A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 16,17,18,19 County Donegal

May 21,22,23

On Saturday morning we woke up early, ate the muffins we bought the night before and called for a taxi to Dublin airport. The cab driver was there before we finished paying the hotel bill. He was very friendly and chatty. We found the desk for Dan Dooley and everything went smoothly getting the rental. I had already paid for it online. We took the shuttle bus to the car depot. Our car was a Nissan Micra. It was a bit smaller than the KIA we had in Scotland. It had also seen better days! The hub caps and tires were all scratched up. It had over 100,000 kilometres on it.

We made our way to the highway without any trouble. I wanted to drive through County Monaghan because that is where my grandfather's family had originally come from. It actually looked very much like home. We drove up through Emyvale, into County Tyrone and then over to County Fermanagh and through Enniskillin, onto County Donegal. We had booked a B&B just outside Ardara. We left the Dublin Airport at 9:15 and made it to the B&B by 3:00. It rained lightly all the way so we didn't stop. Our B&B was called Inis Failin. Our hostess, Bernadette, was very friendly. She offered us tea and biscuits upon our arrival and we chatted for a bit. Our room had a view over the estuary and the hills. We could see a large waterfall as well that I wanted to check out later.
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We rested for a couple of hours and then went out for dinner at Nancy's, a 300 year old pub which had been recommended. I had fish chowder and Mike had mackerel. They were both good.

Then the sun came out. We went for a drive down the other side of the estuary (Loughros Point). We found the waterfall and then headed out farther, finding the parking lot for Maghera Caves. We decided to come back and see the caves the next day.

Sunday morning we woke up to sunshine! Across the estuary looked very much like parts of the Scottish highlands. We had poached eggs and bacon for breakfast. Our destination this day was Slieve League cliffs. We went to Killybegs first to see the harbour. Mike is interested in places that the Spanish Armada landed or wrecked and Killybegs Harbour is one of them.
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We found the cliffs without a problem and took the long narrow road up to the top for a view. We met some sheep on the road. There were a couple of small mini buses with tourists there. I didn't know that tour buses came this way. Although it was sunny, it was extremely windy. A lot of the tourists off the buses stood with their backs to the cliffs because of the wind. I took a video which showed the wind. We didn't dare climb farther up the cliff because we were being blown around and it didn't seem safe.
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We left the cliffs and headed to Glencolumbkille, stopping across from the Folk Village to take photos of the beach. We followed the road that took us through Glengesh Pass. It was very beautiful.
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Back in Ardara, we went out for Sunday lunch at the Nesbitts Arms hotel. It was crowded and there weren't any tables left, but the Anglican minister and his wife offered to share their table with us. We had a nice chat with them. Sunday lunch was a roast beef dinner or turkey and ham dinner. Mike had the roast beef and I had the turkey & ham. I also had ice cream and jelly for dessert. €27.30

We then went back to the Maghera Caves since the tide was out and you can't get to them otherwise. Well, the tide wasn't out quite enough to enter one of the caves but we did get far out onto the beach. They were interesting.
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We then stopped at the waterfall again. I wanted to try some slow shutter speed photos on it. They turned out pretty good.
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Since we had a full dinner at lunchtime, we decided to just get some buns, cheese and meat from the store at the petrol station for supper.

All Sunday night it was very windy. You could hear the windows rattle. When we woke up Monday morning it was still extremely windy with intermittent rain storms. We wanted to head out to Tramore Beach, north of Ardara near Rosbeg, to see where one of the Spanish Armada ships wrecked and then go for a drive up along the coast to Horn Head. But when we arrived at Tramore Beach, it was so windy that as soon as we opened the car door, lots of sand blew in. We only made it a couple of yards to the beach when we turned back. It was just too windy. So we went on to the Dolmen Centre at Narin but couldn't get close to see the dolmen since the field was very wet.

We decided the weather wasn't good enough for a drive all the way to Horn Head, so we drove to Dungaron then over to Fintown, the Glenties and then back to Ardara. It was pretty barren along that way, nothing but peat fields.
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We were back at the B&B by lunchtime and just had more of our buns and meat in the conservatory. Bernadette made us a cup of tea to warm us up after our stormy drive. Then Mike went upstairs for a nap and I stayed in the conservatory to download photos on my netbook. It was when I went on the internet I found that we were in the middle of a class 10 storm with winds up to 140 kph! The storm was named UGO. Also, a volcano had erupted in Iceland creating havoc with flights which ended up lasting a week.

We ventured out for supper, going back to the Nesbitt Arms. Mike had Hot Pot and I had spinach and ricotta cannelloni. On the TV was the broadcast of President Obama's visit to Dublin.

The rain and wind subsided somewhat after supper, so we decided to try to go back to Tramore Beach. This time we had better luck. We were now able to walk out onto the beach without sand in our face. The wind was still very strong, pushing the water back onto the shore even as the tide was going out. We found the rocks where we think the spanish ship beached and got some photos. The sun was out for a bit.
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We then drove back to the Dolmen Centre. We could see the dolmen in the middle of the field, but it was in a bog field and no path on the one side of the church it was behind. We went to the other side of the church and found a path, but it started to rain. We tried to wait out the rain, but it didn't want to stop so we headed back to our B&B.

We left Inis Failin on Tuesday morning after spending 3 nights there. Bernadette has a 3 night special of €80 pp. We enjoyed it there. The family was very friendly. We left around 8:30 and were heading to Derry. But first we decided to give the Dolmen one last try. This time we were successful. We found the right path which started between the church and a house. When we got up to the path a big black dog came to meet us. After saying hello, he proceeded to guide us up to the Dolmen. He knew exactly where we were heading! He decided since he showed us the way, we should play with him. He found a big rock and wanted me to throw it for him to catch. So I did, in between taking photos of the dolmen. The sun was shining and there were some white clouds in the sky. But then, looking west we could see some darker clouds coming. We decided to head back to the car. But we had only gone a few steps when the skies opened up. It rained and then hailed all in the few minutes it took us to run to the car. Our pants were soaked and now we had a 2 hour drive to Derry! We put the heat up high and hoped it would help.
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By the time we reached Derry, we were mostly dry. We found some indoor parking and then walked to the walled city. Our destination was the Tower Museum. It has a display of artifacts found from one of the Spanish Armada ships. Mike was disappointed when told that photography was not allowed, but when we went in, we found that everything was kept in very low light so photos wouldn't have turned out very well,anyway. But the exhibit was interesting and worth going to.

Then we decided to walk over to see the Murals in Bogside. While we were there, it started to rain again, so we headed back and found a little diner to have lunch in. After a hamburger, it had stopped raining so we went back and took a few photos of the murals before heading back to our car.
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Back in County Donegal, we stopped at Grainan of Aileach, a large stone fort. It was way up on a hill overlooking Lough Swilly. It was a great view! I'm glad we stopped.
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We continued on down until we got to Lough Eske, where our next B&B was located. We were staying one night at The Arches B&B. It was a large place and our window overlooked the lough. The Bluestack mountains were beside. We were only a few minutes away from Donegal Town so that is where we went for supper. After looking at a few places, we chose the Harbour Restaurant. I had seafood chowder and Mike had the early bird special of lasagna. For dessert, I had chocolate pudding with Belgian chocolate sauce and ice cream. It was absolutely delicious! €29.90

Posted by Karen E 13:00 Comments (0)

Day 20,21 On to Sligo and Mayo

May 25, 26

The next morning I had french toast for breakfast and Mike had a cheese omelette. Our hostess, Noreen, we found to be a little less welcoming than our other hosts. Mike thought it was because she had a big place but only two sets of guests. But our room was nice and the breakfast was good.
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Unfortunately,as we left The Arches, it started to rain and it rained most of the way down to Westport, Mayo. First, though, we stopped at Streedagh Beach in County Sligo, another Armada site. It did stop raining while we were there.
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Carrowmore Megalithic Site was next on the list. There were some interesting cairns there but it started to rain and it was cold, windy and miserable. We didn't stay as long as we might
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We drove up to Knocknarea as I wanted to see Queen Maeve's cairn but you need to walk up the mountain. With the rain and wind and cold, we really didn't have the desire to do that so we continued on our way. So we only had a photo of the cairn from far away since you couldn't see it from the car park.
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As we drove to Westport, we stopped at the National Museum of Country Life in County Mayo. It had some interesting artifacts showing traditional rural life. Across the road was a ruined monastery with a intact round tower. This was the first round tower that Mike saw. ( I saw some on an earlier trip in 2008.)
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When we got to Westport, we found it very confusing to find the right road to take us through town and along the road to Murrisk. We were staying at a B&B near the foot of Croagh Patrick. We finally found Bertra House B&B on the Bertra Beach road. The the north is a view of Clew Bay. Behind the house is a view of the mountain.
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Margaret was very welcoming and showed us two rooms to choose from. We chose the one with the sea view.
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We went to supper at The Tavern, a pink coloured pub. It was in Murrisk and it meant we didn't have to drive into Westport. I had a hot chocolate and club sandwich. Mike had vegetable soup and fish & chips. The food was good and we sat near the fire. €31.30

Well, it started to get really windy during the night and we could hear the rain lashing against the window. We woke up to a totally overcast and foggy morning, and it was starting to rain again. I felt very depressed. We had not had one day without rain and wind and this was day 20 of our trip! Was it ever going to get better?

Well, we got up and had breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, toast and fruit salad. Mike had a full Irish. Margaret said she heard the weather was supposed to get better, so we decided to stick with our plans for the day. I had planned for us to explore Achill Island. I had heard it was beautiful. So Margaret told us how to get through Westport and we made it through without getting lost. It had stopped raining by the time we started off.

Our first stop was at a ruined abbey outside Newport (Burrishoole Abbey).
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Then we found Rockfleet, Grace O'Malley's castle. She was a powerful woman in the area in the 1500's and came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I, whom she later met. Unfortunately, the castle was covered in scaffolding, so the photos aren't to good. It is a tower castle,not huge. I had read a good book about her by Morgan Llewellyn called Grania and was interested in seeing the area where she lived.
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We went on the Atlantic Drive on the penninsula just before Achill Island. We were a little confused, because I thought we were already on the island, but we weren't. It was very pretty and we got great views across Clew Bay and of Croagh Patrick, although it was somewhat hazy. The sun was trying to come out, though. We saw some blue sky!
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We went over the bridge onto Achill Island, driving across and up to the deserted village. It wasn't quite what I had pictured it. It just looked like lots of piles of rocks. Unfortunately the weather wasn't the greatest when we arrived and it was very windy, so we weren't as inclined to check it out more thoroughly.
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We continued on to Dooagh where we ate lunch at The Cottage. We had seafood chowder which was very good. €15.60 Across the road from The Cottage is where we parked and it looked over a beach and the ocean.
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There was a kestrel hunting and he would hover in the wind. I was able to get some photos of him, although they aren't the best since he is so small. It was hard holding the camera steady in the strong wind.
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We drove down to the bottom of Achill Island, where I knew Grace O'Malley had another tower castle. We found it and were able to go inside. It's hard to believe that it was big enough for a family and servants to live in. There were 3 or 4 stories originally, but each floor would only have been one room, I think. There was a floor with a vaulted roof and trap door up to the top of the tower.
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We headed back towards the mainland. Just before crossing the bridge, we stopped at a store and Mike picked up a pair of gloves. I had brought a pair from home, but he didn't and his hands were cold most days.

We got lost going through Westport again! Both days we ended up going through at the same time of day, when the schools let out and everyone seems to be driving through town. We would have liked to stop and explore town but all the parking spot were used up. When we arrived back on the road for the B&B, we went to the end of the road to see the beach. I got some photos of oystercatchers. It was still very windy so not good for strolling. We stopped at the ruined Murrisk Abbey as well.
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We liked our supper at The Tavern the night before, so we returned. I had tried Mike's vegetable soup the night before and liked it enough to get it this night. Then I had a chocolate brownie with sauce for dessert. Mike had soup and a burger.

We decided to go to Croagh Patrick. The centre was closed for the day, so now the parking was free. It was too late to climb up to the top, and by this time I didn't have the energy. But I climbed up to St. Patrick's statue and got some good views over Clew Bay, which is what I wanted. I would have had some better ones if I had gone higher, but this was good enough. The sun was glowing nicely so we stopped to take photos of a boat along the shore.
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Posted by Karen E 13:04 Comments (0)

Days 22, 23, 24, 25 Cliffs of Moher, Dingle & Killarney

May 27, 28, 29, 30

Friday morning we left Murrisk and headed towards Liscannor in County Clare. First we went through the Doo Lough Pass where famine victims walked to get help from their landlord. They were turned away and many of them died along this road. There is a memorial to them where we stopped to take photos. It is in the middle of nowhere.
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We continued to Leenaun and then down between the 12 Pins of the Connemara National Park and the Maumturk Mountains. After Oughterard, we managed to get through Galway without a problem, going around the Galway Bay and through Kinvarra. When we got to Ballyvaughan, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe and ate soup in their conservatory. It was called the Tea Garden Rooms. €16.75

As we continued to drive, we spotted an old castle tower ruin that was partly collapsed at the sea shore. We stopped to take photos of it. We didn't know what it was, so I looked it up on the internet later and found that it was called Shanmuckinish Castle (meaning "Old Pig Island" in Gaelic.) It is a 5 storey tower surrounded by a rectangular bawn, 2 1/2 miles northeast of Ballyvaughan. It is identified as an old O'Loughlin tower which passed to the Blakes in 1922, twenty years after the north half of the castle collapsed. We thought it had been destroyed by Cromwell like everything else!
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Continuing on our way, we took the road through the Burren. It was very strange land! We stopped at the Poulabrone Dolmen. It was interesting, although we preferred the one in Donegal.
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On we went to our B&B just past Liscannor. We were staying at Altantic View B&B. It was pretty foggy by this time and rainy. Our hostess was not home when we arrived, but I was able to reach her on her mobile phone. She said she would send her husband to let us in. He came about 5 minutes later and made us welcome. He made us a pot of tea with some biscuits. It was a beautiful house. Our hostess arrived shortly after. They were extremely friendly and helpful.
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I had hoped that, since our B&B was only a mile from the Cliffs of Moher, we would be able to go over and get a sunset photo. But no, not only did we not get a sunset photo, we didn't even get to see the cliffs because it was totally fogged in and raining. We took a drive up to Doolin, right to the pier, but it was pretty wet and windy. Turning around we decided to stop at The Stonecutter's for supper. We were served from the lunch menu at 5:30 and the waiter turned the blackboard to the supper menu when we were half done eating. Oh well, lunch was expensive enough €29.80 and I don't really remember what we had, but we did have dessert which we usually didn't. Mike wanted to try bread pudding and I had sticky toffee pudding.
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You can see how fogged in it was.

We went back to the B&B. When we awoke in the morning some of the fog had cleared and our hostess said we should be able to see the cliffs now. I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon plus some cereal. Mike had a full Irish. We ate at 7:30 and then went to the Cliffs. The other guests were not awake yet. In most of the places we stayed, the other guests were usually German couples, sometimes British.

When we arrived at the Cliffs, we were able to get into the parking lot. Because it was before the Information Centre opened, the parking lot was free (as long as we left before it opened). We were the only ones there. We got some photos. The sky was still threatening looking but not raining. The photos actually turned out better than I expected considering the weather. We were on our way by 8:45. It would have cost us €12 if we left after 9:00.
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We were driving down to Dingle this day (Saturday). We drove along right to the Tarbert Ferry and got there 5 minutes before they left, so we just drove right on board. That really saved us time, not having to wait. The ferry ended up being full. It was actually a warm crossing.
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I wanted to see the Ardfert Cathedral on our way to Dingle. We found it without any trouble. The weather had cleared up and we had some blue skies while touring it. It is a ruin as well and a bit different than others. It was actually a very bare cathedral; no alcoves, statues indents. Just four walls. But it was interesting nonetheless.
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The lady at the desk told us that there was also a friary just down the street. Being interested in friarys, we decided to check it out. We had to park in a carpark and walk down a lane to get to it. We had it all to ourselves and it was cool. It was quite big.
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We ended up spending over two hours exploring the cathedral and the friary, so I thought I better call our Dingle hostess and let her know where we were. I had called her when we first arrived in Ardfert, but hadn't expected we would be there so long. She said it would take 1 1/2 hours to get to her place and it did. We stopped at a petrol station to fill the car and get some things for a picnic lunch which we ate before continuing on.

We found the B&B easy enough. It is called Emlagh Lodge and is situated looking over Dingle Harbour. We loved the views from our bedroom window. We had a big room with a double bed and a single bed. The bathroom was large.
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It was just starting to rain as we got closer to Dingle so we didn't try the Connor Pass but took the easier road. When we checked in, our hostess, Maggie, gave us lots of information about Dingle.

Mike decided to have a rest and I wanted to go find a bank and the tourist office before it closed. When I found a bank, I got some cash from the ATM machine. I got some pamphlets from the tourist office and then headed back to the B&B. We walked back into town to look for a place for supper. Maggie had recommended a few places. Most of the places were pretty expensive and didn't have anything on their menus that we really wanted. So we ended up going to a take away fish and chip shop and taking it back to our room. It was pretty good and only cost about €12.

It was Saturday night, and happened to be my mother's birthday. She had just died unexpectantly last summer of a brain tumour. So I wanted to go to Mass to remember her. We went to St. Mary Catholic Church. It is all stone inside, beautiful and very different.
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Sunday we did the Slea Head Drive, or at least some of it. I think we ended up turning wrong and missed the top part. The sun refused to come out of the clouds, but it did not rain. We stopped at some nice scenery lookouts.

We visited Dunbeg Fort and then some Beehive huts. We weren't sure about the Fort, but then decided to pay and go down to it. From the road it doesn't look like much, but once you walk down there, it is much bigger than you think. So it was worth it.
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We only stopped at the first set of Beehive huts. We thought about the 2nd set but thought we heard that the first was better. I think it might have been the other way around, but too late now.
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We stopped at the beach where they shot Ryan's Daughter and then stopped later at a mountainous promontory.
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Continuing on, we went to the Gallarus Oratory which was quite interesting. We paid at the centre to get in. There was a short video and then we went to the Oratory. We had it to ourselves at first. When we were finished I saw another path and wanted to know why it was paved. I found out that it was the way to the free entrance to the Oratory. You could just park on the little road and walk up the path and not have to pay to see it. We didn't get our money's worth if all we were paying for was a 10 minute video. Oh well, live and learn.

For lunch we stopped at a pub in Ballyferriter called Ceann sibeal Hotel. We had seafood chowder and then Mike had rubarb crumble and I had chocolate cake with chocolate sauce. €25.50.
We were then looking for Kilmalkedar Church because I read it had a ogham stone, an alphabet stone and a sundial.
We went down one road, didn't find it; went down another, still no luck. We took a chance on another road and found a tour bus. This must be it! yep. Very interesting. I'm glad we found it.
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After this we turned the wrong way and were heading back to town instead of continuing on the drive but by the time we realized it, we were pretty much back at Dingle.

There was one place I wanted to see that had 7 ogham stones in front of a yellow house but I didn't know where it was. It took me an hour searching on the internet to find out they were in front of Lord Ventry's house. He had moved them there as lawn decorations! His place is about 2-3 kms outside Dingle on the way to Ventry. It is now a girl's school. We could see his mansion from our B&B across the harbour, but didn't know that we were looking at the back. We found the stones. You have to go down a road that mentions the school and then turn down a private drive. Mostly people see them if they take a tour from town. Otherwise most tourist probably don't find them.
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For supper, we walked all around town looking for a place to eat. We ended up at Harrington's Fish Restaurant. The fish was okay, but the fries were bad. It was kind of a strange place. We walked around town taking photos.
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Monday, August 30 - Killarney

It looked sunnier this morning. We were the only guests overnight.

We drove straight to Killarney along the road past Inch Beach. We could see a few people out on the beach. We located our hotel, "Lake Hotel" without a problem. It was too early to check-in (only 10:00) but we walked around the grounds a bit and took photos of some birds and the old castle ruin in front of the the lake. Lake Hotel faces out onto Lough Leane and the mountains. It is very pretty!
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We drove down to Ladies' View lookout. Wow! Lots of photos taken here!
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We then found the Torc waterfall. I practiced my slow shutter speed technique on it.
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Then farther up the road, we parked where the jaunty cars were and walked to Muckross Abbey. We love old abbeys. This one has an ancient yew tree growing out of it. They are doing a lot of renovating at this abbey. The sun was shining all this time and was a very nice day. We decided to continue our walk to Muckross House. The path we took followed the lake, but was longer than we thought. It was a 2.4 km walk and when we arrived, we found that you can only see the house by tour and we had just missed it. The next tour wasn't starting for another hour. We didn't want to wait around that long, so we took a different path back to the abbey where our car was. It wasn't much shorter but was a flat pathway. The other way was through the forest.
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By now it was 3:00 pm and we hadn't checked into our hotel yet. So after retrieving the car, we drove back to the hotel and checked in. I had reserved a room with a lake view and it was very nice. We had a rest before heading down to the bar for supper. We decided to splurge and ordered the steak. So glad we did because it was delicious!

After supper, we drove out to Ross Castle. The castle was closed, but you could still walk around the outside. We got some lovely photos of it with the setting sun shining on it. It was actually a popular spot for people to go for a stroll in the evening.

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Posted by Karen E 17:19 Comments (0)

Days 26, 27 Kilkenny & Glendalough

May 31, June 1

On Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the hotel which was included in our room price. There was tons of choice: cooked meal, meats & cheeses, cereal, fruit, muffins, and croissants.

We then drove to Ballylooby. It was thought that one of my grandfather's side of the family, the Lubys, came from Ballylooby in County Tipperary. So we found it without a problem and looked around the church graveyard for any Lubys. Unfortunately, there were none. We took a photo of the church and the pub across the street which was interesting looking, and then continued on our way.
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The second place we stopped was Cahir Castle and spent about 1 1/2 hours here. We enjoyed this castle. It was also enjoyable sunny weather! There were some birds on the brook beside the castle that posed for photos. We ate lunch across the street from the castle; potato and leek soup with a bun.
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Continuing on our way, we arrived at the Rock of Cashel. We could see it when we first came to town but then once in town we couldn't see it so we didn't know which way to go. Mike parked the car and I took a walk and found it to be just around the corner. So we drove up to it and found a parking spot. We spent a couple of hours here and really enjoyed it. It is quite impressive. Unfortunately, there is a lot of scaffolding around it. It is a four year endeavour to help the roof of the old church survive. It think it has only been on for 18 months so far. The old painted walls in Cormac's Chapel are really interesting. Also, in the graveyard, I found a Luby buried there. Cashel is not too far from Ballylooby.

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We continued on our way to this night's destination, Kilkenny, finding our B&B without too much trouble. Luckily I knew what it looked like from the internet photo. After checking in, we walked down to see St. Canice's Cathedral and round tower. People are able to go up the round tower and look over the town, but it was closed this day. We took photos outside.

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Walking downtown, we decided to have supper at Kyteler's Inn, a medieval restaurant. Our bill said "Established 1324". This night they were doing a bohran learning session for anyone who was interested. I might have tried it but our supper had just arrived. So we just listened. They had about 10 people who tried to learn the Irish drum and it was interesting. One the the men was a singer in his own right ( I think from England) and they had him sing a really nice song. For supper, Mike had Beef Curry and tried a Smithwick's Beer which is brewed right around the corner from the restaurant. He really liked it. I had Chicken and Garlic Sauce which was good. €41.60
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Then, we walked up to Kilkenny Castle, looked around the outside, then walked throught town back to our B&B.
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Wednesday, June 1

Breakfast was at the B&B. Rosie, our hostess served huge blueberries! There was other fresh fruit, cereal and juice already waiting for us. Then she made us some french toast and bacon.0281.jpg

We had breakfast at 8:30 and were on the road just after 9:00. We were heading for Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. We headed out the wrong road from Kilkenny but we didn't know what road we were on. We then headed in the right direction and then in the wrong direction! Finally we were back on track and heading from Blessington to the Sally Gap. This is a very bleak scenic area.
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We turned north to see Oscar Wilde's cottage on Lough Bray Lower. While there, we met the tour bus from the company that I had used three years ago when visiting with my parents and sister. I like the area so much I wanted Mike to see it. I talked to the tour driver and said how much I liked the tour then. He wanted to know if I remembered the name of the driver, but I didn't. The company was Over the Top Tours.
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We ended up following the tour bus for a bit as we went back through the Sally Gap and headed towards Glendalough. Mike was surprised at the desolation of the area, and also at how fast the scenery changed from forest to barreness. We made it to Glendalough by 1:00 and stopped to have lunch at the Heather Restaurant in Laragh. Mike had corned beef and cabbage. I had vegetable soup and bread. €17.90

Since our check in time wasn't until 4 pm, we went over to Glendalough monastery. We walked around, saw the churches and round tower. It wasn't quite as sunny as it had been earlier. We walked the boardwalk to the lower lake and over to the upper lake. Three years ago, we didn't have time to come all the way to the upper lake so I wanted to do it this time. It was lovely to see. We photographed it. There was also two very old crosses that they don't know very much about. Also, beside them, was a ringfort of sorts, or maybe it was just an enclosure.
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We then walked the 1 1/2 km back to the Glendalough site. It was past 5:00 by this time and we decided to check in to our B&B. It is called Riversdale B&B and it is within 10-15 minute walk to the monastic site. But we drove. We had a nice big room. We decided to have an hour's rest.

For supper, we tried the Glendalough Hotel. We just ordered burgers.

We hoped to get some photos of the monastic site after everyone had left in the evening, but the sun stayed behind the clouds so we decided to take a drive instead. We went to find Lough Dan and Lough Tay, two lakes that I had on my tour 3 years ago. We found Lough Tay where the Guiness estate is located. The sun came out momentarily and we got some great photos. It was a magnificent view.

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We tried locating Lough Dan. Following a sign we ended up and lake level, which isn't what I wanted. I had previously seen it was a cliff but we missed it somehow. Oh, well. Back we headed to our B&B. The only problem with our room was that it was right above the owner's rooms. They turned the TV on loud and we could hear it until 10 pm. But then it went quiet.

Posted by Karen E 18:05 Comments (0)

Days 28, 29 - Last Days - Trim, Newgrange & Monasterboice

June 2, 3

Thursday June 2, we woke to sunshine. After an 8:00 breakfast of cereal, toast and poached eggs, we headed back to Glendalough. I wanted to try to get some photos of the upper lake with blue sky. I also got calm waters with reflection of the hills. Then we walked around the monastic site before the busloads of people arrived. It was nice and peaceful. Then the people started to arrive. We left around 10:00.
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Travelling up the Military Road, we went through Sally Gap again. I took some sunshine photos this time. We passed Lough Bray Lower and I was able to get some sunshine photos of the lake behind Oscar Wilde's cottage as well.
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We continued to the south part of Dublin and caught the M50 highway around the city and then the M1 north to Newgrange. We were quite interested in seeing these megalithic passage tombs.

When we arrived at the carpark at 12 noon, it was full. I was dreading the long wait we might have for our tours. But as soon as we went inside, a lady came over and asked if we wanted to see just Newgrange, just Knowth, or both. We said both. So she said we could see Knowth at 12:15 and Newgrange at 2:15. It ended up that we didn't even have time for a bathroom break before catching our shuttle bus as it was a 5-10 minute walk to the bus area.

We went to Knowth first. It was very interesting with one big tomb and smaller satellite tombs. We were given a tour around and taken in to the biggest tomb. The room we were in was not an original part of the tomb but we were able to look down the real passageway and take photos of it. We could go down it because it wasn't safe. We were then given time to wander around on our own and even climb on top of the biggest tomb.
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A lot of people only go to Newgrange and not to Knowth, but I thought Knowth was more interesting on the outside. We had an hour there and then caught the shuttle bus back to the centre. It was now 1:30 and our Newgrange bus wasn't leaving until 2:30. It had been cloudy when we first arrived so we had our coats on, but then it turned very sunny and warm. Mike took our coats back to the car. This was the first day of our whole trip that we removed our coats outside! We ate a quick sandwich at the cafe and then walked to the Newgrange shuttlebus.

Our tour of Knowth only had about 15 people on it. But our tour to Newgrange was full with about 50 people. We were given a talk again when we first arrived, then the split us into two groups. Our group went into the tomb first. We walked the passage right to the centre of the tomb. We were not allowed to take photos inside Newgrange. Once inside, our guide turned off the lights and then a light was shone along the passageway to show what happens on the summer solstice. It was interesting. Then we came out and wandered around the outside and the other half of our group went into the tomb.

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We caught the bus back to the centre and I bought a couple of books about the area.

We then headed off to Monasterboice. It is pretty close to Newgrange and had two ot the best high crosses in Ireland. I was sure Mike would be interested in seeing them and he was duly impressed. We got some nice sunny photos.
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Finishing at Monasterboice, we caught the M1 down to Malahide. Without too much trouble we found our B&B, Evergreen Malahide B&B. The hardest part was that the sign for the street was only visible when coming from the opposite way from where we were coming from. So we went past it and had to come back. But we found it, arriving between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. Our hostess, Olive, showed us around and offered us coffee and juice.

We got talking to some other guests who were from Ohio. They went almost the same route around Ireland that we did. This B&B is very near the airport so a lot of people stay here on the last night before heading home.

We drove into Malahide and had dinner at an Italian restaurant, Il Sorriso. We shared a bruschetta and pizza. €32.55

Friday, June 3

On our last full day, we decided to go to Trim Castle. We had a nice breakfast in the conservatory of our B&B. Mike had scrambled eggs & mushrooms and I had 2 warm croissants. mmmm. Our hostess, Olive, was very helpful. She helps a lot of people getting to the airport for the flights home and looking up plane reservations.

Olive gave us directions to Trim Castle, but we made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the N32. So we took that over to the M2 and then took that up to the road we wanted. We found Trim Caslte and arrived in time for the first tour of the day. You can only see the keep by tour. It was very interesting. It is the biggest Norman castle in Ireland. The keep is confusing with lots of stairs going all different ways. Our guide grew up in Trim and said he used to play in the castle as a kid. At that time it was a private ruin.

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We were still in Trim at lunch time, so we got takeaway burgers and ate them in front of the castle.

Then we drove back to Malahide, through town along the coast and out to Howth. We circled Howth and found it very busy, since it was a hot sunny. Finally we found a parking spot at the harbour and walked out the pier.
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We then headed back to our B&B. We needed to repack all of our belongings so they would fit on the airplane in the morning.

We went out for supper. We decided that we would have fish and chips for our last night in Ireland. Unfortunately, the fish and chips were disappointing.

Then we wanted to do a trial run to the Dan Dooley Car Rental so that we would know exactly where to go in the morning. It did not go very well. We missed the first turn that we should have taken and ended up in a roundabout with no signs. I guess they had just built the roundabout and weren't using it yet. So we turned back and found where we should have turned. But then we ended up in the lane that ended up going onto the M1 and we also had to exit off of a roundabout because a truck cut us off. That would have been great to make it this far and then get in an accident. But finally we found Dan Dooley. But we decided we would do it over again to make sure we had it right. This time we were okay. With all that, we were exhausted. We chatted with another Canadian couple at the B&B about the challenges of navigating in Ireland. The roads are fine, but it is easy to get lost because of the signage.

At our B&B, there were 2 other Canadian couples and 2 American. Almost everywhere else we stayed on our trip, the other guests were German.

Our last morning we had the same breakfast as the day before since we liked it so much. Then, saying our goodbyes, we drove to the car rental to drop off the car at Dan Dooleys. No problems. Since we filled up the gas tank, they reimbursed us for the gas. Then they shuttled us to the airport. We got our boarding passes and waited for our flight.

The flight was full again (only 2 empty seats). We were about 1/2 late leaving (1:15pm) but arrived in Toronto on time (3:15). It was a 6 hour & 40 minute flight.

We got an Airport taxi to take us home and it was funny because our driver was Irish! He asked us a lot of questions about where we visited. He was very nice and we had a great chat on the hour drive to our house.

We were tired when we arrived home. Our son had thoughtfully made supper and then about 7:30 Mike and I could keep our eyes open any longer and went to bed.

We was a great trip despite the weather and we ended up with a lot of great photos. Some were even better than we expected considering the weather they were taken in. Most people looking at them can't believe we had such rainy weather.

Posted by Karen E 18:06 Comments (0)

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