Ireland in the Summer of 2018 Part 2 Dublin- around Ireland -Dublin
July 7 Saturday Dublin (Hertz Care Hire) Belleek – Leggs, UK/Northern Ireland
This morning after a month of walking, we got into a car and it sure felt strange.
What a first day. All went well and we saw lots to cross off the bucket list. We lucked out, after a mix-up with Hertz charging us twice (Our hotel clerk tried to make it easier for us and pick the car up in town and not the airport). This involved Hertz cancelling my first booking and making a 2nd booking, but we had already paid for the first. I told my daughter we booked a VW Golf or similar..... well this morning we did not get our Golf., we got a..... black Honda HRV, and it is very nice. and they threw in a TomTom for the inconvenience.
Leaving Dublin was so much easier than we imagined. We called in to see Trim Castle, the biggest Norman Castle in Europe and the ruins of the medieval town of Trim.Then we went to the Hill of Tara where the ancient kings of Ireland were anointed and some features are from around 3000 BC. But the 1843 uprising is represented there as well. You can turn around and have 360 degree views of practically the rest of Ireland. (Well at least 40kms in every direction), wonderful history. Then we set off to Slane to see Newgrange a UNESCO site of the Neolithic period, 1000 years before the pyramids!! Unfortunately for us we didn’t realise we had to purchase tickets and be guided through the site. The centre was closing for the day. We will get to see it before we return home. So we finally set off to our final destination just outside Belleek (famous pottery) to a wonderful B&B run by Linda and Ferghal (whose daughter is named Ella!!). Fabulous scenery and we naviguessed our way. Going back over some of it tomorrow and John’s walk out of Enniskillen.
Hill of Tara
July 8 Sunday Leggs to Slieve League
Yesterday we had the history of civilization over the millennium but today we saw the grandeur of the earth.
False start, instead of Drumcliffe (WB Yeats), we ended up in Donegal (Drumcliffe House). So we decided to visit the cliffs at Slieve League along the Wild Atlantic Way. Wonderful scenery down through Donegal and back to Mullaghmore Beach for dinner – seafood platter (Lobster, crab and prawns) – and then back to B&B. Being Sunday, people were everywhere, but no surf.
Met our hosts’ daughter Ella. Watched a TV movie. Linda (our hostess), gave us a beer and wine even after an afternoon tea! Good sleep.
July 9 Monday Leggs UK to Buncrana Ireland
So sad to be parting the lovely B&B but we were to repeat this feeling over the next month when we left our accommodation.. On our way to Buncrana, we back-tracked to Belleek pottery, then a beautiful drive then to Enniskillen (but no big walk, just a stroll through a red squirrel walk (alas no squirrels)).and along Lough Erne, Buncrana and our lovely digs at Harbour View. We had a walk along the beach, but the wind was getting up and it was a bit chilly. A few hardy souls were dipping and some were collecting razor clams shells. I mentioned that they were a delicacy in Spain to which they just looked puzzled .
Had to smile, the life saving here is summed up with the life buoy. Had an early evening. Tomorrow it is back into Northern Ireland.
Razor Clams shells and life saving equipment.
July 10 Tuesday Buncrana to Port Rush NI
It was a cloudy, cool start on our way around Inishowen Peninsula. as we headed north from Buncrana to the top of Ireland. Along the way, there was some spectacular driving, up to the northern point to Malin Head.
It was stunning, rugged scenery and we lunched at the Seaview Tavern, the northern-most seafood inn in Ireland. They called crab claws, crab toes. Our battered cod and mushy peas and champs were scrumptious, but our garlic crab toes were disappointingly dry. Still it was a great lunch. Drove the Wild Atlantic Way most of the day and missed out on a ferry ride across to the eastern side of Lough Foyle. Still, missed Derry when we hit the bypass motorway and on to Coleraine, where Jason Foo used to work many years ago. It was then on to Portrush and our lovely B&B, another little gem. Very nice guy, Luke, running things by himself in the absence of his wife. Beautiful views from our windows of Port View.
July 11 Wednesday Portrush to Cushendun
A big day was planned and accomplished, despite fog, misty rain and a cold day to boot. We set off to The Dark Hedges (GOT) then back to Bushmills distillery, then on to Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy Harbour (GOT - the Iron Islands and the area where the Greyjoy's escaped). Here we found a lovely cafe where we shared champ, sausages, bacon and onion gravy. It was just lovely. They even had the fireplace going and it was most welcoming.
After all that we went to Ballycastle We didn’t make Rathlin Island but hope to tomorrow. Booked a reservation but have yet to pay (sensible because of weather being the critical factor). Hoping for better weather for the Island. So wanting to see seals, hares, wildflowers and puffins. The news reported trouble with bonfires in Belfast and Bangor!! Our B&B in Cushenden was named Sleepy Hollow.
Dark Hedges - Game of Thrones
Ballintoy Harbour - Game of Thrones
July 12 Thursday Cushendun to Rathlin Island
Great weather for our sea voyage to Rathlin Island and we set off to Ballycastle not really understanding the significance of 12 July to Northern Irelanders. It is their national day, the day the Orangemen march to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne where William of Orange trounced James II. So all that means is a very slow morning and on our return people everywhere and obviously why the ferries were booked solid. Ferry ride over and back was nice and calm. Our day on Rathlin was fun with the sun shining down. Took the puffin bus over to the west lighthouse (upside down lighthouse), to see the bird rookery and hopefully puffins. Arriving there we did not go down to the lighthouse because of the sheer drop. So no close-ups of puffins. We were watching them swimming under water though. On the bus back to the harbour hoped to see golden hares – no luck, but we did see the seals lazing in the sun and bobbing in the water. Great history and learned about the Island from our humorous and knowledgeable bus driver. Back in Ballycastle with the crowds, we decided to drive back to Cushendun for dinner – mistake. Only one restaurant and it was booked solid - the holidaymakers were out in force. Cutting our losses, we got fixings for ham and cheese croissants for our dinner from the 7 Eleven and ate it at the seaside.
Now back in Sleepy Hollow for a 2nd night.
July 13 Friday Cushendun to Belfast
Lazy start after enjoying our breakfast and chatting with some elderly Americans and Poles. John the American gent had suffered a triple aneurism in Brisbane, Australia, back in 2004 and was given back his life by the surgeons at the Royal!! His wife was a very friendly, chatty blonde lady. We took the scenic, sometimes frustrating (course-wise) trip down to Belfast. and had a nice stop-over at Carrickfergus. Looked over the castle, read-up on the wonderful history. Here saw Edward the Bruce doing a bit of the ruling while his brother Robert was in action in Scotland. Nice lunch at Rumours Coffee Lounge and then off to Belfast. Found our townhouse. Couldn’t get in!! Local lass from the Spar called the agent/owner and we got the password to get in. The agent never did appear. Strange as no indication was given on Booking.com that this was going to be the case. Luckily our friendly shop assistant helped us with all we needed to know with matters of food, safety, transport and attractions . Driving in we saw a lot of dilapidated buildings. We are just off Crumlin Road – the old Victorian Gaol, Crumlin Gaol, is on this road!! Big day tomorrow.
July 14 Saturday Belfast
Up early to catch our bus into city centre. Hop-on-Hop-off bus around Belfast. Lunch at Macca’s.Back on bus to Titanic Exhibition. 2 ½ hours at Titanic then back on the bus to the city centre, but unfortunately, the George Street Markets were finished. Took some photos around town. Looked at Castle Court Shops, had a coffee. I think the Victoria Shopping Centre would have been better. Not really up for shopping here.
The hop- on bus gave us a lot of history about Belfast, especially The Troubles The other thing was that the parliament here has not sat for two years and GB is talking about coming in. With Brexit on the agenda and this, there are interesting times ahead for Ireland
Caught bus 11a back home to Ardoyne Shops. Bought Chinese, ate too much and then had a blissful sleep.
July 15 Sunday Belfast to Drogheda
Packed ourselves up from our digs on Ardoyne/Crumlin Road and set off down to Bangor, looking for breakfast; but nothing was open that early!! Drove on until hunger and a loo stop mean’t we caved and had a breakfast at a road stop – but to our disbelief, with no toilets!! Kept going and drove up into the Mourne Mountains in the mist and rain. It was beautiful and quite by chance we found ourselves by the Reservoir and a toilet block!! Amused to see some ladies picnicking in the rain, champagne and all. Scenery just stunning and a great drive down the Mourne Mountains along the coast and inlet that is the border of Carlingford Lough. It was a great drive - "where the mountains of Mourne come down to the sea, will she no come back to me".
Had a stop and late lunch at the Roma Restaurant in Dundalk then on to Drogheda and our lovely accommodation at Boyne Valley Country Club. Dropped our bags off and went to Bru no Boine to see if we could get tickets for tomorrow to see Newgrange. No. We had to buy them on the day. All online bookings have been sold out for the year!! Trying our luck tomorrow.
July 16 Monday Drogheda to Monemore
Feeling confident we arrived at Bru no Boine and luck was with us and we got tickets, very reasonable entrance fee, and we had our tour of Knowth and Newgrange Neolithic tumulus sites. We actually entered Newgrange – 5000 years old, and still in tact. Amazing experience for both of us but best so far for Linda. We had lunch at Daly’s Pub in Donore and then wound our way to Martin’s place in Monemore.
Along the way we stopped in Tullamore, and to give its "dew", it was a lovely town. We could have stayed a lot longer but decided to have a drink..... a chocolate milkshake each, the cups of which must have held a pint!!
July 17 Tuesday Monemore to Rathdrum to Avoca to Glenmalure to Monemore
Wonderful day indeed, exploring my ancestors’ footprints.Kathleen joined us and we set off to Rathdrum to see what we could find. Morning tea at Aughrim at the Lawless Pub. We drove on to Rathdrum and asked around at the Post Office re graveyards, rectory and the Town Hall. We were just next door to the Church of Ireland and so with directions we set off the the Rectory and knocked on the door. Karen the Reverend Brian’s wife greeted us and asked us in for tea as Brian was on his way home and would love to talk with us. While waiting for the Reverend we spotted a hare in their garden, just sitting like a little statue near his home under their shed floor!! Was ecstatic with that and then …. After talking with the Reverend and gaining his permission to look in the graveyard we started a search. I took the left side, Kathleen on the right and John down the back. A couple of minutes into searching Kathleen read out Jane Gibson, wife of George Gibson!!! A eureka moment!! There was the gravestone of George Gibson, 92 years, his son Obadiah 29 years and Jane Gibson 72 years. This is the stone I had seen on Ancestry and could not go back and find. Now I have ages and dates I might be able to go back further. Happy and elated we set off to lunch at Glenmalure (to say goodbye to a favourite spot). Back out to Avoca to see where Jane was born. Wondering then if George may have met Jane at the weavers’ mill or was he a miner, soldier or merchant? The mystery goes on. The Avoca Valley was just beautiful. Back home and we had a lovely evening with Kathleen, Sean, Hannie and Ducksie, who had dropped over to chat.
July 18 Wednesday Monemore
We went back to the Arboretum and the dress Linda was hoping to buy was still there, now at half price!! Needless to say she bought it and some little thank-yous for Brenda and Martin, and Kathleen and Patrick.
Drove around Leighlinbridge, had lunch at the Lord Bagnel’s Inn and took photos of the town, Black Castle and the Barrow. Drove back through Old Leighlin and back to Martin’s. Sister Patricia had arrived, so a big catch-up with her. She is Linda's cousin through Mary Cummins , Grandad’s sister. Her surname is Cordwell.
Then we excused ourselves and Martin, Kathleen, John and I took in the Royal Oak Whisky Distillery Tour - proud producers of "The Irishman". Only the four of us with Woody our guide, who was a hoot. Got to get up close to all the equipment and had a tasting after. Great fun, then back home to talk some more round the family table.
July 19 Thursday Monemore to Bantry
Said our goodbyes. We will come in one more time before we jet away. Back in the car and a drive down to Cork, which we by-passed and on to Bantry. Stopped for a much needed rest and toilet. The service station had a Michael Collins tribute gift shop which was closed. Beal Atha Ghaorthaidh (Blatha) was the village and there was a sign to Ambush Site. Michael Collins was killed by a sniper ambush nearby. On the map there is a township called Kilmichael? Driving down, through the Shehy Mountains, the scenery was truly beautiful in a wild way. We had stopped earlier in Cashel for lunch and a look around the Rock. What a marvelous site. Once in Bantry and having checked into Barry’s B&B, we had a walk around the bay and harbor and had a nice seafood platter for dinner which included little cups of delicious chowder.
July 20 Friday Bantry to Doolin
Left Bantry and drove to Glengariff. Took photos of the bay and Eccles Hotel. Then up through the Caha Pass – no words!! Just through the tunnels and another beautiful valley and the Shehy mountains opened up before us. On the left was Molly Gallivan’s House. We had a cup of tea and enjoyed seeing her cottage and farm on a self-guided tour. Then it was up to Tralee and on to Bunratty, passing through some lovely villages and townships. We even looped round Killarney once again. Found Bunratty unfortunately after the Castle was closing, but we were able to visit the folk farm where they have moved and rebuilt many varieties of cottages, farms and shops from the 18th century on the grounds.They even had a church! All this was interpersed with animals. We got to see the wolfhounds doing what they do best, having a relax before their bones were delivered. They had already had 2 big walks for the day.Maebh and Saorise -beautiful creatures. Another highlight was getting to see red deer up close!! So our visit was fruitful.
Our last leg took us over to the coast for the night at Ramblers Rest B&B where Anne and her grandson Michael greeted us, and our allotted room was over-looking the Galway Bay and Aran Islands and the Connemara Pins. Just 1 mile from the Cliffs of Moher! The clouds are lifting off the Atlantic so we may yet see a sunset. Here is our current view. Sunset last night over the Atlantic and the wake up this morning.
Doolin Atlantic Sunset
July 21 Saturday Doolin to Annaghdown
Up and out after breakfast to see the Cliffs of Moher. We took part of the Burren Way walk and therefore didn’t need to pay. I was surprised how close I got to the edge of the cliffs. Back to car and down to Doolin and walked to the pier and back and then had a cuppa in the pub. Off then over the Burren to see Poulnabrone another Neolithic site. Linda took me on a very narrow, rough road across the Burren that ended in a very steep, hairpin turned descent (It was more like a walking track). Harry Honda survived though, and it was so worth it as we startled a hare!!. He or she was a big one and it galloped along the road and dashed through a gate and darted up the paddock. What a delight. Then there was the scenery – out of this world. Simply stunning. Had a little stop at Traught Beach which was windy and cold, but a lifeguard was on duty and some hardy souls were enjoying the day and sunshine. Back on the road, bought some diesel and pushed on to our B&B - Ashford House. Around Galway Bay and Galway itself up towards the Loughs at the start of the Connemara. B&B tucked away, but we managed to find it. Very nice dinner down the road at Headford Anglers Rest. Back to watch The Tour. A good day.
July 22 Sunday Annaghdown to Renvyle/Tully
After breakfast, we headed for Cong and the Connemara Loop. Cong was very quaint and the Abbey ruins and forest gardens were just beautiful. The best was yet to come. The Inmagh Pass through the Connemara country and along the fjord of Killary. We did a figure 8 rather than a loop as John wanted to check out Croagh Patrick for tomorrow. After we did that back along the figure 8 and this time on the other side of the fjord. Sheepies along the route not bothered at all by the traffic. I would slow down when I saw them ahead, but then following cars (and buses) would pass me on the single lane road. Found our way to Tully and our B&B Sunnymeade run by Joe and Rose. B&B just lovely with a view to die for.
Connemara country and along the fjord of Killary. 3rd shot the Connemara Giant
July 23 Monday Tully to Connemara to Croagh Patrick
Woke to a rainy, misty morning and after having a very generous breakfast we headed off for the day visiting first at Letterfrack to find an ATM. While there we visited a tech college for fine furniture-making and woodwork. Very interesting. Then on to Kylemore Benedictine Abbey just up the road. Raining lightly but we visited the gift shop and Linda found a marble Christmas decoration. Took our snaps and off we went around the fjord again. This time up to and down to the harbour of Westport. Linda so wanted to visit a wonderful craft shop selling feltwork but it was closed for lunch and we still had hopes of climbing up Croagh Patrick. When we arrived at the Croagh Patrick Centre the weather was quite clear.
Wait a minute, its stopped raining, clouds are lifting and before you could say how is that, we were putting on our boots and we were up and walking/climbing. Because it was now 1pm and we still had a lot to see, we decided to walk to the 1st station at 550m (the top is the 2nd station at 750m) and the most difficult section. Without packs were were up there in under 2 hours, and back in 1 hour. It was exhilarating. We felt we could have gone on but it is extremely steep at 40 degree gradient. So happy with our effort, and as we got back to the car, it started raining.
On our way home we stopped at the Ashleigh Falls where to our surprise and great delight we saw salmon trying to go up the falls to the Eriff River to spawn. Poor things could not jump far enough though as the water levels were too low, a man from the Fisheries told us. We felt sad for them hitting themselves on the rocks. Back down to Letterfrack and a lovely dinner at Veldon’s Bar. We are now back in the same B&B and whilst physically okay, we are mentally shattered. What a fantastic day. So good night from us.
Letterfrack and Kylemore Abbey
Ashleigh Falls - I have some great movies of the salmon trying to climb the falls, but the web site does not handle them that well.
July 24 Tuesday Tully to Kilkenny
We are now officially heading back.
Will look at the town this morning and head to the rellies this afternoon. We travelled to Kilkenny by way of the peninsula which holds Tully down to the lovely beaches and bays with shelly sand and many with white sands. We saw the lovely long strip of beach where they ride their Connemara ponies. Met two of the largest rams in Ireland, for sure, along the seaside route and visited Roundstone on Rose’s advice. We drove back on the south side of the Inagh Pass of Connemara and then on the highways to stop in Ennis for a little walk around and some food and drink. Then we drove the highway proper around Limerick and on down to Kilkenny to the Kilford Arms Hotel and my first Kilkenny ale. Pretty tired and will see Kilkenny tomorrow.
I was thinking today. When I walk my pack is/was around 15kgs and this included a few things such as emergency stuff, medicine chest, wet gear, clothes etc. I am however happy to carry this as I am a conservative walker and can cope with most issues. However, while here in Ireland, apart from doing over 300kms with that backpack, we also climbed Croagh Patrick the other day. On the day, I only took a bottle of water, some nuts and a rain jacket. With no weight, we climbed up the 550m in 90 minutes and back down in 60, some 5 kms in total. So just be aware, the less you take the easier you walk. Just saying. Note : that was to the first station. The top is 750m and the 2nd station.
July 25 Wednesday Kilkenny to Monemore
After breakfast we walked the city of Kilkenny, starting with the Castle. A great tour for only 6 Euros each, self-guided but with very helpful attendants. Then we went through the Kilkenny Arts and Crafts which were housed in the original Gatehouse and stables of the Castle. Off around the medieval mile of the city. Back for lunch at Lanigan’s Pub. Linda had Irish Gunpowder gin with elderflower tonic water. Very nice indeed. We retrieved the car and set off to Bennetsbridge to visit the Nicholas Mosse Pottery factory. An old mill (flour) that has been in his family for many, many years. Really enjoyable experience. Will order some on-line. Have to remember to order on Friday 13th in November for free delivery worldwide. Also have to remember to buy Irish Gunpowder Gin at the duty free. We took the road to Graignamanagh to visit one last time. Kids and adults jumping into the River Barrow, enjoying the summer sunshine. Had a cup of tea at the Waterside Apartments and spoke with our little English waitress and gave her our story so far in Ireland and then said our goodbyes..
On now to Martin and Brenda’s. Had a hiccough finding them. John did a great job remembering the turn-off and we arrived home around 5.30pm. Spoke late into the night with Patricia and everyone.
Kilkenny and Kilkenny Castle
Nicholas Mosse Pottery
July 26 Thursday Monemore
Martin was our guide today and we had a climb up Mt Leinster at the Nine Stones. Beautiful among the wild horses and heather. Very windy but a nice and comfortable climb. We then went down to St Mullins beside the Barrow for lunch. Got a nail in our tyre just outside of Borris. but was very lucky to have it mended right next door to the garage. Only 15Euro to fix. so not too dear, but not needed as well.
Then Martin took us to the old ancestral cottage so Linda could get some stones for herself, Greg and John. Very special. Our evening was spent being farewelled by the family (as many as could be there). It was a lovely time seeing all the cousins enjoying each other’s company. Very sad to say goodbye. We hope to see them all again. Never say never. Both Sean and Hannie, were wished a speedy recovery from their hip ops. Wonderful , if a little rainy, night. Sister Patricia had a blast and a few wines.
Our much loved Irish relatives in Monemore. We first met them on a cold and rainy day in 1982.
July 27 Friday Monemore to Dublin
Early start to be up with Martin. So hard to leave them. We wished they only lived up the road. Teary farewells with all. Martin drove behind us for a while then we gave him a final wave goodbye. Patricia came with us and we dropped her off at Assisi House on Navan Road and we shall see her back home for sure. We took Harry Honda back to the Airport, didn’t fill him up so had a fee applied, but he arrived safe and sound and not dented at all. Lovely taxi driver (only 22Euros) drove us back to Dublin. Went to EPIC. Booked a tour for Monday going to Powerscourt. Asked about bus to take us to the RCB, and hurling match and zoo. Going to zoo tomorrow.
Our wonderful hosts Martin and Brenda, Max the dog, the car is returned, and mussy peas with fish and chips. for lunch in Dublin,
July 28 Saturday Dublin
Well it had to happen sooner or later. Wet and cold summer day here in Dublin. We have had such amazing weather over the past 2 months it is now hard to get going. Or maybe we need to get home for a holiday.
Had a walk through Dublin and visited the post office where the statue of young Cu Chulainn is located "Pray tell me the story of Young Cu Chulainn, How his eyes were dark, his expression sullen, And how he'd fight and always won, And how they cried when he was fallen" Lyrics Thin Lizzy, the Black Rose.
Rainy old day for the Clare/Galway tussle. Prices and crowds a bit too daunting for us. No hurling match for us. After a walk around town we opted for a movie - Mission Impossible – Fallout. The theatre was packed and we had to sit right up front and it reminded me of one of the Seinfeld episodes - good movie though.
Had some dinner at the all-you-can-eat Chinese. Back at the Celtic Lodge, out of the rain, we heard that Clare drew with Galway in the Hurling finals.
July 29 Sunday Dublin
Zoo day today even if it rains. Enjoyed our bus ride to the park. The zoo and animals were such a nice day. My only upset was a dear little meerkat that had an injured spine. Heart breaking. All other specimens in the zoo looked well and happy. Back home to watch the final day of The Tour. So happy Froomey had a podium spot. Watched the Limerick/Cork hurling derby – another draw, but decided in Limerick’s favour in extra time. Out for a meal of what seemed like 1,000 wings!! I am pretty sure, I will not need to eat anything back home for at least a week or so.
July 30 Monday Dublin
Powerscourt and Glendalough bus trip. Revisit for Glendalough which was lovely and then on to Powerscourt. Drove through the Wicklow Mountains and saw where the gorse bush fires had come close to the road and many houses. Powerscourt gardens were beautiful and Linda enjoyed Tara’s Palace; a doll’s house and antique toy charity exhibition. Bus trip out and back brought us close by Dublin Bay and the coastal strip down to the Wexford turn-off. We were unable to meet with John Matthews, but did have a drink and lovely conversation with Nell, another Facebook pal.. Lovely lady.
Tuesday 31 July Dublin LAST DAY IN IRELAND
RCB – Woke for our last official day in Dublin, Ireland. Said our goodbyes to our breakfast ladies. Set off to the Representative Church Body Library. Got our bus sorted and arrived and did our searching of records of the Gibson family in Rathdrum. Their records went back to 1701 for St Saviour’s Church of Ireland in Rathdrum. Found a lot of information we think we might already have, but some new clues too. Had a walk around the George Street Market off Henry Street and had a cup of tea etc. Walked back to The Celtic Lodge and John was able to get some holes punched in his new celtic belt. Bit of a laze then into packing. Early, 6am, cab pick-up tomorrow.
Dublin's River Liffey
August 1 Wednesday FAREWELL TO IRELAND Dublin to Abu Dhabi to Brisbane.