"Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show - July 21, 2013
Carrygerry Country House Exterior
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Hour 1

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Niall Ennis, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Carrygerry Country House, Carrygerry House Hotel, Shannon, Co.Clare, Ireland.
www.carrygerryhouse.com

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For more information visit www.carrygerryhouse.com


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Niall Ennis, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Carrygerry Country House, Carrygerry House Hotel, Shannon, Co.Clare, Ireland.
www.carrygerryhouse.com

Hour 2

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Kieran McAteer, Tourism Executive, King John's Castle, Shannon Heritage, Nicholas St, King's Island, Co. Limerick, Ireland.
www.shannonheritage.com

Explore the grounds of an actual medieval Irish castle with newly updated interactive educational exhibits

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and Kieran McAteer, Tourism Executive for King John's Castle, explore this medieval castle, its history and discuss some of the newly updated interactive enhancements that have been made to enrich its visitor center. The castle has a rich history going back to the Normans and spanning through the Elizabethan era. According to Kieren about six million euro were recently invested to improve the visitors center. He thinks as a historical monument they try to make it alive for people so "you can get a sense of what it was like to actually live there" and says you'll find lots of interactive things where you can build things and gets kids to ask questions. He says "reading stuff isn't enough, people's imagination need to be peaked".

Kieran McAteer thinks King John's Castle is a great venue to bring children to learn about Ireland's history and he and his colleagues do outreach at the local schools to get people interested in visiting the castle. Stephanie also thinks that it's a perfect venue, especially for homeschooled children from the United States to come and visit. Kieren says the castle and its interactive attractions both challenge your imagination in terms of reckoning the amount of history and the difference between life 800 years ago and today as well as affording the opportunity to interact with history aided by some very clever installations.

Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams says one of the things she noticed and loved was a big comments board where visitors can write and post comments. She enjoyed reading many of them and laughs that one of the comments left on the board by someone named Patrick, who by the quality of his handwriting was probably about 8 years old, says "Its full of soldiers and weapons and stuff".

Stephanie remarks that another nice thing about the castle is that because it's so interactive it's a great venue for visitors who speak a language other than English. Kieren adds that "it's also great for youngsters who don't necessarily have a robust command of the language yet or can't read at all". He says headphones/headsets are available for self-guided audio tours in multiple languages including French, Spanish, German and Italian.

Through interactive exhibits visitors can see the development of the castle and then the development of culture in the city and around the castle. As an example, Kieren McAteer says it might fuel a child's imagination to think of what it would have been like to have a father who was a Viking soldier. Or "the King", Stephanie adds.

King John's Castle walls have seen many sieges throughout its history. Kieren says people are often amazed by the length of history, over 800 years, and that you can "almost see the seeds of that history". Many people have starved in the courtyard", he says pointing to the large open courtyard just off the cafe this interview is being conducted in, yet "ironically we are sitting at a cafe. Surreal."

Stephanie says a King John's Castle visit is a great crash course on early Irish and British history that many American school children might not get in a standard US classroom because the curriculum tends to focus on American history post year 1607, the date of the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia. Kieran McAteer remarks that history is usually told from the vintage point of the winners. Stephanie agrees and shares her experience in looking for information about the American Revolution in a library in Chester, England ("near the tower where they locked up King Charles" she notes). She says she couldn't find any information on the American Revolution until she found it labeled the "Colonial Uprising". She says the British point of view is that the American's didn't win the war, the British just decided to let them have Independence because they were too much trouble.

Some particularly important historical footnotes involving the caste are the Battle of the Boyne and the Treaty of Limerick which was signed afterwards. Kieren says that while the history surrounding the castle may be gloomy and dark at times the experience of visiting the castle today isn't at all gloomy. He says it's important to not gloss over history, and important that history isn't revisionist noting that people did lose their lives.

Kieran and Stephanie agree that English colonization has created chaos and discord in many of the regions that the English entered including Ireland, Africa, India, etc. As an aside, he says he was recently in Belfast for the Titanic exhibition. The people who designed the new visitor center at King John's Castle, Tandem Designs in Belfast, also developed the Titanic Center. He comments that he "probably would have been wary of visiting Belfast 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but that today it's a city no longer purely defined by religious differences".

King Johns Castle is a major landmark in Limerick and is the main imagery used to promote Limerick. King John's Castle is located right in the heart of the Limerick City. According to both Stephanie and Kieren it has a "marvelous" view of the city and the shores of the River Shannon. Kieren notes that If you look at the history, particularly in Ireland, all castles were built on the edge of a major river. This Kieren says helps make the experience of visiting the castle "authentic and real and [there is] so much history to learn".

King John's Castle reopened shortly after the recording of this interview and had been closed for the previous eight months to renovate and install new upgraded multimedia displays and enhancements to the visitor center. During that time, Kieren visited secondary schools (or high schools) to promote the castle and tell them about the redevelopments, the state of the art technology and the history of the castle.

While walking around the castle either on a tour or self-guided, visitors will interact with in-character staff taking the part of various trades people from historical times such as a stone mason or a moneyer (people who work in a mint). There are also Implements that were found in archeological digs in the area that are now on display at the Castle. Kieren says they were previously held in the National Museum in Dublin and Stephanie adds that "it's wonderful when antiquities make it back to where they came from".

In the basement of the castle visitors will find Norman ruins dating to 800 years ago from when Ostmen (or men from the East) inhabited the region. There are 3 replicas of Ostman houses under the visitor's area. The castle was actually built on the foundations of those houses, Kieren explains . Children can learn about what it was like to live in a no-technology home in the middle-ages and learn about the construction of the castle itself.

Stephanie asks Kieren to describe the origins of the English word "undermining". He says its related to military defense. Castles like King John's are mostly built of nearly all making them almost impossible for soldiers ancient soldiers to penetrate through the walls. He says the next best way for a military invasion to storm the castle would be to tunnel under its foundation, which was termed "undermining". When this happened, the people on the inside of the castle started to hear digging and noises and they would start digging their own tunnels for escape or reconnaissance and that was called countermining.

Kieren mentions some of the interactive features at the castle including Interactive touch screen and a concept called "discovery drawers" which are filled with costumes. People get to try on costumes and walk around in them and visitors can actually pick up replica revolvers, that aren't loaded, to get a feel for the weapon, says Kieren. Stephanie thinks that the people trying on costumes and walking around the grounds look adorable in their 17th century clothes and anachronistic sneakers. Kieren says the Castle exhibits try to encourage people to be a little bit playful, try on costumes, walk about in them. Stephanie says one of the interactive exhibits she thought was great is one where there are big blocks in the shape of what might have been used to build the actual castle walls and archways. Kieren says the installations are mostly designed for children, but bring out the child in all of us.

Kieren says his favorite part of the museum are the views from the towers which visitors can ascend to find a panoramic view of the city and the Shannon river. Also there are some replica cannons upstairs and the kids can aim and fire been bags at things on the wall. He says it's a particularly fun and part of the interactive exhibits. He says not everything can be learned out of books.

The average length of a visit to the Castle, according to Kieren, is about one and a half to two hours, though you can stay and more deeply explore all the exhibits. He says the Castle experience is set up so that people can dip in and out. Stephanie says that visiting the castle, from top to bottom, inside and out, is extraordinary. She says that if you asked most people to draw a castle, this is what they'd draw; that it's the ideal, quintessential castle. Iconic.

Related Photo Galleries:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1024

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Shannon Heritage Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Shannon Heritage in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Kieran McAteer.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15933

For more information visit www.shannonheritage.com


Guests Include:

Kieran McAteer, Tourism Executive, King John's Castle, Shannon Heritage, Nicholas St, King's Island, Co. Limerick, Ireland.
www.shannonheritage.com

Hour 3

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Malachy McCourt, Author, Actor, Humorist, New York City, New York, USA.
www.malachymccourt.com

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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15846

For more information visit www.malachymccourt.com


Link to this segment

News and Updates from Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams


Guests Include:

Malachy McCourt, Author, Actor, Humorist, New York City, New York, USA.
www.malachymccourt.com

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