Completing the Ireland Circle

Bye bye Bunbeg house! This one we weren't sad to leave behind, it became the joke of the whole trip. So what's on the agenda for today? The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland! It was about a 3 hour drive from Bunbeg. But there would be stops along the way, not a doubt in our minds...

We entered Northern Ireland but no one was prepared to catch a "snap" of the sign so Rick found a spot to turn around and what greeted us? A big sign for a "car boot sale"! We'd seen signs previously and didn't know what they were so Sarah researched it - it was a flea sale of sorts. People had stuff to sell and they sold it out of their car boot - or trunk, as we call it. Being this rainy part of the world, though, it was indoors and was mostly just tables, a few cars with open boots but mostly just tables. Sarah and I enjoyed looking for treasures and found a few!

We decided to travel along the coast and saw Mussendem temple - kinda. Northern Ireland is not as free with their relics. Everything is inside a wall with an entrance fee. The whole area was too "improved" and we decided we preferred the old Republic of Ireland with its narrow, twisty, wall-lined roads and relics and ruins everywhere you looked, most with free access and friendly people who are eager to help you find them. We did see a lot of beauty, the Antrim area is stunning. But we kept our stay in NI under 24 hours.

One good reason to move on was the exchange rate. The republic uses euros which have an exchange rate of 1.32 dollars to a euro. NI uses British pounds. The exchange rate for that is 1.55 USD to a pound. Ouch!

We drove on enjoying the views as best we could as the rain increased until we finally reached the Giant's Causeway. We had flown over 6000 miles and just driven for 3 hours to see it so, rain or no rain, we were going. It was a 15 minute walk to the columns. I had my rubber boots and was gonna use them! At least that way my feet were dry! The rest of me? Well, I put on 2 pairs of leggings to start the day, they were all rather thin and it wasn't warm so I double layered them. In all that rain I decided to add a pair of light denim jeans. So my legs would be dry. I was wearing a sweater over a lightweight turtleneck. Then I put on my so-called water-resistant jacket. That was about as good as I could do. I grabbed a plastic bag to keep my camera in and we headed off.

We got little audio players to describe what we were seeing and in the introduction it mentioned that the screen might be difficult to see in "bright sun or driving rain". Haha!

We walked out to the columns and did our best to explore and take pictures. But, boy! was it raining! Our pictures all came out blurry, my camera even began to malfunction somewhat. I was soaked to the skin and we were just about to head back to the car when the rain stopped and the sun came out! All of a sudden everything had color!

There is a swinging bridge or rope bridge called Carrick-a-rede right near the Causeway and Sarah wanted to check it out. It did look like fun but, as was the norm for that part of the island, there was a fee, a little too much to cross a footbridge. We opted to pass.

We kept driving on Causeway Road a bit til we could head south in Ballintoy. Dunseverick Castle was a little ruin on a hill surrounded by cliffs and right on the shore and there were sheep grazing in and around it. Quite a stunning sight, one of my favorites.

We drove through more of the Antrim forests and finally started looking for a room again. We passed a B&B on the edge of a town, then some cottages and never stopped. That was all we could find for 3 towns. It was becoming panic time again. Sarah and I spotted a hotel in Armagh - the Charlemont hotel. We made Rick stop and see if they had a room, even though it didn't look too good from the outside. It was actually nice once inside so we got a room. It felt good to get out of the car: They had a reasonably priced restaurant so we grabbed dinner and crashed. 

Tomorrow is our last day...


We started to leave without having breakfast when the girl at the front desk questioned that decision and informed Rick that he'd paid for breakfast. Whew! Glad she said something! It was our most expensive room (considering the exchange rate) and we almost wasted some of what we paid for!

After breakfast we drove the rest of the way out of the country and were glad to be back in the prettier country. Just 3 more sight I'd planned for the day. Then we could go back to Dublin if we felt we needed to.

We found the Fore Abbey and it was in another very delightful setting. The weather was working with us this day, it was beautiful clouds and comfortable temperatures, no more rain (at least not until later).

There was a lot to see at this sight, on both sides of the road. There were the oddest looking striped cows grazing in front of the abbey. I researched them and found them to be "Dutch belted" cows. We wandered and took our share of pictures, then headed back a few hundred feet to the town so I could use the restroom. Sarah visited the little shop and bought herself a piece of rhubarb pie. I visited with the owner lady and asked if she knew where our next destination was. It was the ruins of a church in the woods called St John the Baptist church, near Devlin. She hadn't heard of it so she went to google it and was still gone when Sarah finished her pie and we left. I wrote her a quick thank you note on a napkin.I had rather detailed instructions on how to find this particular spot but was still not seeing it so I just went to a couple doors right there and asked if they knew where it was. They did and were more than happy to give me directions.

There was an arch with a gate and it was locked. The lady in the bungalow across the street was supposed to have the key but she wasn't home. Well, I was wanting to see this for months and had come all this way. I wasn't letting a locked gate stop me, the people were all of the opinion that we could go in so I looked and we cold just walk around the arch!

I went in and climbed through a fence into a cow pasture because the woods was behind it. Rick and Sarah walked on the other side of the fence. We ended up meeting right at the entrance to the church, them on one side and me on the other.

We wandered and got some shots and I decided to go out the way they went in. I saw a gate with a sign on it (from the back) and said "what does it say?". Rick said it says church property. I got to the outside and it basically said stay out! Oops! I didn't see it on the way in. Oh well, we didn't do any harm.

Now we were pretty much free to do whatever. Oh - wait! the Wonderful barn in Lucan, right on the way to Dublin!

I thought it was more surrounded by apartments, but instead it was actually in a nice park-like setting. And the clouds were perfect for photographing with an old structure.

We finished up there and chose to head in to Dublin. We felt we were ready to try to navigate the Monster Dublin. Sarah had a specific shop she wanted to get to and it was closing at 6 so we had to hurry. We managed to find everything in time and then grabbed some dinner in another pub.

On our last night I booked a room at the Smarmore Castle in Ardee. On the way there we pass through the town of Slane which is completely encased in temporary fences with openings only at each home's driveway. There was no construction or anything visible to explain the fencing. When we arrived at Smarmore I asked "What's up with Slane?" Our hosts, Peter and Eileen, tell us that the night before there had been a Bon Jovi concert and there were 45,000 people in attendance in the Slane Castle. This is a town with a population of less than 2000. Eminem will be there in August and some concerts there have had as many as 80,000 in attendance!

The room I'd reserved (the Earl's Room) wasn't available so they offered us a choice of 2 other rooms for the same price. We picked the one that had a separate room for Sarah, the Count's Room. It was beautifully decorated and comfortable. We just wish we'd had a little more time to spend there. Their internet left a lot to be desired, but other than that it was perfect! Sarah and I decided to wander out in the dwindling light to try to get some pictures before it was totally dark.It was sprinkling so we put on our coats and went out. And closed the door. And didn't have the key. And didn't want to disturb the owners.

We got a few nice shots in the evening light and then had to figure out how to get back in. We found the window to the room that Rick was in and decided to find something soft to throw at it to catch his attention. But first we tried shooting our flash at the window to see if he'd see that and check out the odd light. No chance. So we found some small sticks but had to throw from the corner of the house. I finally hit the glass and ran back to see if he'd come check out what made the noise. It worked! He came to the window and I signaled to him to open the door. So that wraps up our trip. We drove a total of 1770 miles. Now all that's left to do is get to the airport and onto the plane.

THAT is a story in itself.

<--- castle cat

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About Me

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After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.