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Post Info TOPIC: 2ND IRELAND DREAM TRIP - Sep 2007


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2ND IRELAND DREAM TRIP - Sep 2007


I planned for a year and a half for this second trip to Ireland.  The first trip was to the west, northwest, midland and eastern part of the Republic.  This trip would cover the northwest and north of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Dublin.  I booked our flights in February and checked them about every two weeks.  In June, I changed my email address and that caused a problem checking the Aer Lingus flights, although when I called the airline direct, everything was fine.  About two weeks before we were to leave I check our Northwest flights and noticed there was a flight change I needed to approve.weirdfaceThey had booked us on a later flight (ours was canceled) and we were arriving in Boston 20 minutes before our international flight to Shannon!!  No way.  I was on the phone an hour an a half getting that fixed.  A few days before departure, I was rethinking our trip, the routes, and miles/day.  I did change some of our planned routes because we didn't want to be driving all day.  I had checked the mileage from one night to the next night's stay, but this time I checked the mileage from stop to stop... That made a big difference in the plans.  Should have done this earlier!!

When we arrived in Shannon before 6 am, of course it was foggy.  I experienced dynamic currency exchange at the airport buying a map.....wasn't prepared to ask for the charge in euros yet.  We also purchaced a phone card at the airport and got some euros out of the ATM.  We picked up our car at Dan Dooley's (a blue ford focus) without any problems and headed for the Burren.  Our first stop was Dysert O'Dea.  It was still foggy, but I loved the cross in the field, the old church, tower and cemetery.  The castle was not open yet. 

We were tired and trying to stay awake.  We stopped next at the Burren Center in Kilfenora for a snack.  Tried to watch the movie and stay awake!!  The display at the Burren Center was very interesting.  The sun came out and the day was beautiful.  Our next stop was Caherconnell stone fort.  Bill & I both felt we didn't get our money's worth here.  On our way to Ballyvaughan we stopped to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen. 

We had lunch at Monk's in Ballyvaughan and then made our way to Drumcreehy Guest House.  It was only 1:30 and our room wasn't ready, but they said they would finish it as soon as their lunch was done.  Our room was the Spring Gentian room on the second floor with a view of the bay.  We crashed in the room for about two hours and then we explored Ballyvaughan.  Dinner was at Logue's Lodge in Ballyvaughan.  We had deep fried cod and it was very good.

We loved Drumcreehy.  Breakfast was very good and we met Linda & Park Trammel there.  Linda (lindatram) has been on the forum.

More later.
Merle


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Merlene M Black


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Merle,

Great start to your trip report. I'm glad you liked Drumcreehy. It is a lovely guesthouse and breakfast is always special there. What a treat to run into the Trammels there. I'm sure you compared notes and had a lot in common.

I am looking forward to hearing more when you have time.

Michele

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Merle,

I enjoyed the first part of your trip report and look forward to more.

Joan

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Michele,
When we were leaving Drumcreehy House the next morning, we were talking to Armin about his family in Germany. As it turns out, they live about 40 miles from where my German grandparents lived. I'll have to explore that someday.

Merlene

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Day 2 - Connemara - Sunshine ALL day!!

We visited Connemara on our first trip and loved the area, so I planned another day here this trip with a side visit to Cong.  On our way to Cong, we stopped in Oughterrard to visit Aughnanure Castle ruins.  Very interesting ruins, and so peaceful in the early morning.  We saw a lot of beautiful red fuschia bushes in bloom. . . all we have here in Michigan are hanging baskets of fuschia, a different variety.  It was a beautiful drive from Maam Cross to Cong around Lough Corrib.  I wish there had been time for a boat trip on Lough Corrib, but it was not to be this trip.  We missed the road to Cong twice, the first time we made a complete circle!!  We arrived in Cong midafternoon, too late for food at some of the cafes.  Everytime we went into an establishment to order food we were either too late or too early!!  This was discouraging.  The Quiet Man cottage was closed for lunch.  I have a feeling the picture I have of the outside was enough.  We wandered around Cong Abbey and the grounds. . . very quiet & peaceful.

On our last trip we encountered a funeral at Glendalough.  This trip there was a wedding party at Mannin Bay on the R341 to Clifden.  The bride was getting ready to throw her bouquet.  It was very windy, but sunshine and beautiful colors in the bay waters. 

We stayed at the Seamist House in Clifden.  It's a very old building with lovely gardens behind the house.  The bathroom was large with tile floors and tile halfway up the walls.  The shower was small.  There were throw rugs on the floors.  The room had a separate closet, wood floor with oriental throw rugs.  There was a bay window with window seat as well as another wooden seat near the window.  The room also included a desk with mirror.  The pictures on the wall were watercolor flower plants.  The pictures and table dresser scarves coordinated with the color scheme of the walls and bed linens.  I loved our room, but Bill did not because the bed had a duvet and not a top sheet.  He gets too warm with heavy blankets on top.  There was a lot of street noise, but that calmed down before we went to sleep.

We walked around town and had dinner at Cullen Bistro & Coffee Shop.  I can't remember what we had, but I do have in my notes that it was good and moderately priced.

At breakfast, we met a nice couple from West Virginia, homestate of Bill's dad.  I didn't like the cereal here as well but Bill's fried breakfast was good.  There was a slight problem with my breakfast.  I had pancakes and when it was served, I noticed a little spider crawling across the pancakes.  I returned it to the kitchen and the host said "Well, he's only been here 350 years and you want to get rid of him"  of course in his Irish brogue.  I said yes, if you don't mind.  I'm not sure I had a totally new plate of food, but I ate it and no problems. . . I'm still alive.  The congeniality of the host and hostess made up for the spider.

More to come,
Merlene

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Merlene M Black


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Did you happen to get the seafood chowder at Monk's?  I'd go back to Ireland just for that experience.  It was really good.

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No, we didn't get the seafood chowder. Guess we'll have to go back!!
Merlene

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Merlene M Black


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Merle,

You really lucked out wilth sunshine all day in Connemara. It is such a lovely area to explore. The Quiet Man Cottage Museum is very small and has a few artifacts and replicas from the movie. I don't think you missed much. I hope you walked out back of the town to see Cong Abbey? It is very picturesque.

Glad to hear you liked Seamist House. I inspected it last time I was in Clifden and thought it was very cute. Of course being right in town it would be noisy for rooms facing the street. Very interesting dilemma with the spider on the pancakes. I wonder if it dropped down from the ceiling as they were carrying the plate in to you?

Looking forward to more.

Michele

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Michele,
We spent quite a bit of time exploring the abbey and surroundings. So peaceful.

Merle

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Merlene M Black


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Day 3 - Connemara, Westport - SUNSHINE ALL DAY

We had to wait for one of the jewelry stores to open before we could leave Clifden.biggrin  Then we took the Sky Drive and N59 toward Westport.  We did the Sky Drive in 2004, but this time, with absolute sunshine, it was gorgeous except for the knats whenever we got out of the car.  We followed the route along the Killary Harbor to Leenane and stopped here to photogragh the Aasleagh Falls and then took the R335 to Louisburgh.   I wanted to view Croagh Patrick coming from the west.  We had a nice lunch at Corrigan's Bar in Louisburgh.  It seems like we saw more SUV's on this trip than we did in 2004.  We stopped at the gift shop at Croagh Patrick, but did not climb the mountain.

We found our B&B, Cillcoman Lodge, ran into Linda & Park Trammel again, and then left to explore Westport.  On this trip I really wanted to go to Matt Malloy's for some music, but we were too tired and did not go back into town.  We heard the next morning at breakfast that it was a much younger crowd there.  We walked around Westport and did  a little shopping.  Dinner was at Cronin's Sheebeen Thatched Roof Bar a short distance from our B&B.  Linda & Park Trammel recommended this place and the food was very good.  I had panfried pork loin and Bill had Cod.  I didn't care for the odors of Cillcoman Lodge (breakfast odors late in afternoon).  It wasn't bread baking.  I also had a difficult time sleeping here because the bed was hard.  The room was small, but nice on the 3rd floor and the host and hostess were great.  I didn't think the breakfast bar was as plentiful here as other places we stayed.  The traditional Irish breakfast was good.

At breakfast we talked to a couple from Oxford, England.  They come over every September and stay a few days at Cillcoman Lodge.  They had been to Matt Malloy's the night before.  Alas, it was not to be for me.  I'll get my fix next spring when the Chieftains are in South Bend.

Day 4 - Achill Island- mixture of clouds and sunchine

We stopped to take pictures at Granuaile's Tower and the huge hedges of fuschia.  Also on our drive we noticed a sigh for a Megalithic Tomb.  We climbed halfway up the mountain between two houses and finally found the tomb.  Of course, then we had to go back down, but the upside was that I could then eat anything I wanted to that daysmile.  We noticed on the island that the houses were mostly white as opposed th colors on the mainland.  We stopped at the Beehive Coffee Shop for a late morning snack and then headed to Keem Bay.  What a beautiful bay.
 
We found our way back to the Bervie and met warm, friendly Elizabeth.  She put us in room #11, the room she was born in.  The bathroom had a small shower, but we had the option to use the bathroom across the hall with a tub.  We loved the Bervie.  We had tea in the sunroom (the brown bread scones and raisin bread were so tasty)and because it was getting cloudy, we decided to take a walk on the beach before it rained.  We met a couple from Dublin who come to the Bervie every September for two weeks.  They had an old (15 yrs)Corgi dog.

We decided to have dinner at the Bervie on Elizabeth's recommendation.  What an event for the taste buds.   For starters Bill had grilled grapefruit with honey and ginger and I had a tossed autumn salad with toasted seeds.  Then next was the cream of carrot and orange soup. . . delicious.   I had baked turbot (a first) with lemon and dill butter,  and Bill had fillets of lemon sole stuffed with prawns au gratin.  It was delicious.  In fact, Elizabeth sent a second plate of the fillets of lemon sole for Bill (maybe because he looked hungry?).  After our main course, Bill had chocolate and raspberry roulade for dessert and I had banana and butterscotch sundae.  Needless to say there was not any food left on our plates for the beggars.  Of course we didn't ask the price up front, so we learned the cost of our splurge the next morning.  No matter, we would do it again.

At breakfast, it was the best meusili and brown bread so far on the trip.  Bill tried the Black & White Pudding.  He asked Elizabeth what was in it and she said "you don't want to know".  I loved her sense of humor.  When we left, I talked to Elizabeth about my ancestors from Northern Ireland.  I cried and we hugged.  I'll go back there.

More later

Merlene


-- Edited by Merle at 22:23, 2007-11-16

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Merlene M Black


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This should be day 3 & 4.

Merle

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Merle,

So glad you enjoyed the Bervie. It is a special place and Liz is one of a kind. That meal has me hungry! I think I must be off to make my own dinner.

Michele

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Day 5 & 6 - Sligo & Donegal

Day started with rain, then we had sunshine, and finally clouds. . . a typical Irish day.

We sadly left the Bervie and headed up the coast toward Drumcliffe, Co Sligo.  I loved St. Columba's church and tea house at Drumcliffe.  I'm not really into poetry, but hey, why not take pictures of Yeat's grave while there.  The church, cemetery and round tower were very picturesque.  I loved the view behind the church.  We had berry crumble, carrott cake & hot chocolate at the tea house.  Very tasty.

On the way to Donegal town, we stopped at Creevykeel Tomb.  I was disappointed at the trash left at the site.  The tomb itself was very interesting with Donegal Bay in the background.  There was a bush at the site with a lot of tissues tied to it.  We didn't understand the significance of that.

In Donegal town, we walked around a little. . . found the Obelisk and the Napoleonic Anchor.  We did not stop at the castle because we wanted to get to our B&B.  Our B&B, Ocean View, was ijust outside of Killybegs.  This was our first two night stay.  We loved the view across Donegal Bay.  Alas, Kitty Kelly's Restaurant had scaled back their hours and were not open either of the nights we were there.  That was the reason I wanted to stay herecry.  The first night we had dinner at the Clock Tower Bar & Bistro between the B&B & Killybegs.  The food was very good.  What I found interesting was that the Fintra Estate (where the Clock is located) was the property of the Hamilton family for 7 generations.  They came to the area during the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century.  My Hamilton ancestors were from Co Derry near Lough Neagh.

We enjoyed a very nice breakfast and talked with a mom and daughter from Heidelberg, Germany.  The day started foggy and cloudy so we postponed Slieve Cliffs until midday.  We stopped in Ardara to mail some postcards and find a pharmacy (our room didn't have soap for the shower, only a bottle of soft soap at the sink).  The pharmacist was a riot once he discovered we were from Michigan.  His mother's grandparents lived in Alabama and someone in his family was in the Civil War.  A couple times Bill tried to ask a question and the man said "wait a minute, I'm not finished".  We drove to Father Dwyer's Folk Village in Glencolmcille.  We encountered a lot of road construction and street work around Carrick, Teelin, and Ardara.  We wondered if they were late with their projects because of the rainy summer.

It was still a little foggy, but we headed for the Slieve League Cliffs.  They are awe-inspiring.  I wish we could have seen them on a sunny day.  We had dinner that night at Mewley's in Killybegs.  I wouldn't go back there, it was just something to eat.  In fact, we really didn't enjoy the town of Killybegs that much.  The harbor and fishing boats were interesting.

The Ocean View was a nice B&B, but our room was a little sparce.  As mentioned above, there was no shower soap, no shelves in the bathroom, no washcloths (which I am prepared for).  There wasn't a TV much to Bill's dismay since we were staying there 2 nights.  He had to play cards with me.biggrin  I know when I book the B&B's whether or not there is a TV and I try to avoid the TVs on vacation!!

The next morning at breakfast we met a couple from Australia and had an interesting conversation.  When we checked out, Helena noticed my "Ireland Dream Trip" book.  She said all excited "Is that how you found me?"  I said yes.  She said there was a fella here last summer that lent her his book to look at for the day.  I said that would be Bob from Florida.  Then she talked a lot about you, Michele, and the time you spent writing everything down.  She said she couldn't even describe things as well as you did in your book.  She said "she stayed in this room here" and proceeded to open the door.  The lady from Australia was in there and Helena was flustered because she didn't remember that she had assigned that room.  The lady from Australia was fine and said we could come in, but we didn't need to see the room.

More to come.

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Merle,

I am enjoying the continuing saga. That tree you saw is called a clootie or "rag tree" in Ireland. They are usually hawthorns or hazel trees found in proximity to holy wells. People leave personal bits and pieces (especially parts of clothing) on the tree in exchange for healing or having their wishes granted.

Michele

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Thanks, I didn't know that. Now I can add that tidbit to my notes.

Merlene

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Sounds like you had a GREAT trip, and better than 'typical' weather, given the Non-typical year!  You are re-affirming my desire to revisit Connemarra on our '08 trip!

Thanks,

Bob

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 19:07, 2007-12-07

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It's a good thing I have good notes because this is taking way too long!!  Family health issues, Christmas, etc.

Day 7  - Donegal - SUNSHINE

On to Glenveagh Castle and Gardens.  On the way we stopped for photo opportunities at Dunlewy Church (R251).  We encountered the "midges" at Glenveagh while walking around the gardens.  It's such a beautiful setting.  We had a difficult time finding our B&B in Letterkenny.  We came in during the 5:00 pm rush hour and by the time we did find the B&B, we had to cross the road and there was a string of traffic that never ended.  We asked the hosts if there was someplace within walking distance we could eat.  We looked at one place and didn't like it so we decided to venture out again.  We ended up at The Silver Tassie.  The fish was very good.

We stayed at Ballyraine Guesthouse in Letterkenny.  The room was nice and the breakfast was good with lots of breads & fruits from which to choose.  The bed was the smallest we had and we had a tendency to roll toward the middle.  Prior to this we had a queen size or two beds in our rooms so we were spoiled I guess.

Day 8 - Donegal - Cloudy, sunshine, and rain after 6 pm

With directions from a man from the midlands, Co Cavan, we headed for the Inishowen Peninsula.  This was the first time we had seen wheat fields with bales of straw on our trip.  Signage was a little difficult and we had to backtrack to see Griana'n of Aileach Stone Fort.  This was a well-restored stone fort.  I always want to climb up to the top and then hesitate going down!!  But the view from the top was awesome.  We met a couple from Phoenix on top of the fort.  We stopped at the Guns of Dunree Fort.  Bill really enjoyed this site.  We passed through Mamore Gap and headed for Malin Head.  On the way we saw the crosses at Carndonagh and the sand dunes at Malin Head.  It was very windy at Malin Head.  We had lunch in Moville.  We asked for our meal to be charged in Euros.  When I looked at the receipt later, I noticed it was charged in US dollars. . . dynamic currency exchange.  The pub food was good. . soup & crusty rolls and toasted cheese & chips.

The shower at the Ballyraine Guesthouse was the best one.  It was also bigger.  The breakfast was so good.

More to come

-- Edited by Merle at 16:02, 2008-01-11

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Merle, 

Thanks for continuing the saga. I think Bob takes the record as dragging out a trip report longest. Are you going for the prize? wink Actually, I think Bob did it just so he could spend many months reminiscing about Ireland and fill the gap till his next trip.

You should have got a room with two beds at Ballyraine. My room there was absolutely huge and  had three beds. Since I am used to a king I usually get two beds so I am not fighting my husband for control of the space. Although there are more places now that have actual queen and kings in Ireland. A "super king" is what we call a king.

Michele

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"rag trees"; they are in the South , almost always ash.... I read about hawthorn and holly, but have only ever seen ash in these counties. Donegal, Sligo, Westmeath. Leitrim etc etc etc.

It is an old pagan custom/superstition.

That if you left there something personal, especially something you have worn, you are leaving part of you there in the power of the pagan god of that place.

Like the dreamcatchers in America, it is really sinister and pagan.

Which they have never managed to banish. Although the one at Sligo Tober Nalt is way back behind trees and not visible from the well.

The one near Ballyshannon has socks, ties, anything...Visitors only we think, seeing this and simply following without knowing why..

Not as thanksgiving. 
 
Not something to be followed.

Most of the Holy Wells fill with coins too. I once cleared  one high above Lough Derg that was choked with them... Supersitions die hard here in Ireland.

-- Edited by Anchoress at 05:30, 2008-01-13

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Thanks Anchoress for the information. This one had just cloth ties on the tree, but the area around looked like it had been trashed with disposable diapers, underpants, clothing, and all kinds of paper trash. The tomb itself was clean.

Merle

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Oh YUKK!

That is truly horrible; so sorry that happened.

No, that was not as it should be; many dirty folk here dump their rubbish anywhere like that, rather than pay to have it removed.

Then the birds burst the bags.....

Ireland is very backward in many ways that are not charming.

In the river in Donegal Town there is even a supermarket trolley stuck.

Things are improving, but a very long way to go; maybe worth emailing the Environment Minister if this is a protected site. We have done that in the past successfully.

As with food poisoning; it needs to be reported.

Blessings this day

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Anchoress,

I often think that school children should be taught not to litter and to pick up after themselves right in the school itself. Once I was at Glendalough when a school tour came through. They were all eating candy and crisps. Even though there were litter cans all the paths were strewn with wrappers. My pregnant sister was picking them up! I firmly believe if you carry it in you carry it out or dispose of it properly.

If those same children were taken on an outing and made to clean up after another school group maybe they would learn a lesson. Start with the youth as they are the future.

As for my food poisoning it happened so long ago before all the new standards were in place. I was staying at a small hotel enjoying breakfast. The shade was down over the window because of the bright sunlight. When my husband opened the shade we saw a courtyard below with a shed. Hanging from the doorway of the shed was a big bunch of sausages. A dog was jumping up trying to get them! We had just eaten sausages. Later that night we were horribly sick. I'm sure it was from those sausages. Ever since then I avoid sausages in Ireland, although it has never stopped my husband.

Michele



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That is the teacher's fault.... I bet they were littering too....

It is now illegal to drop litter; that is fairly new here.

And it is less the young than older ones... I frequently now tell folk off..The impact is amazing......

The worst group are men in their twenties....

And they now have road gangs of FAS people picking up along the main roads. They are trying... Our landlord tells how they saw someone dumping a sack of rubbish at the end of the lane. They gave chase and threatened them with the Gardia  if they didn't take the sack away with them... They are fairly young with small children so that is one good family.

That sounds horrendous re the sausages..... Today though I was in a butcher's shop as he was  talking on his mobile... He reached into a big tray of mince meat and started re-arranging it with his bare hand. .... They are supposed always to wear disposable gloves now, and mostly do. No I wasn't buying meat there; begging bones for soup and for the dogs...


HSE have an unenviable job as folk are casual about these things. They inspect the markets frequently...
  

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Day 9 - Cloudy, mostly sunshine

It was difficult getting in and out of the B&B because of the traffic.  We noticed a lot of flowers, flowering shrubs and flowering trees still in bloom in the area.   This was pleasing for September.  On to Northern Ireland.  The first thing we recognized as different was the speed sign.  The miles were in miles/per/hour versus kilometers in the Republic.  Another thing we noticed were the automatic stop and go signs for road construction.  We stopped in Limavady to get some money out of the ATM (had to figure out which bank to use).  This would have been a nice town to stay in.  Our first stop was Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple.  The temple sets on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  We loved watching the waves until we saw a storm coming, then we headed across the field to the Demesne.  We must have thought there would be some kind of shelter in the ruin. . . ha ha ha.  The rain didn't last very long.  We took several pictures of Downhill. Then we drove along the coast to Dunluce Castle.  The Castle seems kind of eerie setting on the cliff edge.  What a beautiful site and well maintained.  We stopped at the tea house here for midmorning dessert biggrin.  We are not whiskey drinkers but we thought we would tour Bushmills Distillery since it was on the way.  It was a very interesting tour.  We did buy some souvenirs for our whiskey drinking friends.  

The Giant's Causeway was our next stop along the coast.  I don't think I was prepared for how extensive the area was.  I loved climbing up the stones, but coming down was a different story.   Bill always went right out to the edge to watch the waves.  We didn't take the shuttle, but walked to the causeway and back.  I figured I could eat anything I wanted to that day!   

On the way to Ballycastle, we checked into our B&B, Crockatinny.  The driveway from the road reminded us of little mouse trails back to the house.  We could view the ocean from our room.  Then, we drove into Ballycastle looking for a laundry to drop off our clothes the next day and some place to buy a phone card that would work in NI.  We had a difficult time finding a laundry.  A waitress told us about one on the main street just past the roundabout but we couldn't find it.  People kept directing us to Coleraine (back the way we came).  We asked in a convenience store where we could get a phone card and the clerk told us the Post, which was in the same store (only not open then).  

Day 10 - Cloudy, sunshine

For breakfast, there were no breads, just toast.  The cereal and ulster fry were good.  At the Post, we got a phone card and also had to purchase stamps to mail postcards because the ones I purchased in the Republic didn't work.  No one in the Post or store knew of a laundry.  We drove down main street once more, and noticed the laundry after the roundabout just like the waitress said.  The night before the metal roll down covered the store front, so we didn't notice it.  It was called Express Drycleaning & Laundry.  Maybe the drycleaning threw the locals, even though I stated I wanted a place to drop my laundry for them to do.  We thought we would have to pick it up Monday, because this was Saturday, but they were open until 5:30.  They did a wonderful job and were so friendly. 

This day we chose to start with the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge.  Again we walked the distance to and from the Bridge.  Again, I can eat anything I want!!  The eliptical machine and quad exercises I've been doing really paid off here.  We met a couple from Scotland touring Ireland on their motorcycle.  They took our picture on the island.  I wasn't sure I would cross the bridge until I got there.  It would have been steadier if Bill had not been on the bridge at the same time!  It was windy on the island and Bill was right at the edge watching the water.  I took a picture to label "Bill, living on the edge", but it was so windy and my camera shook, that it looked like I was on the edgeyawn.

Then we headed for the Glens via Torr Road. . . awesome scenery at Murlough Bay and Torr Head.  We stopped in Cushendun for lunch at Teresa's Tea Rooms.  We didn't have a lot of time to explore Glenariff Forest Park because we had to get back to Ballycastle to pick up our laundry.  We did take the path behind the hotel to the most photographed falls. 

After we picked up our laundry, we headed for our B&B.  Kinbane Head & Castle are right across the road so we stopped there.  We did climb over the gate in the car park so we could actually see the peninsula and castle ruins.  Once I saw how far down it was, I said "nope, I've done the bridge and all the walking I'm going to do today".  I took some pictures from that spot.  We also stopped to look at the Famine Graveyard right next to our B&B. 

We had dinner at The Cellar Restaurant in Ballycastle.  We were a little early, which was fortunate for us because we didn't have reservations and got the last table.  I had an assortment of fish (salmon, plaice, monkfish) grilled in lemon butter.  It was very good.  The banofee I had for dessert was just ok.  The town was very busy Saturday night.

More to come. . .

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Merlene M Black


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Merle,

Good to hear that all your pre-exercise helped with the up and down walking in Ireland. Do you remember how much it was per load of laundry? For some reason I have never done my laundry in NI, only the Republic. Oh, I remember. I was self-catering and had free laundry facilities on site and another time the host of the B&B did it for me as a favor. How nice!

Michele

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We paid 16 pounds for our laundry which I think was 16 pounds in weight. I think it was a pound for a pound.

Merle

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Merlene M Black


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Thanks Merle. At those prices I think I will do my laundry in the Republic!

Michele

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Merle,

I am enjoying the continuation of your report.  Feel free to capture my un-intendended title for ' most drawn out' -- hmm hmm

Bob

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Day 11 - RAIN all morning, then sun & clouds

This was the day to visit my ancestor's town and gues what?. . . RAIN, a pretty good drizzle, the worst of the trip to date.  I wanted to sit on a bench and watch people and just contemplate, no such luck today.  The pictures at times were even through the windshield wiperscry.  We headed south out of Ballycastle and took the A44 through Armoy with a side trip to see the Dark Hedges.  That was kind of eerie in all the rain, but nonetheless a photo opportunity.  On the way to Magherafelt, I noticed the Ronan Valley golf course.  My ancestor's hometown is Ballyronan on Lough Neagh.  The lake is the biggest in the British Isles and the 3rd largest in Europe.  The legend is that the lake was created by the Irish Giant Finn McCool.  He scooped out the lough basin to toss it at a Scottish rival fleeing Ulster by way of the Giant's Causeway.  A piece of land fell into the Irish Channel and formed the Isle of Man.  The name means Lough of the horse-god Eochu (lord of the underworld).  The lake has 3 round towers around it and one high cross, Ardboe Cross.

We noticed a church on the way into Ballyronan, but it was Sunday and services were still in session.  In town I took pictures through the windshield.  I went into the store and talked to some people about my Hamilton ancestors.  One man and his son said to follow him and he would lead me to a Hamilton family.  When I got back to the car, I told Bill to "follow that car".  He said "WHAT"?  I couldn't believe I was walking up to a strangers house and knocking on the door.  But, alas, no one was home even though there were several cars in the farm yard. . . probably at church.  We went back to the church to look at the gravestones in the cemetery.  This was the same cemetery a distant cousin had visited several years ago.  A man from Co Down helped me research my Hamiltons in Northern Ireland and he sent me some records from this Woods Chapel.  It was nice to see it for myself.  When church was finished, a woman asked Bill what name we were searching.  He told her and she mentioned a man last summer was looking for the same name.  I told her that was another distant cousin from Florida.  She was the church secretary and still trying to find some related Hamiltons for the cousin in Florida.  She asked if we would like to see the inside.  Oh boy, would I!!  What a beautiful church as they all seem to be in Ireland.  It was called Woods Parish because there used to be a woods around it.  Most of my family emigrated a long time ago.

We headed back to Ballycastle and drove through flooded roads between Armoy and Ballycastle.  We had lunch at the Hunters Bar at the junction of the road to Torr Drive.  It was very good.  I had Chicken and dressing and Bill had a pasta dish.  We explored the Bonamargy Friary, founded around 1500 by Rory MacQuillan.  We interupted a young couple so there was a part of the Friary I didn't see.  This was an interesting site.  The burial vault contains remains of the celebrated MacDonnell Chieftain, Sorley Boy, as well as several Earls of Antrim.  The circular cross with a hole in it is the burial site of the black nun, a forseer of future events.

We stayed 3 nights at Crockatinny and it was not our favorite, just ok.  Two lights in the room didn't work.  There were dirty bowls in the stack in the dining room.  There was paper on the floor in the dining room that stayed there 3 days.  The towels in our bathroom got thinnier each day.  One day she ran out of butter.  She did say on the last morning that her helper wasn't there because of a sick husband, so she didn't have time to go to town for supplies.

More to come. . .

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Day 12 - Cloudy, sun, rain

We could have gone back to Ballyronan, but Mount Stewart in the Ards Peninsula was high on my list. We had to see that today, because we only had two days on the peninsula and the house was not open Tuesday. On the way out of Ballycastle, I noticed a "Pound Corner" store. . . must be like our dollar stores. The drive to Belfast was pretty uneventful until we arrived in Belfast. There was the prettiest rainbow behind us with 4-5 distinct lines of color and a faint rainbow around that. The traffic in Belfast was unnerving and there was a lot of road construction. It was hard to find our signs to the Ards Peninsula. Then, once we were headed in the right direction, there was an accident in the lane beside us. I told Bill I didn't want to come back the next day to tour Belfast (a sigh of relief from Bill, the driver). We could find something to do on the peninsula instead.

When we got to the Ards Peninsula, we noticed the road our B&B was on, but the sun was now shining so we decided to go straight to Mount Stewart. What an awesome site. I would gladly tour this again. The 45 minute tour of the house was excellent and very informative. It's hard to describe all the gardens. . . there are so many and they are all beautiful. I asked one of the workers how many gardeners there were for the lawn and garden and he said 8 or 9. I don't know how they could keep up with all the yard work. 

We found our B&B, Ballycastle House outside of Newtownards right close to Mount Stewart. We loved Margaret & Ron. Margaret served us tea in the lounge when we arrived. We were in the lounge that evening and Ron joined us for about an hour talking about kids, travel, farming and his antique tractor collection.  When we got home we sent Ron some information about a tractor parts dealer near us.  Our first night there we had dinner at the Wildflower Inn in Greyabbey, recommended by Margaret. . . delicious food. There was a couple of men staying with Margaret, one from Liverpool and one from Glasgow. They were remodeling a shop in Newtownards and worked at night. We had nice chats with them at breakfast.  The Ulster Fry breakfast was very good.

Day 13 - Sun, clouds

Before we left, we toured Ron's antique tractor collection.  Then we headed for Downpatrick to tour the Saint Patrick Centre and the Down Cathedral. The Saint Patrick Centre was very informative and well done. We took pictures of the Cathedral and the stone in the cemetery commemorating Saint Patrick. Next, we drove north along the west side of Strangford Lough to Scrabo Tower.  After climbing the hill to the Tower, I didn't realize that you could also climb up 4 floors in the Tower. I did 2 floors. . .could eat anything I wanted to this day also smile.

On our way back to our B&B, we stopped at Grey Abbey ruins in Greyabbey.  I loved exploring these ruins.  It was getting dusk and there's something about ruins at dusk that make them so picturesque.  We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Greyabbey.  It was just ok, nothing spectacular. 

We loved Margaret & Ron (did I say that?).  We spent more time talking to them when we left Wednesday, which shortened our time in Malahide.  They gave us directions to The Linen Chest store in Newtownards and we were on our way with hugs.

More to come. . .

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Merlene M Black
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