IrelandYes ~ Top Rated Ireland Forum ~ by Tourism Ireland



MICHELE'S BOOK     ~    BLOG    ~    IRISH SHOP    ~    PLAN MY TRIP    ~    TWITTER


Members Login
Post Info TOPIC: IC's '07 VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY TOUR


Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:
IC's '07 VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY TOUR


  INTRODUCTION:
BE FORWARNED -- THIS WILL BE A LONG, RAMBLING OPINIONATED AND THEREFOR, POSSIBLY SOMEWHAT POMPOUS AND ARROGANT DISSERTATION.  IF YOU ARE EASILY BORED OR OFFENDED BY SUCH,PLEASE DO NOT READ.
 


     "PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF
       I'M A MAN OF WEALTH AND TASTE"

    biggrin Well, Wealth and Taste ARE relative terms ... biggrin


      Time to 'fess up -- I am one of those people that NAMES their trip.  And, yes, the names usually correspond to the over-all THEME (I'm Sorry- Really I am).  Our trips also generally include a sound track, as well, but I don't want to 'Creep You Out' too much.  All this will show some relevence later, I hope ...

        I am a married (1971) male, in my mid-50's.  The Mrs. has done a REMARKABLE job of smoothing off many of my roughest edges, yet I am STILL considered to be highly cynical, rather sarcastic and pessimistic and GROSSLY intolerant of stupidity.  (This, by my FRIENDS, no less!)  I am an OBCESSIVE researcher and planner, trying to anticipate every conceivable variation of pitfalls and disturbances to 'THE PLAN'.  I usually print out PAGES of directions, phone numbers, rates and even general info on chosen sites (and ALTERNATIVES -- in the event of problems).  The ONLY thing (other than the actual FLIGHT) that seems to TERRIFY my wife, is if she asks me about some detail of our trip and I rely, "I don't know." .....hmm hmm

But, I am actually a split-personality type.  I like to think that I have a Poet's Soul -- even if I lack the vocabulary and the ability.  Once the actual trip has begun, I am much more of a 'LAID BACK, ROLL-WITH_THE-PUNCHES' kind of guy.  I'll request to be billed in Euro's rather than dollars, to avoid DCC, but I WON'T make a BIG STINK if (WHEN) it invariably happens.  Life, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, my vacation, is TOO short to spend worrying and fretting about a lousy 1 or 2 dollar overcharge.  My TIME in Ireland is PRECIOUS.  I'm NOT going to waste 15 minutes of that too short time Ranting and Fighting just to save a buck or two -- though, I'll certainly B***H about it long and hard, once I'm back home.  It's all about PRIORITIES, you see ...


     "LIFE IS MUCH TOO SHORT
      FOR ALL THAT FUSSING AND FIGHTING MY FRIEND"

        OR, IF YOU PREFER,

       "DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"


       We have been to Ireland a total of NINE times, counting this latest, since our first foray 'over the pond', in April of 1999 (The Pub Tour).  We've done The Green Blur, The GRAY Blur (a rainy, overcast Feb, in '02), The Park And Explore AND a number of variations.  My wife has family there and we have made a few friends and acquaintences along the way, so most trips now incorporate a mixture of visiting with THEM and playing tourist.  I usually try to to slake my nearly insatiable thirst for Irish History during SOME part of each trip.  We have always been PHENOMINALLY LUCKY with the weather.  Only one part of one trip ('02) was overwhelmingly wet and gloomy -- and that stretch actually ENHANCED the particular mood we were attempting to experience.  Usually, we've had summer (in April AND in June).  We've had people repeatedly comment how 'horrible' the weather HAD been, prior to our arrival, and heard, later, how NASTY the weather had turned, after we had left.  Cynic, or no, pessimistic or not, I've come to expect that same good fortune.

               "YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT.
                 NO, YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

                 BUT, IF YOU TRY, SOMETIMES, YOU JUST MIGHT FIND
                 YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED."


     THIS trip was to be The Voyage Of Discovery Tour, named such, as it incorporated new areas (Edinburgh, Donegal and Northern Ireland) AND included a Rail-Sail-Rail segment (Train through Southern Scotland, Ferry over the Irish Sea to Belfast and Train from there, to Dublin).  My wife had LONGED to back pack through Europe as a teen.  She also felt convinced that arriving in Ireland by boat was old-fashioned, nostalgic and somewhat ROMANTIC a notion -- kind of a 'Full Circle' closure with her Grandparent's self-imposed exile.
     Equating their Steerage Class departure with arriving into Belfast Harbor on Stena's HSS that more resembles a luxury cruise ship seems a BIT of a stretch to me, but she has a VERY healthy imagination.  How else to explain her persistence in believing that I am actually smart, charming, witty and passably good looking?  She CLEARLY has a strong, if mis-guided sense of fantasy. biggrin biggrin

      Famous quote:
               'No battle plan EVER survives First Contact with the enemy.'

      Homilies, morals and object lessons aside, I write these Trip Reports for those who wish to read them (You Know Who You Are) -- to share information, to rant and rave about the Good and the Bad.  I HOPE that they are SOMEWHAT entertaining (or at least, mildly interesting) and educational.  I think that Trip Reports are MOST useful when they include personal details and insites into the people who are reporting, because not everyone travels the same way.  People have differing backgrounds, tastes, styles and interests that can drastically alter the value of their opinions and advice.  The more that is known about the writer's mindset, the easier it becomes to adopt or dismiss their recommendations and/or their derisions.

     Mostly, though, I write these Trip Reports for ME.  I want to RELIVE those times -- good AND bad.  I want the memories to remain FRESH in my mind.  I came late, to the party.  It's much too soon for the band to pack ip and call it a night.  hmm cry 

     I don't want the song to end.



                "I WANT TO SING THIS SONG FOR YOU    
                 I WANT TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS HIGH
      
                 AND IN MY SOUL, I WANT TO FEEL
                 THE BEAUTY OF THE DAYS GONE BY"


Bob


-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 21:55, 2007-07-26

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 504
Date:

I'm entertained, so far.

__________________
Slán go fóill, Judy


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 108
Date:

Hi Bob,

We wait with baited breath!  And I am serious.

Helen

__________________
Helen Leary Olson



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

As soon as I read the disclaimer I was onboard for the journey. Can't wait to hear the rest.  biggrin I know it will be entertaining. Bring it on!!

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 195
Date:

Bob,

I've been lucky to have read a few of your trip reports and I always love them. One year you sent me a paper to down-load that you had written for your family and it should be published. It was about the up-raising that started in County Mayo, reminded me of a short version of The Year of The French. Look forward to this report.

Joan

__________________
joan chatham


Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

First and foremost, I humbly thank you all for your kind indulgence.  Know, though, that all further self-absorbed blatherings are on YOUR conscience, since you have encouraged me to continue. biggrin biggrin

I hope y'all can live with that. yawn yawn

       "YOU TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
              AND I'LL TAKE THE LOW ROAD
            AND I'LL BE IN SCOTLAND 'AFORE YE"


                              TRAVEL DAY

16 June (Friday): Departed GNV via ASA. approximately 2 and 1/2 hours late. Delta phoned/emailed (Thanks to Dude's 'Heads-Up' to REGISTER) -- to say that the 3:30 flight had been "resceduled" for 5 PM. But, when I phoned the ASA desk at the airport, the desk clerk said that the flight had only been DELAYED, "by about 30 minutes." To be safe, we arrived about 2PM and immediately checked in. I asked if that delay was STILL only 30 minutes and was assured that it would be, "30-45 minutes, TOPS". Never saw THAT gentleman again. We boarded the flight to ATL around 5 or 5:15. My ATL layover was dramatically cut, but I had built in a pretty comfortable cushion. The Delta flight, ATL to EDI departed about (an HONEST ) 45 minutes late, but our 9:05 arrival at EDI was more or less on time.

                                SCOTLAND

17 June (Sat): We met up with my wife's two cousins in baggage claims, as they apparently arrived from Cork, via Aer Arrann at about the same time as we did. We had agreed to meet here in Edinburgh as it represented a convieniently interesting NEUTRAL location  -- someplace where all four of us could relave  and enjoy the common experience of being Strangers In A Strange Land.  All of my wife's Irish cousins (and THESE TWO in PARTICULAR) have always been EXCEDINGLY generous and hospitable, every time that we've visited and we have always worn ourselves out, trying to reciprocate, whenever any of them have come to the States.  We were determined that these two days would give all of us the chance to just RELAX and enjoy each other's company, as NEITHER guest, nor host.

  After collecting our luggage and clearing Customs, we took a tea/coffee and snack break in the arrivals hall, whilst I gathered data from the Tourist Office and availed myself of the ATM. Not having seen each other since April of '06 (phone, letters and emails just REALLY aren't the same as Face-To-Face), we spent about an hour, just catching up on the news and gossip.  We took the Airlink Bus into the city proper and were deposited at Waverly Bridge, only a few blocks from our reserved accommodations. It was cool and rainy on arrival to EDI but by the time we left the terminal the sun was out (mostly) and it was well into the 60's.


Elder York Guesthouse, 60 GBP Sterling per night, per room, B&B, booked via

www.visitscotland.com 

Both rooms were ensuite, though not ALL are. They are located at the corner of Elder Street and York Place, in New Town, within sight of the Bus Station. In the US, that might cause some trepidation, but the location was quite safe, convenient AND pleasant. The only drawback -- entry from the ground floor accesses a daunting climb up THREE Floors to the office/ dining room / manager's quarters/ kitchen and three of the guest rooms. All other guest rooms are even further up and there is NO lift.

Since it was only about 11 AM, they only had one of our rooms available (on the "MAIN") floor. The cousins, defering to our age and my wheezing from having hauled two large, heavy bags up the staircase, volunteered to take the second room (on the next floor up) which we were advised would be ready 'in an hour, or so'. We dropped everything in our room and then headed out to explore. When we discovered that a highly recommended Itallian Deli (VinCaffe, 11 Multrees Walk ) was practically on our doorstep, we opted to do lunch there. I must confess that we found it rather overpriced and nice, but unspectacular. Maybe, it was the items ordered (sandwiches) and/or the time of day?

We walked down to Princes Street and I popped into the local Vodaphone shop to 'Top Up' my SIM and then we crossed to the Scott Monument for a quick pix of the kilted piper busking there. Then, we were off on an open topped, double decker Hop-On/Hop-Off tour, picked up at Waverly Bridge. We rode it all the way around, for the full, hour and a half. By that time, my wife and I were toast -- the overnight flight was taking it's toll -- and the cousin's, having had to be at Cork Airport by 6 AM, were tired, as well. We walked back to the Elder York and retired for naps.

Two and a half hours later, we hit the street showered, refreshed and ready to go.

I know lots of people don't/can't/won't do the first-day nap thing, but it works for us, with only MINOR glitches -- like, for instance, we managed to leave our camera in our room. So, sadly, the only evidence of our trial taste of HAGGIS (Yes, you HAVE to TRY it -- when in Rome ...) was recorded by my Cell phone camera. We wandered through the Park reclaimed from the former North Loch, then scaled the MANY steps through one of the CLOSEs to enter High Street. After spending a liesurely hour or two drifting in and out of shops and watching the buskers and street performers (not all of them REALIZED that they were performing, of course, making it all the sweeter).

We had our evening meal at a busy but not over-crowded little bistro that included the requisite HAGGIS as a starter.  The prices seemed reasonable (can't say for sure, as Cousin N beat me to the check) and the food was tasty.  Afterwards, we strolled further down the Ryal Mile and slowly made our way back to our rooms, calling it a night sometime around 10 PM.

More to come ...

Bob



__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

We will take the blame entirely for aiding and abetting you. wink You are off to a great start. We are anxious for more. How was the haggis? My husband tried it when we were in Scotland and said it was not half bad. I didn't like the looks of it.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 165
Date:

Hi, Bob:

Great start!  I am loving it.  Bring on the rest.  smile.gif

Marie

__________________
Marie


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 1377
Date:

Bob,

As I read you recollections, to this point on Edinburgh, it makes me wish that I had not given in to frustration and quit Edinburgh without exploring it. I have decided that the next visit will entail a flight in to Edinburgh, a small place to rest and walking or public transportation. To me, trying to drive in Edinburgh was like trying to drive in Dublin, not for those with little to no patience, in which category I am firmly rooted. weirdface

I look forward to the rest of the report!

Slan Beo,

Bit

__________________

www.rinconcreekstudios.zenfolio.com



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

Bit: I have become a firm believer in the theory that everyone visiting a city for the first time really needs to avail themselves of the "Hop-On/Hop-Off" Bus Tour as their first order of business.  I think the guided, quick once-over really makes any city more approachable and less daunting.  The charge, by the way, was 9  GBP each.

The Airlink Bus from the Airport to Waverly Bridge was 3 GBP single, 5 GBP for Return.

Michele:  Haggis wasn't too bad.  Think of a meatloaf consistency and texture with a heavy flavor of oatmeal.  And try VERY hard to not think of what the REST of the ingredients are ... hmm bleh hmm


                              MORE EDINBURGH (AND BEYOND)  

          ---     
Insert the Religious Hymnal Lyric of Your Choice here  ---
I WAS leaning toward Van's Hymns To The Silence, but ....

     "I'm moving on alone over ground that no one owns
       Past statues that attone for my sins.
       There's a guard on every door and a drink on every floor
       Overflowing with a thousand amens."

18 June: At 9 AM we were comfortably seated in the dining room, drinking orange juice and citrus segments obtained from the sidebar.  Our order was taken and I dove into my first Scottish Fry, washed down by two or three cups of hot, black tea.  There is very little significant difference between a Scottish, an Irish, or an Ulster Fry, I've decided.  Never-the-less, it was quite tasty, satisfying and filling.  I missed the brown sugar that I commonly find (and prefer) when in the Republic.  I didn't find any in Scotland and only rarely spotted it in Ulster, but I don't know if that's the rule, or just a reflection of when and where I visited. confused

     The morning was chill and a hazy, gray gloom hung in the sky.  It seemed like a good day to be indoors. We DID catch a few sprinkles, off and on, but it never did rain anywhere near as much as that morning sky led us to believe.

     Sortly before 10 AM we made our way all of the 1/2 block to the City Bus station and 'queued up' for our planned trip to Roslin.   After about 5 minutes of or 15 minute wait, it was announced that a traffic accident had disrupted our intended bus route and that the bus would therefor not be running again until well into the afternoon.  I checked in at the information desk, where I was advised that the accident had actually occurred SOUTH of Roslin and that we could take an alternative bus, simply by walking out the West exit and following the side lane to the stop located opposite St Andrew's Square, 1/2 block away.  Within 5 minutes of arriving at the stop, we were seated aboard and enroute. I purchased a 'DayPass' for 2.5 GBP each  Within 10 minutes, we were out of the urban area and into the country.  After 20 minutes, we were disembarking in the 'center' of Roslin.  A two or three minute stroll brought us to the entrance to the Chapel.

     Fans of The DaVinci Code (Book and Movie) aside, the Chapel really is a 'MUST SEE'.  The architecture is phenominal, the craftmanship is superb and the history is facinating.  Yes, I realize that I just used EVERY time-worn cliche in that one sentence, but it is all true.  There's a good reason why cliches ARE cliches ---biggrin biggrin biggrin

We spent about two hours wandering around, inside and out.  There is an oversized, metal 'shed roof' erected above and beyond the Chapel roof to shield it from the elements, supported by massice steel posts.  A wide steel staircase leads up to a scaffolding walkway that almost completely encircles the Chapel.  The walkway floor is slightly higher than the lower edges of the roof and if you lean out, you can ALMOST touch some of the ornately carved pediments.  All I can say is, "WoW!" yawn yawn 

FYI:  The VILLAGE is ROSLIN -- but, the CHAPEL is ROSSLYN.
Who knew?

     Rosslyn is a 'Working' church, complete with assorted activities throughout the day.  All the Tours 'work around' the services, so as not to intrude.  There is a TINY gift shop and tea room and two TINY bathrooms.  Our guide had pointedly reminded us of that fact, when she told us that they typically only had about 100,000 visitors a year -- PRIOR to Mr. Brown's book.  Then, she told us that after the movie was released, they recorded 70,000 in just ONE month!  Simply put, she said that they had been a 'BIT' overwhelmed!  aww 

     After a light shower had passed us by, we set out to walk the grounds and found our way to the ruins of the old Castle walls and snapped a few shots of the still occupied (notopen to tourists) Manor House.  There are paths that lead to and along the stream below, as well, but we didn't search them out.

     We returned to the village proper about 1 PM and decided to take our lunch in the newly remodeled Original Roslin Hotel.  We had BLTs and beverages for four for under 28 GBP.  After our liesurely lunch, we only had about a ten minute wait for the return bus to Edinburgh.

    Useless fact:  It was on the return bus trip that I discovered that I apparrently have motion sickness issues that manifest themselves when I sit, facing to the rear, while the vehicle I am in is travelling Foreward!  I DID NOT KNOW THAT!  doh doh doh  It took about 15 minutes AFTER we alighted, before my stomach finally felt bearable. weirdface

     After exiting the bus, we headed to book a tour of Mary King's Close (8.5 GBP each), then did some more shopping and strolling about until it was time for the tour to begin.  The tours are conducted by a guide dressed in period clothing that presents themself as a real personage from the era.  We were quite fortunate by the happenstance that provided us with the one young lady that was working that day.  She clearly MUST have been a Drama Major at University -- her Tour was lively, spirited and entusiastic and made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.  We briefly crossed paths with the other guides on one or two occassions and from what little we heard of THEIR presentations, they seemed to lack the passion of our guide.

     After a lively tour, we dropped into the Filling Station for dinner, just East of Mary King's Close, on the North side of the Street.  Meal for four (Burger, Club sandwich, chicken and Fish and chips, beverages and three desserts) came to just under 56 GBP.

     After dinner (about 7 or 8 PM, by now) we strolled liesurely to Calton Hill and scaled the MANY steps to the top, dodging the occassional rain drop.  We wandered over the hill top taking in the views of the New and Old City below and wandering among the odd assortment of monuments and structures.  To the North the Firth of Forth was visible, as was the Castle and Hollyrood House (the Queen's Offical Scottish Residence  -- open for tours when she ISN'T there).   I'm sure that the view is even MORE spectacular from Arthur's Seat, but none of us felt up to the 1/2 mile hike UP and BACK.  Edinburgh is a Walking City, but it's a very HILLY location, as well.   

     Bearing that in mind, we slowly (and a wee bit stiffly) descended thos same. MANY steps that we climbed up on, and made our way back to the Elder York.  Climbing the three stories worth of stairs made the old calves BURN.  

     It was about 10:30 PM.  We were well, and truely tired out.

     And, DESPITE the hazy, rain-threatening appearance of the cloudy sky, the D@#! sun STILL had not fully set!!! hmm hmm

More to come,

Bob

    


-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 23:07, 2007-07-30

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 18:32, 2007-07-31

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

You are enticing me back to Scotland! Last time I really enjoyed the Isle of Skye.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 1377
Date:

Bob,

Rosslyn is a place that I coul d have spent days in, admiring the architecture and examining in minute detail the carvings. They are certainly worthy of any and all cliches that you might bring in to one sentence or one paragraph!

Edinburgh & Glasgow are on my list of places to settle in and explore the next time around. Edinburgh because I now know to treat it like Dublin and banish the car until my departure and Glasgow because that is homeground for my father's family.

Dark by Midnight and light by 6, it makes for short sleep and long days, doesn't it? yawn

I am thoroughly enjoying your report. Trust me in that you are not along in the nausea which incurs when facing backwards in a forward moving vehicle. weirdface

Slan Beo,

Bit

__________________

www.rinconcreekstudios.zenfolio.com



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

                      VOYAGES IN VARIOUS 'FLAVORS'

                  "I can work, I can travel - sleep anywhere
                    Cross any border -- with nothing to declare.
                    You can look back, babe - but it's best not to stare."

18 June (Monday): 
     Another gray and threatening day presented itself in the morning.  We enjoyed another hearty breakfast, then packed up and made our way back down those those torturous flights of stairs and made our way back to Waverly Bridge.  My wife's cousins boarded the Citylink (Airlink?) bus to go back to the airport and we trudged down beneath the bridge to Waverly Station -- Edinburgh's main train depot.

     Prior to the trip, I had phoned the RailandSail's UK phone number and inquired about pre-purchasing our tickets.  The helpful lady that handled my call had advised that two tickets from Edinburgh Waverly Station to Dublin Connolly via Stranraer and Belfast would be 80 GBP, if purchased 48 hours in advance, or 88 GBP if purchased 'on the day'.  But, the charge to mail the tickets to the US would be 20 GBP, so I opted to wait.  I SHOULD have opted to have the tickets sent to the Elder York (hindsight is 20/20!), because what the nice lady DIDN'T mention was that to get the discounted price you have to buy FROM Stena. furious furious

     There PROBABLY is a Stena office SOMEWHERE in Edinburgh, but I certainly don't know where and discovering this fact at 9:45, when the train departs at 10:15, it really doesn't matter.  The gent at the ticket counter (after trying to route me to Dublin via Holyhead!hmm hmm) informed me that he could only ticket me as far as Belfast (at 58 GBP - train and ferry for two) and that I would need to purchase my tickets to Dublin from there.  when I did, it was an additional 48 GBP, AND they 'clipped' me with DCC, although the exchange rate really wasn't all THAT bad ....

     The ride into Glasgow takes 30 minutes on the nicestest, newest train that I have ever ridden upon (but my experience  IS limited) and they have a concesson trolly that services the cars, during the ride.  We arrived into Queen Street Station and hustled our way through a very attractive, pedestrian-friendy, eight or so blocks to Glasgow Central.  What I noticed of the area around us was clean, attractive and encouraging, considering how "industrial and unattractive" I had been advised that Glasgow was.  With a 11:42 departure, though, it didn't leave us very much time, but we made it with a small cushion. 

      The train to Stranraer was much older and slightly dingy in comparisson to the Edinburgh to Glasgow train.  There were no concessions offered, either -- though there MAY have been in other cars.  A light rain had fallen briefly, enroute to Glasgow, but it had ended several minutes before we reached the Queen Street station.  It continued to fall intermittantly, throughout our ride, interrupted by long bright stretches, giving us ample time to enjoy the beautiful country side.  There are only four or five stops along the two hour route. 

       There was a gaggle (more than four, and less than 12 - biggrin) of young girls sitting a few seats back from us.  They were doing what young girls EVERYWHERE do -- fidling with their Mobile phones (texting each other, no doubt), reading the local equivilent of Teen Beat/Seventeen/NationalEnquirer, giggling hysterically and SNACKING as if they hadn't eaten in days. It SEEMED that each of them must have consumed yawn yawn yawn  their own weight in snacks over the course of the trip!  My wife guessed that they were 14-ish -- I would only hazzard that they were newly pubescent.  It was kind of entertaining to watch their antics for a bit, whenever the scenic views were obscured by overgrowth or rain.

          Shortly after we departed, a 40-ish man got aboard and spent the next hour or so blatantly leering at the young girls.  They seemed to be oblivious to him, though my wife certainly wasn't.  I must admit that I even breathed a shy of paternalistic relief when he finally disembarked about 30 minutes shy of Stranraer.  Even then, he kept staring the entire time that he was visble, walking along the station siding.  It was pretty creepy.

          We arrived in Stranraer about 2 PM -- the station only (literally) a feww scant yards from the entrance to Stena's FerryPort building.  Once inside, we had to check our two big bags and go through an only SLIGHTLY lesser version of airport security.  Once our bags were checked, we (I -- the smoker) weren't allowed to exit the building bleh bleh.  Inside, the only services were a few 1/2 empty vending machines.  The Ferry departed at 5 PM, though, and once underway, they DID open up the 'Smoking Balcony' on the stern biggrin.

          Stena's HSS is a marvel.  Below deck it probably looks like any vehicle ferry -- I can't say, never having seen it --BUT, above deck it looked every bit as luxurious as any cruise ship.  The main walkways were hardwood floored, while the seating areas along either side were softly carpeted.  There were two 'quiet areas' with wide screen TVs showing movies -- one for kids and the other for older folk.  There were numerous snack bars and restraunts (I counted at least four) and a pretty good sized gift shop.  We sat foreward, on the starboard side and ate toasted panninis.  The sea seemed pretty calm, but then again, with a ship the size of this one, I think it would have to get pretty roughbefore you would notice.

           The rain held off, though the sky remained cloudy and overcast.  That atmosphere  actually made entering Belfast Harbor all the more impressive.  In no time, Samson and Goliath loomed ahead in all their vivid yellow splendor -- the black "H & W" readable, long before the cityscape came into focus.  We docked about 4:30 PM.

            After disembarking, we shared a taxi to Belfast Central with a young couple from California.  Once at the station, we had time to purchace our tickets, visit the restrooms and have a snack before the train was available to board.  The Enterprise train from Belfast to Dublin is not quite as new and modern as the Edinburgh to Glascow train, but it was much nicer than the one we rode in to Stranraer AND the typical Irish train.  That's due to change this fall, though, as Irish Rail is rolling out a brand-new, state of the art, FLEET of the "greenest" trains in all of the EU.  For now, though, the Enterprise is THE 'Hot Ticket' of Irish trains.  The run is a semi-express, with less than a half-dozen stops.  It departed Belfast Central, promptly at 6:10 and arrived at Dublin Connolly about 8:15.

                       "And here comes the rain, again.
                         And here comes the pain, again.
                         Here comes the rain,
                         And here comes the pain." 

            It started raining almost as soon as we left Belfast -- light bursts of showers, at first.  By the time we were approaching Dublin, it had degenerated into a continuous, heavy lashing rain.  I had booked us into the Jurys Custom House, based upon its close proximity to Connolly Station, but the rain was drumming down so hard and continuous that we grabbed a taxi from the rank at the bottom of the covered stairs and rode it for all of the two block journey.  Even then, we were dripping wet as we checked in for the night.  (108 Euro)

             We ate dinner in the hotel.  It was a bit pricey (27 Euro), but decent enough, although the wait staff was clearly overwhelmed by the heavier than normal crowd that also opted to stay and dine in. 

             It was only later, that I noticed that the only Irish accents that I heard during our overnight stay, belonged to one or two business men who were also staying there.  confused weirdface cry  ashamed confused

Enough for now.
More to follow.

Bob

             


-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 19:48, 2007-08-01

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

Thanks for the continuing saga. Would you ever do the trains and ferry again? Or do you prefer flying?

I know what you mean about hearing Irish accents. For the past several years it seems that everyone in the service industries (restaurants, pubs, hotels, etc.) are from other parts of Europe (or even Australia, the orient or other parts far away). Things are changing!

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

Michele:

     Actually, I PREFER to drive.  My wife LOVED the train travel -- the easy, relaxed pace, the people and scenery watching and the relative comfort and onboard conveniences.  We will doubtless do some sort of combination trip again, possibly including England, Wales and/or the Isle of Man.  Personally, I REALLY want to traverse the 'Chunnel' but I doubt there are sufficient medications available that would make it possible to coerce my wife aboard! biggrin

                       FORGIVE ME WHILE I DIGRESS:
                            DUBLIN, Wednesday, 20 June

                   "It's a hard road, that I'm travelling on
                     And it's a long way for me to come
                     But believe in me -- I can do anything
                     Just wait and see all the gifts I bring"

     Morning found us facing cold, gray skies.  I took a morning stroll, out along the Quay.  There had been a Tall Ship Festival scheduled in Belfast, but here in Dublin, I had dockside views of the Jennie Johnson.  We had seen the Famine Ship replica, years ago, while it was being constructed in Fenit, Co. Kerry, but here it was -- finally completed.  I would guess that tours are offered, but it was early, on a bad-weather Tuesday morning, so there was absolutely no one about and the entrance gate was locked. 

     It seemed only fitting to see her so: Moored there, unattended, with the dark Liffy lapping at her wooden hull.  Gray, foggy clouds shrouded the sky whilst cold bursts of momentary showers lashed down intermittantly -- here now, and then, just as quickly vanished.  I savoured the moody elegance of my private revery.  For a few, brief moments, I was alone with the Ghosts of Ireland's haunted past, while a city of half a million souls rumbled to life around me.  I thought about Life; about Death.  I contemplated the Horsemen that had trod over this ground.  I thought about Coffin Ships and farmers and glanced across the river toward Trinity College, where the priveleged elite once dwelt and then North and East, toward Croppies Acre -- a different sort of shrine.  Had time taken a differnt path, I know I would have been denied the first.  Would I, I wondered, have had the character, to have embraced the latter?

    I spent long, introspective moments, pregnant with Time's possibilities, thinking Deep Thoughts -- measuring my worth against romantic imaginings of a world that no longer exists.  Then, I laughed at myself --at my arrogance -- at my hubris and at my ignorance.  This is why I love Ireland.  It teaches me humility and embues me with a sense of reverent irreverence. 

     I purchase a pastry and a bottle of orange juice from the cart located beside the pedestrian bridge (Talbot Memorial?), for my wife's breakfast and return to the hotel.  It isn't raining hard, nor is it even steady or continuous.  I know the Dublin folk are probably sick to death of it, but I'm glad that it's raining. 

     Somehow, it just seems RIGHT.

Bob

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 12:02, 2007-08-06

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 1377
Date:

Wow Bob,

Quite deep and philosophical, I can understand that for the first time I saw one of the Famine ships it was just such a day, though at dusk and not morning.

I often pause to reflect, in the shadow of crofter ruins, ring forts, etc, what type of courage it took to stay and see it through and, also, what kind of desperation must have prevailed to force one to leave all that hey knew behind for a wide sea and a land of uncertain prospects.

Slan Beo,

Bit

__________________

www.rinconcreekstudios.zenfolio.com



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

Thanks for the thoughtful continuing narrative. We are enjoying it. Have you done the Dunbrody famine ship in New Ross? All the history in Ireland does tend to grab hold of you at times and sometimes at surprisingly different places. When I see the ruins of little houses I always think about all the generations that lived and died in them and wonder where their descendants are today. The Irish are remarkably resiliant.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

Thanks, Bit

                      MORE: DUBLIN TO CORK BY CAR
                                         20 JUNE


               "If I could, try to freeze the moment --Set aside the Future       
                 Stay right here, right now -- So time won't fly"

          After breakfast, my wife and I went out for a brief walk-about, drifting in and out of the side streets and courtyards surrounding the Jurys, the International Finance Center (IFC) to Connolly Station.  I grabbed some Euros from an ATM, but mostly we were just killing time, waiting for the morning rush to die down.  We returned to the Hotel, grabbed our bags and headed down to check out.  No sooner had we done so, Someone unzipped the cloud bottoms and a DELUGE descended.  So, rather than walking back to the Bus Station near Connolly, I snagged a taxi that was dropping off a fare and had him take us out to the airport.  The rain was gone, of course, by the time we were dropped at the Arrivals Entrance.  A brief walk and an escalator ride later, we were at the Europcar desk.

          There wasn't much of a line and I had my AutoEurope email receipt in hand, but it still took about 15-20 minutes to finalize the contract.  As I said earlier, I have some ISSUES with car Hire in general, AND with Europcar, in specific, relative to this rental.  From my response to another thread:

         " My booking invoice from Auto Europe quotes a discounted price of $264.64 for a 13 day rental of the Passat, with the cdw waived, less my booking fee of $59.44, leaving a balance due of $205.20 (Not counting the "fine print", EXTRA charges .....)

     When I picked up the car, I was charged $607.  There was the Road Tax, The Airport Pick Up Premium, $36 to enter Northern Ireland, $95 for the initial Tank of fuel AND the 13 day charge for Theft coverage as the desk clerk informed me that Europcar had decided to no longer ACCEPT the MasterRental coverage for Theft, as they (Europcar) had "had too many cars stolen,  that MC wasn't paying enough".

     Add to THAT, Europcar's ASSININE "Pick it up FULL / Return it Empty" Scheme and you have my litany of "ISSUES" .... furious furious

     I had anticipated that the "EXTRAS" would drive the price up to about $500, cry cry but the rather, um, SELECTIVE dismissal of the MC Theft Protection really did suprise and annoy me. furious "

     And, Oh Yes -- in the 'Heat of the Moment', I FAILED to notice that they ALSO 'Hooked' me with DCC -- making the charge in Dollars, rather than Euro.  I think that, had I noticed that little 'salt-in-the-wound', I MIGHT have said 'To Heck with it' and gone "Shopping" for a better deal .... hmm hmm

     In any event, I gathered up our contract and headed out to the Car Park.  Honest To God, I SWEAR that it is at LEAST 1/4 to 1/2 mile of walking!  Fortunately, the rain was still holding off.  Once I found, inspected and loaded up the VW Passat, I couldn't figure out how to release the Emergency Brake ....weirdface--  there was no foot pedal, no hand lever and no hand pull visible.  While I fumbled about, the Lot Man drifted over and demonstrated in sign language (because he was Polish and spoke NO English) that I needed to press and hold the regular brake pedal, while SIMULTANEOUSLY pressing the brake warning lamp (and switch, it turns out) on the DASH.  I had already determined that the 'KEY FOB' had to be INSERTED into the dash, and then depressed and held until the engine starts and then released.  It makes for an INTERESTING predicament, if the engine stalls.  To re-start, the "KEY" must be POPPED-OUT, re-inserted and then depressed.  Just depressing it will NOT engage the starter.
     And, OF COURSE, the four or five times that I DID stall-out, were ALL while in traffic, USUALLY on a hill and more often than not, while attempting to turn --AGAINST on-coming traffic, with a line of cars behind me!  Who says that God doesn't have a sense of Humor????   yawn yawn yawn

     Once on the road, we made our way through the rat's nest of construction along the M50 and finally connected to the M/N7.  Once we were FINALLY onto good, uncomplicated road, the rains came back with a vengance.  I don't believe that it stopped again, until we were almost to Fermoy.  We took the toll bypass there, on the cousin's advice and made our way to Cousin S1's home.  After visiting there a while, they joined us in driving on out To Cousin U's, where we enjoyed a MUNIFICENT Welcome Home meal.  We sat and talked for hours, made plans for the morrow and then retired next door to our accommodation in a house that Cousin U and her husband own.  We had planned to stay at our old favorite, Ashgrove House, but while we were in Edinburgh, U had informed us that Mrs. cronin had retired since last April and had closed the B&B. cry cry

    Thursday, 21 June:  We made our way through the hedge to U's for breakfast, then loaded into her car for a trip to just outside Waterford, where one of her sons was attending 'Irish College'.  These are two and three week resident summer schools that exist throughout Ireland.  Since the Leaving Cert requires PROFICIENCY in writing, reading and speaking Irish, these Immersion Programs are EXCEDINGLY popular.  We timed our arrival as he was being released for Lunch Break.  After a brief, pleasant visit, we dropped him at his Guesthouse, then drove into the Square in Dungarvan, where we had an excellent lite luch at a cafe. 
     Up until this point, it had been bright and sunny, but the light, steady rain began falling as we were making our way to Lismore Castle.  The Castle itself is not open to the public, but the Gardens, the huge stable yards and some of the outbuildings are.  There are some fine pieces of traditional art on display -- mostly tapestries and paintings, in the Main Studio.  There are also, innummerable 'Modern Art' on display in many of the outer buildings -- mostly short films and recorded, 'avant garde' type performance pieces, accompanied by loud, rather jarring soundtracks.  Not really my 'cup of tea', but interesting in the short-term.  We settled into a large, lean-to style tea room, for a bit and I wandered about with the camera, snatching views of the grounds and the Castle proper.  Then, we drove back home to another marvelous meal with our extended Irish family, spent the evening embroiled in lengthy talks about interesting events and family interests.  We fell into bed about 11 or 12.
 

More to Come:

Bob

       

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 23:10, 2007-08-06

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 256
Date:

Bob:

Thanks for the reports -- I enjoy your commentary! Sure too bad that you had the experience with car rental issues. I've never really had that big a deal with that aspect of it, so I'm fortunate in that regard. I always have rented from Dan Dooley and found them pretty straight forward and normal to deal with. We also, however, had the old "get the car full and turn it in empty" routine, bleh  but we did a heck of a job on that end as a challenge to our wits. We almost had to push the car into Shannon Airport -- really -- I suspect there couldn't have been a cup of gas left in that car. nana.gif    I'm sure they were surprised that they didn't get any "extra" from us on that one! biggrin

Except for that ploy, however, everything else with Dan Dooley was good and I will use that company again.

-- Edited by Sidz at 14:32, 2007-08-07

__________________


Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

Sidz:  Yeah, car hire really IS the single, biggest BLIGHT to visiting Ireland.  While I'm not exactly HAPPY to pay $300+ per week, the thing that REALLY frosts me is that it always seems to end up costing DOUBLE the original quote!  The only PLEASANT suprise I've ever had in that regard was in Feb of 2002 and that was only after the company I had booked with offered me the choice to either take a raggedy piece of junk 9 passenger Toyota Hiace, or downgrade to a new, Ford Galaxy 7 passenger (for the SAME price!).  Instead, I "Shopped The Line" and ended up with a Brand New, Mercedes Vito.  They quoted me 1/2 the price of the company that I was booked with -- AND, that's what I was ACTUALLY charged, at the other end! (A NOVEL approach!! biggrin biggrin ).  Not to make the Vito rental people as TOO wonderful, however, I HAD gotten a quote from them when I did my original booking.  They HAD quoted me 1/3 MORE than the company I booked with -- and about 2 1/2 times MORE than what they quoted (and charged) ON THE DAY!confused

Honest, REALLY -- I'm pretty much through ranting about the car hire.  I promise.  hmm  Sorta.    aww  More or less... biggrin biggrin

Bob

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 08:08, 2007-08-13

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

                     MORE: OLD FRIENDS / NEW FRIENDS

                           "INTO THIS LIFE WE'RE BORN
                             BABY, SOMETIMES WE DON'T KNOW WHY
                             AND TIME SEEMS TO GO BY SO FAST
                             IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE"
                   

Friday, 22 June:
   
          The day began dull and dreary.  We packed up, said our good byes and set out about 10:30 or so -- Into Watergrasshill, then onto the N8 and around Cork via the South Ring and the Tunnel -- to Drimoleague, via Dunmanway.  It rained lightly, off-and-on.  Our plan was to visit the 82 year old 'Hermit Cousin' in Coomleigh and then make our way down to Baltimore to attend the opening evening of the annual O'Driscoll Clan Gathering.
  
          We've driven this road MULTIPLE times, nearly every year, since 1999.  Yet, somehow, I MISSED the turn-off in/near Bandon that puts us onto the R586 ashamed ! Because we were talking and enjoying the views, it wasn't until I entered Macroom, that we realized my error, so I had to 'circle back a mile or so, and re-route via the R584 to the R587 into Dunmanway.  This is pretty country and it passes very near Inchingealagh and not far from Gougane Barra.  I wish, now, that we had availed ourself of the opportunity to re-visit both, but the day was still pretty dreary and we were expecting a full day.  Still, if you are a fan of McCarthy's Bar -- this stretch of road into Dunmanway is the area where Pete McCarthy met up with his English 'Hippie' friends.... Also, enroute, is an impressive, stirring memorial to the site where the Black and Tans were ambushed by a local Flying Column, during the War of Independance.   

          We rejoined the R586 and made our way to Drimoleague.  There, at the Skibbereen Road intersection, we stopped at the new Cafe in the old Mill building (FYI: The Stained Glass Studio / Art Gallery is now closed -- the owner's are retiring).  We parked in the large, off-street parking lot of the brand new grocery -- I can't remember if it was a TOP or a Centra -- and called the 'Laird', himself.  He said he was not having a good day (his health is poor) and that he thought it would be better for us to visit on the next day, so we arrainged to meet with him on Sat afternoon. 

          It started to rain rather heavily, so we had a nice, liesurely lunch at the cafe.  After that shower blew past, the sun ( aww remember the sun?? aww ) burned through the clouds and the day turned GLORIOUS !!smile smile  We did a little 'walk around' then piled into the car and made our way into Skibbereen, parked near the Top Shop and did a litlle strolling about and shopping.  We walked past the ruins of The Church -- what a pity, that it was burned!!!  Skib is a great town to walk around in and people watch. 

          I had advised someone on one of the boards to stay in Skib, rather than Baltimore as I really like it AND because the 7 or so miles of road that separates the two might prove too daunting...  hmm For that, wink wink I must apollogize. hmm  I STILL like Skib, but I don't know if they have improved that road, or if I have just FINALLY acclimated to the Irish Roads -- it SEEMED like a veritable HIGHWAY, this trip!!  aww aww Don't get me wrong -- IT'S STILL SMALL -- It just, didn't feel like it was TOO small. biggrin biggrin

          We drove down through Baltimore to orient ourselves, then made our way to our B&B (Channel View -- 35 E PPS) and checked in.  It's a bit of a hike into town (over a VERY tall hill!) but the views are OUTRAGEOUS, the hosts friendly and the rooms clean and comfy.  It sits high up, on a hill, at the top of a very steep drive.  The only drawback to the place is the exit from that drive.  There IS a convex mirror placed to help, but it still is a bit unnerving to enter the roadway -- it takes an 'Act Of Faith', to do so.....hmm

          About 5:30 we headed into the village, found parking down by the docks and made our way up to the square overlooking the harbor.  The Square was rather chaotic as there is fencing and scaffolding surrounding the southern portion, where a new building is rising from the demolished remains of McCarthy's Bar.  ashamed  We made our way to a vacant table outside of Bushe's Bar and I went in to secure a diet coke for the Mrs. and a frothy pint of Smithwick's for myself.  I won't go into too many of the general details of the night, but I HEARTILY recommend that if anyone is ever in the area during the annual (since 1984) Gathering -- O'Driscoll, or no -- it is a VERY worth-while activity!
      You can learn more, at:   www.odriscolls.me.uk

          A few moments later, I introduced myself to JOHNOD (from FODORS).  It was not a chance  meeting.  John had extended an invitation on-line and we had decided to work in the stop despite some slight trepidations.  After all, we go to Ireland to see Ireland and to spend time with the Irish.  The concept of traveling that far, in order to hang out with other Americans just seems somewhat incongruous ...  However, we are VERY glad we did it.  John introduced us to Driscolls, Driskols and O'Driscolls from all over the world -- the US, Canada, England, Australia, AND Ireland.  Mrs. Bushe (of Bushe's Bar) is an O'Driscoll.  Her daughter is a prominent member of the Baltimore 2000 Committee that organizes and runs the Gathering.  John also introduced me to the current, out-going Clan Chieftain (Dave -- from the UK) and the designated NEXT Chieftain (Bruce -- from Canada).  Both were EXCEDINGLY gracious and welcoming, in SPITE of the fact that I am New England Yankee / Itallian, without a drop of Irish (OR O'Driscill) blood.  It didn't seem to matter.  Yet, when I introduced my wife (who had a Grandmother O'Driscoll that was born and raised a mere 20 miles away) they were even MORE enthused!

            About seven, we made our way into the newly restored Dun na Saed Castle, for registration and a talk given by Bruce about the Irish and O'Driscoll heritage in Canada.  His focus was on the Canadian parrallel to the eviction / resettlement of Islanders (mostly Gaelic-speaking Irish) from the Maritime Provinces that mirrored those that the Irish Government enacted, most notedly, with Blasket Island, that virtually destroyed their way of life.  cry cry

            Dun na Saed is owned and was restored by Pat and Bernie McCarthy, but this one week-end each year, the O'Driscoll Clan flag flies atop it's rampart.  The Great Hall is thrown open to the public and so, too, the roof top decks.  The building is inspiring, and the views of the harbor are incredible.  Of course, the bright sun and blue skies MAY have helped .....biggrin  Then, we made our way back down to the Square.

             We were welcomed by a recently elected Councilman who assurred us that the Gathering was an integral part of the local economy.  He thanked all for attending, Clona Milk and Heineken for Sponsoring and Baltimore 2000 for all their hard work, but honestly, it sounded more like a Campaign speech!!!  Then, the young, also newly-elected Lord Mayor of Skibbereen also gave a short welcoming speech, made all the more well received by it's brevity -- AND that at it's conclusion, he removed his Chain of Office and picked up his guitar -- 'Moon-lighting", as it were, as part of the band, 'Open The Taps'.  There was a free buffet held in the Baltimore Sailing Club, open to any and all.  I didn't sample any of the fare, but my wife said that it was excellent.

               When we first returned to the Square, we discovered Cousin S1 sitting regally, waiting for us.  With him were U, N and their brother, his wife and their two children.  We sat there in the Square, talking, listening to music and enjoying the dry, warm(ish) night.  They even agreed (with GREAT reluctance) to let me buy the first round.  You'll have to take my word for it -- it was a MOMENTOUS OCASSION!biggrin biggrin  Ordinarilly, they seem to show Great Offence any time that my hand strays anywhere NEAR my pocket.  In, fact, my winning argument was just that:  I told them that I didn't want to be remembered as the Yank that was 'never known to have reached into his own pocket'

                 They stayed on until about 11 and then we said our Farewells.  U invited us to lunch in Drimoleague, prior to our scaling the heights to Coomleigh.  She owns a "weekend" house there (purchased mostly, for her parent's use) and planned to over-night there.  The rest of the Cousins, however made their way back to East Cork.  After their departure, we returned to the Square for another hour or so, then drifted back to the Channel View.  Negotiating the sharp, right-hand turn into the steep drive was an adventure in it's own right!

                               "LET'S ENJOY IT WHILE WE CAN
                                 WON'T YOU HELP ME SING MY SONG

                                 FROM THE DARK END OF THE STREET
                                 TO THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD"

It was creeping up one 1 AM.  Where had the day gone??? hmm

More to follow ... 

Bob

           

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 11:28, 2007-08-13

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 22:04, 2007-08-13

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,
 
Glad to hear you finally got to put your hand in your pocket and pay at a pub. wink We are enjoying the trip. Keep it going.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

MORE: HELLO, GOOD-BYE AND UNRELATED COMMENTARY


                       "Hello, Sister Susie -- It's been so long, since I saw you.

                               A year ago, last Tuesday, though

                               I'm always thinking of you."


23 JUNE:

Though rain HAD fallen during the wee hours before dawn, the morning sun burst through the windows, enticing us outdoors, to revel in the joyous glow. After a hearty breakfast, we did just that -- bidding 'Adieu' to Baltimore and making our way north, to Skibbereen, where we stopped to purchace some fresh fruit, a rhubarb tart and some sweets for our scheduled afternoon tea. We wandered through some shops and also purchaced two fine replacement Cork sport jerseys (these were for Hurling). Moving on, we detoured to the Barn Gallery on the SE edge of Drimoleague. This was the source of the two large prints of Castle Donovan that we had purchased during our April '06 visit. The resident artist was away, but her husband runs a rather impressive business resurfacing and restoring antique porelain sinks, toilets and bathtubs-- particularly those of the CLAW-FOOTED variety. He opened up the small studio for us and we bought four small prints (5x7?) of local shops, personalized by the addition of different family names (we chose O'Driscoll and McCarthy -- my wife's G-Grand Parents). I think they were about 10 or 12 Euro each, mounted and unframed. Then, we made our way to Cousin U's 'week-end' home.


Cousin U was born in Drimoleague. She and her family lived there until she was about 12. Then, persuing greater opportunities for their children, her parents sold the family farm and purchased another, in East Cork. About a year and 1/2 ago, U bought this modern, three bedroom, two bath, semi-detatched house, as a Country Retreat. Mostly, her parents use it on their frequent trips to vist family and old friends. The side garden (yard, to us Yanks)is just marginally large enough to qualify as a separate building site -- which made the purchase ammendable to her husband, the builder. Not, that they have any CURRENT plans (or time) to do so .... U had decided to stay over, in Drimoleague, in order to do a little 'up-keep' and cleaning -- and as an excuse for a short, last visit, with us.

We had a pleasant visit, for about two hours or so, including a tasty and robust lunch. During one of my sojourns outdoors for a smoke, I managed to finish up the last bit of mowing. Using the European Electric mower was, uhm -- EDUCATIONAL, but I DID manage to get it done without running over that 220 Volt power cord! We made plans for her to join us in Florida for my father-in-law's 90th birthday, in March and then reluctantly parted company. We had already phoned ahead. It was time to make our way "Over the Mountain' to Coomleagh.




                                    "I'll take a little time

                                              To see which way the wind blows.

                                              But if you give me a Sign,

                                              I'll keep you in mind."



I chronicled the drive in a previous Trip Report (The Great Sheep-Shearing Debacle in June of 2004), but some commentary IS called for. Driving out of Drimoleague, you pass through Deelish and turn north, to pass the ruins of the ancient stone keep of Castle Donovan. That narrow, steep and winding "road' (bohreen) is NOT for the Faint-of-Heart, or the 'Green Blur' tourist -- It can NOT be Rushed through. There is abundant flora and fauna -- life both wild, and domesticated -- Sheep, cattle, fox, deer. In my opinion, Foot-for-foot, there is no finer drive in all of West Cork. There are also incomparable vistas, but none are more spectacular than from the Crest of the Hill, near the small sign that simply states: Mealagh Valley.




From:             http://www.cork-guide.ie/bantry/btry_tur.htm


                      "Lough Bofinne/Castle Donovan - 24km (15 miles)

Driving out of Bantry by one of the roads to the east one encounters one of the famous trout fishing lakes of Ireland. Four miles further on, the ruins of O'Donovan Castle is encountered as well as the famous mound of rocks signifying the tribal seat. By taking the road to the north past the Castle one enters the Mealagh Valley noted for its concentration of megalithic monuments. "

Local web:


                http://www.mealagh.com/



To the south, the mountain tumbles down through miriads of patch-work fields -- past Drimoleague, past Skib, and even, past Baltimore, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, beyond. From that lofty height, distance reduces Castle Donovan to a mere pin-prick intrusion onto the landscape. On a clear day, you can see the water. Before you, the path descends through precarious turns and switchbacks, to the valley floor that runs East-West. A small stream runs through it, fed by trickles and torrents that spill down, creating miriads of gushing waterfalls whenever it rains. A packed, dirt (and often, muddy) oval encircles the outer edge of the valley floor- separated by the relatively flat flood-plane of the stream. Surrounding THAT, the land rises equally steeply, to the North and South. To the West, is Bantry -- the Bay also visible on a clear day. To the East is the imposing, and even more harrowing path to the top of Nowen Hill. From THAT summit, a sharp eye on a clear day can view Cork City, Killarney, the Bearra and Mizen. We, however are not so fortunate. Sometime along our way, without our notice, the clouds had formed -- thick, and gray -- and chased the sun away. STILL .... It is a sight, to behold, IRRESPECTIVE of the weather.




AN ASIDE: Once, years before, we had stood beneath the Pylon atop Nowen Hill, enjoy the views. It was a bright, crystal day. In the valley to the west, a low fog began to build. I remember standing there, watching the white fluff churn and tumble its way up the side of the mountain until it gently spilled over the ridgeline like soapsuds from an overflowing washing machine. It crawled and bubbled along the ground until the grasping tendrils clung to my legs and feet. (Think of shredded cotton, stretched into fibery whisps that are very nearly transparent.) As we made our way to the car, I could barely see my feet. It's one of those images that will never fade -- I'll always remember the day that I walked atop the clouds.



As we scaled the steep, rutted driveway to Sean's house, there was with a certain bit of of trepidation. He is an 82 year old bachelor that has lived alone for most of his life. The modern world intrudes only lately into the Meleagh Valley -- and only LIGHTLY, into Coomleagh. The other Cousins tell us Sean is VERY unpredictable. Sometimes, he is welcoming and gracious, but other times, he is querrulous, rude and inhospitable.. As the house comes into view, the question is quickly settled... Sean has planted himself outside, in a chair beside the door facing the driveway, in anticipation of our arrival. It's a GOOD day. We have an EXCELLENT visit.



A few hours later, after tea and a brief stop at one of Sean's neighbors, we follow the twisting route out of the valley, East, past the base of Nowen Hill and make our way to Macroom. From there, we turn North, onto the R583 to Millstreet. Drimoleague is where my wife's Grandmother was born. Her Grandfather was born hereabout. This is North Cork -- more sedate and civilized than West Cork and more warm and inviting than East Cork. We check in to the B&B (Knockdrish 35E PPS). This is where we spent our first-ever night in Ireland, back in '99. It's not a GREAT B&B, but it is comfortable and familiar and we like it. We've stayed three or four times, over the years. Oddly enough, we have always been given the exact same room each time -- without requesting it! Guess it was meant to be.


We head out for dinner at the Wallis Arms and then take a drive out to Rathmore, Co. Kerry, to find out what time Mass is held on Sunday morning. It begins to rain, just as we are entering Ballydaly. It comes in waves -- occassional short bursts of hard showering that punctuate the regular, atypical, "soft", misty air. After a brief stop at the Petrol Station across from the church, I drive back into and through Millstreet, and make my way South and East, to Knocknakilla, upon the side of Mushera mountain. It's about 9 PM. There is no traffic. We have the mountain and the collection of stone rings, stone circles and standing stones to ourselves. Here, There Be Giants. Here, They Raised Up towering stones, that were ancient, when the Pyramids were new.


I park the car across the road and step out into the wind and the misty rain. I light a cigarrette, lean against the slick, wet-shiny, glossy -black Passat and listen to the wind, trying in vain to decipher the stories it has to tell. I think about the ancestors. I think about their lives and their deaths -- reciting their names in a litany, like a chant. I think about the day when my children will stand hear, calling out MY name, as they scatter the ashes and I wonder if the wind will take up THAT tale.



This time, I don't laugh at myself. This time, it doesn't feel like arrogance.


I get back into the car and drive further up the mountain to Saint John's Holy Well. It IS the Eve of the Feast of Saint John, after all. It seems only fitting to draw off a bit of water from the well. Besides, it's reputed to be a cure for warts! As we drive back to the B&B, the rain slacks off. By the time we park, it isn't even misting.

The air is HEAVY with moisture, though. The Wind carries the promise, the very real threat of heavy rain, to come. Sure enough, the sound of it lashing down, wakes me, just before dawn. But as I lie there, listing to it, the sound of the wind dashing the rain against the tile roof lulls me back to sleep.



                                 "Will the Wind ever remember

                                  The names it has blown, in the past?

                                  And with this crutch, it's old age, and it's wisdom

                                  It whispers, "No, this will be the last."


More To Come


Bob



__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,

Wonderful stuff. Loved your memory of "walking on clouds". Where else but in Ireland?

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 195
Date:

Very moving, Bob. You're a poet too.

Joan

__________________
joan chatham


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 1377
Date:

Bob,

We should expect your book to be published and announced for distribution, exactly when? This is, as have been your other reports, a phenomenal piece of writing. The segments have been informative, humourous and reflective in very easily digested portions. I was drawn into your description of cloud walking and felt as if I were on the road with you to Uncle's house. He seems quite the elder crumudgeon. biggrin

I await another installment eagerly.

Slan Beo,

Bit

__________________

www.rinconcreekstudios.zenfolio.com



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

Michele -- Where ELSE, indeed.  People I know always ask me why I keep going back -- they seem to take a 'Already been there and done that' attitude.  I just smile, and then make plans for my next trip. biggrin

YAYA  -- Wish I could take credit for the quotes, but they were all written by much better wordsmiths than I ... cry

BIT  --  Some background on Sean, from an old thread of mine on FODORS:

    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34679685 


"Sean took my wife aside and apologized that he wasn't able to show us his 'suprise' as planned. Don't tell any of his cousins, though. The last time that we mentioned that Sean had apologized to us for not spending enough time with us, one of the older cousins - with a look of shocked disbelief on her face, crossed herself and said: "God save him. He must be near death."
The Irish, on whole, DO have a WICKED sense of humor, but I swear that she seemed totally sincere.

While many might be / are amazed by Sean's treatment of my wife and I, I am not. My wife's father Jack is our Irish link. His father was born in Millstreet, and his mother came from Drimoleague. Back in the early 70's all Jack's siblings made their way to Ireland, except for him. With nine children to raise, he could spare neither the time, nor the money. For his 40th wedding anniversary, all of us chipped in to give them the money to go, but Chernoble happened and the US bombing of Libya and they chose to travel domestically, instead.
In 1999, my wife demanded that WE go to Ireland and we bullied and cajoled Jack into coming with us. He was 81 and his eyesight was growing pretty dim, but he finally made the trip, to the great joy of the Irish cousins. The next summer, we took Jack and his wife with us, again.

Now, in 2005, Jack is 87 and nearly blind. That monumental a trip is beyond him. But Sean has great affection for us, I've no doubt -- because WE brought Jack Doody "home"."

Bob



__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:

MORE: SUNDAY, 24 JUNE -- THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN'S



                         "ALL THE WAYS YOU WANDER -- ALL THE WAYS YOU ROAM

                           ALL ACROSS GREAT OCEANS -- ALL ACROSS THE FOAM

                           THROUGH THE FARAWAY HOUSES -- THROUGH THE SUNSETS ON FIRE

                           SEARCHING FOR THE ISLAND -- OF YOUR HEART'S DESIRE"



A DAY OF DISAPPOINTMENTS -- A DAY OF REDEMPTIONS



          Morning dawned dimly -- gray, heavy skies obscuring the sun. After checking out of Knockdrish, we made our way through town with great regret. We hadn't met up with Sean Radley, revisited Coomnatush Falls, nor eaten at Nibbles. Though we DID have an excellent meal at the Wallis Arms, Jerry O'Connor is no longer the chef in residence. I wouldn't have the opportunity to definitively locate An Shrone this trip. Nor, would I be able to research needed info on the Big Houses of the area during the late 1800's .....


          We DID stop by the Turbrid Holy Well (second largest in all the British Isles) and I DID manage to keep my record streak alive for yet another year --- Since first coming to Millstreet, in 1999, not a SINGLE DROP of rain has fallen upon me, when I have been in the TOWN! Our local acquaintances find that AMAZING!

Still and all, I would GLADLY surrender that dubious privilege, in exchange for some of my missed opportunities.

Ah, well. Guess I'll just have to do all that NEXT time!


          This day is the Feast of Saint John. It is ALSO the 127th Birtday of my wife's Grandfather (also named JOHN). His family was living in the Townland of Ivale, in the town of Kilcorney at that time. There is an Ivale Cross on the old Butter Road. It is visible from Knocknakilla. The Catholic Church in Kilcorney is relatively new, however -- probably built in the 1950's -- so John never stepped foot inside of that building. We've been to Mass in Millstreet, but for this occassion, we chose to attend the Service in Rathmore, Co, Kerry. It's construction was completed in early 1865 (though it has been thoroughly remodeled at least twice since). Though John might never have entered THIS church, either, his PARENTS were married here, on 21 May, 1865.
 
          It was rainng lightly, as we parked toward thetop of the hill, on the side road next to the Church.  Inside, we made our way down the center aisle to the 7th row back on the left hand side, as we face the altar. No one knows why it needs to be those particular seats, but my father-in-law specifically remembers that his father ALWAYS sat in that location, regardless of whatever church they might attend. It is a habit still observed. During our first visit, in 1999, AND throughout the Cemetary Tour, in 2000, Jack made it a point to occupy that pew, in every single church that we took him to. It just seemed appropriate to do likewise, this trip. The most often repeated saying throughout the Mass was "I THANK YOU FOR THE WONDER OF MY BEING". Not having been raised Catholic, nor having Converted, I don't know that this is normal and customary, but it CERTAINLY seemed appropriate!


          It was raining heavily as we left the church, but it had pretty much stopped by the time we made our way into Killarney. We parked in the car park beside the Tourist Office and then madeour way up High Street and on up College Street, drifting in and out of the various shops in search of gifts we had been requested to obtain AND those that we WANTED to purchase. Our time in Killarney was bitter-sweet. We had planned to meet up with Ciaran Wynne and perhaps hear some of his new music, but he had been detained by an over-abundance of performance bookings in Amsterdam. So, yeah -- MORE regrets.


          It rained briefly, two or three times while we were in Killarney. In fact, it rained, periodically, pretty much all the REST of the day. We drove out from Killarney and took the Limmerick road (N23 to Castleisland and the N21, from there) with a longish stop in Adare, at the Tourist Office. Busloads of French, German? (they MIGHT have been Scandinavian) and Japanese tourists arrived about the same time, so it was a BIT hectic. We browsed the shops, grabbed a light snack and had the Tourist Office book us accommodation in Ennis. Given our somewhat gloomy mood and the likelihood that the less than pleasant touring weather was likely to persist, we decided to drop my planned detour into the Connemeara and West Mayo. It would have been a pretty ambitious two days of driving under IDEAL circumstances -- we didn't think it would be much fun to view all that we wanted to see through foggy, water-spattered windows....

So, with MUCH regret, we changed our plans.


          The 'ADORABLE' (my wife's word) young girl from the Tourist Office was enthusiastic, helpful, extremely pleasant AND Irish. We wanted to stay 'close-in', but the Old Ground had no vacancies and everything else seemed a bit too far out of town. As she was browsing the on-line listings, she became quite excited by pictures of a new, 'Boutique Hotel' called the Ashford Court. She thought that it looked "so lovely that I want to go stay there!". It priced out at 118 Euro for the night, with breakfast included. Given the young lady's endorsement, how could we refuse????


           I've never really spent any time IN Ennis. We have only passed through, enroute to someplace else and that was back, before the spiffy, new bypass system had been well and truely implemented. Given that, once we arrived in Ennis, I found myself quite lost. A quick phone call to the hotel provided excellent, turn-by-turn instructions and we quickly found our way. The Ashford Court IS a brand new hotel, but it is in a very old building and there is MUCH construction and remodeling going on, all around it. I would guess that the structure was originally an automobile dealership and repair site, given the layout and location.


   www.ashfordaccommodations.com 

          Having said THAT -- the hotel was WONDERFUL and we would NOT hesitate to stay there again. The room was large, with an enormous bathroom, complete with a full sized tub and it boasted a real, US sized, King Bed that was VERY comfortable. They also have elevators!! It was a FAIR walk into the center of town, (perhaps four blocks?) but not overly long, even given the drizzly nature of the weather. We did a quick walk about town, suprised by a large, highly visible police (Garda) presence. Later, after reading some of the signs, we decided it was because we had just missed some sort of Festival.

            We made our way to Cruise's Pub for a delightful evening meal in the back bar, but regretably, they had no music scheduled, on the night. However, as we exited the front doors, we heard the sounds of live music emanating from directly across the street, to the King's Bar, which had obviously either just been built, or been EXTENSIVELY remodeled. The poster advised a trio was scheduled to perform Trad, this evening. But, when we took seats at the bar opposite the musicians, there were SIX performers. The group was billed as "Eileen, Colm and Foo" -- and, indeed, the young man playing the guitar was indeed, Asian. He was also quite talented. The rest of the impromptu sessiun players were locals, I believe. There was a painfully shy young girl from Sixmile Bridge that buried her head in her concertina, but never missed a note; a fellow that accompanied Eileen on the fiddle, clearly taking his cues from her playing and a short, skinny, old gentleman that acted stereotypically like the matchmaking character from the Quiet Man, that alternated between dancing, quaffing his Guiness and astiduously keeping the beat on a wooden block. Colm alternated between playing the fiddle and the flute. It was also at the King's Bar, that I became a BIG fan of Bulmers. biggrin biggrin biggrin biggrin


           After a couple of hours, we made our way back to the hotel in the drizzly, gray twilight. I hardly noticed.
 

And, I had very few regrets.



                                              " IN A GARDEN OF DAISIES

                                                 IN A CIRCLE OF LIGHT

                                                 SEARCHING FOR THE ISLAND

                                                 OF YOUR HEART'S DELIGHT."


More to Come

Bob




-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 20:34, 2007-08-20

__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 9778
Date:

Bob,
 
I'm loving it! I fee like I'm along for the ride. I know exactly what you mean about people who take trips just to cross them off their "to do" list. They will never know what we feel about Ireland. It is a place that is felt not just seen. There is a subtle magic that snares you and never lets go.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



Moderator

Status: Offline
Posts: 1396
Date:


MORE: 25 JUNE - MONDAY

  
                   AMONG SAINTS AND SINNERS ALONG THE HARD ROAD

                                  "AND IT'S A LONG, LONG WAY THAT WE HAVE COME

                                   YES, IT'S A LONG, LONG WAY THAT WE HAVE COME

                                    ---- LONG MAY WE RUN"


          The included breakfast was at JULIANO'S RESTAURANT, on the ground floor. Service was impecable and the food was delicious. As we made our way north, the radio informed us as to the REAL reason that there had been such a significant Garda presence throughout Ennis. Apparently, late Saturday evening, an altercation had broken out during the waning hours of the Festival (whatever it was)and a young man had died after being stabbed. I'm not sure, but I think that I remember hearing that he was a member of the Traveller's, but my memory isn't positively clear, on that. In any case, while the news was certainly disheartening, it doesn't change my opinion about our stay, NOR about Ennis as an enjoyable and worth-while destination.


          We by-passed Galway and continued North. It was a cool, hazy day and we passed through occassional, light, 'misting' showers. It was, as they say, a "SOFT" day. We hadn't been this route since 1999 and we were shocked by how built up Claregalway had become. We only just barely recognized the pub we had eaten dinner at, the night we had stayed at Cregg Castle (sadly, SOLD, now and closed for buisiness as a B&B). From here, we headed on, to Knock. We exited the N17 and followed the signs into the village. There was a sign, for Parking to the Right, but the lot looked to be a pretty fair hike from town, so we continued on for another block and then turned, driving straight through the town (the Shrine Complex to our left) on the Main Street. All the on street parking was filled, so I turned right following another PARKING sign and drove around into a HUGE car park only to discover that it was one and the same as the FIRST sign had indicated!


          We walked through a number of little shops and stalls (only about half, of which, we actually open), where we purchased a number of small items -- Large, oversized Rosary Beads for my wife's parents, small, plastic Celtic Cross shaped bottles, for Holy Water and a nifty little hard storage case for aforementioned beads. There were also music CDs and regular, non-religious, Tourist items on offer. After availing ourselves of the Public Restrooms,we walked out of the shop area and found ourselves beside the Tourist Office. Then we cross the street and entered the Knock Shrine Complex.


          I call it a COMPLEX, because it is. It comprises ACRES!!! There are a number of different churches, a Museum, gigantic outdoor Rosary Paths where the faithful can perform 'Rounds', a GIGANTIC Celtic Cross and a long bank of spigots set up to dispense Holy Water at the press of a button. The sky was gray and foreboding, but bright. We visited the Museum (I think it was 4 or 5 Euro each -- the ONLY charge levied while there, although I did see a few Collection Boxes, for donations for various funds). Even as a non-Catholic, I thought the Museum was quite interesting, informative and time well spent.


          My wife went into the main chapel and lit a candle, while I observed a large group of Nuns reciting their Rosary as they did 'Rounds' circling the chapel. Then, I attempted to assist my wife in filling the assorted bottles that she had purchased with Holy Water from one of the MANY fonts. There is a nifty, stainless steel spigot that tapers to a narrow nozzle. After you press the uncappe bottle to it, you press a round button and the water streams into the bottle. I don't know if the button is meant to be a 'Press and Release', or if I didn't have the bottle TIGHT to the nozzle, but in a fraction of a second, the bottle was full and I had been THOROUGHLY sprayed! Holy Water dripped from my hair, my brow, my glasses and my nose and chin. Fortunately, I WAS wearing my waterproof coat and I had it zipped up, against the chill ...


          Even though no Priest was involved, can I count that as having been Baptised into the Catholic Faith???? As I've said before, I was raised as a Methodist. Still, and all, it can't hurt to 'hedge my bet' and claim multi-denominational , can it? I'm reminded of the old Dave Barry joke, from YEARS ago, on PBS:


"The Priest comes, to give Paddy his Last Rites. He leans in, and says, "Do ye renounce Satan and all his works?" Paddy doesn't reply. The Priest asks again, even louder. Finally, he's practically shouting -- "Paddy! I'm after knowing, do ye renounce Satan and all of his works?"

Paddy glances over, uncomfortably and mumbles, "Ah, Father. Do ye really think I'm in any position to be antagoning anyone?"



           After I manage to shake the bulk of the water off, we left the Shrine and walked up and down the main street. Every other shop sold either souveniers, religious items, or housed an eatery. We popped into one of the latter, for lunch. After a meal of delicious hot soup and toasteds, all washed down by steaming hot tea, we dropped into the Tourist Office to arraingeour night's accommodation. We had tentatively decided to stay somewhere in the vicinity of Bundoran (The 'Bath', of Ireland), but the Tourist Office had NO B&B listings for there. It's not that there aren't B&Bs in Bundoran -- it's just that they do such good business that they don't feel the need to pay the 10% Commission to the Tourist Board. The helpful woman DID find us a room on the Bundoran Road, just south of Ballyshannon, at TEEVOGUE for 36 E PPS.


                                 www.iol.ie/~teevogue


          With our accommodation arrainged, we set out from Knock, rejoining the N17.and made our way north, through Coollooney and Sligo. En route, we passed Carrowmore and the stirring sight of Maeve's Tomb. On our only previous trip this far north, in Feb of '02, the weather hadn't been MUCH worse -- it was quite cool (MAYBE 60 F -- probably less), gray and rainy (though, mostly, only lightly), with only rare, brief glimpses of sunlight. Shortly after leaving Sligo, I told my wife that SOMEWHERE nearby was Yeat's grave. No sooner had I said that, we passed a small sign, announcing same, and pointing to the right, as we navigated a banked curve.

          Fortunately, there is a turn off / parking area IMMEDIATELY past the site, which I used to turn around and return to the Drumcliff Church Yard. There is a good sized car park on the grounds, and a large, inverted, "J"-shaped graveyard. There was no charge to enter, nor to park. The long 'leg' area contains numerous High Crosses, most notably, the Drumcliff Cross -- which is located just beside the driveway. Across the N17, in an otherwise empty grass median, is the remnants of a Round Tower. Yeat's Grave rests in the short 'leg', the inscription facing the finely maintained, traditional Church of Ireland chapel, that rests in the "bowl" of the "J". There is a long, narrow tea room and gift shop, mid-way between the Drumcliff Cross and the chapel.


          We opted to enjoy tea and pastry snacks, as it was starting to rain, but it was a SMALL sacrifice, as they were excellent and appeared to be 'home-made'. About that time, our daughter called to check in on our progress and update US on what was going on on the home front. I took great delight in describing our surroundings and our English Major was envious beyond words. I also told her about my newest scheme -- to bring her daughter and our son's son to Ireland, for their tenth birthday (they're only two, now -- 9 days apart.


          After our break, the clouds parted and the sun broke through, giving us unparallelled views of the shore as we made our way into Ballyshannon and found our way to our B&B. It sits on a little hill on a short, elevated drive that runs parallel to the road, facing the coast. There are, I think, three B&Bs, intermingled with three or four private residences. We saw a tour bus there, apparrently dropping off two or three people at each of the other B&Bs (though none, it seems, at TEEVOGUE. We were VERY happy that we had pre-booked, in Knock! Had we waited, I'm sure there would have been two more people from that tour bus occupying OUR bed that night, as when the bus departed, there were still passengers aboard.


           After a pleasant greeting by our hostess, we made our way down to Bundoran for a drive through, but the clouds had thickened up by then, casting a cold, gray and rather desolate atmosphere on the landscape. It didn't help that most of the shops had already closed for the evening. It reminded me of visiting a resort town, like Lake George, NY, either a few weeks BEFORE Memorial Day, or a few weeks AFTER Labor Day. We felt like we were just missing some big, busy event. After securing a good, but unremarkable meal, we returned to the B&B and had a lively discussion about Ireland in the sitting room, with a couple from California.


          All in all, it had been a VERY good day -- and a very SPIRITUAL day, as well. Where else, but in Ireland, can you view so many MONUMENTAL ICONS of our world, in the short span of a just a few hours? We saw the ancient cairn at Carrowmore, the modern Catholic Shrine in Knock, the natural wonders of spectacular blue waves crashing onto the (briefly) sun-drenched, rugged shoreline and at Drumcliff, the early Christian Round Tower and High Crosses, the chastely elegant beauty of the old Protestant Chapel, and the elegantly sparse Literary monument that is the final resting place and last words of William Butler Yeats...


Yeah, it was a GOOD day.  biggrin biggrin


                               "AND IF YOU TAKE THE LONG WAY

                                IF YOU TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME

                                DOWN WHERE THE MAGICIANS

                                AND THE DREAMERS ROAM


                                THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS OF MORNING

                                THROUGH THE VALLEYS OF NIGHT

                                 SEARCHING FOR THE ISLAND

                                 OF YOUR HEART'S DELIGHT"


More to come .....


Bob



__________________

Bob

Help Us to Help You.  The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!

1 2 3  >  Last»  | Page of 3  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to Del.icio.us

make custom gifts at Zazzle