georgian architecture.  Visit Trinity College to see the famous book of Kells and if time allows while at St Patrick`s Cathedral visit Marsh`s library.
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St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin               Dedicated in 1192, the Cathedral was originally built by the Norman, Archbishop Comyn.  This early Norman church was rebuilt in the first half of the 13th Century, the building we see today.  Many interesting aspects to see, including the Medieval Chapter House door with an hole in it dating from 1492.  It gives rise to the English phrase "chancing your arm".  The Earl of Kildare cut the hole and through it stretched out his arm to grasp the hand of his enemy the Earl of Ormond.  By taking the initiative peace was restored between them and ever since the door as been known as the door of reconciliation.  Handels Messiah received its first performance in Dublin in 1742 sung by the combined choirs of St Patrick`s & Christ Church Cathedral`s.
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Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin         Dublin’s oldest building dating back to 1172.  Built by the Norman Richard De Clare (better known as Strongbow).  However most of the building you see now is very Victorian after a restoration in the 1870s.  The Medieval crypt is original and runs the entire length of the Cathedral.  Some architectural features and stone carvings exist from the 12th also some 13th Century tiles.  The Choir School was founded in 1480 and is famous for taking part in the world’s first performance of Handel’s Messiah.
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Trinity College      Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st.  It played a major role in the development of an Anglo-Irish tradition.  Many families sending their sons to be educated here rather than in England.  Until recently it had a strong Protestant bias.  When it was founded it offered Catholics free education if they would change their religion.  In fact right up to 1966, Catholics had to get a special dispensation to study at Trinity or risk excommunication.
The 90m frontage was built between 1755 and 1759.  At present the number of students is just over 7,000. It admitted female students as long ago as 1903.  The grounds provide a peaceful oasis in the city centre.  The old library contains some 5,000 manuscripts and among its most treasured possessions is the magnificently illuminated Book of Kells.  This treasure dates back to the 9th Century and is designed by unknown hands.  The oldest case contains the Book of Durrow from the 7th Century.
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Book of Kells         The library houses one of Irelands real treasures, an illuminated manuscript called the book of Kells.  Illuminated manuscripts are derived from the Celtic ecclesiastical tradition of Saint Columba. whose teachings spread not only through Ireland but Scotland and Northern England, together with areas of mainland Europe.  No one is quite sure if the book was copied and illuminated in Ireland, it may have been completed in Scotland on the Isle of Iona or even in England at Lindisfarne.  What we do know for sure is that the book was taken to the monastery of Kells in Co Meath for safe keeping during the Viking raids of the 9th Century.  After this unsettled period in Irish history the book spent some time buried underground, lost some 30 of its page and was not bought to Dublin till sometime in the 17th century.  The book now consists of some 680 pages written in Latin and follows the four gospels of the new testament.  It was rebound into four separate volumes in 1950 and one now has the chance to see at least two volumes on show at any one time. one showing an illuminated page and another a page of text.
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Guinness Storehouse    The storehouse was a Guinness fermentation tank from 1904 to 1988, it is now a 7 storey visitor centre, located in the heart of the world famous St James Gate Brewery.  If full this tank would hold 14,300,000 pints of the black stuff.
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Town of Kells    A place of history, the original Monastery was founded by St Columba in the Sixth Century and from the early Ninth Century it was probably the leading Columban Monastery in Ireland.  The Monks from the original foundation on Iona fled here after repeated raids by the Vikings on their Scottish home.  It is thought they actually made the book of Kells on Iona and bought it with them when they moved here.  By the 12th Century continued raids by Vikings and then Normans eventually made up the minds of the Monks to move again and they left Kells and made their way to Derry where they set up a new headquarters.  Eventually by the time of the dissolution very little remained at Kells.  But do look round the village and church yard, many Monastic antiquities remain including some very special crosses dating back hundreds of years.
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Trim Village & Castle    Plenty to see in this little village on the banks of the River Boyne.  The Castle used as a location for the Mel Gibson film Braveheart.  The first castle on the site was a simple Mott & Bailey type in 1173 but this was replaced in the 1190s and eventually grew into the finest and largest Anglo-Norman Castle in Ireland.  King John did stay at Trim in 1210 and Richard II incarcerated his ward Prince Henry of Lancaster (later Henry IV) here for some time.  The curtain wall of 488 yards encloses a area of approx 3 acres.  There are 10 D shaped towers and a square keep of over 70ft in height and walls that are over 11 feet thick.  Much in ruin now but the look and feel is very much of a typical English Medieval Castle.
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Trinity College      Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st.  It played a major role in the development of an Anglo-Irish tradition.  Many families sending their sons to be educated here rather than in England.  Until recently it had a strong Protestant bias.  When it was founded it offered Catholics free education if they would change their religion.  In fact right up to 1966, Catholics had to get a special dispensation to study at Trinity or risk excommunication.
The 90m frontage was built between 1755 and 1759.  At present the number of students is just over 7,000. It admitted female students as long ago as 1903.  The grounds provide a peaceful oasis in the city centre.  The old library contains some 5,000 manuscripts and among its most treasured possessions is the magnificently illuminated Book of Kells.  This treasure dates back to the 9th Century and is designed by unknown hands.  The oldest case contains the Book of Durrow from the 7th Century.
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Hotels

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London                    Situated on the South Bank of the Thames at the end of Westminster Bridge, directly opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.  You really can not get must more central in London.  The hotel only opened in 2010 and boasts 5 restaurants and bars, a health spa with 15metre pool and 24 hour gym access and free WiFi through out the hotel.
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St  Pierre Hotel, Newport, Wales           More than just a Hotel, set in 400 acres of picturesque parkland this 14th Century Manor house is also a one of Wales's foremost Golf and Country club's.  Including Fitness Club, Swimming pool, Tennis courts and Jogging Trail.  Each room has Tea/Coffee making facilities, TV, hair dryer, Iron and WiFi
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Talbot Hotel, Wexford, Republic of Ireland                            An extremely nice four star hotel with all en-suite rooms.  Health centre with heated swimming pool, lovely Restaurant and Bar.  Situated in the centre of the town.
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River Lee Hotel, Cork, Republic of Ireland                            Four star hotel on the banks of the River Lee in the centre of Cork,  Health Spa & Fitness Centre with heated 18 metre swimming pool, Weir Bistro and Bar. Complimentary Internet Access.
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Conrad Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland                            Five Star Luxury Hotel in the Heart of Dublin, situated around the corner from St Stephens Green.  With its own restaurant, The Alex, which specialises in Seafood dishes and the Alex Cocktail Bar, also the hotel has its own Irish Pub, "Alfie Bryne's" popular with the locals as well as guests.
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