Geno: Most recent data from http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Motoring-advice/Petrol-Prices.aspx shows Petrol (Gasoline) at 1.32 Euro per liter -- 1.24 for Diesel.
Dan: Loving the report! Glad you enjoyed Ross Castle so much. I had a feeling it would be a big hit with your Grand Daughter!
Nice surprise with the Castle stay!
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!
If I remember right, unleaded petro was about 1.44 when we were there in Oct. Looks like it has dropped there too but not as dramatically as here. Have a great trip, Geno
Bob, every castle in Ireland was a hit with our GD. She even wanted us to "buy" one! Lol!
Here you go -- A 'Fixer-Upper' -- Would earn you the title of 'World's Greatest Grand Parents':
Day 10 Fri Oct 10
Slept in till 8:39. That had to be a record. Went down to the stone room. It was quite full of guests. There was a wedding taking place at the castle that day and a lot of hustle and bustle going on all over the castle. Some of the guests had arrived when we did but not a noisy crowd despite lots of kids. People of all ages were there for the wedding and I even had an interesting conversation with a elderly Priest (in his 90's) who was a relative of the bride
DW had eggs Benedict with ham on a muffin with H sauce and I tried the the smoked Makerel plate with 2 poached. Our table waiter was concerned that I might not like that kind of fish, said it was pretty intense flavor, but assured me that if I didn't like it, he would get something else. It was quite tasty although I suppose it wouldn't do for everybody. You know me, I like to try a variety of new foods!
Checked out and departed at 11:00. Headed north towards Doolin. Had thought about doing Loop Head on the way, but do to the late start, opted to take advantage of the great weather that had finally settled in after a drippy week, and get to Doolin pier in time for a late afternoon/evening boat ride out in front of the cliffs of Moher. Arrived in Doolin about 2 and spotted "Doolin Hostel" straight away. Swung in there to check on the status of our room. It was ready so decided to check in since we had plenty of time before the next boats left at 3.
Now, Michele was curious about how this "hostel" experience was going to be for us. I had difficulty getting b&b reservation on a Fri night several months prior. Looking on the net, there was availability but not close in and easy walking distance. This hostel kept popping up when searching so checked on TA. It came out with great 4/5 * reviews! it was only 23 Euros/person/night and the location was perfect, so I decided why not. It did not disappoint.
Now as is the case with many small family run businesses, this one was no exception. It was owned and managed by a young couple with 1 employee. It was a clean, bright, cheearful place well maintained and stocked with groc n bev items in the little store as well as a small restaurant where hot food and snacks were available. You could tell this couple were running it with dedication and a passion for what they were doing. This is the Mom and Pop type of place we really like to patronize, we have found over the years in our travels.
A couple of weeks after we booked it, Irish Fireside came out with an article listing the top ten "boutique hostels" in Ireland. Doolin Hostel was among them. That made me feel better about the booking.
Headed down to the pier and on the way, saw that there was boat tickets for sale in the info booth. Figured a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush so purchased 3 for 40 Euros. Should have waited, because we could have purchased the same 3 tickets right at the docks for 30 Euros! The ocean was like a bath tub and the weather was perfect--somewhere between shirt sleeve and light jacket Weather! The previous trip to the Cliffs in 06' the weather was terrible...windy, rainy and no boats running
We settled in for the ride. Was concerned about getting seasick, and while a few people did, we were just fine despite GD and myself feeling just a little queasy. Now this has to be some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Mother Nature really out did herself here. The boat got is up real close and personal and the cliffs towered straight above us, the waves were pounding the rocks, and we pulled up right next to the tall rock island in the middle below the tallest point of cliffs. Walkers up on top looked like ants. Lots of camera action esp when we spotted the caves where some Harry Potter was filmed Also got some pretty impressive video on my mini iPad.
The whole trip was about an hour and soon back to pier. Stopped in at Gus McGanns for a pint to celebrate our successful boat trip. Then hit 3-4 shops right before closing time to buy a few gift items including Doolin Chocolates. Got some yummy fudge and GD got a giant candy bar. Road rations for later....
Went back to the hostel to do math and reading homework. Came across a couple of metric worksheets In the pkt. Now I was unprepared for metrics, it wasn't mentioned during our meeting with the math coordinator. And there was suppose to be a paper metric ruler in the packet....there was not. So I dialed up the cell phone number of the math coordinator back home. She was surprised to hear from us. Explained our dilemma, and she said not to worry. The rest of the class was not as far along as they thought they would be, so told us to take it easy on math the rest of the trip since GD was already way ahead of where the rest of the class would be upon our return. That made both GD and Papa happy! (Incidentally, math was her best subject for grades at the end of the 1st 9 weeks report card). Whew, Papa was really sweating that one!
Went back down to Gus's for supper. They assured us it was a kid friendly place, and GD could stay as long as she wanted. She had her usual chicken strips, DW had 1/2 order fish and chips, and I had Shrimp scampi and rice. Along with bev total 30 Euros. Music was pretty good, made some calls back home to Mom and a Dad so the could sample a little of the music over the phone, and to assure them we weren't a bad influence on their daughter despite hanging out in pubs almost every evening!
Went back to a restful night at the hostel. Had read that some hostels can be kind of wild and noisy due to the younger crowd that often frequents them. But not the case here. It was quiet, probably due to the fact that the dorm style rooms and the common areas were located on the opposite side of the building. Think there was a total of 8 ensuite rooms on our wing of the building. No noisy pub returners at pub closing time. It was a good value for the money and we would go back again. The location was 2nd to none right in the heart of Doolin and an easy walk to where ever You wanted to go in town.
-- Edited by murphy on Friday 6th of February 2015 11:46:13 AM
What a great report Dan! Thanks so much. Your report speaks about so many areas where I will be travelling this fall - I'm taking notes like crazy! I'm even going to look into staying at Ballyseeds Castle for a night. That sounds wonderful Thanks again!!
Just out of curiosity, Dan -- Did you notice if there was an ATM anywhere in Doolin? I know that there wasn't one -- for years!
I believe the same is true for Glengarriff -- has anything changed there, as well?
Two rules for Ireland, Take your time & bring a sense of humour
"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.
Tony! How did you let me miss Wilde Irish Chocolates ????
Now, we HAVE to go back to Lough Derg!
As if there was ever any question about returning!
Day 11 Sat Oct 11
Today was DW birthday! GD was concerned about how we were going to celebrate. I told her we would devise a plan for later that evening.
Went down stairs for a good continental breakfast. Cereal, toast, fruit and yogurt. It was a welcome change after several days of huge B&B breakfasts. The owner was presiding over the stocking of breakfast items so I asked him about our plan to do the 5 K Cliff walk starting near the Hostel following a path that 20-some landowners had opened to the public for a hiking path, and ending at the Visitor Center parking lot. We had planned to catch a bus or taxi back To Doolin. He suggested that a better walk would be from the south end going north bound back towards the visitor center. Walking northbound and back to your vehicle would be also about 5 K. He Said there was a place to park for 2 Euros. Also said there would be far fewer people on that walk. We changed our plans and Decided to do that instead. He gave us directions: drive south of Doolin on the main highway to a large building and business selling rock and stone. Make a right turn there and then another right turn at the football/soccer field and drive to a farm with a sign post for 2 Euro parking. It was easy to find and upon parking, noticed a small box to deposit the parking fee. However a lady came out so we gave her the money.
Took a backpack with snacks, water, and raincoats. It was a beautiful sunny day. It was about a 15 minute walk to the edge of the cliffs, and we went thru 4-5 styles, narrow stone gates to climb thru gates that were passable for humans but not animals. GD thought they were cool! First thing we saw, a smaller shell of a castle. Just 3 walls standing so we had easy entry. GD thought this discovery was pretty cool too!
Headed down the well marked trail. A very good Trail that was generally 10 to 20 feet from the edge of the cliff. However, there were numerous places where you could go to the edge and look down on some of the most awesome scenery ever. Sea birds soaring, a few small boats, and crashing waves in the rocks below. And it seemed we had the whole place to ourselves. We were probably on the trail for 45 minutes before we saw another human being. Just sheep, cattle, horses, and an open pit stone quarry. Must have been a lonesome day for the horses, as they came right over to the fence and allowed us to pet them. GD was on cloud nine!
Went along for a total of 90 minutes and then turned back, allowing for a total 3 hour walk. At the turn around point, I Suppose we were about a mile from the visitors center and maybe a half mile from the big rock in the water where our boat had stopped the evening before. By this time there was enough heating of the atmosphere to initiate a few widely scattered showers. Brilliant double rainbows were visible 4-5 times on the way back. The corner of one small shower brushed by us and we took brief shelter behind a big rock, but not enough rain to warrant getting out the raincoats. Shirt sleeve weather and just an exhilarating way to spend an autumn morning in Ireland!
All too soon we were back to the little castle and heading thru the styles back to the car. Soon after arriving at the car, we were able to witness a herd of sheep being moved down the road, probably to a new pasture with fresh grass. The herd was being moved by a Mom and Pop farmer, 2 kids, 2 dogs and you would never believe....a donkey leading the whole works down the road. Good for a laugh, as that donkey looked so impressive doing his part to lead the flock, and the people and dogs on the sides and bringing up the rear! Only in Ireland!!!
Headed back to Doolin and beyond, northbound to Ailweecave and Falconry. Took in the scenery along the western portion of the Burren. Arrived at the cave and went to the gift shop for some tasty food spreads and crackers for lunch. DW was wiped out from the 4-5K cliff walk and decided not to go into the cave. I bought 2 tickets for the 2:00 cave tour and 3 tickets for the 3:00 birds of prey demonstration grand total 34 Euros.
I had been in a few caves over the years and the 2 in Ireland I've seen are really great. But it was GD first time in a cave and she was impressed. Guess she is just the type that likes adventure! Upon exiting the cave, she reminded me that we still needed to make arrangements for GM surprise birthday celebration. I knew that our hotel in a Clifden had a restaurant on premises, so decided that for this special occasion we would do "fine dining" that night. Since I had phone numbers for all our lodgings, I dialed them up and asked for the restaurant. Made arrangement for a dessert that evening for the birthday gal, complete with a candle. Convinced GD that we would not be able to have the nearly 5 dozen candles needed, and that the fire dept would need to be on standby! So we would settle for 1!
Joined DW for the birds of prey demonstration. Got to go by and look into all the cages and pens where the birds lived. One particular set of white birds were aggressive characters and as we approached their cave, the flew up and landed on the wire cage sides chattering right in our faces and startling us.
Soon out in the bleacher area people were gathering sitting down to get ready for the demonstration. They were magnificent birds and were used in pairs, of the same species. One particular bird flew up to the lookout tower, and caught sight of a rabbit or some small animal and quickly abandoned the show! One of the handlers had to go looking for it, they had a GPS locating device on every bird. It is rare for them to do this, but they told us this particular birds pulls this stunt 1-2 times a month. Over all a great show, and if you have never seen one, I would highly recommend it.
Was time to get on the road as we had a few miles to cover, 2 hrs 15 min, thru and around Galway City on up to Clifden. Checked into Alc-o-c-k & Brown Hotel at 6:15. Double checked on our 8pm reservations for dinner then walked a couple blocks to St. Joseph's Church for 7:00 Mass.
Back to the hotel restaurant for dinner. DW had a steak, GD had chicken, and I ordered the rack of lamb. Yummy food. A generous serving of cheesecake arrived complete with a lit candle, and we had a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You, with other restaurant customers joining in! GD thought we had given her a nice birthday surprise and it was. Meals and beverages total 72 Euros.
Wanted to get some rest after a vigorous day of exercise, with more planned for the next day. We really liked Clifden, having driven thru briefly during our 2nd trip to Ireland and we knew we would return someday for a couple nights visit. We think that Clifden is comparable to Kenmare or Westport for a really nice smaller town with lots to offer in pubs,restaurants,shopping, and lots to do in the surrounding area.
-- Edited by murphy on Tuesday 10th of February 2015 11:10:19 PM
-- Edited by murphy on Tuesday 10th of February 2015 11:26:57 PM
Day 12 Sun Oct 12
Slept in. Went down to the hotel restaurant For breakfast. Only one choice....the full Irish. But it was Just ok.
Drove the Sky Road. It was just as awesome as before. I think it is in the top 3 scenic drives that I have been on in Ireland. Stopped 2-3 times to look over the edge and take pictures. Cameras can't begin to capture the beauty of the sky road and the scenery that lies below in panorama form.
Next drove to the Conemara Park Visitors Center. Our goal was to climb Diamond Hill. This is a huge rock strewn mountain that is bald on top. There is a path all the way to the top on the north side returning to the bottom on the south and west side. There are 3 check points along the way with distance in K both walking distance and elevation. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would go to the top. Figured DW probably wouldn't as she has trouble with her feet. But was convinced GD would go to the top with me. She really enjoyed the climbing on the rocks back at Healy Pass. But it was not to be....when she realized that GMa wasn't going Up. So they turned back at the last check point about half way up.
It was a strenuous climb for an old fat guy like me. I wasn't in as good a shape as I was 4 years ago when I went up to Mauve's Tomb and climbed to the top of St Patrick's Mt. This was not as tall and though there was a steep area towards the top it wasn't as lengthly as the steep area on Pat's Mt. The scenery was awesome. Perfect weather, shirt sleeves going up and light jacket with a slight cooler breeze on top. Met a family from Ireland going up who were attempting their 3rd climb. They got blown off the Mt the first 2 times. So I felt lucky to be able to go up with good weather.
The view from the top was spectacular. You could see many miles in all directions and believe that I could pick out the bay west of Westport and Patricks Mt. But the most pleasant surprise was to be able to look right down on Kylemore Abbey. It seemed just a stones throw away and was every bit as impressive from above as it would be later when we would make our next stop. Rested on top, ate some trail mix, sharing with 4 others on top, as they shared their fig bars and drank some water. Here again, you could drink Guinness up there....but you had to bring your own. Didn't see that, but suppose it happens, much like on St Pats Mt.!
Joined a young couple on the decent and we had quite a long chat. He was on leave from the Irish Military. He was part of the UN peace keeping force (Ireland still declares it's neutrality) he was headed to Iraq and the Afganistan shortly. His girl friend was not to thrilled with the whole thing. We had a long talk about politics, the world situation and how life in general compares in our two countries. A great conversation.
Arrived back at car park at 3:15. Should have been able to do it in about 2 hours according to the literature at the Info Center. But numerous rest stops and photo ops took time. DW and GD had eaten lunch out of the boot (trunk) so I did likewise. Headed east bound and soon found our way to Kylemore Abbey.
Now if there ever was a picture postcard opportunity, this is it. What a stunning view of the Abbey from the main parking lot. There was not a breath of wind....dead calm and the lake in front of the Abbey was like a huge mirror. The reflection of the Abbey in the lake was absolutely crystal clear perfect. Just stood there the longest time and stared. And took numerous pictures from every angle possible from the bridge platform. Was a multitude of people there doing the same thing. Just incredible. Didn't feel we had time for the tour of the Abbey and gardens, so left that for another time....we shall return!
Drove past some of the Twelve Bins (Mts) enjoyed the Conemara countryside. This part of Ireland needs more time. Have lots of areas here I would like to explore someday. Ended up back in Clifden about 4:30. Sat at the outside table in front of EJ Kings, on the "square" in Clifden, kitty corner from our hotel. Had worked up a powerful thirst, so had a happy hour pint in the warm sun starting to set in the west and people watched and soaked in the atmosphere of small town Clifden Ireland.
Was now getting close to evening mealtime so went to "Guys Bar and restaurant". Had read that it was one of top places to eat in Cligden, and they were right. GD had......chicken, DW had fish and chips, and I had seafood chowder and a crab & prawn seafood salad. Was given a table by a lazy blazing peat fire. It had gotten chilly with evening coming on. And the fire was just great.
DW and GD settled in back at the hotel room with their tablets playing electronic games, and that gave Papa a chance to slip out to Lowry's Pub for some music and a night cap of the black stuff. A guitar/vocalist and accordion player were performing and they took a lot of requests from the audience. They were good and it was a great evening of music, and craic.
By 10 pm it was time to call it a night. Our trip was starting to wind down, just a couple of days left so needed to rest up for the finale.
-- Edited by murphy on Wednesday 11th of February 2015 10:37:12 PM
I am really enjoying your report. I feel like I am along with you on your trip. More please!
Day 13, Mon Oct 13
Checked out after breakfast. Purchased some lunch items and AA batteries. Having 3 cameras using double A's, we finally ran out after going thru a 30 pack or so.
Back eastbound cutting around the north side of Galway on the N59 and M6 to Athenry. One of my all time favorite Irish songs is: "The Fields of Athenry". As we drove into town, the first thing we spied was a small gift shop called "The fields of Athenry. Parked and went straight to this shop. Had a nice chat with the older couple who owned it. Have a close friend who is Irish and whose wife died a few years back. This song was also their favorite, and after she passed away, every time Mike heard this song, he teared up and got very emotional. So was looking for a gift for him from Athenry. Asked if they had any memorabilia pertaining to this song. They did. A beautiful print of the Athenry countryside and the text of the song woven in. It was rolled up in a cardboard tube and knew that it would travel well. Eventually got it framed and given to Mike.
Had planned to tour Athenry castle...with our heritage pass. Asked the gentleman if there were any other must see attraction in town, and he said he thought the heritage center would be a great place to take our GD. So we went to see this great medieval display. Included in the admission price was a guided tour. For a few extra euros, we could have dressed up in Medieval costumes. We elected not to and just took the tour. It was just the 3 of us on the tour which was great as we had lots of questions. Was surprised to learn that Athenry was the largest cultural and trading center in Western Ireland in that era.
Enjoyed the displays including costumes, weapons and of course the punishment/torture devices esp the torture dungeon. GD thought this was way cool! Next toured the castle. Well restored and decent castle worth checking out. Next walked around the Dominican Priory. It was locked and the sign said call for an appt for a guided tour. Decided not to take the time so decided to move on. Drove to Loughrea where we elected to have a 99 after putting petrol in the car. The 99 was much preferable to the turkey sandwich that was suppose to be lunch!
Had been corresponding during the trip a few times by private message on Irelandyes with Tony 2Phones who I got acquainted with on this forum. He helped us with questions that we had getting the mifi topped up. Relayed to him that we would be in his neck of the woods as we traveled from Athenry to Mountshannon. He invited us to stop for a cuppa tea on the way by. Called him as we got closer and he gave us detailed instructions on how to find his home.
Had a nice chat with him over tea and scones and marveled at our good fortune to be able to see the inside of his cozy stone cottage! Tony was every bit the nice guy I thought he would be, based on the countless times he has offered advice and suggestions pertaining to Ireland, on various forums on the net. Would have liked to visit him longer but had at least one more stop at the maze in Mountshannon then a fair bit of a drive to Ennis for our last major touring destination for this trip. Said our goodbyes and headed south on a very hilly scenic route that he suggested.
Found the Maze at the south side of the city park, which bordered the Marina area for the Lake. GD had a great time at the Maze. Needed to run around and get rid of some pent up energy....until she took a short cut and got into some nettles. They caused a quite a rash, so went to the nearby hotel to wash up hoping to soothe the itching. had to go thruthe pub to get to the washroom in the hotel, so just had to stop for a happy hour 1/2 pint.
Headed westbound from there toward Ennis. About 15 west of Mountshannon we came across a group of horses back riders in the road. We slowed down then stopped as they were crossing the road. The leader of the group came over to talk to us explaining that she was taking her class out on a ride, and that she worked at an equestrIan center and was instructing these folks on the finer points of riding.
GD was really interested in this and wanted to know if she could get a horseback ride. Asked the instructor if she taught kids since these folks were all adults. She asked where we were staying that night. We told her Ennis. She suggested that it would be better to find a center closer to Ennis since we would be staying there 2 nights. So on we went to Ennis.
Had reservations for the next 2 nights at Grey Gables B&B for 170 Euros. It was highly ranked and recommended as a quality establishment, but its proximity to down town clinched it for us. Checked in at 6:15. And Mary Keene was a class act for a B&B hostess. Clean comfortable roomy accommodations. Immediately wanted to know if she could be of assistance for planning our time in Ennis. Told her our GD would really like to go horseback riding. "I know the perfect place," she said and then said "let me make a call to Drumcliff Equestrian Center.". Soon she handed me the phone, and I found myself talking to the owner. He was interested in helping us, even tho it was off-season and most of his clients were now in school. He said he would normally do something like this during daytime regular business hours, but wondered if we would be interested in stopping by in late afternoon after his 2 daughters were dismissed from school so the could ride with our GD. I thought it sounded like a splendid idea so we made an appointment for 4:30 the next day.
Took our luggage to the room and got settled in, then decided it was time to head down town for supper. Had heard so many good reports about the food, beer, and music at Brogans. So homework in hand, we headed there. And we were NOT disappointed! DW had a pulled pork sandwich, GD chicken, and I had lamb stew. All of it was yummy. With beverages and ice cream for GD (again...2nd time today, and yes we were spoiling her) total tab was 55 Euros.
GD and I worked on homework, while we waited for the music to start. This was the most traditional of all the Irish music "sessions" we had been to on this trip, with 11 musicians: 2 flutes, 1 accordion one mandolin, and 7 fiddles. A great way to end the day. GD kept saying: " I can't wait till tomorrow and go horse back riding!
Had briefly visited Ennis for jet lag coffee back in 08 and knew we had to get back here. We think it ranks right up pretty close to Kenmare, Westport, and Clifden.....very similar with lots of restaurants, pubs, music, shopping and tourist activities in the immediate area. A great base for 2 nights.
Day 14 Tuesday Oct 14
Mary served up a full Irish breakfast, probably enough food to last through the late afternoon horse riding excursion! That appointment was 4:30 so had all day to spend exploring Ennis.
Walked downtown and went to Ennis Frirary. This was a magnificent historical building. It was built in the 13th century by the Franciscans and the centerpiece is a beautiful carved statue of St Francis. Guided tours are available, but the timing wasn't right so did a self guided tour. Wish we would have went back for the guided tour, as there is a lot of history since it was founded by the O'Briens of Thomond who once ruled much of Munster. It has an impressive sacristy with ribbed, barrel-vaulted ceiling. After the suppression of the monasteries occurred, it became a venue for assize courts and the sacristy was used for a court room. If traveling thru or visiting Ennis, this is a must see.
Next we went to the nearby Clare County Museum. It is also an impressive old building that once housed the Sisters of Mercy School and Chapel. This was their headquarters for their overseas foundations in Connecticut, California, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1800's. This was an impressive museum for a small town and featured cultural, arts, heritage, Gaeltacht, and the islands. A worthwhile stop.
Next we went shopping for those last minute items that were needed for friends/relatives back home. Again we really liked the town of Enins, and were glad we chose this for a 2 night stop. Tony is spot on when he suggests Ennis as a possible base for exploring County Clare and all the numerous tourism possibilities it has to offer.
Since it was mid afternoon and not enough time to go see the dolman or the perfumery, we decided to take it easy. Went back to the B&B for a snack and to just hang out, catch up on email, do some preliminary packing for the trip home etc. the Gray Gables was a great B&B with wifi, a huge sitting room and the location is 2nd to none, unless you want to stay right down town in a couple of well known old historic hotels. Had checked with both, but the 170 Euro rate/2 nights here at Gray Gables was much better than downtown.
By 4:00, we had one excited young lady, who couldn't wait for the horses. So we headed out north of town. Followed the Drumcliff cemetery signs and within 10 minutes, we were there; the Drumcliff Equestrian Center. We were early, but pulled in anyway. It is just what you might expect, a rural Irish working farm/ranch but with a huge indoor riding arena and an outdoor one too. A large stable between the two that housed at least a dozen horses...that we could see, and maybe more.
The owner, Patrick Tierny came to the car to greet us. Asked him if he was a relative of Cronnin Tierny who performs at Our home town Irish Pub and other pubs in Pudget Sound area. He didnt think so, but said it was possible....A real gem of a person who was perfect for this type of operation. He taught a lot of riding there and also took horses to the beach in the summer to offer riding, and he was a patient, helpful mentor for the kids. He was waiting for his girls (1 year and 2 years younger than our GD) to get home from school, but decided that GD horse could be gotten ready to ride while waiting for the two girls.
Went into the stable area, and he led out a beautiful white horse named "Skittles". Got out brushes and handed one to GD and said skittles needs to be brushed down over his whole upper and side body. Now there was some splotches of poo here and there from the other horses or cows in the pasture, so I didn't know how this was going to go. However, GD dived right in and a little poo wasn't going to stop her or even slow her down and she went to work with gusto!
Soon the two girls arrived and they were introduced. The older one instantly took charge and now she was the mentor, involving all the details of getting the horse ready. It dawned upon me about now, that this was probably going to be the favorite part of the whole trip for our GD. The two girls soon went to work on their horses while GD got outfitted with riding boots and riding helmet. Soon all three were ready to head out around the corner to the outdoor arena single file with GD in between the two very experienced young Tierny girls.
Now Patrick took over again giving lots of advice to GD and even the other 2 from time to time. It was a great way to learn as the 2 girls could demonstrate all the particulars of how to sit, hold and use the reigns, and it progressed very quickly and having peers there her age added confidence.
They spent the better part of 90 minutes learning to walk while guiding the horse, then trot, but didn't quite get to the gallop stage, as our GD had fallen off a horse on her 9th birthday during a gallop. It happened to be a barrel racing horse that was use to making quick turns....probably not a good choice for a yoing lady and her first horse back riding experience. Needless to say, this 2nd experience went much better!
Soon it was time to call it quits as the daylight was fading, so took several photos and videos of the 3 girls and their horses and then Patrick joined in for the final photos. Back to the stables and once again the older daughter took over the duties of showing GD the details of taking off the bridle, putting on the halter, rubbing down the horses etc in preparation for release back to the pasture. GD got to use the halter and lead Skittles,mand soon all 3 were in single file leading their steeds, crossing the busy highway, then into the pasture. Took the halter off, said our good byes to Skittles, and headed for the car.
Total charge was 35 Euros, but I gave him 50 and suggested the 2 girls might need a little reward for their efforts. Hugs and thankyou and goodbyes and we were back on the road to Ennis.
Some horse hair was on her riding clothes so changed clothes and then headed downtown for supper. I wanted to try Poets Corner since we had a great meal there in 08 when we used Ennis as our final night lodging before flying out of SNN, however I was outvoted by DW and GD who wanted to go back to Brogans. A good meal/beverages once again including banoffi pie for 62 Euros. Stayed on again for music. It was the same two guys we had heard on Friday night in Doolin, so Only stayed to listen about an hour. Besides the horse back riding had made one little girl pretty exhausted! Went back to Gray Gables and called it a day....a very good one at that!
Final full day, Wednesday Oct 15
I Guess we actually had 15 days of high adventure!
Had our final B&B breakfast and Mary at Gray Gables out did herself on the poached eggs. I have recently become a fan of poached eggs...suppose to be 65 fewer calories/egg prepared that way. (Extra calories to spend on Guinness!)
Checked out and headed to Bunratty. We put the last petrol in the car to top it off for the return to Hertz in Shannon that afternoon. Took 20 Euros to fill it.
Next went to Bunratty Castle for a self guided tour. Lingered on the roof as it was quite scenic, viewing the older buildings, the Folk Park, rock fences and green pastures with the mighty Shannon River as a back drop. And our GD had to make the most of once again exploring every nook and cranny in the final castle visit of the trip. Spent over an hour there.
We had walked thru the Folk Park to get to the castle and now spent a couple of more hours exploring most all of the buildings and exhibits in the park. Some of the buildings were replicas and some were restored originals. No live animals in the park except a few hens. There were pens for other kinds of animals but was not sure if they were there only in the summer or not.
There was a big gift shop or 2 across the street. Went in to see if there was any last minute things we HAD to have. There was....candy and fudge (some made with whiskey) for my parents and our driver back home.
We then headed to Shannon. Had pre-paid our final night at the Raddison Park Inn right across the street from SNN terminal. Was able to get a room only rate of $100 secured on the net. The hotel reviews said it was getting old and tired and showed signs of wear and tear. However, it also said they were gradually refurbishing the rooms and to request a newly refurbished room as they are quite nice. So I emailed the request for a refurbished room on the back side (quiet side) of the hotel. The assistant manager emailed back and granted us that request.
Arrived at the hotel at 3:45 PM and checked in, unloaded the luggage, and made an effort to tidy up the car. DW spotted the Hertz sign from our hotel window and it appeared to be quite close. I took the car back, and followed the signs saying "rental car return" and sure enuf, it was only about 2 blocks away! Turned in the car a day early, since we didn't want to hassle with it before the fairly early flight the next morning.
The car rental process again was flawless. They offered me a one day credit since I was turning it in about the same time in the afternoon that we picked it up, instead of 6AM (The contract said they didn't have to do that!). The savings paid for our taxi to and from Bunratty, since we didnt want to have to worry about driving back in the dark after having a few glasses of mead and wine! The total billed to my card in Euros was 413.00 for 14 days ALL insurance included. This is the third straight no hassle car rental in Ireland using Hertz Franchisees headquartered in the USA. Got back to the hotel room by 4:15.
DW and GD had begun to repack for the return trip. At this point we DID intend to check some luggage; all 3 roller bags. We Put all our gift items in the personal bags and backpacks. We would not be able to clear customs in Shannon since we were stopping in London on the return trip.
The front desk had arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the front door to take us back to Bunratty for the 5:30 Medieval Banquet. The 3 tickets for the banquet seemed kind of pricy when we purchased them also on the net. Wanted the early seating since we had the early flight. But it was worth every penny Since it was a 4 course meal AND great entertainment. GD was really spell bound by the whole thing, and even enjoyed the food!
We walked in, verified our internet vouchers, and then were sent to the upstairs hall for mead (honey based wine)! with chunks of bread dipped in salt! GD was given a goblet of apple cider (non-alcohol). There was a young lady and man playing harp and violin and I recognized it as traditional music from the medieval era. They were dressed in costumes of the era. Soon the room was pretty well filled with guests, the shutters were flung open up above, and the Herald leaned out of the window with a "hear YE, hear YE. He invited everybody back down 1 flight of stairs to the banquet hall, complete with long rows of wooden tables and benches. We were assigned seats and took our places. More wine was served immediately!
Soon The Lord and Lady of the house werevintroduced (chosen from the guests). They were given crowns and robes and were seated at the high table! More singing....they had a song for almost everything they did! Otherwise the Herald made some announcements also. There were 8 singers who also were table servers. The Lord and lady were offered a taste test of the food first, and had to approve of it before serving it to the guests. During the meal one of the guests caused a ruckus so was taken to the dungeon, upon the urging of the Herald and Lord of the house!
The 1st course was soup and brown bread. No spoons! Either you dipped the bread in the soup or you lifted the soup bowl to your mouth and drank it, since it was quite thin But tasty!
The 2nd course was BBQ ribs. Again no utensils. Finger food all the way! Just as in Medieval times!
The 3rd course was roasted chicken, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and broccoli. This time everyone got a steak knife. Some used this as a eating utensil, others used their fingers. Everyone had a finger bowl with water and a slice of lemon in it To clean fingers after eating.
The final course was a pudding/cheesecake with whip topping. Yummy! At this point the harp, violin and 8 singers performed about 30 minutes of music and comical entertainment while we ate our sweet treats. Then coffee and hot tea were served, unless you wanted more wine! Which was way plentiful all evening. Too soon it was all over. The cast all went out to the crowd tonshake hands and greet the guests. One serving wench/entertainer in a blue gown, came over to our GD and gave her a personal greeting!
As we walked out of the main gate of the castle, there was a bag piper in full costume, wailing away, and it was a truly a magical send off. We had pre-arranged with our taxi driver to pick us up after the banquet, and there he was. He whisked us back to Shannon in no time with good conversation both ways. Cost 18 Euros each way plus a tip. The whole evening was well worth it, enjoyable, and exactly the right way to spend our last night of a fabulous trip!
Back to the hotel for the finishing touches on the packing and arranged for a 5:45AM wake up call, although I set my iPhone alarm clock also.
-- Edited by murphy on Monday 23rd of February 2015 12:11:07 AM
-- Edited by murphy on Monday 23rd of February 2015 12:29:43 AM
Thursday Oct 16
Time to put in the final wrap on this trip report.
5:45AM wake up call. Final preparations & packing. Put all non-replaceable gift items and valuables in our back packs and carry on personal bag. We checked our roller bag upon arrival at the BA counter at 6:45 AM. It was definitely a stress free departure, and the 10 minute walk from the hotel to the terminal made it the easiest departure out of Ireland ever.
Check in and security was a breeze. Went to the VAT tax window and filed our paper work for gift items we had purchased. (Amounted to about $40.00 credit which showed up on my Dec CC statement). Didn't find ALL the receipts, but wish we had since VAT really adds up.
We were way early, so went to airport cafe for pastries, juice and coffee. We were sitting there eating, and suddenly our GD starts to slid off her chair like she was going under the table??? GM asked her what she was doing that for. She replied: "I don't want to leave Ireland!"
The flight left on schedule at 8:45 AM for the short trip to London. Arrived at 9:10, and it took about 80 minutes to change terminals which required that we go through security. Wow is LHR big. It was not as bad as I had feared, but we would probably elect not to use that airport again. Our other option was the fairly new Aer Lingus route SEA-SFO-Dublin, but in order to use SNN, London was our best option.
It was a 5+ hour layover, so wandered the airport shops then decided to have lunch since the departure was 3:05. Had our last meal of fish & chips (British style) and as airport food goes....so-so. England Fish & Chips are famous, but the Irish versions are equally good!
The departure was 55 minutes late, with lift off at 4:00PM. Shortly after passing over the west coast of Ireland, we experienced about 30 minutes of moderate (seemed severe) turbulence. It was the roughest ride we had ever had on a transatlantic flight. Finally smoothed out and we all managed a few cat-naps for the 10 hour flight to Seattle.
On time arrival at SEA and only one little glitch....I had packed all our paperwork, except flight info, into our checked luggage. We had to clear customs in Sea. We did this one floor above the baggage carousel. The agent gave us a bad time because we didn't have our power of attorney form for our GD with us when we came thru. Wanted us to prove that she was our GD. He asked her several questions, probably to verify we hadn't kidnapped her or ??? Was never asked for that document when leaving the country.
Our driver was waiting for us near the baggage carousel, and we were soon heading back down I-5 for an uneventful trip home, in time for our school girl to get a restful night.
As I have said many times, this was our best trip ever to Ireland. If you are considering taking children or grandchildren, I highly recommend it. I think the 10-11 age is ideal for a first trip and, there have been numerous request from her to take her again!
It won't be this year as we have just booked a 21 day trip to Mainland Europe (with L & G) who we traveled with twice to Ireland, NI, and Scotland. They are living up to their promise to now show us a little of Western Europe (he taught in Germany for 2 years at a military base). Also included will be a 14 day guided tour (bus) of Eastern Europe (Berlin to Berlin via Poland, Czech Rep, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary.) L has not traveled in these countries, since the iron curtain was up when he was there in the 70's. He also has not seen Berlin since all of the post cold war changes have taken place. Will spend 3 days in Germany at the beginning, and 3 days in Holland at the end. Open jaw or multi-city options are awesome! The best fare out of Seattle was 25% lower on Icelandair, and the added bonus is that we are taking advantage of a 1 night 1 day stop in Reykjavik for no extra charge!
Even though some planning will need to be done in the upcoming months for this next trip, I will still check in here on a regular basis, since this IS my favorite travel web sight!
You had me in tears with your GD at the airport saying "I dont want to leave Ireland". You now have an Ireland addict on your hands, as we do also even after our GDs 3rd trip.
I agree that age 10 is ideal. Our GD remembers little from age 5 (first trip), but very fond memories at 10 and 15 years old. She is still begging now at 18 years old, but we remind her she is on a 5 year schedule.
Im guessing your GD will be a more frequent Ireland traveler than ours.
Enjoyed your whole report. Thanks Dan.
You're KILLING me!
Not only does it sound like your Ireland visit was nearly perfect --- Your plans for NEXT year sound very much like the trip my wife has been bugging me to plan for us!
Thanks for the report and for sharing ...
Ahhhh....What a wonderful trip. Loved every moment of it and I'm sure your GD did even more. I'm so glad you splurged on the Bunratty banquet. Next time try the Corn Barn as it is equally entertaining. And thanks for your kind words about my forum.
Doors always open Dan. u know where it is now
Dan -- Resurrecting this to post this link for you: http://registers.nli.ie/parishes/0047
You mentioned trying to track down info on your ancestors from Dromtarriffe Parish and they have now Digitized their marriage and baptismal records.