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Bill's trip report online


I posted this on the trip report page also ...


I wanted Michele and her fans to see it first. There is still one error on the 12-13 May page. The "More Photos" link doesn't work on this page. I'll fix it tomorrow. The file is on another computer. All of the other "More Photos" links work.


You'll need a great deal of patience and No-Doze to get thorugh it. There's lots of detail that only I care about and a couple of mishaps thrown in to amuse the casually interested reader. I hope you all enjoy. There are LOTS of photos.


http://www.geocities.com/obeirne_ireland_2005_1/


Bill



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Wojazz3, thank you for the invitation to view your fantastic trip report! I just had a quick look at it, and will enjoy reading the whole thing, over many days, with cups of Irish tea (from a box bought at Trader Joe's...) Very talented photography.

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Bill,


I just spent a rainy Sunday reading your trip report. Bravo! My husband kept asking me what I was laughing out loud at. I really enjoyed the story about the golf clubs, your adventures getting locked into Castle Coole, the hillarious horseback riding episode (did you rent from Arnold's Hotel?), and best of all your strip tease at Fanad.  A pity Felicity didn't get photos of that!! I suppose there would have been enough blackmail material for the rest of your life.  All the photos were great but I especially liked the ones of Felicity sipping whiskey and the lobster traps at Roundstone (great perspective).


Glad to see you finally made it out to St. John's Point. Are you going to be adding any commentary about the B&Bs? We would enjoy hearing your critiques of them. Remember the Toilet Paper Reviews?


Thanks for letting our little community in on your latest Adventures in Ireland first. I know I totally enjoyed being along for the ride.


Michele


 



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Thanks guys. It's a big sigh of relief when I finish it!


Bill



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Bill,


Don't I know it? It is always a big sigh of relief every year when I finish the new edition of my book. BTW, I have finally found the perfect place to stay on Achill Island. It is right on the beach!


Michele



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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

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Ah Michele, you taunt me with your knowledge. On the beach on Achill ... to good to miss. May have to stay there this May.


Bill



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Bill,


When you are closer to your vacation, let me know if you want the recommendation and I will be happy to pass it along to you.


Michele



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Sounds good Michele. I'll probably need a few suggestions. I plan to make more attempts to go to places I haven't explored yet and I'll need to decide where to stay. There are two goals on this trip: to see some friends I have made there and some who have moved there from here and to see those places that keep eluding me. Friends are in Dingle and Galway mainly, though I may have to go see Billy O'Sullivan in Crookhaven.


These are places on the short list:


More of Mayo/Achill Skellig Rocks, all the way to the tip of Beara, perhaps the islands off the coast from Baltimore, Hook Head, Kilkenny and Powerscourt. Can you belive that I've never really been to Kilkenny? Seven tries and I've driven through twice. Hey, I just made it to the Arans on the last trip.


Bill



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Bill,


This is by far the best trip report I've ever read.  I laughed out loud at all your adventures, and can't pick my favorite story, although the horse back riding incident comes close to being the funniest. 


 When I went to Ireland for the first time in 2001, it was with three of my best girlfriends.  Friends or not, spending that much time together, and trying to make everyone happy and on the same page is challenging!!!!!!!!  


My revenge came when I caught a terrible cold and they all drew straws to see who had to sleep in the same room with my snoring......he he.  The friend that lost put ear plugs in about 2am.


Anyway, thanks again for sharing. 


Jane


 



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Bill,


I can't believe you have never stayed in Kilkenny. It is my favorite Irish city. Plus there is a whole lot to see in the immediate area. Are you planning on taking the cable car out to Dursey Island?


For such a small island, Ireland really has a lot to see and do!


Here are a few links I found for you:


http://www.thesession.org/index.php


http://www.ireland.ie/things_2_do_results_single.asp?sID=44318


http://www.ceolas.org/instruments/bodhran/makers.shtml


Also, you mentioned that you didn't like the bodrahns at Malachy Kearn's in Roundstone. Kilkenny Design Center carries Walton bodrahns: http://www.kilkennydesign.com/CraftsPeople/Music/WaltonsBodhrans.html


Custy's in Ennis also carries bodhrans: http://www.custysmusic.com/


Michele



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Jane:


So that was you snoring that I heard in 2001? Thanks for you very kind remarks. I usually try to make the best out of the stupid situations that I get myself into. I seem to make it a point to fall somewhere and the result always involves my wife laughing herself to within seconds of death. If you enjoy hearing of near death experiences, perhaps you will enjoy our boating adventure in Ireland back in 03.


http://www.geocities.com/obeirne_ireland_2003/


The boating adventure begins on the Carrick on Shannon link and continues painfully from there.


Michele:


Yes, I plan to do the cable car and hopefully it won't drop us into the water below. It is amazing how much there is to see in Ireland. I watched the movie "The Boys of County Clare" last night and just seeing the scenery was inspirational. Of course, none of the scenery was from Co. Clare. It was all NI and Isle of Man but that didn't make it any less fun to watch.


I now own a bodhran, made in, of all places, Germany. It's a beautiful instrument, one of the best I've heard and has all sorts of tuning possibilities that Malachy never thought of. Anne Marie at Cregg Castle didn't think much of his instruments and I have to concur.


Thanks for all of the links. I've been stealing tunes from the session for quite a while now. The bodhran instruction site looks interesting. I'll have to investigate even more.


Bill



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Yea!!


I just returned from a lovely vacation and was SO happy to see that your much-anticipated trip report is posted. I'm going to try to read it over several days, extending the enjoyment. That probably means I'll be done some time before dinner tonight. Thanks for sharing this with us.


oopsy


 



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It will probably take several days to read. I was more long winded than ever!


Bill



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Bill,


I'm glad to hear you found your bodhran. Who cares if it is made in Germany? They make excellent things there. I was there in April and have a few nice souvenirs myself. My husband loved the autoban. Personally, driving 35 mph in Ireland is more my speed.


I haven't seen "The Boys of County Clare". I will have to rent it. Thanks for the movie tip. Glad you liked the links.


Michele



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Bill, I just had the opportunity of enjoying the 3 WESTPORT portions of your amazing trip report. Wonderful for us that you like to journal in such detail, and your photos are excellent.

We'll be spending 3 nights in/near Wesport as our base for exploring County Mayo next July. I'll remember to look next door to Matt Malloys for great MUSIC, thanks to you. I hope Kevin is still playing. Is it obvious which pub next to Matt Malloys has good music? (In other words is there more than 1 to choose from?) I'm also hoping we can wedge ourselves into Matt Malloys as well. I couldn't stand that loud Canadian woman, I wanted to shut her up myself (and I'm not even in your story!!!)

I wonder, could a stranger in a pub walk up to a loud person disturbing the musicians and get her to be QUIET? Or would a big brawl start like in the wild west? (Notice I said her. I wouldn't be brave enough to ask a drunken male to shush!)

Do you suppose there are some musical pubs where the guests are more serious about listening to the music and would shush the loud people, like in the pub you visited? And there are other PUBS where nobody seems very serious about wanting to hear the music and everybody is loud?

It sounds like the weather really dampened your visit to ACHILL Island. I'm hoping we will get a sunny day for either Achill island or Clare island.

You have a wonderful sense of humor in the way you view mishaps, and in the way you write! by the way, believe it or not, it has been many weeks now and I am still without printer paper, and so have started reading your trip report on-line, as is, though I meant to print it out! someday I will actually have paper again.

What?! FAKE BEEHIVE huts at Dingle?! Well I'm glad you mentioned that, now I really am going to have to sign up for a reliable knowledgeable tour guide. We will have 3 nights in dingle, enough time for a tour of the peninsula, plus some exploring on our own.

I thought it would be cool if I could get a BODHRAN in Ireland for hubby. He used to play the drums in a band when we were single, and one day when we were broke early on in our marriage, he sold his drums for some extra cash! Now where is the place where that guy in Ireland makes the bodhrans? MICHELE DO YOU KNOW? I think I read somewhere that you could order one from him and pick it up when you arrive. I think he's somewhere on the west coast?

Many thanks for sharing your entertaining and informative and hilarious trip report with us, Bill!

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Hi Melissa:


I'm glad you enjoyed my report. It's good to know it might actually provide some valuable information and cause a couple of laughs while we're at it.


The Porterhouse is the pub next to Matt Molloy's and the crowd seemed pretty interested and in fact many a person made subtle attempts at shshing her, she was just so loud she couldn't hear it. Generally, if there is music in a pub, you will find people chatting and the like. I prefer that to a concert hall situation, our Canadian friend was just unbearable.


Roundstone Music (in Roundstone Connemara) is one of the most famous places for bodhrans, but I was unimpressed considering the price. Granted, I was looking for the best I could find and what I eventually found was a double skinned, double tuning option made by a fellow in Germany. I would check some of the places that Michele mentions in here links above. If he just wants to practice on it, any 18" bodhran will do. It's good to moisten the skin, particularly in dry climates. I had a Walton's that I got in the States that was a great learning insIt's a fun instrument to play and what I liked is that the difference between a pawn shop re-tread and a Stradivarius is only a couple hundred bucks, so if you're serious, spend the cash.


Yup, Michele will back me up in that there are stories that some of the huts are fake. I suspect the stories are true.


It sounds like your plans are coming along well. My biggest advice is to not plan too much and count on magic along the way. It will happen. If you plan every minute, you'll find yourself running around like you are in a tour bus. Don't worry about missing something that you just HAD to see. You'll see it the next time.


Bill



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Oh Bill, I definitely don't want to be running around like we're on a tour bus! Thanks for the reminder.

Is this too much running around for a first family trip? We will have a car so we can take day-trips from our "bases".

Fly into shannon (from San Diego, long trip!)
1 night: Ennis or Bunratty
3 nights: Dingle Peninsula (stay at Heaton's)
3 nights: County Clare (stay at Drumcreehy, Ballyvaughan)
3 nights: County Mayo (stay in Westport)
2 nights: Belfast/Newtownards area
3 nights: Dublin/Trim castle area
Fly home from dublin

Are you planning your next trip yet?

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Melissa:


Actually, you're itinerary in terms of number of nights in places is great. The only tough one at all will be the drive from Mayo to Belfast. There is a lot to see that you will go past and I would have a hard time deciding where to stop. As a note, unless the Sligo bypass is complete (and it may be by then) avoid Sligo. It's very slow moving in midday, with or without a funeral.


All I'm suggesting is that, for each day you have 1 or 2 must sees and then see what happens in between. You may end up missing some must sees which is just fine. I know you're planning for a group and you want to please them all, but make sure you please yourself too and take a little time to relax. I'm sure you'll have fun though!


Bill



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Bill's itinerary advice


Thanks, Bill! That's how I usually plan for the family and it works out great...one must-see (or scheduled activity) per day, and lots of free time for spontaneous adventures.

Are you suggesting maybe we should spend 1 night somewere beween Westport and Belfast? Do you have any specific suggestions? I could do that if I take 1 night away from Dublin area. I actually have cast a longing eye on Abocurragh Farm Guesthouse in Enniskillen several times. Would that work as a stop between Westport and Belfast, and would it allow us to take a driving route through scenic areas and interesting villages?

That change would make the itinerary look like this:
1 night: Bunratty or Ennis
3 nights: Dingle Peninsula
3 nights: County Clare (Ballyvaughan base)
3 nights: County Mayo (Westport base)
1 night: Enniskillen
2 nights: Belfast or Newtownards, Northern Ire.
2 nights: Malahide or Dublin

I took the Enniskillen night away from Dublin. Do you like the original itinerary better, or this new one?

The other option is if I went straight to Belfast from Westport, I could add 1 night up near the Antrim coast and Giant's causeway. These 2 new plans both take a night away from dublin area (which means we would get only 1 full day in Dublin instead of 2 full days in dublin.) But Michele has wisely cautioned me that if I add the Antrim coast and the Giant's causeway, I am adding more driving too and might get too busy...But with your idea of stopping between Westport and Belfast, it would already be basically on our route.

I am chickening out of the idea of spending our 3 Dublin nights in dublin city centre. Though I had my eye on Kilronan House, supposed to be on a relatively quiet street south of St. Stephen's Green and Iveragh gardens. But I hear Dublin is just one all-night party every day of the week all summer! We'll be there on a July weekend. Even though Kilronan House is supposed to be on a quiet leafy street, I have studied the fodors guidebook and noted that it is surrounded by night club streets on both sides! Maybe I am better off getting some sleep in the suburbs, maybe Malahide as Michele suggests, and taking public transportaton (train?) into Dublin for the day. Malahide is also closer to the airport, where we will fly home from.

Thanks, Bill!

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RE: Bill's trip report online


Melissa:


Which one I like better may not do you much good. I'm not much of a city guy (other than Dublin, Westport was the biggest town we were in the last time) and I generally prefer spending time in the countryside. If it were my 1st trip to Ireland, I wouldn't even go into Belfast which admittedly, I still haven't done after 7 trips. I certainly wouldn't miss the Antrim coast to see Belfast, but that's me.


I think Enniskillen would be a good place to stop in between if you want to stay somewhere on the way. The decision is whether or not you want to spend a good part of that day driving to get so that you can see more in NI or catch some sightseeing along the way. I know you've had lots of good advice on things to see enroute (Glencar, Parks Castle, Marble Arch Caves etc) and you could probably pick up a bit of one or two of the places, but you probably won't get to linger.


I don't think that you need to stay on the Antrim coast to visit it, though it's my preference. I'm not sure how challenging it is to get through Belfast from Newtownards so that could make affect the decision of staying on the Antrim coast. As I remember, Newtownards is an ancestral place for you so you certainly want to stay there. If it were me, this is what I would do, and I know this isn't your favorite option, but still, to see what you want to see, I think it's a good way to go....


Gut it out and make it to Dingle on the 1st day. Plan stops at Bunratty Castle, Adare, perhaps a light lunch in Newcastle West, stop and enjoy the views of the rolling fields around Abbeyfeale and slowly wander into Dingle. Then pull everything back a day. Do not eat any heavy meals all day long! There will be a couple of tired moments along the way, but as soon as they start, get out of the car and walk around.


I think you could take a day off of Clare or Westport (my preference would be Clare), use the day that you are driving from Ballyvaughan to Westport to cruise Connemara, drive up over Doo Lough Pass and take the back road through Louisburgh into Westport. AS I look at your itinerary, the thing that strikes me is that you are spending 10 days in the west of Ireland and then spending 2 days covering an equal amount of territory in  and on the way to NI. Add to that the idea that you ancestry is from that part of the country .... well, I would re-think that. Find a way to take one day out of the west to make the east a bit less of a whirlwind. I think you will feel very rushed at the end which from what I hear from you, you don't want.


Just my opinion, which isn't always valid ...


Bill



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Your opinion is ALWAYS valid, Bill, and I thank you for taking the time to consider it and type it up for me! Folks like you have been most generous with their good advice.

It is actually Belfast where my grandmother used to live until she emigrated in her teens. She was born south of Belfast in an area that I don't think is even on the map any more! I do wish grandmother had spent her early years somewhere more enticing, honestly! Alas, I'm not a city girl either. I live in San Diego which is city enough for me, but we are a sprawling city with lots of suburbs and a small down-town area. I live in the 'burbs and we have canyons hereabouts, so it's almost like living in the countryside...

Actually, of all the places in Ireland there are to go, I'm afraid I am least interested in Belfast as it seems the most city-like. (No offense to any of you Belfast natives.) That is why I ended up being a bit stingy and only giving the Belfast area 2 nights...1 night barely seemed like enough time to check in. I have actually been hoping all along someone would talk me out of going to Belfast at all, but nobody has. Alas, everyone says I MUST go to the places my grandmother was born and grew up. (Cannot actually find where she was actually born; not only do we not have her actual birth certificate, but the place where her sister was born isn't on the map any more...Tannaghmore West, Lurgan, County Armagh.) Apparently todays Lurgan retains nothing from the past, the old villages were totally demolished, from what I understand. There is probably more of grandmother and great-grandmother in the folk parks!

Even my hubby is foiling my plan to have people talk me out of Belfast, insisting that we have to see Belfast as he wants to see the old Palm House in the Botanic Gardens!

Sigh. Thanks for listening to me, I'm getting quite long-winded! I guess I am deeply happy with my itinerary, except for apparently I still REALLY don't want to go to Belfast, I can see that must still be true after all this research. There are no cows in Belfast

That's another reason I'm considering Michele's suggestion to stay in Newtownards instead of Belfast. More cows. No, actually ducks and birds, near/on the Strangford Lough there's a wildlife preserve. Also Newtownards isn't far from the Ulster folk and transport Museum. (Different from the other Ulster Folk Park...)

Well, as enticing as Enniskillen is, there is one good reason to push on from Westport to Belfast. That is, if I'm going to make a long drive, we'll be most ready for it after having spent 3 whole nights in one place, like we're planing in Westport.

You know it's usually the young people who want to go speeding about energetically and only spend a night or 2 per location, I used to be like that. But even my older daughter, who's in college, said, "Are we going to spend 4 nights in one place, like we did in Rome? I like that." Okay, confession, there are 3 big cities in the world that I love...San Diego, Rome, and San Francisco!

Well, Bill, you are clever to find an extra night in my itinerary by sending me straight to Dingle first and not stopping for the night in Bunratty. But alas, I"m afraid I haven't got your "guts". That would mean 3 hours (or is it 4 hours?) of listening to my passionate and opinionated (and cranky and jet-lagged) family squabble in the car all the way to Dingle! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! You must be blessed with a peacable family. I love my family but we dearly love to argue, and when we're tired it's not a pretty sight...

In fact I've realized, now that I have our plane tickets, we don't arrive in Shannon airport until the early afternoon, so by the time we get our rental car, the day will be more than half-gone. We won't actually have time to do much sight-seeing that first afternoon/evening. It might be too late in the day to try to see the Bunratty folk park. Might be better to go wandering about Ennis.

Yes, the Belfast/Northern Ireland portion of our trip is looking too rushed. I would really like to fix that. As I said, I vote for skipping Belfast, that will fix it! But I am the only person who has voted for that!

I did plan 10 lucious days in SW and W Ireland, didn't I? And I wish I had more!!! In all my research I found those the most appealing areas. And I think they have a lot to offer my family too. In fact, I have also discovered our ancient ancestors, the ones born long before my grandmother, may have come from County Galway and also County Clare, and County Mayo. (I have Irish ancestry from both grandparents and hubby has some Irish ancestry from one great-grandmother.)

Anyway it was very interesting to hear your views on my itinerary, as you are looking at it very objectively, and you have 7 trips to Ireland under your belt!

I am curious about one thing. If you had to lose either scenic County Mayo, or else scenic Antrim Coast/Giant's Causeway, which one would you be willing to lose? (Naturally if you lost County Mayo you would probably lose Westport as well.)

Nice chatting with you, Bill.



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