Posts From Ireland

Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)

Journal entry for Friday 16th Oct, 2015 (day 634, miles 18,684)

Our Irish experience started with 3 nights in a hotel called Clifton Court, on the river front at the foot of O'Connell Street. We were delighted by the position as it was really in the "center" of things. But it was also a classic "old pub hotel", small rooms, and narrow corridors, but everything worked. Our first evening introduced us to Dublin noise, it seemed that there was a siren or garbage trucks every 5 minutes, we eventually concluded that Dublin is indeed and "active" city and nose was just part of the "active". to read the full post

Two lakes (Kilkenny, Ireland)

Journal entry for Saturday 17th Oct, 2015 (day 635, miles 18,684)

This morning we picked up our rental car and started the "tour proper". Between GPS devices and cell phones we had no trouble negotiating the freeways around Dublin and then on to some of the narrow country lanes we had been told about. I could tell right from the start that it was going to be a bit of a treat driving a snappy little car on these narrow twisting roads. to read the full post

The Butler' mansion (Kilkenny, Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 18th Oct, 2015 (day 636, miles 18,684)

After a nice hot shower and the included breakfast we walked into the center of Kilkenny to visit their famous castle. Today the castle is almost fully restored to a fine presentation of a Victorian country mansion. The place was owned by the Butler family for about 900 years (though the family had various names through the period) but they abandoned the place in the 1930s and it sat and decayed until locals started an effort in the 1960s to restore it. It is a very interesting peek into how a wealthy Victorian family lived. Today the castle has only 3 of its original 4 walls standing as the 4th south wall was destroyed by Cromwell's army while he was suppressing the Irish uprising in 1650. to read the full post

Castle on a rock (Kilkenny, Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 19th Oct, 2015 (day 637, miles 18,684)

Today another castle, this one though in ruin and not being restored but only stabilized. It was a short drive from Kilkenny to Cachel where there is a huge (even in ruin) 11th century castle sitting on a rock outcropping above the town. We had a quite informative tour from a local guide and learned more of the history of who did what in the castle and cathedral than I can possibly remember. Various Kings, lords and bishops built and added bits over the years and then in the 1700s the local bishop decided to abandon the cathedral in favor of a new Cathedral he had commissioned built "down in the town". to read the full post

Kennedy's homestead (Waterford, Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 20th Oct, 2015 (day 638, miles 18,684)

I found out this morning that Nina "really likes" stone bridges and still water. A bit of a surprise really as you would think there was nothing new to find out after all the years we have been together. But there you are, that explains the bridge photos. to read the full post

Crystal and Vikings (Waterford, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 21st Oct, 2015 (day 639, miles 18,684)

We spent the day getting infused with the history and "claim to fame" of the town of Waterford. Waterford Crystal was the starting point. The town has long been famous for the cut crystal creations that originated here. But the financial crisis of 2008 put the Waterford Crystal company out of business. Fortunately it has since been resurrected, but on a smaller scale, so that cut crystal creations are still emerging from Waterford. We got an up close look at the process during a tour of the small production facility right in the heart of the town. I would rate the tour highly as it is technically very interesting. to read the full post

Titanic Experience (Kinsale, Ireland)

Journal entry for Thursday 22nd Oct, 2015 (day 640, miles 18,684)

Todays destination was the town of Kinsale, but along the way we stopped at Cobh (also perplexingly known as Queenstown) to visit the Titanic Experience. We found Cobh to be a quaint/cute little harbor town, with an amazingly magnificent cathedral overlooking the harbor. to read the full post

Dampier, Spanish strategy (Kinsale, Ireland)

Journal entry for Friday 23rd Oct, 2015 (day 641, miles 18,684)

I spent today lounging on the bed in our room trying to get over the cold I recently contracted while Nina went touring and exploring around the sights of Kinsale. Now this does not mean that I learned nothing of the history or "claim to fame" of Kinsale as after her day of exploring Nina was only too keen to give me a "blow by blow" narrative. The two big things from the day were William Dampier and the Battle of Kinsale, that took place on Christmas even 1601. to read the full post

Mizen Head (Goleen, Ireland)

Journal entry for Saturday 24th Oct, 2015 (day 642, miles 18,684)

Today we were off to Mizen Head (or there about), the most south westerly point in Ireland. We followed The Wild Atlantic Route, a series of narrow picturesque coastal roads (maybe lanes would be a better description). As promised the scenery was really quite good, ocean, beaches, farmland and all with some bright sun(with a little rain tossed in to make us feel at home). At one of the beaches we passed we were more than a little surprised to see a surfing school operating with as may as a dozen students rugged up in full wet suits (including hoods and gloves) trying to stand on their boards in a 2 foot surf. to read the full post

Winter wood shed (Goleen, Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 25th Oct, 2015 (day 643, miles 18,684)

We spent the day in Goleen a somewhat windswept little place, really a modest seaside fishing village that has not tarted itself up for tourists very much at all. We spent the day watching the large tidal changes along the shore, walking around the village and generally relaxing. To my mind the highlight of the day was discovering that the derelict truck on a corner in the main street was being used to store firewood. I guess it is the nature of people in "remote" places that they "let no resource go unused". to read the full post

Sheep and goats (Glengarriff, Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 26th Oct, 2015 (day 644, miles 18,684)

Today we started our trek up the west coast of Ireland. For those that don't know (like me before I got here) the west coast is composed of a series of peninsulas (or maybe old fjords), but any way pieces of land that jut out like fingers into the North Atlantic. These happen to be some of the scenic highlights of Ireland and today we proceeded North from our "most South Westerly" spot to the first of these "fingers" called the Sheep's Head Peninsula to read the full post

Green tunnels and a big hole in the ground (Glengarrif, Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 27th Oct, 2015 (day 645, miles 18,684)

The Ring of Beara was todays mission, a route that traces the coastline of the Beara Peninsula. We set off in overcast weather with periodic showers but by the end of the day the sun was out and shinning brightly. The Irish countryside really looks picturesque in the sun. to read the full post

Priests Leap (Glengarrif, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 28th Oct, 2015 (day 646, miles 18,684)

The weather was not so kind to us today and as a result we had a somewhat wet and windy drive over a local mountain pass called Priests Leap> Local legend has it the the name derives from an episode in which a priest leaped from the pass to avoid capture. More factually though there are records of this name going back to 1600. The name "Priests's Lepp" is to be found in the Desmond Survey map of Glanerought barony, compiled around 1600. to read the full post

Beare Peninsula repeat (Kenmare, Ireland)

Journal entry for Thursday 29th Oct, 2015 (day 858, miles 18,684)

The sun was out this morning so we decided to do a repeat of the loop around the Beare Peninsula (it is a sign of how small Ireland is that we can decide on the spur of the moment to repeat a whole days drive). So todays photos are also a bit of a repeat, but in better light. However the sun did not last and by the time our loop was over and we were headed into Kenmare, where we would spend the night the rain was back. to read the full post

Dear oh deer (Portmagee, Ireland)

Journal entry for Friday 30th Oct, 2015 (day 648, miles 18,684)

It was down rain this morning as we set out towards Kilarney, Kilarney National Park and an attraction called Muckross House. The house is famous as a place where Queen Victoria spent two nights as the guests of the Herbert family during her 1849 visit to Ireland. The Herberts apparently spent 6 years preparing for that visit and commissioned all kinds of upgrades and decorations to the house. As a result of the expense (and other poor financial decisions) the family eventually went bankrupt and had to sell the house. One of the decorative features of the house are a large collection of deer heads (some stuffed and some just skeletons) displayed on the walls of many of the rooms. During the tour we learned that deer are now rare in Ireland and there is only one herd of red deer remaining in the country. They number about 800 and reside in the woods around Muckross House. Well we nearly had the misfortune to tell the guide that there were now only 799 as just before we arrived at the house a large red deer buck bounded across the road no more than 6 feet in front of our speeding car. We came within a few seconds of having a large lump of venison in the front seat with us. to read the full post

Skellig (Portmagee, Ireland)

Journal entry for Saturday 31st Oct, 2015 (day 649, miles 18,684)

So what in the hell is skellig. That is what I was wondering last night after checking in at our B&B in Portmagee. The wifi password was skelligs, every second business in town had the word skellig in it's name and the major local attraction was Skellig Micheal. I did not find the answer to that question until we visited (you guessed it) The Skellig Experience building this morning, where one of the attendants told me (that many tourists ask that question). "skellig" means "rock". Skellig Micheal is one of two nearby rocky precipitous islands that in the years before 1000AD was the home to a community of early christian monks who carved a life on the steep cliffs of the island. We did not get to visit the island (too late in the year and in any case tours of the island are being scaled back to protect the ruins). But we did get a sense of the amazing achievement of those early christians builders. No photos - so follow the link above to get some sense of the place. to read the full post

Dingle (Dingle, Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 1st Nov, 2015 (day 650, miles 18,684)

Another couple of those stone forts were on the agenda early in todays travels and then we finished off the Ring of Kerry in bright sunshine, backtracked a little to Killarney and Muckross house so as to see the area in good weather and then started towards the town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula. to read the full post

Sun, surf (sort of) and stone buildings (Dingle, Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 2nd Nov, 2015 (day 651, miles 18,684)

As you can see from the photos we had a great day weather wise and we put it to good use, spending the day exploring the Dingle Peninsula. The place was pretty quiet today now that everyone has gone back to work and school after the weekend. The highlights of the day would have to be the beach, (made famous in the movie Ryan's Daughter) some more "stone forts" and a structure called an oratory(more later). to read the full post

The Cliffs of Moher (Galway, Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 3rd Nov, 2015 (day 652, miles 18,684)

One of our longer driving days, all the way to Galway but along the way we had a special sight to see, the famous Cliffs of Moher, Irelands most visited tourist attraction. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for our visit. Earlier in the day we had some glorious sunshine (as you can see from some of the early photos) but by the time we got to the "cliffs", cloud, drizzle and haze. Never the less they were impressive and we could imagine how spectacular they would be in the sunshine. to read the full post

Galway in the rain (Galway, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 4th Nov, 2015 (day 653, miles 18,684)

Not much to say about today. We spent it hold up in our hotel away from the rain, or out walking around the city when it was not raining. The center of the city is colorful and very active with buskers of all kinds out in force. A very busy and up market shopping strip along the (mainly) pedestrian main drag. to read the full post

Our 50th (Aran Island, Ireland)

Journal entry for Thursday 5th Nov, 2015 (day 654, miles 18,684)

Today is a big day for us, it is 50 years today since we first met. Now if I was being really pedantic about it we are actually a day late since when we met we were (obviously) in Australia and it is now the 6th of November in Australia - but that seems a bit too precise. But anyway 50 years seems like a significant milestone and we had planned to spend it on Aran Islands , so early this morning we were in the car headed towards Rossaveel (in heavy rain) where we were scheduled to catch a ferry to the town of Kilronan on Inishmore the largest of the three Aran Islands. to read the full post

Another early start and more rain (Westport, Ireland)

Journal entry for Friday 6th Nov, 2015 (day 655, miles 18,684)

As per the title, we were up early (for us), saying goodbye to Alice and then off to the ferry for the return to the mainland, no dramas there, although we were surprised by how many people appeared apparently from nowhere to catch the ferry. Back at the ferry dock in Rossaveel a man miraculously appeared to collect the 5 euros we owed for our days parking and then we were on the road heading towards Westport. to read the full post

Lycra everywhere (Westport, Ireland)

Journal entry for Saturday 7th Nov, 2015 (day 656, miles 18,684)

Westport turned out to be a lot busier than we had expected. It seems we managed to be here at the same time as the annual Adventure Race, a foot and bicycle race over the top of the near mountain called Croagh Patrick. As a result our guest house was full of lycra clad, excited, racers. The other observation I would make about Westport is that the traffic and parking situation in the town borders on chaos. We have commented many times during our Irish journey that we would find it hard to cope with the (in our mind) narrow and inefficient small villages (tight streets, no where to park except in the middle of the road). Well Westport seemed to us the poster child for this "problem". to read the full post

Trim, our Ireland tour comes to an end (Trim, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 18th Nov, 2015 (day 878, miles 18,684)

The morning we departed Belfast was our 30th day in Ireland and so we had to return our rental car and get another one. Why you ask?. Well it seems that 30 days is the maximum period for which a car can be rented in Ireland after that one must lease it. So this morning we drove back to Dublin airport, dropped off our car, walked from Hertz to Budget and got another one. thereafter we drove to the town of Trim a little north west of Dublin where we had organized to spend our final couple of days in Ireland. to read the full post