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RE: "Bucket Lists" Ireland Trip


Bucket Lists Ireland Trip Day 19

 

      This day we were taking T&K to Blarney Castle.  The weather was clear and sunny as we departed Cork City and the north bound traffic was light on a Saturday morning.  As we approached Blarney Village we noticed patchy areas of fog.  The castle was protruding above the fog tops and it made for an interesting photo op.  

      When K realized that it involved a 100 plus step climb, she opted out to instead go shopping at Blarney Woolen Mills.  DW decided to accompany her since we had already been up in the castle 2 times.  Since T had a coupon for buy one get one free, I decided to go in with him.  I wanted to just spend the time on the walking trails in the castle grounds, on my bucket list since it had been too rainy on previous visits.  It was strange walking in and out of the fog and it was beautiful in its own strange way.  I got to the lake and it was nearly obscured by the fog.  Oh well maybe someday.....

      I met T back at the coffee stand in about an hour. He now had the "gift-of-gab"!  He enjoyed the scenic views from 4-5 stories up in the castle, and said it was a worthwhile stop.  They really do a remarkable job of upkeep on the castle and grounds, considering it is still privately owned.  Some complain about the admission price, but I felt it was reasonable considering the scope of the facility.  Touristy? Yes!  But one of those iconic places in Ireland you should probably not miss.  Word of advice:  visit early in the day or late in the day to avoid the coaches and big crowds.

     The gals had a great time shopping, and while T went in to have a look around and possibly find the gals, I sat out on the south side patio tables with yet another cup of coffee, in the warm autumn sunshine and "people watch"!  I was amused at the number of people that exited with huge bags of stuff purchased at the one-of-a-kind famous Blarney Woolen Mills, although they have smaller satellite shops in Ireland with the same merchandise.  However, this is a huge multi-story facility.  All in all a good choice for a place to visit.

     Next on our agenda was Cobh.  It was only about a 30-40 minute drive as we skirted the northeast parts of Cork City.  Parking was limited the last time we drove down on the Main Street by the dock.  Since St Colman's Cathedral was on T&K's list, we decided to take advantage of the free parking in the Cathedral rear parking lot.  We were really starting to take advantage of our GPS viewing, the square blue box with a blue capital "P" in the center, indicating the parking options in any city we entered.  St Colman's is a beautiful  Roman Catholic Cathedral Diocese of Cloyne, taking 47 years to build and completed in 1911.  It's massive size makes it one of the larger cathedrals in Europe and does have the largest bell carillon of 47 bells in a spire over 100 m tall!  An unmistakeable Cobh landmark, it is perched high on a hill adjacent to the north of Cobh City, with free entry.  We made our way down hill, realizing we would have a good climb getting back to our car.

     DW and I made our way directly down hill to the dock area to secure a spot on the "Spike Island" tour, while T&K visited the cathedral and the water front exhibits of the famine emigration, Titanic, and Lusitania, all 3 exhibits we had previously taken in.  However, Spike Island tours have been added since the last time we were here and this worked out well for all.

     Since it is about a three hour tour, we wanted the 1:00 time slot.  At first it appeared it was unavailable and full due to about 30 college students pre booked.  However, the tour operator agreed to get us and one other couple on this tour!  We wanted to be back in time for Saturday evening Mass since we had a huge day planned on Sunday with an early departure.  Cost 16 Euros/person.

     Spike Island is about a 30 minute boat trip out into the middle of Cork harbor, past the Irish Naval station also located on its own island.  Spike Island is 103 acres in size, and originally a Monastic settlement, later turned an 18th century British star fort for strategic defense since it was in the middle of Cork Harbor. When it was handed over to the Irish Free State it was renamed Fort Mitchel, after a famous national activist and political journalist who had been housed there. It was later turned into a prison, also do to its secure location surrounded by water.  It was sometimes called "Ireland's Alcatraz, and was used to house convicts prior to penal transportation.  It later housed IRA prisoners, then became a youth correction facility.  In 1985, there was a riot, and the inmates took control of all the prison personnel.  Block A was burned.  The prison closed in 2004.  In 2006 there was preliminary plans to build a new prison on sight. The prison was subsequently located elsewhere.

      In 2009 the property was transferred free of charge to Cork County Council to be developed as a heritage sight, for development as a tourist attraction.  It opened in the summer of 2015  And the results are what we experienced, and a job well done.  The exhibits included: the fort, gun placements, prison cells, punishment blocks, 1985 riot exhibition, recreation of a hull of a transportation ship, and an installation on John Mitchell.  There appeared to be a "survival camp" for youth.  Kudos to Cork County Council!

     The drive back to Cork City was easy arriving at 5:30 just in time once again for parking on OP street.  Just in time to catch the 6:00 Mass at St Peter and Paul.  A plain structure of Gothic revival design built in the mid 1800's, but beautifully decorated inside.  It was easy to find just off of  St. Patrick's street.  

     We had made plans to meet T&K at Sin E pub after Mass for dinner, pints and great music.  Unfortunately, DW had an accident as we crossed a busy street after Mass on the way to the pub.  She tripped on a cobble uneven surface and fell face down in the street. Her glasses were broken, blood was oozing out of cuts above and below her left eye.  I managed to get her gathered up off the street, broken glasses, loose lens, and over to the sidewalk.  I was scared, she was shook up and two young gals kept offering to call 911.  We made a careful examinations after clearing some blood and decided that the cuts were not severe enough call 911 or require stitches. By now we knew T&K would be concerned about where we were and why we were late.  We made our way to Sin E and it was packed out on a Sat night, and found out they  served limited food only on weekdays.  I made a trip, looking through the pub and no trace of T&K. Back outside the door where DW was waiting, and  we assumed that they went elsewhere to find food.  I decided to give them a quick call on the cell phone, and to our surprise they were there, but upstairs.  They had ordered our pints and had them waiting. So up we went.  They were pretty shocked to see DW's face as it was now starting to bruise pretty bad.

    Finished our pints and we decided we needed food.  Yelp showed decent reviews for Gallagher's Gastro Pub nearby so we headed out.  DW and I shared a seafood tapas: Meh....T&K shared a pork roast dinner and they faired better.  That was our 2nd and probably last experience at a Gastro pub.

     Our plans for trad music was now dashed as DW needed to go back, clean up the cuts, and apply ointment and take some pain tablets.  And besides, my Nebraska Husker football game vrs Indiana was due to start soon, streaming in on my iPhone, so that finished out our night as well as getting repacked to check out in the morning.  

     T was able to get the glass lens to stay put using sewing thread, and that would have to do for two days until we could get to an optical store on Monday.

More to come later....

Dan

     

      



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I hope Mrs Murphy's injuries were only temporary and minor.  Didn't she suffer a broken bone a few years back, up in Mayo?

I trust she won't let these unfortunate incidences deter her from continuing to enjoy the 'Ole Sod'.  confuse  confuse 

 



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Oh no! Sorry to hear about the fall. It is easy to do on cobblestones and uneven pavement in Ireland. My husband had an adventure once in a Belfast hospital.



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Bucket lists Ireland trip Day 20

 

We checked out of Creedons Sunday morning by 8, and everything was still closed, so not even a cup of coffee before we hit the road....eastbound.  We had originally planned to spend 4 nights in Youghhal, then changed our minds to Cork City.  So we felt we should make Youghhal our breakfast/coffee stop.  The Youghhal Hotel was the best option for Sunday morning breakfast, and the eggs Benedict were awesome. 

     This is a former manufacturing seaside town, the railroad closure in the 70's hurt, but in early 2000,  factories have closed and jobs were lost, and the result is now tourism is king.  This medieval city is pretty cool.  It was once one of the busiest ports in Ireland. Would it warrant a 4 night stay? Probably not but a 2 night stay might tick your box.  There were narrow streets with one way traffic through the downtown core.  The big draw:  the 3 blue flag beaches, as well as the clock tower in town center.  We made a brief stop at the tower, then climbed the hill behind the clock up to the old town walls for a spectacular birds-eye view of the city and harbor.

    We had a big day planned and had to move on, after a brief stop at the TI office.  Dunmore East and Passage East was on my bucket list, but so was Waterford, so opted for the quicker route direct to Waterford.  It was a pleasant Sunday drive, and we arrived Waterford before noon, with our ultimate destination being Wexford this evening.

     Noticed massive amounts of parking lots, and parked near "the triangle" along the water front, and made our way immediately to Reginals Tower, the first of 4 places we wanted to visit in this compact "triangle". Reginals Tower, one of the few places in Ireland named after a Norseman, one of 17 towers  that once encircled the city,  it was built by the Anglo/Normans on the sight of a Viking Fort.  It dates back to around the mid 1200's. It forms the apex of the triangle, and was strategic in nature, as part of the town walls.  The walls are 7-10 feet thick, and the stone spiral staircase is easily accessible for the Heritage Pass guided tour.  It is the largest of the six surviving towers.

     Our next stop was the new, but famous Waterford Crystal show room and gift shop.  K was extremely interested in this, DW and myself not so much since we had visited the old factory in 2006.  It had closed in 09 due to bankruptcy. In 2010 it was relocated here, almost back to its original spot on the triangle.  Guided tours are offered, but none of our crew was interested.  We noted that we didn't find anything for sale in the showroom for under 60Euros!  K did make a purchase!

     Next stop, Bishop Palace/Waterford Treasures museum.  Combined tours cost was 7.50 Euros/person.  Really cool OLD stuff in the 250 year old Georgian Palace.  Artifacts from 1741 onward to present day are displayed from Waterford's  historic past, including a Napoleon Bonaparte cross, the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal.

     And then one of the most impressive exhibits, for me in this 28 day trip, was the medieval Cloth of Gold Vestments displayed in the museum.  These vestments included three large cloaks, 2 Dalmatians, and a chasuble which were embroidered in Bruges during medieval times, in the 1460's, the Italian silk was woven in Florence.  They are the greatest treasures of Medieval Ireland, with various scenes from the Bible, and the New Testament, and the life of the Virgin Mary.

     What makes this display so interesting, is that they were buried/hidden in 1650, because of the 17th century wars of religion, before the city of Waterford fell to the army of Oliver Cromwell.  Those who hid them kept this secret the rest of their lives.  They were discovered 123 years later when the medieval cathedral was being demolished.  They survived, remarkably in good condition, found in an iron chest from Spain, probably from a wine merchant, buried deep in an underground vault.  They were sent back to mainland Europe to be cleaned by specialists before being returned to the Bishop of the Church of Ireland.  He in turn gifted them to his Catholic counterpart and are on display as one of the centerpieces of this museum.  Awesome!  

     Incidentally, Waterford was the wine Capitol of Ireland, since so much wine was imported into the country through this city.  Another real interesting part, of the start of this tour, was the 1270's era Cloisters' Hall.  The original pillars of Dundry stone are still there, a soft limestone that was easy to carve. It was imported and used as ships' ballast from Dundry in the South of England. 750 years later, the stone from the same quarry was used to build the modern day museum building located right up above!

     Wow, there is a lot to see here in Waterford, in a short half a day, and if time allows, this city might warrant a 2 night stay also.  But it was time for us to move on after soup/sandwich/beverage from a nearby pub.  It was a late afternoon blending into twilight on the drive into Wexford that evening.  We didn't have our usual 6 pm deadline to check in to a B&B since we had a reservation at the Wexford Riverbank Hotel.

     This hotel was quite nice.  It was located just across the big bridge (walking distance) from downtown Wexford. There was limited parking and that was the only small complaint we had, and that was mainly do to events going on at the hotel, and non-hotel guests eating at the hotel restaurant.  We booked 3 nights here, and we always managed to secure on sight parking.  The room rate was 80Euros/double.

    The gals were pretty tired from a big day of touring and content to just stay in the rooms.  T and I slipped down to the bar to share a plate of chips (French fries) and a couple of pints to wash em down.  We could get use to this type of life!  Lol. But, we had a lot more to see in just one more week of touring SE Ireland.

More to come....

Dan



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Bucket list Ireland trip Day 21

 

     Our rooms were spacious and quite comfortable at the Riverbank Hotel.  We had a great quiet night of rest.  The 80Euro/person/night rate didn't include breakfast. A full Irish buffet breakfast was available, but we opted for the lighter continental breakfast for 6.50Euro/person.  

     T was coming down with a cold.  DW needed to get her glasses fixed from her fall in Cork City.  And it was time to do laundry again.  We loaded our laundry, and headed down to Tesco so T could look for cold meds.  There are outdoor (but under roof) self serve laundry machines at some Tescos found some places in Ireland, and we took advantage of that here in Wexford.  We started the washers, T&K went to Tesco, and DW and I headed to downtown Wexford to find an optical store.  I asked a local, and he suggested a reputable shop a block down Main Street.  They were able to replace the little rubbery/plastic thingy that held the lens against the frame and had it fixed within 15 minutes.  No charge!  We couldn't believe it!  Amazing country, this Ireland!

     Bought a cup of coffee at a nearby fast food store (to remain nameless) and it was the worst cup of coffee I ever had in Ireland.  But when you need to be a customer to use the toilet......

Headed back to Tesco.  K was in 7th heaven here in this super Tesco!  T not so much!  I asked an associate there who the parent company of Tesco was. He claimed Walmart!?!  Go figure!  Clothes were in the dryer by now and almost ready to remove.  Total cost 14 Euros. Not bad.  Took clean clothes back to hotel then set out for our day-trip.

     We Had lost about a half day due to the above excitement but we were determined to make the most of it.  I had drawn up a list of 10 places we wanted to visit from the Wexford region, and it was way too much for the remaining day and a half.  I had drawn a line through Wexford, figuring to do the south half one day and the north half the other day.  Decided to head north, and  make the best of it.  First stop was the JFK (Kennedy) homestead.  This is the farm from which the Ancestors of JFK (great grandfather) hailed from before they emigrated to Boston.  JFK visited this farm during his presidency and he had tea with elderly relatives in the kitchen of their farm cottage.  It made history in Ireland.  The heritage sight has been well preserved and the museum is also very informative.  Cost:  6 Euros/person entry fee.  It is easy to find (with GPS) located near the small town of Dunganstown, just south of New Ross.  

     The receptionist at the museum suggested driving up to the top of a nearby hill, or earthen mound just east of the farm.  It had a paved road to the top and it was quite a scenic overlook.  It was maintained like a park, and would be a great place to hike or picnic.

     Next stop was the town of New Ross.  We had visited the famine ship on a previous trip, and decided to see the Ross Tapestry this time. T&K were torn about which one to see, but decided to hang in there with us.  The tapestry is located only a few blocks from the famine ship and it would make sense to see both if so inclined.  Parking is convenient, but had to pay and display as was the case many times over four weeks.  

      I have to admit,  that this was a stop,  planned mainly for the ladies, but T and I did enjoy it too, once we got inside and saw what it was all about.  This is truly a marvelous display of community involvement for the sake of historical preservation.  It is a series of 15 hand embroidered tapestries of a 4'x6' size, by over 150 volunteers since 1998.  The scenes are taken from art work and enlarged for this application, with thread color, that the ladies strived to match the artists pallet.

     It depicts the events around the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in SE Ireland and the founding of New Ross.  There were 14 tapestries on display,  as the 15th in the series was yet unfinished.  Admission price of 6 Euros/person included a small audio device with a headset/earphones and the story audio/visual behind each tapestry was quite interesting and very informational regarding this area's early history.  We probably spent at least 90 minutes there.  Well worth it if you are in the area.

    A nearby pub touted some of the most economical pints in Ireland, so we owed it to science to find out!  We had a great visit with the bar keep.  So many friendly people everywhere in Ireland....have I mentioned that yet?

     Soon it was time to head back to the hotel.  Had some time to relax in the room before we gathered up in the hotel restaurant for dinner.  Not in the mood to drive OR walk across the bridge to find food, so opted for the hotel restaurant and it was quite good.  I was due for seafood chowder and also tried the chicken satay (peanut butter) salad. Tasted much better than I thought it would.

     I was in the mood to seek Trad music tonight, but none of the rest of our crew was interested, so I took off on foot, across the bridge to find it.  The hotel receptionist had given me a list, and suggested the Maggie May pub. It was an easy walk and soon settled in with a pint.  About 9:30, the music did indeed start, and it was great.  It was a Dad, 15 year old son, and a friend, and they played a variety of flutes and tin whistles, guitar, banjo, and Bodhran.  Had a very enjoyable evening. I don't know if my favorite thing in Ireland is Guinness or Trad music, but I had the best of both this night!

 

More to come.....

Dan

     



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Bucket lists Ireland trip Day 22

 

     It isTues Oct 18, and Indian Summer goes on!  We feel truly blessed to have so many days in Ireland with so little rain, and it is October!  Another hotel continental breakfast, and we are on the road headed straight away to Hook Head Peninsula and its famous lighthouse.  It is the oldest lighthouse and the oldest working lighthouse in the world, with 800 years in service.  It marks the east entrance to Waterford Harbor.  We were anxious to see it and it was our top attraction to visit in this part of the country.

     We learned about William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, son-in-law of Strongbow, when we visited Waterford 2 days earlier.  Marshall had tried to navigate this area in a terrible storm, and vowed that if he survived, he would build an Abbey (Tintern) and probably also accounted for the building of Hook Lighthouse.  Monks were the original light keepers, and it is thought that they had built fires on this location before the lighthouse was built, to help guide the ships to safety.

     The admission charge was only 7 Euros/2 adults with our 2/1 coupon from our Heritage Ireland coupon book.  This booklet had been acquired by us on the internet prior to departure, and we utilized it several times for 10% or 20% off, and sometimes 2 for the price of one.  This is different than the OPW Heritage pass that I've mention previously.

     The guided tour was just the 4 of us, since we had arrived early in the day.  And it was a wise decision as coach tours were rolling in as we left.  It was a worthwhile tour with lots of info about the light and this area of Wexford/Waterford Counties.  It was quite a sight from the upper glassed in observation deck (desirable protection from a stiff cool wind).  

      There was a snack bar/deli/gift shop there, and we purchased sandwiches, crisps, and beverages for later.

      Next stop, Tintern Cistercian Abbey located nearby also on the Hook Peninsula.  Established in 1203 by Marshall, now in ruins, but partially restored, it is quite impressive in its own right.  The Monks from Tintern Abbey in Wales settled into this later Ireland Abbey.  After the Abbey closed in the 16th century, it became a private residence with modifications in the residence part of the structure that were well preserved.  The last of the Colclough family, to live there was Lucy, and at the end of her tenure there, she gifted it to the State, and it became a National Monument.  We took a self guided tour and it was impressive.  Ate our lunch out of the boot (trunk) of our car.

     Next stop was Johnstown Castle and Agriculture museum.  Arrived around 3:00.  We knew our time was short for such a huge museum, but decided for 6.50 Euros, we should go for it.  The castle is quite nice, from the outside, no access allowed inside.  Bypassed the castle after photo ops and on to the museum.  So much good stuff from yester-year in Ireland.  All kinds of agriculture related machines, autos, tractors, tools, equipment, and a real good presentation of the potato blight and the effect it had on the famine.  90 minutes didn't begin to do it justice, I would recommend around 3 plus hours to take it all in.  5:00 soon rolled around and we departed, after a purchase of sticky toffee pudding and fruitbrac! From the tea room,  For takeaway.  Both yummy for in-room dessert later that evening!

      My list for the south side of Wexford County had originally included: Killinick and the nearby Rathmacknee Castle (you need to contact owner for a key), Yola Farm and Folk Park near Togeat, the harbor village of Kilmore Quay with a maritime museum, AND boat trips to Saltee Island.  But no time this trip for ANY of these, (another excuse to return to Ireland someday) so on to Rosslare Strand (beach) for an evening pre-sunset stroll, some in-car time at Rosslare Harbour to watch a huge ferry from France unload, then a spur-of-the-moment decision to have our evening meal at the "Last Pub" in Ireland (if you are eastbound on the ferry, I guess!)  Yes, that was the name:  "Last Pub". Food was really good!  And the beer too!  It would leave a final good impression, if leaving Ireland on the Ferry.

     By the time we were finished eating, it was REALLY dark, but not very far to drive to get to the Riverbank Hotel in Wexford.  Most of the time, so far with this car, we had quit driving before dark.  A couple of times, we drove in 15-20 minutes of evening twilight.  I wasn't really happy at those times, with the headlight situation on our rental car, but didn't think too much about it.  Tonight was different.  It was way dark, and car after car was flashing their lights at us.  We stopped to look, and our huge ring of bright LED running lights were on, but no headlights.  This was disconcerting but our headlights definitely  were not on, the LED ring was offering just enough light to drive....sort of!  I had assumed it was the kind of vehicle that the lights would automatically come on, but now not sure if there were mechanical problems or operator error.  Fiddled around with all the buttons and levers, but no results.  By now we were on the outskirts of Wexford so we limped on in to the hotel.

     Of course, there was no owners manual in the car, so I decided to do some research on the Internet.  The first thing that popped up was:  lots of complaints on the Internet about trouble with headlights on this type of car.  "Bingo" that must be the problem. Further research showed there was a dealer right outside of Wexford on our way out of town so planned to stop in and have it checked out first thing in the morning.

     Otherwise, it had been quite a good day, and while we didn't get to see everything on the list, it was another fine day to tour SE Ireland.  We all agreed that so far, we really liked Wexford County.

 

More to come....

Dan

 

     

      

 

     



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Bucket lists Ireland trip day 23

 

      Checked out of Riverbank Hotel.  We really liked this lodging choice.   Within walking distance of downtown, full service restaurant/bar, clean & comfortable and would stay here again!

      First stop was the Hyundai dealership to get the headlight situation sorted.  Turns out it was operator error (I'm not used to the new-fangled gadgets on these new cars).  30 second tutorial by the car sales agent, and we were back on the road.

     Our route today was designed to take advantage of the 87k coastal scenic "R" roads between Wexford and Arklow.  Turned north on R741, then right on R742, and right again on R743 to Curracloe Strand. This is a very popular summer tourist destination with numerous B&B's, Inns and caravan parks.  Not very many folks today.  It was made famous in 1997 by the filming of "Saving Private Ryan" at nearby Ballinesker beach, due to its similarity to Omaha Beach in Normandy.  We walked the beach, and shared it with dogs and kids.  Beautiful!

    Drove north back on R742 to Kilmuckridge then a 2 k detour to Morriscastle Strand.  This is another beautiful blue flag beach that is part of a 22 k string of beaches, and this dune sheltered one is known as the golden mile.  A great get-away spot for families with children since the water is shallow here, and attended by a lifeguard June-August.  Fishing is popular here as well as numerous caravan parks.

       Time to move on and soon were in Arklow.  Stopped at a bank to visit an atm for some Euros since our next B&B preferred that method of payment.  Not too much farther and we arrived in Avoca.  First stop:  Avoca hand weavers. We had an early morning stop here in 06, and the looms weren't yet running that time of day.  Today we were fascinated by the vibrant colors, thousands of strands of wool threads being fed into the looms and what a beautiful product as a result.                            

      Avoca restaurants/gift shops are very popular here in Ireland and there are several more, but this is the original one. The restaurant part of the operation has been sold off to a new owner, but the weaving portion is still owned by Avoca company.  We bought a cook book souvenir  since we do like their food.  T & K bought gift items for grandchildren.  We had a delicious Quiche and salad for lunch, since we only had a light breakfast/coffee at a fuel stop earlier.

      Back on the road, and the next stop is the famous "meeting of the Waters" not far away.  What a worth-while stop!  Beautiful setting, so we spent quite a bit of time here, soaking in the scenery.   T located a Geo-cache nearby in a fence, and we enjoying the warm afternoon sunshine.  There was a lodge right above and the Guinness sign in the window was beckoning us.  It was quite a setting, an all glass overlook above the meeting of the waters.  Meeting of the Waters was a much better stop than I had envisioned!

      Our next lodging destination was in Wicklow town. It was too early to head there yet, and T was anxious to do some more geocaching.  There were 2 caches showing up on the way to Wicklow, one at a Church of Ireland, and one at a Catholic Church.  Again, both were in a beautiful setting and provided stops off the beaten path (but not too far off),  interesting places to visit, but we would have never found them if not geocaching.  

     Our next three nights were booked at Glen na Smole B&B.  What a lovely hostess!  A very nice B&B on the west outskirts of Wicklow.  We wanted to be closer to down-town, but nothing available that suited us.  Our hostess has been doing this B&B operation for many years and it showed, due the attention to details that made this a great choice.  She was near the end of the season, and she would be closing down in a couple of weeks for the winter season.  We had a long conversation about being involved in tourism, and how exhausting a job it is for a Mom and Pop operation.  We found common ground, all of us agreeing that at a certain point, we were getting too old and worn out to keep up a year-round operation. (We also close our tourist business in the off-season).  She had a go-to recommendation for dinner, and it was spot on. Made the short drive down the hill, found convenient parking nearby, and settled into the Philip Healy Pub for good food and drink.  Suggestion:  the tiger prawns were awesome!  DW said the lasagna was great too, and T & K agreed.

     Upon arrival back at the B&B, we were treated to a turf fire in the sitting room.  Took advantage of the wifi and caught up on emails and news from home.  Found brochures there that mentioned that Wicklow County is the "garden spot" of Ireland. We were to find that to be true the following day!

       More to come.....Dan

 



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Dan --

     Really enjoying the report.  While I've done the Wicklow to Arklow coastal drive twice, I've had the Wexford to Arklow coastal route on my radar for some time -- thanks for the tips!  The Riverbank was where we stayed, in Wexford, in April of 2012 -- loved the location and the staff.



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Bob, As usual, I had more on my list: R742 to Ballygarrett and Cahore Pt, R772 to Arklow Bridge, Ferrybank Harbor Arklow, R772 to Mizen Head,  Brittas Bay, Ardmore Pt.,  Wicklow Head.

Maybe next time..... Dan



-- Edited by murphy on Tuesday 31st of January 2017 02:25:26 PM

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Love all the detail. I was at Johnstown Castle recently. There are plans to re-do the castle (currently lots of offices and classrooms in it) and open it to the public in the next few years. All subject to funding of course. There is a wonderful walk around the lake that I highly recommend. Your Ireland "bucket list" will never end!

I had sticky toffee pudding at the cafe at Johnstown too. It was delicious.



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Bucket Lists trip Ireland Day 24

 

       A B&B breakfast, 2nd to none!  Porridge with Baily's!  Does it get any better than this in Ireland?  Topped off with a couple of poached eggs over brown bread toast. Heaven on earth!  The others agreed that the full-Irish breakfast hit the spot too!

      Everything on today's list was fairly close by so a leisurely 9 AM departure and first stop Glendalough.  After only a brief stop here in 06, we were eagerly anticipating a revisit. Glendalough means "valley of two lakes" and this area was made famous by St. Kevin and his founding of a monastic settlement.  'Two rivers form a confluence' here also.  The original monastery dated back to the mid 500's, Kevin's death is recorded in the year 618.  It continued on as a holy sight and the ruins visible here today are from the 1100-1200's.  

      A Heritage pass sight, it offered a short tour and overview of the area, and we were then off to do a self guided tour of the cemetery, well preserved round tower, church, and priests house.  Quite impressive!  But the longer walking tour of the lower and upper lake was the most enjoyable.  The forecast on this day was to be one of the best of the entire trip.  Temps into the 60's, bright sunshine, no wind in the glacier valley and it was a mostly shirt-sleeve type of weather!  We couldn't have picked a better day for an outing like this.

     Several times over the course of this trip, we encountered gaggles of school kids, on field trip outings.  Today was no exception.  We were amazed at how orderly and well behaved and attentive these groups of students were on every occasion.  And not just on school trip outings. We often were around groups of students on lunch break or at school release time in the afternoon.

       I was especially amazed, since I had spent a 3 year stint back in the class room during and after the recession of 09 when our new business was on a tenuous footing.  Student behavior has a lot to be desired in the schools in our area.  Ireland's schools are highly rated and it is no wonder US corporations are relocating in Ireland to take advantage of a highly trained and smart graduates entering the work force (low corporate tax structure too). It was pointed out to us many times over 4 weeks, many US companies are doing business in Ireland, mostly high tech and pharmaceutical in nature.  

      Our scenic lower lake walk on the south side was awesome.  A great reflection of the terrain on the glassy still lake.   We crossed over through the car park and vendor area and toward  the north side of the upper lake path heading up to the deserted mining village (purple route on brochure) and on to the upper waterfall.  We had just started up the north side path and we heard tremendous shrieking and roaring coming from up above.  We first thought it might be some of the field trip kids horsing around up there, but we were soon informed by an Irish local that it was resident deer (bucks) now in full rut!  Impressive sound that we had never heard before. Kept a watchful eye open for them, but didn't spot any.  

     It was a semi-strenuous up hill walk, and DW soon tuckered out so stopped about the 3/4 point, to rest on a bench along the path.  I continued on up to the falls. What a sight.  This was truly one of the best day outings for me, so far, on this trip.  St Kevin's bed (cave) was sign-posted and visible on the opposite side of the lake, but not accessible. The upper walk round trip took 75 minutes.

      Returned to the middle car park and vendor area, and shared a "99". Then back to the visitors center to meet T & K who opted to not take the upper lake walk.  Decided to next drive the scenic  Wicklow gap.  This was part of the Wicklow national park as was the upper lake area at Glendaloch.  The fall colors were brilliant, as they had been, now for over two weeks.  We spotted an antique shop. Had to stop. T found some old Irish coins, and being a coin collector had to buy some. I believe they were called "punt". 

      T. spotted a geocache at Nunscross so we had to check that out.  Soon we entered the village of Ashford, home of "Mount Usher Gardens".  We only had about 90 minutes of daylight left, but opted to have a look-see.  Cost 13.50 Euros/person. Lots of beautiful  flowers, but maybe would have been more of them in the summer season prime.  However the trees and shrubs showed all their autumn splendor. A worth while stop.  Right across the street was a pub/restaurant/hotel called "Chester Beatty Inn". A great menu and tasty food especially the shepherds pie, after a round of shared tempura prawns for a starter.

     It was just a short after-dark drive back to Glen na Smole B&B.  Our trusty GPS was worth it's weight in gold, I would have never attempted this night time drive without it.  A few blocks north of our B&B we caught a glimpse of a brightly lit athletic complex.  In the sitting room, The turf fire was enticing, but decided to inquire with the hostess about what might be going on over at the athletic complex.  She said a variety of youth sports takes place like Irish football and soccer, but that rugby was now in season.  She said it was open to the public and only a short walk from the B&B.

    Now my curiosity was getting the best of me.  No one else was interested, so I bundled up and took off on foot.  And no torch (flash light). Bad choice!  The entry way to the complex turned into a really narrow and really dark street, with high banks on both sides. It was a hair raising experience as cars were entering and leaving, parents delivering and picking up their young athletes.  Several times I jumped to the edge and clung to the rocks and vines.

     Finally arrived at the brightly lit 4-plex field. 3 rugby games going on.  Similar to the youth soccer leagues here in the US.  Rugby was really a lot more interesting to watch than I figured it would be!  A rough and tumble game.  It gave a new meaning to the word "scrum". Started visiting with a young fellow, watching intently since his son was playing.  He filled me in on the basics of the game.  When they all piled on to get the ball....that was the scrum, the way I understood it!   He had an older son who was away at a boarding school that specialized in Rugby, and he had high hopes his son would someday play Professional Rugby.  Had a scholarship in athletics and academics.  Turns out, this man and son had made Ireland famous due to some extreme high mountain climbing.  They held world records.  Don't recall the family name now, but I googled it when I got back to the B&B and sure enough....

      Another item checked off my bucket list, getting to see another Irish sport...live!  The turf fire had dwindled, but just enough left to take the chill out of my body.  It really had been another grand day in Ireland!

 

More to come.....Dan



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Bucket lists Ireland Trip Day 25

 

     Departed Wicklow town, and headed northbound towards Dublin.  The route took us near Greystones, a seaside resort town in northern County Wicklow.  We stopped near the man -made stone docks for coffee and to check out the end of a popular walking trail.  This trail was originally a supply support road for the building of the railroad, an expensive endeavor since it was right on the rocky coastline.  The rail road declined in use with only a couple of trains a day, in the 1980's, with the line ending down by Rosslare.  But the arrival of the electric "Dart" using this line revived the rail road with several runs per day.

     My thought was to take the 6.2 k walking trail from Greystones to Bray, and send the rest onward to Bray by car.  But, we did not have anybody else signed up to drive the car, and they clearly were not enthused about driving!  Plan "B" was to drive on to Bray, another seaside resort community on the rail line, and walk back towards Greystones.  That end of the route was reported to be the most scenic anyway.

      On to Bray we drove, parked in the tourist shop/dock area, just a few blocks from the trail head.  The gals were content to shop while T and I did the trail walk.  T was interested in a leisurely stroll and I wanted a brisk walk so left him behind.  It was an amazing 60 minute walk.  Beautiful scenery, rocky cliffs, the Irish Sea with maritime traffic dotting the horizon.  I can see why this is such a popular get-away spot for Dubliners!  My outbound 30 minute trek took me about 1/2 of the way to Greystones.  Along the way, there were possible side treks to Lord Meath's Lodge, Kilruddery House, Raheem na gClig Church ruins, and St. Patrick's well pilgrimage sight. No time for any of this so headed onward.  Turned back, rejoined T, and headed to the coffee shop for a snack and beverage, where the ladies were waiting for us.

     Back on the road and we skirted around Dublin on the M50.  Traffic was fairly light on this day, a Saturday, until we got close to the airport. The last full 3 days in Ireland, we would spend in or near Dublin.  T & K were going to see Dublin on their own, since DW and I had been here a couple of times, spending a total of 5 days.  We had already seen most everything we were interested in.  Our bucket list now included the suburb communities north and south of Dublin. and 3 more spots in Dublin. T and K would spend these three days in downtown Dublin.

      Arrived at the Premier Inn Dublin Airport.  We had stayed here before and really liked this hotel.  Clean, comfortable, modern rooms at a reasonable price of only 259 Euros/double/3 nights.  And not the noisy hub-bub of being downtown, which we had also previously experienced. The 30 minute bus ride each way, was the only downside, but with 3 days here, we decided to purchase 3-day passes instead of trying to have the proper amount of coins to feed the bus meter box.  Upon arrival....Surprise!  Our rooms were already cleaned, despite requesting a top floor room!  The view of Dublin from here,  8 floors up is even quite impressive.  

     Dropped off our luggage and headed to the closest bus stop, a mere 2 block walk.  Headed on downtown and dropped off at the O'Connell street stop.  The TI office was right there, and we went in to buy passes and so T&K could get info regarding HOHO bus and attractions they wanted to see.  We opted to purchase the 72 hour leap card for 39 Euros/2 adults.  This card got us on any city bus, (including our shuttle back and forth to the Premier Inn) the Dart or the Luas.  T &K ended up with a bus-only pass since they were spending most of their time downtown.   We split up with T and K at this point, who were getting on the hoho bus for an overview of the city, and DW and I  headed around the corner to catch a bus to the botanical gardens, one of 3 bucket list items for us in Dublin that afternoon.

     There was free entry at the National Botanical Gardens, and we enjoyed the walk around the formal gardens and through the glass green houses.  It was a huge display of flowers, shrubs, and trees from around the world. We Didn't get to see it all, because the afternoon shadows were creeping in.  Glasnevin cemetery is adjacent to the botanical garden, accessible by a gate on the south side.  2nd item on our bucket list. 

      Glasnevin opened in 1832 as a result of Daniel O'Connel's efforts to establish a cemetery where Catholics could be buried along side Protestants, not legally possible prior to that.  It is an impressive cemetery.  We were awe struck by the sheer size of the stone monument grave markers and Celtic crosses.  The cemetery covers 124 acres.  Notable Irish heroes are buried here including Daniel O'Connell, Michael Collins, Stewart Parnell, and Eamon de Valera, the first elected leader of the Irish free state.

     Third on my list was the "grave diggers pub" (John Kavanaugh-official name).  It is so called 'grave digger' or 'diggers'  due to its proximity to the cemetery, and notable Dubliners (besides grave diggers) reportedly hung out there!  It was never modernized to plastic and Formica in the 60's like many old Dublin pubs were, due to hard economic times and out of the way location.  It is pretty much an authentic old Dublin pub that looks much the same  today as it did in 1833, with the 6th generation of the Kavanaugh family now operating it.  

      Along with its famous pints of Guinness and other local beer, we had our evening meal of Irish Spring Rolls, and pita rolls with Mediterranean dip.  This place was really buzzing on this Saturday evening, mostly a younger crowd.

      Soon it was time to find our way to a bus stop to head back to Premier Inn Airport.  Not so easy! Discovered that at this time of night, bus route frequency had dwindled.  Upon inquiring with the bar tender, we found out it would be 30 min walk to a bus stop that served our destination.  DW was not enthused about an after-dark walk in this part of Dublin, and me neither.  After several minutes of serious contemplation, we decided a taxi ride to the bus stop might be in order. 

      No wifi was available to check on a taxi, so we walked into a nearby package liquor store for information.  A young lady offered to call a cab before us.  Nearby, a middle-age business man was purchasing 2 bottles of wine and overheard our dilemma.  He walked up and offered us a ride in HIS car to the bus stop.  I looked apprehensively at the young lady getting ready to dial the taxi.  She gave me an approving look and very affirmative head nod, so we agreed to get in a car with a perfect stranger and go for a car ride.   Whew....we are getting brave!  

     It turned out just fine. Zip here, zoom there, a 180 degree turn around in the middle of the street!  and we were at the bus stop!  We offered him 5 Euros for gas money and he absolutely refused to take it.  Is this a great country or what!  Soon we were back at the Premier and caught up with T and K to share each other's afternoon adventures.

 

More to come......Dan

     



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Bucket lists Trip Ireland day 25

 

     With two full days remaining, and staying in Dublin, we had decided to make the most of our 72 hour leap cards and figure out how to use the Dart mass transit system.  The leap card is really a practical tool. You simply enter and swipe your magnetic strip card, getting on the bus, or swipe your card at the entry gate area to get on the dart.  

     We took the city bus down town, and walked a few blocks to Connolly Station.  Schedules and gates were clearly posted, and after some initial studying and questioning of station personal, it turned out to be pretty much user friendly.  

      Our plan this day was to start in Dublin and head North and explore the seaside communities all the way out to Malahide, which I believe is the last stop on the North end of the Dart line.  Our first stop was Malahide.  We had been here earlier in the trip to visit the castle the day we picked T&K up from DUB airport.  Today we wanted to explore the down town area, and the waterfront/marina  both close by and easy walking distance.  Still nice clear weather, but an autumn chill was becoming more noticeable day by day.  

        With our Malahide sight seeing finished, we decided we were over due for coffee and breakfast.  Slipped into Esquire House in downtown Malahide for a bacon/egg/sausage panini with potatoes and tomatoes on the side.  Had a nice chat with a local couple at the next table.

       Back to the station to board the Dart for Howth. This stop is not on the main rail line, it takes an eastbound jog.  So we had to change  trains at the Howth junction.  Howth was another attractive tourist and week-end resort town with a substantial water front facing Dublin Bay, which was its northern boundary.  The Howth cliff walk looked enticing, but not time for that today.  We checked in at the TI and asked if there was anything exciting on the agenda today in Howth.  Besides bird watching, cycling, hiking, boating, and fishing, we found out there was a Sunday afternoon Trad music session in a nearby pub, and that was just what I hoped to do!  Meandered down to O'Connell Pub, lucky to secure a  table, and settled in to enjoy a group of 7-8 musicians, in a rare afternoon session.

       It looked like mighty good food being served all around us so we opted to share a bowl of mussels for our light lunch.  The garlick/butter sauce on the mussels  was awesome, to dip the Irish brown in.

        Mission accomplished, we had learned to use the Dart, explored 2 suburb seaside communities, and topped it off with trad music!  All done by happenstance, and we couldn't have planned it out any better if we tried!  Got back on the Dart for our return to Dublin

       We had made plans to meet T&K at O'Neill's pub for dinner and maybe music.  Little did they know there were two O'Neill's pubs, and we got a call from T that O'Neill's pub was closed this Sunday night.  They were at the wrong one.  We informed them of that possibility, since they had just left Trinity College.  They were not in the mood to go looking for the right one, and had already settled into The Longstone Bar.  They re-routed us to this location, and we headed there.  The special tonight was Fish and Chips, which we shared, and which were very good, as usual, most times/places in Ireland.

       Walked back to northbound bus stop for the trip back to Premier.  T&K also had an enjoyable day.  We Made the decision to plan to drop the rental car, the first thing the next morning.  As it turns out, we could have dropped it off as soon as we got to Dublin, but at that time we were uncertain if Dart would suit our needs, so decided to hang on to the car.... just in case.  Totally unnecessary, and with the daily price of car rentals, in hind sight, we could have probably saved some money by dropping it earlier.  As it was, we saved one day of rental, although the fine print in the contract says they don't have to do that in event of an early return.  But two times now we have returned a car early and Hertz has  adjusted the price.

      More to come......Dan



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Bucket Lists Ireland Trip Day 27

 

     First order of business today, was to return the car.  There was a Texaco petrol station across the street from where we were getting on the bus to go down town.  Topped off the tank with 55 Euros of diesel.  Total spent in 19 days of driving was 201 Euros, and 2,685 k. driven with this car.  Final rental price: 1,008 Euros.  No hassles returning it, since we had the full coverage walk-away insurance including tires and glass.

      Took the Hertz shuttle back to the terminal and then caught the Premier shuttle (1 Euro) back to the hotel.

      T&K were both pretty well worn out by now, and opted to just hang out in/near the hotel instead of going back downtown this final day.  They weren't interested in joining us on the dart either, so DW and I headed to the bus stop, downtown, and back on the Dart, this time South bound.

     Today we were like old pros, almost completely at ease using this mode of travel.  We caught the Greystones/Bray line at Dart Platform #6.  Our first stop was Dun Laoghaire.  (Pronounced dun-leer-ee, I believe!). Previously called Kingstown until 1920, it was a major shipping port from Britain.  It is located about 12k south of Dubs.  It is a Victorian era sea-side resort, with two massive granite piers extending out into the Irish Sea. We walked out quite a ways on the east pier. Cool!  Breezy and with a light sea spray, it was an exhilarating walk.

     Returned to the main shopping area, George Street, and dashed into a bistro for quiche and salad.  Nearby was the famous "Teddy's" Ice cream shop, and with 2 petite 99's, we were all set for more adventure.

     Back on the Dart, and 2 stops later we were in Dalkey.  An early Viking settlement, it is now an affluent suburb of Dublin and also a seaside resort.  It was also an important port during the Middle Ages.  It was named after Dalkey Island, just off shore.  Hire boats are available to get to the island.  The granite stone used to build the piers at Dun Laoghaire came from here, and the remnants of the metal infrastructure used to move the granite blocks are still visible.  Fishing boats use the nearby Bulloch harbor. Did not get all the way to the water front, but just enjoyed strolling around the village.

     We got back to the dart station and were engulfed by students getting out of school for the day.  A few more stops we were disembarking in Killiney, yet another Dublin suburb/seaside resort.  All three were attractive communities, but this was our favorite, visually.  But, that has a price to pay.  The very wealthy like it for that reason too, and it has become known as "the Hollywood of Ireland". Shops, pubs, and restaurants are pricy according to the lady we visited with at the Dart station.  She said famous people reside nearby, and she suggested we take notice of the big mansions dotting the surrounding hill sides.

     The beach here was awesome, and with nothing needed from the pricy down town area, we decided to head for the beach.  Sunny, warm,  beautiful autumn afternoon and a great way to spend it.  We walked quite a ways both directions, and after about an hour bumped into a young fellow, a county employee, emptying beach side garbage cans.  He seemed to want to visit, so we did for the better part of an hour!  What a great conversation!  We talked about world problems, politics, (Brexit/Trump phenomenon), religion, our respective cultures and how they were changing. One of the few people that we had visited with in Ireland who actually shared most of our beliefs regarding these topics.  An enjoyable afternoon!

     He pointed out the various mansions within eye sight, owned by such notables like Bono, Enya, and Van Morrison...and more famous people of Ireland, whose names we weren't familiar with.

      The sun was starting to slide away in the western sky, and an evening chill was beginning  to set in.  No point in going further south to Bray/Graystones since we had been there by car.  It was time to get to the dart station and head back for our final night in Dublin/Ireland.            The Dart was now much fuller than it had been Sunday, or mid day today. It appeared many were using it to get to and home from work.  Still there was plenty of room, but as we got closer to Dubs, some were standing.  The scenery in this area, from the vantage point of the Dart, was awesome, both north and south bound.  All in all, a great way to travel in this part of Ireland.

     We could not even persuade T&K to join us downtown for the final evening meal, so opted to go on our own to the O'Neills on Suffock street that we missed out on the night before.  And we were not disappointed.  Food is served carvery/buffet style.  The lamb shank was to die for, and DW was happy with her shepherd pie.

      We longed to linger downtown for some music, but we were tired and needed to get back to Premier, to print out our boarding passes, to repack our luggage/purchases, and to make our final preparation to fly out in the morning.

 

Wrap-up to come.....Dan

 

      



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Bucket lists Ireland Trip Day 28

 

      Well, it is time to put the final wrap on this lengthy report.  The trip home was pretty uneventful.  Arrived at Dublin Terminal 2 via Premier shuttle (1 euro/person) about 3 hours prior to our 11:30 AM departure time.  T&K had a 40 minute later flight time, but decided to go with us and hang out at the airport (duty-free shop!). 

      We checked in our main bags and the security check and pre-clearance went fine.  I had to have my obligatory last pint of Guinness along the way, (hey....it was 5 o' clock somewhere!). I Looked longingly at the whiskey displays in the huge main duty free store....but kept walking.  

       We finally arrived at a small kiosk, that appeared to be fairly close to the boarding area.  Low and behold....a deal I just couldn't believe!  Kilbeggan priced 24 Euros....buy one get one free!  I had paid 25 Euros each right at the distillery!  Was tempted, but then headed onward to the gate.  We got all our stuff situated, when suddenly DW mentioned:  what a good Christmas present that Kilbeggan would make for our 2 sons!  Brilliant idea, but I reminded her that WE might like some TOO!  Her response was "get 4!"  I gave her my usual response: "as you say dear"!

     Needless to say, it didn't take me long to get back to the kiosk.  The salesperson assured me that it would be packaged carefully and sealed in a special bag so that it would NOT be taken away from us when we changed planes in Chicago going thru security.  Done deal.  A little extra duty tax and I walked away with 4 bottles of Kilbeggan whiskey for a paltry sum of 57 Euros all total!

     Back at the gate, faced with a 30 minute wait till boarding,  DW was visiting with a couple that appeared to be our age sitting just across from us.  What a coincidence!  These folks were from our area!  And we knew them!  They had previously owned a business in our town just one block away.  They would, of course, be on our flight(s) all the way back to Seattle.  She and her Mother had owned a gift shop together, Mom was deceased, and daughter and husband had retired 5 years ago settling about 70 miles inland.  Another coincidence:  they had been on a 28 day trip AND had left for Ireland the same day we did back in Sept. And we're going home the same day.  Unbelievable!  We had a good chat, caught up on news from the hometown, and compared notes on both of our trips thru Ireland. They had been to many of the places we had, and we probably nearly crossed paths a few times.  It is indeed a small world. 

    The security clearance went flawlessly at ORD, taking just a little longer than normal due to our special sealed packages.  They cut them open, checked the label and cap seal, swabbed them (checking for drug residue...I suppose) resealed them and we were on our way.  Whew!

     The layover wasn't too long, no flight cancellations or delays and we were onto our 2nd leg flight for an on time 6:40 PM Seattle arrival.

      But these were two flights from H*+#!  Due to our free-bee credit card point tickets, we had landed really bad seats. We were in separate rows and DW and I had middle seats both times.  She fared not too bad, but I had a heavy-weight person in the aisle seat on both legs, (Murphy's law) and I felt like a squished sardine before I got to SEA.  

    All in all, though,  an awesome 28 day trip!  The weather was warm AND dry beyond belief.  The Euro was at a bargain rate of $1.13 which was much better than the 5 earlier trips.  Being a novice tour-guide/driver worked out fine for me, we only got lost a few times and no fender benders!  

      There is not a single day goes by,  that I don't think about this trip and other trips to Ireland, and it is not a matter of IF but WHEN I will go back, if the Lord's willing.  I think we need to make a return trip to beautiful North West Ireland, spending a night or two on one of the Aran islands, AND do some more exploring in the central and lake regions, most likely in the fall of 2018.

Dan

 



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Thanks for all the effort you put into this write-up. Sounds like you had a great trip.

 

The walk in Glendalough along the lakes is gorgeous.  My wife and I walked them @ 0600 one morning, fog lifting,  driven out of the B&B when the fire alarm couldn't be shut down.  Sheep grazing among the ruins and then goats along the lakes where the only other things stirring.  Perfect morning all in all.



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RE: "Bucket Lists" Ireland Trip


Thanks, Dan!  Your Trip Report is a magnificent effort that is much appreciated -- although I'm sure your traveling companions probably appreciated it even more!   biggrin  biggrin

Thanks for letting us come along (vicariously) as well.



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Dan, Wonderful, wonderful! So glad the weather cooperated for most of the trip and you saw some old favorites and new places. If you have a hankering for Ireland you can always come over to my Facebook group: Postcards From Ireland.



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