REMINDER: PIX are at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itallian_chauffeur/sets/
Given my LESS than stellar COMPLETION record for Trip Reports ---- See the fragments of 2008 and 2010 and my habitual delays that made 2007s WORDY epic DRAG OUT over a six-month span ---- I decide to try something different, this year.
I'm going to ATTEMPT to write TWO Reports! One, a complete, but (SEMI) abbreviated discourse Presented in its entirety, as a sort of fait accompli. Hopefully, this will satisfy those who are of the Joe Friday, Just The Fact, Mam Persuasion.
For the REST of you (You know who you are) I shall TRY to add a longer, more heavily detailed opus as time and my inevitable penchance for Distraction By Shiny Objects permits
HONEST, I will . . . Most likely . . . Probably . . . Maybe
I have included pricing of everything that I can remember / document, as well In the hope that the info might prove useful.
I've made a NUMBER of visits to Ireland and all of them have involved extensive pre-planning. Every trip has involved a List of objectives concerning Visits with Family and Friends, Sites of Interest and ResearchIrish History and genealogy. Many trips encompass MULTIPLE objectives!
We have the Family History Quest, The Round Tower Quest, the Share Our Love Of Ireland With The Family Quest and SEVERAL others. Each trip attempts to Chip Away at those ever-lengthening lists. Our plan THIS year was to make substantial headway To DOT a Lot of Is and Cross a Lot of Ts Understanding that, as with MOST plans, reality is the enemy. As I often say, No Battle Plan Ever Survives First Contact With The Enemy.
Still, we made SOME progress and we accomplished SOME of our goals.
So For NOW Heres: The SHORT Of It:
12 June 2014: Departed Gainesville on US Airways # 4621 at 2:35 PM
Arrived Charlotte at 4 PM and Departed Charlotte on US Airways # 724 at 6:40 PM. Airfare cost $1248.40 per person Including $99 each for Preferred Seating on CLT to DUB leg. Seats were NOT better just closer to front. Wouldnt buy again.
13 June 2014: Arrived Dublin Airport at 7:30 AM (Irish Time)
Collected Pre-Paid ($357.28 Waiving All Insurances) Rental Car from AVIS a 2014, diesel fueled, manual transmission, Nissan Qashqai, and headed to Aspect Hotel, Kilkenny. Paid 80 Euro, B&B, including a 15 Euro charge for Early Check-In at 12:00 Noon. Along the way, I paid the M50 Toll and Topped Up my Vodaphone account with 10 Euro of Call Credit.
We visited Round Towers at Oughterard and Castledermot, Co Kildare and the Monastic Site of Moone. After check in, showers and nap, drove into Kilkenny, where we visited a 3 Mobile Store (to re-activate our Mobile MiFi) and had an early dinner at Kytelers Inn. Leaving there, we drove to Clara Castle and Old Church and visited the Round Tower at Aghaviller.
We were asleep by 10 PM, but awakened between 3-4 AM, by revelers returning from pubs, as our room was above the point where the Shuttle Bus disgorged. Nice hotel, but probably will NOT return to it for another Friday or Saturday night stay.
14 June 2014: Drove into Kilkenny and visited St. Canaces Cathedral and climbed the Round Tower. Ive now climbed all three of the Climbable Towers, but this was a First, for my wife. She was VERY impressed by the views!
Headed off to our eventual destination in Cork, by circuitous route, that included Tullaherin Round Tower, Knocktopher Abbey and St Mullins Monastic site and Round Tower. Just below St Mullins, we had a delightful lunch at the café along the Barrow River, then drove to Ivy Bridge Cottage in Mourne Abbey, via the N25 and N72.
14-21 June 2014: Self catering at Ivy Bridge Farm Cottage,Mourne Abbey, Cork. Price was 450 Euro (since it included TWO weekends), plus utilities. Did a LOT of laundry while there, but used NO heat. Cost, at checkout was an additional 20 Euro.
15 June 2014: Arrived at the Primary Cousins around 1 PM for lunch and somehow, never managed to leave the kitchen table until 9 PM, or so! SO much tea and food and conversation a DELIGHTFUL day!
16 June 2014: Monday we spent the day chasing genealogy -- Townlands in North Cork and Kerry. Saw the plot of land where wife's GREAT-Grandmother was born and raised! Spoke with the wife of the current owner of the land. He is actually a VERY distant relation - his Grandfather was first cousin to my wife's Grandfather! Seems they 'Knocked' the old house about 25 years ago and built a large shed/barn on the spot . . . Still, we took photos and stood on 'Hallowed Ground'!
Visited a number of Cemeteries -- Ballydesmond, Nohaval (an ancient Monastic site that ONCE featured a Round Tower!), Rathmore and Drishane. Met the Priests in Ballydesmond and Rathmore -- BOTH of whom were Friendly, helpful and Interested in our research -- a FAR cry from years past!!!! Rathmore is actually ACTIVELY engaged in a Comprehensive cataloging effort of ALL headstones that they hope to complete in the next few months. In Ballydesmond, we were offered access to the Church Registers!
Ate Lunch at 'Bob's Bar' in Ballydesmond -- Because it would be WRONG to violate Pete McCarthy's First Law!
17 June 2014: Tuesday dawned (although we slept WELL past the dawning of the day!) as ANOTHER bright sunny day. We made our way into Mallow around 1 PM for a visit the Heritage Center - only to discover that they are closed until 22 June, do to 'Staff Holidays'! Will have to revisit there, AFTER the Lads have returned home . . . We grabbed a late lunch at the Springfort Cafe that was SO good that my wife decided that THEY would be 'Catering' our planned 'get-together' with some of the Cousins at our cottage on Wednesday! There is NO cooking when on Holidays -- Self-Catering, or not!
After lunch, we headed into and through Cork City to the Passage West Ferry. Since the opening of the Jack Lynch Tunnel, we have NEVER had occasion to take the ferry and I felt we were LONG overdue. Five Euro and five minutes later, we were in Cobh. We strolled at leisure and visited the Cathedral -- The CLIMB, up and back, satisfying our WEEKLY exercise requirement! Departing Cobh, we meandered up to Barryscourt Castle to discover that, although you CAN tour the grounds and gardens, the Castle itself is CLOSED due to restoration work necessary because of damages sustained during the severe winter storms! Current plans are for the Castle to remain closed throughout 2014!
We made our way to Watergrasshill via Midelton about 5:30, to attend a Cook-Out/BBQ/Celebration for completion of the Leaving Cert Exams held at one of the Cousins for her daughter that lasted until 10 PM. And yet, we drove home to the Cottage in DAYLIGHT!
18 June 2014: After a late start, we headed into Mallow to shop for our planned dinner and then spent most of the day, puttering around the cottage and doing several loads of laundry.
Two of the Cousins arrived about 5 PM and stayed until about 10 PM.
19 June 2014: Son and Grandson (Nathan & Ryan) arrived at Shannon at 8:40 AM on American Airlines #776
Drove them to Mourne Abbey, for showers and naps and then visited Blarney Castle. Dinner at Blarney Woolen Mills.
20 June 2014: Millstreet touring day. We visited the Ancestral Property, Knocknakilla and the Millstreet Museum. We also toured Millstreet Country Park.
Introduced Nathan and Ryan to the JOY known as a 99!
21 June 2013: Attended breakfast at the Cousins, followed by a visit to a local, Hurley making demonstration. We visited Belvelly Castle briefly, before we toured Cohb, including the Queenstown Story Museum (34 Euro for 3 adults and 2 children), and Barryscourt Castle. About 5 PM, we returned to the Cousins for a Family Gathering / Dinner / Party. We didnt make it back to Mourne Abbey until Midnight.
22 June 2014: Toured / drove to Drimoleague, where we visited another Ancestral Home also stopping at Kilcrea Abbey, Castle Donovan and Bantry where we had lunch.
We spent the night in Kenmare at the Kenmare House B&B. Price was 35 Euro PPS Totaling 140 Euro for the night. Very nice B&B. Would stay again. Walked into town to visit the Stone Circle and have dinner.
23 June 2014: Toured our way to Killarney, with stops along the way at Molls Gap, Ladies View, Torc Falls and a Self-Guided, walking tour of Muckross Traditional Farms (23.5 Euro, for the four of us).
Checked into Park Place Apartments (308 Euro for 4 nights 154 Euro, Pre-Paid Including all Utilities). It was a two bed, two bath apartment on Ground floor of the Courtyard. It was a nice, quiet place to stay we would return.
We had a late lunch at Caragh Restaurant and followed that up with a shopping tour of Killarney, before returning to Caragha for a Dessert Supper that introduced Ryan to Sticky Toffee Pudding!
24 June 2014: Deros Tours for Gap of Dunloe (120 Euro, Total), plus Jaunting Car (80 Euro). We had lunch at Lord Bandons Cottage, before our boat ride through the Lakes. Water levels were so low that we had to Portage around the Weir Bridge. Since Ryan was the only child in our boat, our guide let him steer for several minutes as we crossed the Lower Lake. We departed at Ross Castle and returned to town on the Deros shuttle. We had an eat-in meal at the apartment, while hosting some of the Cousins, until nearly 11 PM.
25 June 2014: Since Caragh wasnt yet open, we had a light breakfast of pastries, tea and hot chocolate at a new pastry shop that was just around the corner from the apartment. Afterwards, we made our way to Killarney Riding Stables, near Fossa, where Nathan and Ryan enjoyed a one hour, escorted trail ride, for 35 Euro, each.
After the ride, we returned to Caragh for lunch and then made our way to Ross Castle, where we enjoyed the formal tour. Dinner was at the apartment cleaning up the self-catering supplies. Light rain began to fall our FIRST, since the trip began!
26 June 2014: We departed the apartment around 9 AM, in intermittent, light rain, to begin our drive to Bunratty. We headed to Foynes, where we toured the Flying Boat Museum and enjoyed an early lunch. Next, we drove to Tarbert, crossing into County Clare via the Shannon Ferry (26 Euro for a Return Ticket) during a lull in the rain and followed the R483 inland to Emlagh Point. Taking advantage of another break in the rain, Nathan and Ryan hiked out to a sea stack laid bare by the tide. From there, we continued to Cliffs of Moher, where we toured the visitors center (while it rained) and then hiked up to OBrians Tower (and back) during another break in the weather.
Departing the Cliffs, we followed the N85 into Ennis, on our way to Headley Court B&B, 120 Euro for two, twin-bed rooms, a delicious breakfast and a chance to visit with the delightful Kathlene Browne.
Nathan bought us dinner at J P Clarkes -- Approx 70 Euro, for the four of us.
27 June 2014: Nathan & Ryan departed Shannon at 11:35 AM on American Airlines #851
We toured back to Macroom, Cork via Kilrush and our return trip on the Shannon Ferry. We werent able to visit Scattery Island, as the tide was not in our favor. We DID make a stop to see Listowel Castle and visit the Writers Museum, however.
Dinner with US family and some of the Cousins at the Castle Hotel lasted until 11 PM. Brother-in-law and I split the tab of about 180 Euro, for the eight of us.
We stayed at Riverside Park Hotel, Macroom. 79 Euro, B&B. Its an older hotel; newly re-opened. Best described as on the edge, as in, on the edge of being EITHER good (or Bad). Would probably stay again IF the Castle Hotel was also Booked Up and I NEEDED to stay IN Macroom.
28 June2014: Drove out to Kenmare, via Balleymakeery, Top of Coom (Sadly, CLOSED when we arrived) and Kilgarvan. From there, we drove out to Beara, stopping at Josies for a dessert break and photos before driving through Healy Pass and on, into Glengarriff. We followed the N71 through Bantry and then turned off onto the R584 through Kealkil, the Pass of Kemaneigh (past Guagan Barra), Ballingeary and back, into Macroom.
From Macroom, we headed through Millstreet, on the R582 and found our way to our Pre-Paid, one bed roomed, stone cottage, just outside Dernagree (Just SW of the N72).
28 June-3 July 2014: Our Self-Catering was booked and pre-paid through Imagine Ireland. Price for the partial week was 261.58 Euro, exclusive of utilities. The location was VERY rural, but relatively accessible. Formerly an old cow barn, Michael (a Blow-In, from England who works as a Stone mason) has rebuilt the structure into a nice, rustic-looking, one-bed roomed cottage. Excluding a dishwasher, it has all the modern amenities and rests near the old farmhouse that he has remodeled for his own use. There are ducks and chickens and a delightfully friendly dog named Airy. It was probably our priciest stay as we decided to depart early but, over-all, we enjoyed our time there and would consider returning.
29 June 2014: Headed over to the Cousins for a light lunchand to say our good-byes. Visited for a few hours and then headed off to dinner, about 5 PM, at Blackrock Castle Café, in Cork City, with a large number of Other Cousins. Its a delightful, interesting place that has VERY scenic views of the River Lee. The food was very good, but I cant speak to the cost as the Cousins beat me to the cashier but, from what I remember from the menu, it was NOT terribly pricey.
30 June 2014: Revisited the Mallow Heritage Center. Our 40 Euro Research Fee yielded NO new information, though. We spent the rest of the day traveling around the Millstreet area. After a late lunch at the Wallis Arms, we visited the Church Office to peruse the records (without any appreciable progress), with the very helpful assistance of the Parish Priest.
1 July 2014: Decided to head to Dublin, a day early. I called Premier Inn, Dublin Airport to Add a night. We had a non-cancelable, internet booking at a super-low, Room Only, 40 Euro rate for 2 July, but the best I could get for the extra night was 91 Euro, Room Only. Total cost, all in, ended up at 149.50 Euro, as we added breakfast for two, for our added day, as well.
I left 5 Euro (for our Electric usage (and to buy a bone for Airy) and a note on the table. I also texted the owner, to let him know that we had decided to leave early. He texted me later to say that Airy truly enjoyed his treat!
We stopped in Kildare and enjoyed a nice lunch on the veranda behind the Silken Thomas, visiting with the newly returned to Ireland, Ciaran Wynne and his delightful wife, that lasted an entirely too brief 2.5 hours. We could have stayed on, in Kildare, but we had also arraigned to meet with Mario Corrigan, at his office, in Newbridge.
We spent less than an hour with Mario, but it netted us autographed copies of his newest book Listowel: The Writers Revenge for ourselves and the Grand children.
Settled in at the Premier Inn, Dublin Airport and ate dinner, in-house. The food, as usual, was excellent, but the service was MUCH improved over last year. Said our final good-bye to my wifes Primary Cousin and her husband, who dropped by the hotel to see us. She had taken her son to the SNN Airport that morning and then driven over to Dublin, where her husband is restoring a large, old home, in the suburbs, near Ranleigh.
2 July 2014: After breakfast, we set off toward Bray, in search of Rathmichael Grave Yard and Round Tower. Found the New church easily enough, but it took a while to find the narrow lane-way back to the Old Cemetery. It was a dirt track, heavily overgrown and when I pulled up to the marked gate, our Qashqai was swarmed by an immense cloud of hornets! Dont know if I brushed against a nest, or drove over one, but once I managed to turn around (after a 30-Point turn!), they failed to pursue us.
After that misadventure, we drove straight through the Center of Dublin (Past St Patricks Cathedral!) and parked just outside Glasnevin Cemetery, where we enjoyed an enlightening, self-guided tour of the grounds and a brief, pleasant meet up with Roy and his lovely wife, Rita.
We hurried back to the hotel, cleaned out the car and dropped in to the nearby Petrol station, where we Topped Up the Diesel, my Vodaphone AND paid our two, out-standing M50 Tolls. From there, it was a short drive to the Avis Terminal, where we returned the Qashqai without fuss. Since it was full, our only additional expense was 108.66 Euro to cover the Options that we added, in SNN a Booster Seat for Ryan and an Extra Driver Addendum that covered Nathan. He only drove a few times, but I thought it was worth it to make sure he had the opportunity.
The Qashqai had about 10,000 Kilometers on the odometer when we picked it up and 13,694, on return. We drove 3,242 Km this trip, which required three refills (at an average of 70 Euro, per), plus the final Top Up of 9 Euro. Diesel was typically 1 Euro 47 per litre give or take a few Euro Cents.
Avis shuttled us to the airport and we picked up the Hotel Shuttle (1 euro, each) back to the hotel, where we enjoyed a final dinner, finished up our repacking and called it an early night.
3 July 2014: Forgoing breakfast, we took the Hotel Shuttle (1 Euro, each), to the airport about 6:30 AM. Lines were all relatively short and we grabbed a bite to eat at the VERY busy shop, just past US Customs and Immigration only to discover an extremely UNCROWDED one practically NEXT to our boarding gate! Live and learn . . .
Departed Dublin on US Airways #725 at 9:30 AM (Irish Time) and arrived in Charlotte about 1 PM (Eastern)
Departed Charlotte on US Airways #4667 after a rain delay, about 7 PM and arrived in Gainesville a little after 8:00 PM. A taxi brought us home, in the rain, and, by 9 PM and we were abed, and asleep.
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!
The Deros Tour starts at their office about 10:30. Their bus takes you to Kate Kearney's, where you hire the Trap. That takes you to Lord Bandon's Cottage. You pick up the Deros provided boat trip there, about 2:30 PM and arrive at Ross Castle a bit after 4 PM. A Deros bus collects you in the parking lot (No time to tour Castle -- but you do have time to snap some photos / visit the Rest Rooms. Bus returns you to the Deros Office between 4:30 and 5 PM.
You can save a couple of Euro by booking on line.
There are two other companies besides Deros -- www.gapofdunloetours.com leaves from O'Connors Traditional Pub (Also on High Street) and www.killarneydaytour.com . BOTH of these trips can actually be done IN REVERSE -- Starting at Ross Castle and Ending at Kate Kearney's.
"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.
Unless the weather is REALLY bad, the show goes on, as far as I know. We've used Deros before (2005 and 2013), so we stuck with what we knew. I was REAL tempted to try the 'Reverse Trip' this time, but we just couldn't seem to get our Act together early enough to make it happen.
The Ross Castle tour is VERY well done -- and quite informative. If GD is 'Into' castles, I would say it is a 'Must Do'.
As Michele said - The jaunting cars were separate. We were charged 20 Euro each, for the four of us, or 80 Euro, total. I have heard that 80 is the minimum, 'going rate'.
I do know that the jarveys tried to 'group' couples together to make up parties of four.
In, 2013, with four adults and the two grand daughters, I think it was 110. Son-in-law rode a horse and the rest of us fit into the cart.
UPDATES --- Accommodation Info, Listings and Prices:
Friday, 13 June:
http://www.aspecthotelkilkenny.com/ On the outer edge of Kilkenny, along the Ring Road. Total price, B&B, was 80 Euro 4 Euro Booking Fee and 76 Euro on arrival. Price included a 15 Euro, Confirmed, Early Check In (Noon). Clean, Comfortable, Economy Hotel but they ran a Late Night Shuttle, To-and-From Town Center that disgorged numerous loud revelers about 3:30 AM. Our room was directly above the loading zone (near the Lobby Entrance), so we heard it all. Breakfast was typical, Hotel-Grade, Buffet-style.
Saturday, 14 June Sunday, 22 June:
http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/ireland/IR281_2.htm Ivy Bridge Farm Cottage, Mourne Abbey, Self-Catering. Price was 450 Euro, plus about 20 Euro for Electricity. Didnt use heat, or even burn the provided Peat, due to the hot, sunny weather but, we washed a LOT of clothes! This was our second stay at the Cottage (First was in October of 2012) and our third at Ivy Bridge, as we stayed in the larger, Lodge, in June of 2013. Didnt get to spend any real time visiting with our hosts, sadly, as the Lads schedule was SO pressing
Sunday, 22 June:
Our original plan was to spend the night in Drimoleague, at the weekend house of one of the Cousins Unfortunately, the newly-cut key she provided us proved defective. We stopped into the Tourist Office in Bantry and they kindly booked us into two rooms in a B&B in Kenmare. It was slightly out of town, but we were advised to follow the sign posted path, which provided a pleasant short-cut to the town square. This was a very nice B&B; quiet, clean and comfortable 30 Euro PP, or 140 Euro, total. We would be happy to return.
Monday, 23 June Thursday, 26 June:
http://www.parkplacekillarney.com/ This is actually an Apartment Complex, conveniently located at the North end of High Street complete with free, under-ground parking. Self-Catering price was 308 Euro All-In for a two bedroom, two bath, ground floor apartment that opened onto a courtyard. Access to the courtyard and parking garage was via Pass code protected gates, so both were secure and private. There was NO noticeable street (or pedestrian) noise. Kitchen was basic, but serviceable. I booked us through 27 June, as there was no discount in booking less, as the Lads flight was for early on Friday morning.
We will very likely return.
Thursday, 26 June:
http://www.headleycourt.net/ Our absolute FAVORITE B&B in Bunratty and in our Top 5, Anywhere! Two large, comfy and quiet rooms, Breakfasts to Die For and the nicest of Hosts! Sadly, we rarely have the opportunity to stay here as we find it nearly impossible to find flights that incorporate Shannon. Luckily, the Lads had NO such problem!
Friday, 27 June:
http://www.riversidepark.ie/ Total price was 79 Euro, B&B and the room was quiet and clean, but the room was SPARSE there was a headboard mounted to the wall (and plenty of floor space for a second bed) but that bed was missing!? Breakfast was adequate and the minimal staff were very accommodating. This hotel had been closed for a few years and has only recently reopened. It also was not terribly busy, so it could easily go either way. Not sure if I would return, but SILs B&B turned out to be even worse, so ??? Macroom doesnt offer a lot of choices Particularly if the Castle Hotel is Booked Up.
Saturday, 28 June Tuesday, 1 July:
http://www.rent.ie/holiday-homes/Property-11049-Millstreet-Co-Cork/32837/ We found this through the www.millstreet.ie web site, though we booked through Imagine Ireland. Price was 261.58 Euro for 28 June 3 July, not including utilities. Cottage was an old cow barn that was repurposed into a one bedroom cottage with a sitting room loft. Fit/Finish is Rustic Modern and it sits near the owners house, at the end of a lane that extends from a side-road that forks off of a rural road just a ways from a Local Road.
In OTHER words, the cottage is just beyond, The Back Of Beyond! We had a relaxing time there BECAUSE of that!
Michael, the Owner, is a Stone mason, by trade. He was friendly and helpful and generously offered us duck eggs and free access to all of the property. The resident dog, Airy was delightfully protective of us and loved to sleep in the sun, just outside the large French doors that line the entire, Western gable-End of the cottage.
Our total electric usage came to about 2 Euros, but I left a Fiver and asked Michael to buy Airy a nice bone. Michael texted later, to say that Airy was VERY pleased!
We ended up leaving earlier than planned, as we decided to visit some friends in Kildare, on our way to Dublin, but we very much enjoyed our short, rustic, Get A Way.
Tuesday, 1 July Thursday, 3 July:
http://www.premierinn.com/en/hotel/DUBAIR/dublin-airport I had pre-booked here for the night of 2 July at the Special, non-cancelable, Internet rate of 41 Euro, but we had to pay 90Euro for out Last-Minute booking. Still, even adding 20 Euro, for breakfast on Wednesday morning, the total price seems quite reasonable, for the level of comfort and convenience! Total Cost 1 night, Room Only and 1 Night, B&B, was 149.5 Euro which is QUITE decent, fro Dublin.
Food at the in-house restaurant has been consistently good, but the Service has been frustratingly inconsistent. In October, of 2012, it was Good, but in June, of 2013 it was Horribly chaotic THIS year, however, it was Excellent! The desk staff, on the other hand, has been uniformly VERY Good!
With Dublin flights being the norm for us, we will definitely be returning.