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Post Info TOPIC: Trip Report - Warning: It's Long!


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Trip Report - Warning: It's Long!


Good evening to all:

Here it is, as promised.  I had to divide it into parts.
Marieaww.gif

Discovery Part I

Ireland Trip

May 12, 2007 to May 27, 2007

About 2 years ago, in a moment of intense gratitude to the universe for giving me my two daughters, Keely (24)  and Kasey (19), I decided that I wanted to go on a journey with them just the three of us, before they went off and had families of their own, and while I was still able to keep up with them.  I actually called and asked each of them that very minute.  Of course, they enthusiastically agreed I was paying for the whole thing.  J  We discussed the possible destination several times.  We all wanted it to be someplace exotic, yet safe; someplace foreign, yet where English was spoken.  It dawned on me in a flash one day Ireland!!! Of course!  Why hadnt I thought of it before?  I was raised by an Irish mother, and I had not been there since I was three.  Perfect. 

One more bit of background information before the actual trip report.  I grew up in NYC, and when I was 8, a family from Dublin moved into our apartment building in Washington Heights.  Long story short, Mary Timoney became my best friend.  When she was about 15, her older brothers having joined the NYC Police, Marys mother decided to take her back to Dublin.  As teenagers often do, we lost touch after a few letters.  Fast forward .I was watching Larry King Live, and the topic was national security, and Larry says something like, And now were going live to Miami to talk with our good friend, Police Chief John Timoney.  I could not believe my eyes and ears!  There was Marys big brother on TV, talking to Larry King!   The universe had provided my reconnection to Mary.  She still lives in Dublin, and we were going to be together again after 36 years.

Our direct flight (US AIR) from Philly (where we visited with my good friend, Dee, for the afternoon) was scheduled to take off at 8:20PM.  It was delayed 2 hours because they had to switch planes due to a mechanical problem.  Then the caterers put lunch food on the new plane and had to switch it out for dinner food.  The flight itself was uneventful and cramped.  Car pickup was smooth (Auto Europe) and I managed to get us out of the airport and on our way to Galway.  We stopped at Coole Park, which was lovely (loved the Autograph Tree and the beautiful red deer), bought our Heritage Cards and continued on to Galway, and Marless House.  I had a rented phone from Range Roamer (more on THAT later) and I called for directions when we got nearer to Galway.  I followed them to the best of my ability, and stopped again to call.

As I was dialing the number, I looked down the street and realized that we were practically in front of Marless House. Well, this sort of thing happened a lot on this trip. 

A word about the driving.anxiety over driving on the left in a strange country with the wheel on the right side of the car kept me awake at night in the weeks leading up to departure.  Once faced with the reality of it, heres what I experienced and observed.

It wasnt that hard, as long as I did not let my mind wander.  I had to concentrate, especially at first.  The roundabouts posed no problems, and I found the signage to be surprisingly good, with the exits clearly marked and the signs that are there well BEFORE you reach the roundabout itself to help with planning your lane.  My confusion came when I entered the town of my destination.  Street signs were hard to find, and places to pull over were often unavailable.  That said, though, I found it almost eerie that about 85% of the time we just ended up in the right place!  I like to attribute it to the spirit of my mother, guiding me along, grateful for my bringing her granddaughters (whom she never saw) to Ireland.  If it was indeed her, she did a great job.  I drove 1600 km without incident, even though I pulled out into the wrong lane 4 times (the 4 times I let my mind wander)!!!!  The worst that happened was hitting a HUGE pothole on day one.  We were sure we had a flat, but when we got out and looked, the car was fine and we had no problems with it for the rest of the trip.  And when I pulled into the wrong lane, there was either no one on the road, or the other driver just stopped and gave a short toot of the horn to bring me back to Irish reality. 

So, we got to Marless House and we were exhausted.  Our hostess, Mary, was very friendly and knowledgeable.  We had tea and talked with her about our plans.  There was a nice couple from Australia there and it was fun and interesting talking with them.  After a short nap, we went into town to eat at Galleons.  The food was good, but we got our first taste of the cost of things in Ireland.  Ouch!  We walked the promenade and decided to go into town again in the morning before leaving for Westport.  Keely served as co-pilot, and did a great job.  Kasey had a bit of anxiety over the whole left-side of the road thing, so she dealt with it by going to sleep in the back.  We had to wake her up though when we got to Connemara didnt want her to miss the beautiful, other-worldly scenery. 

We completed the Sky Drive(GORGEOUS) and went on to Westport, where I once again pulled over to call the B & B, and I was parked right in front of it!!! It was the Boulevard Guesthouse.  We were there for two nights, and we really liked it a lot.  It is right in town, along the waterway. Sadie was wonderful, letting me use her personal computer to find other phone numbers and directions, etc.  She introduced us to the chickens who laid the eggs we ate for breakfast:  Sweet, Sour and Roasty! 

We had a nice evening in Westport, looking around and eating another good meal.  We drank some Guinness together as a matter of principle.  The girls did not like it.  I did. 

Still tired, we went to bed and decided to walk Croagh Patrick the following day.

When we told Sadie of our plan, she told us to call if we got up there and couldnt get back.  I did not get it at the time.  NOW, I get it.  J  There is an old gentleman at the entrance who sells walking sticks and water for the walk up the mountain.  You can rent the sticks for E1.50 or buy them for E3.00.  I said, We will rent 2 and buy 1, to which he answered, You will buy 3, and for any that you return, I will give back E1.50.  Of course, it made perfect sense.  God bless him, he also made us buy a bottle of water.

At this point, I am at a loss for words, but let me say that we were unprepared for the task before us.  We were greeted by the statue of St. Patrick at the start of the climb, but he wasnt talking.  There was no indication of just how hard this would be.  Our excitement and our enthusiasm about our journey got us going, and it didnt seem all that difficult at first.  The view of Clew Bay was astoundingly beautiful.  So, up, up, up we went.  Marveled at the sheep.  Loved the view.  After about an hour or so, my legs were turning to rubber and my right knee was screaming out in pain.  We saw two Irish ladies, both older than I, sitting and resting.  I asked them if we were at the halfway point.  Oh, heavens no! They had done this before, it turned out.  Their names were Ana and Olive.  And I will never forget them as long as I liveIt began to cloud over, and rain softly, then clear up again, and all the while, we went up, up, up.  Not just walking, this was a real hike, with dangerous footing and an incline that just about did me in.  The water was gone before we reached the halfway point.  The walking sticks were life-savers.  Literally, if you go, do NOT forego the walking stick or the water. Also, take hiking boots. (We had them and I cannot imagine doing it without them.) We had continued on ahead of Ana and Olive, but they caught up to us at one point.  I told them I did not think I could go on.  This became a theme for the next few hours.  Basically it involved me, gasping for breath and trying to get my legs to move when they clearly did not want to, saying, I cant do this. I dont think I can go any more., and Ana behind me, saying, Ye can and ye will!

Just dont think about how far it is to the top.  Just take one step at a time.  Ye can and ye will go!  She also gave us some candy for energy.  On and on and on we went, and Ana had made up her mind that I must make it to the summit.  And I did.  And so did Keely.

She is in the Air National Guard, so her soldier mentality kicked in.  She took good care of me on the way up.  Kasey made it about ¾ of the way, and then became terrified of the prospect of coming back down.  She sat and waited for us at that point, and ended up making her own little stone cairn and also being there for a lady who fell and was sliding down the rocks.  Magic everywhere.

As we climbed, we thought of the gorgeous view we would experience at the top.  We also met folks on their way down.  They were careful not to say too much, lest they discourage us.  I know that now.  J  One man had climbed it 14 times in his lifetime and once did it 3 times in a day for charity.  He earned his charity $25,000.  I was also informed that if you climb Croagh Patrick 3 times in your lifetime you are guaranteed a ticket to heaven.  I will tell you now that I will just have to be good in order to get to heaven because I will never be able to earn that ticket.  OKso I am moaning and groaning, Keely is being patient and taking it very slowly and Ana from County Meath is behind me, my personal heaven-sent cheerleader.  We made it to the summit.  And our reward was zero visibility due to the mist that had gathered at the top of the mountain. 

2,510 feet up, and no view.  We took the obligatory photos to prove we had been there, looked at the little chapel and began the descent, which was every bit as hard as the ascent, minus the heavy breathing.  We met up with Kasey, who took over as my guardian for the remainder of the way down, while Keely went down at her own pace.

I had promised them anything from the gift shop that they wanted, for being good sports and all the hard work of the climb.  5 ½ hours after we began climbing, we reached the bottom, and, wouldnt you know it, the shop was closed.  So, we dont have the tee-shirts that proclaim I Climbed Croagh Patrick, but we have the memories and the photos and, in my case, the painful right knee to remind us.  I wanted a photo of Ana, but she got away before I could take one. 



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Marie


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BRAVO!!

I salute you.  I didn't even TRY.
But, I DID enjoy the view from the car park.  biggrin

Bob

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Bob

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Loved the story about your girlfriend. I'm like Bob, when I go in Sep, I'll view the mountain from the car park.

Merlene

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Merlene M Black


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I got as far up as the statue of St. Patrick. Good for you! Knocknarea almost killed me!

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Slán go fóill, Judy


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Marie,

Did you know that on Reek Sunday thousands of people climb Croagh Patrick, some with bare feet? You are a braver woman than me to make it all the way to the top. My husband about dropped his teeth when I climbed Knocknarea. A much easier climb and not so high for this city gal.

Thanks for the great start to the trip report. We are enjoying all the details.

Michele



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Big grats on your trek up Crough Patrick!
My wife and I only made it up to the St. Patrick statue!
The shop was nice, but you really did not miss anything!
The view, memories, and pictures will last far longer than anything you could have purchased !

Cheers!
Mark D.

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Good for you! Friends of ours made it to the top last month adn still can't believe they managed to do it. Like many others, they say if they had any idea how tough it was going to be, they never would have thought to start. So glad you had your daughter and a newly met cheerleader.

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A few weeks ago, just before the Reek, I talked with two young Americans who were planning to climb Croagh Patrick in bare feet.. They thought better of it after a few descriptions of the terrain, thankfully. Many who climb it thus end up off work a couple of weeks while their feet mend.
 The only time I was at the bottom, it was very early one day and thick fog.... The prayer of a righteous man/woman availeth much ....

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AnchoressNun


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Hi Marie,

My husband and I are taking my children on their first international trip to Ireland and London this spring.  Thanks for the posts. I can't wait to go there because the last time I travelled that far was nearly 20 years ago and I'm very excited about taking my 12 and 16 year olds to a place our ancestors came from.  Unfortunately, everyone in my family is sick of hearing me talk about it so I'm reading blogs on the internet to get my fix!

BTW, I grew up in Washington Heights on 169th and Ft. Washington.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  Wonder if our paths ever crossed.  It's a small world.

A few questions if you don't mind...with everything there is to see, how did you decide on what to do and what not to do?  I'm only going to be in Ireland for 10 days, then go to London for three and stay in Dublin my last two days.  I know your daughters are much older than my kids, but did you come across anything in particular I should take my kids to see or avoid?  I'm dying to see the Giant's Causeway and think they'll definitely like that. 

Any advice you could give would be appreciated.

Thanks.



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