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As always I am finding your trip report informative and entertaining. We have not really spent any time in the Southeast - maybe next year.
I bought a Tesco mobile last year in Ireland (the Republic). Do you know if I would be able to buy a new SIM in Scotland this year and use the same phone?
"Ireland Expert" Michele ErdvigClick links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland ItineraryVisit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.
I would like to preface this entry with a caveat and an explanation --
The excuse: This trip and in particular, the first few days were MUCH more hectic and busy then my typical visits -- partly due to SILs Wish List and partly due to the Thursday afternoon Deadline for being in Cork.
How I typically plan for ANY visit: My usual guideline is to plan as if for TWO trips and then (to use my sons USMC adage), Adapt and Overcome. What that means, in simple English, is that I usually research an area via hints and suggestions from other posters comments, Micheles excellent guidebook and advices and assorted specialty websites, such as Megalithic Ireland, local tourism sites and sometimes, the Links pages attached to some of the accommodation websites. From these choices, I create a list of interesting sites to visit that usually include nearly everything nearby -- even though doing so would require two days time. Then, I calculate a route, with annotations for the assorted detours.
This way, based upon various factors -- we decide to skip a site, the weather isnt conducive to climbing a hill, or trekking through a field, were running late . Etcetera, etcetera I can modify the itinerary On The Fly.
The ADDED benefit is that I need must, invariably, Drop a goodly number of sites from the days agenda -- thereby virtually guaranteeing that we HAVE to RETURN at some future date ---
Day 2: While the ladies showered and shampooed, etc, I did a brief walk about of the strand, then returned to the room to emulate their good hygiene whilst they packed up. We quickly settled up and I drove the car around front ,so that we could load up our luggage more easily. The morning was cold, grey and blustery. We drove into town and located a little café near the Vodaphone shop that the desk clerk at the Esplanade had recommended and enjoyed a quick, inexpensive breakfast and then drove to the nearby Tesco so that I could buy a replacement SIM card for 3 Euro -- It seemed much simpler to do THAT, rather than re-attempting to activate my old one, since I had already purchased the 10 Euro Top Up.
From the Tesco, I drove us North towards the N11 Junction -- but I detoured West, driving through two close together Roundabouts to view the Fassaroe Cross. This one is St Valerys Cross , and is actually located IN Fassaroe -- though there are a number of Fassaroe Crosses scattered about Co. Wicklow. The St Valerys Cross location is namesake to the group. The cross sits along side the Roundabout on a small, raised pedestal and you park on the side of the road -- IN the Roundabout. NOT that doing so is a problem -- I think that I only saw one other car, the entire time that we were there!
After a few pix, I drove back to the N11 Junction and took it South, to the R750, through Wicklow town, then continued South, past Wicklow Head, along the coast, to Arklow. We stopped at the Wicklow Golf Club, parked and followed the path down to the small, stormy and rocky beach -- passing under cart bridges serving the course that laid out above and to either side of the walkway. Its a gorgeous spot. From there, we continued South and stopped again, to park in front of the locked entrance gate to the North Car Park for Brittas Bay. A goodly hike led us through the large car park, past the locked Public Toilet / Concession building to the pathway through the dunes, to one of the longest, largest pure sand beaches in all of Ireland. After a cool, windy romp, we returned to the car and continued following the coast South, into Arklow and turned onto the R747.
That road shadows the Avoca River, through Woodenbridge, where we turned onto the R752 and continued along the river, into Avoca. We turned off there, for a visit to the Woolen Mills and lunch. It was PERFECT timing, it turned out, as about 10 minutes after we arrived, the first of FOUR Tour Buses arrived chartered to Princess Cruise Lines !!! We enjoyed a leisurely lunch watch the hordes milling about, wrangling for seats and suitable bargains
Back on the road, we returned to the R752 and continued along the Vale of Avoca Drive. We stopped again, at The Meeting of the Waters for some photos and I pointed out the bullaun stone resting there. Our next stop was at the Glendalough Visitors Center, for toilet breaks -- and our first encounter with the rudest group of French students -- ever.
They had disgorged from a massive bus, just before we parked and they milled about, blocking every walkway and door, jabbering away, totally oblivious the any and everyone else trying to gain entry. VERY poor National Ambassadors, I would say. The icing on the cake came when two or three, who hovered about, blocking access to a trash can tossed their paper wrappers onto the ground!
With the sky growing darker, we opted NOT to tour the Visitors Center -- particularly since we couldnt see any way through the Invading Gauls -- so I drove down to the Entrance Gate and parked, in the small Car Park along the road to the Upper Lake. We set about exploring St Kevins Monastic site. After an hour or so spent in tranquil adoration, the French students invaded and we fled to the Upper Lake.
It cost 6 Euro to enter the Car Park and the ladies protested my wisdom to do so, but I was on a mission. On our very first visit to Ireland, in 199, SILs wish list included seeing a stone Ring Fort. Timing, weather, our locations and ignorance (on my part) had caused that wish to remain unfulfilled, the, AND in the two subsequent visits that she had accompanied us.
Megalithic Ireland said that there was a caher located just to the West of the Upper Lake -- and I was DETERMINED to find it! I asked the parking attendant where it was located, but he clearly didnt have a clue ???? And referred me to a map in the guard shack. I should point out that he was apparently POLISH and his grasp of English -- though certainly functional -- was less than extensive!
We parked at the far North West end of the car park and took the path from there to the lake. Sure enough, there it was, to our left -- surrounded by a scattering of OLD crosses. Its not a particularly big or impressive a structure -- but it was a genuine, recognizable Ring Fort! We dawdled for a while, enjoying the peace and serenity, but it was getting late and a large Tour Bus stopped, just outside the toll barrier and disgorged a horde of tourists -- apparently AVOIDING the entry charge, since they all walked in, sans vehicle !?!
Back on the road, we detoured back toward town in order to acquire a Diet Coke, some water and two 99s. I then drove us back out, past Riversdale House (where we Self-Catered last June) and onward, through the Wicklow Gap, to Hollywood. The weather kept alternating from blue skies and sunshine to grey, overcast and even short bursts of rain -- but the rain invariably came and went while we were driving and obligingly, always disappeared well before we stopped anywhere. It seemed to get worse as we headed North, or West -- and IMPROVE, whenever I pointed the Focus either South, or East????
Running behind schedule, I edited our itinerary -- so we didnt make it to Blessington, nor to a handful of megalithic sites that lay more-or-less along our line of travel. From Hollywood, I drove South, on the N81, all the way to Enniscorthy. Dropped for our list along THIS stretch, was Moone High Cross, Castledermot, Rathgall Stone Fort and the Castle and Round Tower, at Ferns We DID pause, briefly, in Baltinglass, to view the Abbey from across the river, but we didnt want to arrive in Wexford too tired (or too late) to enjoy our stay
After negotiating the traffic in Enniscorthy, eased onto the N11 and continued South, until reaching the R730 Junction, located just after crossing the River Slaney. I pointed out the imposing Faux Round Tower (built in the 1800s to commemorate the Rising of 98), the ancient bridge and location of The Irish National Heritage Park, but we passed them all by as we headed East, into Wexford town. We turned North and re-crossed the Slaney on the Harbor Bridge, following signs for the R741. Immediately after the end of the bridge is the entrance to Riverbank House Hotel and our accommodation for the night. I had booked another Triple, this one B&B, for 99 Euro.
The helpful and friendly desk clerk provided a map of the town, info on parking and recommended both an EXCELLENT dining option and verified that there was Live Music on, at a nearby pub!
We drove back across the bridge and into town. After a drive by of Selskar Abbey, I parked the Focus in a Car Park at a Dunnes and we walked two short block to the NE to The Yard. Great food, moderately priced amid interesting décor. Well worth a return. After dining, we made our way 2-3 short blocks SW to T. Morris for their Trad Session (every Tues, Weds, and Thurs). Tonights entertainment was a trio -- guitar, fiddle and flute -- true Trad performed for a mostly Local crowd! Most excellent. We arrived about 9:45 and stayed about two hours and then made our weary way back to the Riverbank, to sleep.
More to come ...
I'm just now figuring out where I was going from the old Dooley lot. Now they have moved it? Yikes.
This makes #15. Hoping to return in late September / early October for a visit to the Sligo area, to attend the O'Dubhda Clan Gathering (which is apparently only held every THREE years!? ) -- among other options .
This was SIL's first visit to the SE -- she's traveled with us, before (Ireland -1999, 2002 and our Spring visit, last year-- as well as New England, in 2001 and NYC in 2011). Wanted to 'Cram In' as much as possible for her short visit. Good traveling companion, she. We mesh well.
PLUS -- she pack lots and lots of 'Snacky Cakes' ...
Susan -- Dunno WHICH Terminal the Dooley counter is in but it WAS a long hike -- partly, Outdoors --- heading towards the Parking Garages. Once we had secured our paperwork we went through some big glass doors and rode an elevator down a floor to a ground-level parking area, turned Left to clear the elevator structure / support wall and the Left again, onto a sidewalk that led to an access road. I could see the SAS Radison Blu from there. That's where we were picked up by the shuttle bus.
Hope that helps ???
Hi Bob -Great report so far!
Did the Dooley Airport counter move to the new terminal.Last Sept. it was still in the old terminal and was a hike with all our luggage and jet-lag.
DETAILS: DAY 1:
We were travelers three -- my wife, her sister (hereafter referred to as SIL) and myself.
We landed in Dublin about 10 AM on Tuesday, 17 April to grey skies on a cold, gusty day. The line at the Dooley counter was long and slow moving and we somehow ended up at the back of it ... Consequently, we had to wait for a second shuttle bus, as all those ahead of us completely filled the first one to come along ...
While waiting, I discovered that NEITHER of my Mobile phone SIM cards were active.
Once we arrived at the Dooley lot, I was slightly disappointed to find my nearly brand-new, spotlessly unmarked, silver, Diesel, 2012 Ford Focus. I always feel a certain comfort from renting a vehicle that's already been "Baptized In Battle' -- under the assumption that one MORE scratch isn't likely to draw undue attention --- but, try though I might, this little beauty seemed to be totally blemish free!
FYI -- Dooley has changed their Vehicle Depot location to a Semi- 'On-Airport' lot shared with the other Car Hire companies -- though each has their own, separate facility and entrance. If anything, it's even harder to find as there has been NO great improvement in signage at the Dublin Airport ...
I drove down the Swords Road (Past the OLD Dooley lot) to get onto the M50, rather than negotiate the M1 / M50 Junction and the drove South, through the Barrier-Free Toll (Located between Junction (EXIT, to us US-types!) 6 and Junction 7 and took the Exit for the Junction with the R117, to Stepaside and continued South, to R116, to Glencullen, and
Johnnie Fox's Pub, for an excellent lunch.
It appeared that the sun had attempted to follow us from Florida -- but the Irish CLIMATE (remember the phrase: In Ireland, there is very little weather -- but MUCH climate) fought back -- Valiantly. The sun burned through the heavy clouds, giving us large stretches of blue sky for several long stretches of time -- interrupted, periodically by heavy, dark clouds and even, brief bursts of showers that mostly occurred whilst we were either driving, or indoors. Warmth, however, seemed to RARELY be included in the equation
After touring the many rooms (we ate in the one decorated with Chamber Pots -- Its THAT kind of place ) , we eye-balled the nearby Standing Stone . Then, we drove back on the R116, with a brief 'Drive By' for the Kilterman Ruined Church . We drove down through Enniskerry -- to avoid the M11 and to eyeball our alternate Accommodation choice of Ferndale House then continued on, into Bray, where we checked into our destination for the day, the Best Western Esplanade Hotel.
The Esplanade is an old hotel, nicely updated, with one of THE best locations you can imagine. Our Internet Booking Deal was Room Only -- a three bed Triple for 69 Euro, so can not speak as to their food offerings. I CAN, however say that I would recommend the hotel. It was clean, comfortable and seemed efficiently run, with friendly and helpful staff. Only noticeable quirk is that the car park is at the rear of the hotel and there is NO rear door access, so you have to walk all the way around to the front, once parked. There IS a front Set Down area, though, so at least you dont have to hump your luggage all that way.
While the ladies napped, I drove into town, visited a Paypoint dealer to settle the M50 Toll and dropped into both the Vodaphone Shop and Tesco to solve my Mobile phone issues. The Vodaphone account was quickly re-enabled and Topped Up, but the otherwise helpful clerk there plead ignorance about my Vodaphone AirCard
At the Tesco shop, the helpful, but harried Customer Service Clerk spent about 20 minutes on the phone to reactivate my Tesco Mobile SIM and then sold me a 10 Euro Top Up. I was back to the Esplanade before discovering that the SIM was STILL inactive! I used the Vodaphone account for a quick call home, to let everyone know that all was well and sent a text to the Irish Cousins to advise same and say that we would call later.
It was about 3:30 by now and I was well and truly DONE. I took a quick, one hour collapse (nap)and then we headed out to explore. It seemed to cool and windy to chance a hike along the Cliff Walk and my companions ruled out a round-trip DART ride to Greystones, so we opted to drive there, instead.
Once there, I followed signs that led us to the harbor, where we discovered groups of rowers and fishermen plying their skills on and beneath a very impressive sea wall. After watch the rowers bravely exit the sheltered waters to challenge the rough Irish Sea beyond the sea wall, we chatted with a few anglers. The wind and cold finally drove us back toward the car park where we decided to chance the dubious recommendation from one of the fishermen that the lone, visible restaurant, Looked like it was probably good
The place, The Beach House, was NOT good -- It was, in fact, MOST EXCELLENT -- and I highly recommend it to any who venture anywhere nearby! We lingered over our meals -- I enjoyed a hearty steak, cooked to perfection -- and had an enjoyable chat with the young girl who was our server. Ah, the JOYS of traveling during the off-season!!!!
By the time we left, it had grown well, and truly dark, so I cautiously drove back to th Esplanade, dropped the ladies near the front door, then parked the car. We went to sleep about 10:30.
It had been a long, hectic day -- but it had been a GOOD one.
More to come ...
We attended a True, IRISH Wedding and (somehow) survived to tell the tale!
We toured the 'Sunny Southeast, a bit of East and West Cork, Central Dublin, and a touch of Dingle and North Kerry. We met with family, ate many fine meals, and saw numerous ancient and historical sites. We laughed. We cried. We rejoiced in the memories of the past, the joys of the moment and the bright promise of the future. We endured sunshine, driving rain, beating hail and lashing winds of epic strength.
About the only thing we did NOT do -- was SLEEP!
----- Comatose collapses for brief periods do not count as true sleep -----
It was WONDERFUL!!
Pictures are uploading as I write this -- about 850 or so -- EXCLUDING the actual wedding --- Some of those will also be included, at a later time -- once I 'winnow out' the bulk of those too incriminating for public display...
PIX should be here -- I even labeled them! Two cameras explains the incongruities of arraingment ...
Dates were 16 April through 30 April. The wedding, viewing desires of our travel companion and familial obligations / interactions heavily affected our routing and travel decisions so they may not make much sense from a truly Tourist perspective. We landed in Dublin about 10 AM on Tuesday, 17 April.
Rental car was from Dan Dooley -- a Compact, Ford Focus-Class, Manual Transmission, for 13 days, for $257, Pre-paid. I waived the CDW, etc, using my Bank of America World MasterCard. I also bought a Supplimental, 12 month Excess Cover from HERE, for 49 GBP. They didn't ask for my Coverage Letter (but I brought it, anyway!) there were minimal hassles about buying extra insurance and I was only charged for initial fuel -- 90 Euros. They did NOT charge me the 25 Euro 'Handling Fee' for waiving the CDW AND the DCC impact was negated on return, when I received a $2 PROFIT on the Exchange Rate!!
The Focus was a Diesel, got very good fuel economy and was ideally sized for three adult, US people with too much luggage (Wedding Attire -- Remember??? )? It was almost new and had negligable wear and tear.
Day 1: Airport to Bray, Wicklow, via Glencullen. Side trip to Greystones.
Day2: Bray to Arklow, via Wicklow town and the Coast Road. Arklow to Glenndalough via Vale of Avoca. Glendalough to Wexford via the Wicklow Gap, Baltinglass, Tullow and Enniscorthy.
Day 3: Wexford town to Hook Head, via Wellington Bridge, Tintern Abbey, and Fethard. Hook Head to Tramore, via Duncannon, Passage East (via Ferry). Tramore to Midelton, via the Copper Coast Drive through Annestown, Bunmahon and Stradbally, then 'straight on' via the N25.
Day4, 5, 6: WEDDING -- But, on Day 6, drive from Midelton to Castle Townshen, via Drimoleague -- returning via Glandore, Union Hall and Clonakilty -- for MORE Wedding stuff.
Day 7: Drive to Mallow, park car at Train Station and head to Dublin via train.
Day 8: Round trip to airport via Airlink, return train to Mallow. Drive to Mallow to Killarney via Millstreet.
Day 9: Macroom, for afternoon.
Day 10: Macroom for evening.
Day 11: Tralee for evening via Dingle. Drove to Blennerville, Camp, Castlegregory and Bandon Point, then, long way to Tralee, via Connor Pass, Anascaul, Camp, Abbeydorney and Ballyduff. Return to Killarney, late PM.
Day12: Departed Killarney for Ardmore, via Millstreet, Macroom and Cloyne.
Day 13: Ardmore to Dublin, via Kells, Kilkenny, Timahoe and Port Laois.
Day 14: Return car, shuttle to airport for departure flight.
That's the bones of the trip ...
DETAILS to follow?????