Ireland, Days 2, 3 & 4

We all slept pretty well that first night, and nearly every one to follow and found ourselves pretty well in sync with the new time zone in short order. Just a little minor grogginess upon waking is all any of us experienced. Fortunately.

So Friday, our arrival day, was spent exploring Dublin and now we were ready to hit the road. Or so we thought. Navigating was a real challenge. It turns out that roads are poorly marked. The map app I was using on my iPad didn't always list the same towns as those on the signs. I was nearly in tears pretty quickly. We did figure it out eventually though. It took all 3 of us to get through larger towns as signs weren't always displayed in time to make a turn, sometimes you had to make the turn and then verify you were in the right place afterward. Highway signs weren't always posted so as to assure the correct road either. An adjustment time was needed for this as well as driving on the opposite side and from the opposite side of the car. But now that we've done it enough for it to not be so foreign the next time it won't be as awkward.

We missed our first stop so hit the open road out toward a HUGE tourist trap - Glendalough (GLEN-da-lock). The traffic around the site was ca-ray-zee! The road was big enough for about 1 1/2 cars to pass the parked ones and even buses were there! We found parking on the street and had a blast perusing all the grounds, there was a tower, church and cemetery. In spite of all the people we all got great shots without people if we wanted, they were able to spread around pretty well and the bus groups seemed to stick together.

On the way there we followed a route called "St Kevin's Way", the church at Glendalough is called St Kevin's Church. This was the route this "saint" followed on his way to establish the monastery at Glendalough in the 6th century. There were ruins along the road with people picnicking right at their doorway. Beautiful scenery in the Wicklow Mountains Gap.

Next we went to check out a pretty 300 year-old bridge. We quickly caught on that the majority of bridges are beautiful old stone bridges and we could usually view them from the shore if it was accessible. We had a picnic lunch there along the river bank.

On our way toward Fern we drove through lots of forests and I kept looking for bluebells and I found them! I had to climb through some blackberry brambles to get to them but it was a beautiful setting and the fact that I just found it out in nature and not in a park made it just that much more special!

We also stumbled upon a church ruin with a small graveyard and the only way Rick could find to get in was over the crumbling wall. As we were leaving, though, an older fellow drove up, saw me scrambling over the wall and informed us that there was a little gate "just there" pointing about 15 feet toward the road. I thought we were going to get told off!

We drove on to the town of Fern and decided we'd better start looking for a room. But Fern was having a medieval Festival and there were no rooms. So we moved on to Enniscorthy, a slightly bigger town in which another festival was going on - no rooms. Next town? only expensive rooms. OK, how about Wexford? It has lots of accommodations but we couldn't find them. And there was a big hurling competition too which had, once more, drawn lots of out-of-town visitors. Out of desperation Rick turned sharply into a B&B. She had already rented out the room but they weren't expected to arrive til after dark and we looked pitiful so she let us have it! I told her that she'd saved us!

Then another problem arose. No restaurants were open except a very ritzy one. We walked and walked and finally went into a small grocery store (run by a nice Irish fella named Eddie Murphy) with a deli and ate meat pies. It was actually very good and I was glad we got forced into trying them. Mine was kinda like a pot pie, beef and potato. The store owner also took pity on us and gave us advise and some free bread, since he was getting ready to close up and gonna chuck it anyway.

Back in our room I got online and booked a room for the next night so we wouldn't have to go through that again...


Moving on to Sunday. Angela, the B&B owner, did a fantastic job with her Irish breakfast, soft, classical music, a water feature and food served eloquently with attractive dishes and utensils.

I had planned some pretty obscure ruins to explore - if we could find them, that is... We got close to one but couldn't spot it. An older man stopped on the road to ask if we needed help. Rick told him what we were looking for and he had us follow him. It was on his property and he'd open the gate to let us in!

We meandered for 45 minutes. It was one of my favorite ruins, Castleboro House. It was massive! It had a terraced yard out back and beautiful fields. In front of the house was where our host kept his sheep. Rick caught this connection between a little lamb and me. Or so I thought:

As we drove on we kept finding places we had to stop and explore. Goresbridge was a town with one of those beautiful old stone bridges with 9 arches built 1756 (it's the NEW bridge!)! Next the town of Borris was filled with a castle with picnic grounds, ice cream and lots of colorful doors and buildings, flowers everywhere and another old church with an interesting bell tower.

We got slightly lost on our way to Jerpoint Abbey but the scenery was amazing, we weren't too far off course. We corrected our route in Gowran and ended up exploring another church ruin. This one had a small usable church on the grounds. So we grabbed some shots there and then moved on to our original destination. There was a bus group getting a tour and scaffolding on the tower but the majority of the grounds were beautiful and it was a beautiful day to be outside. We were actually getting a tad sunburnt!

It turns out most of the ruins available are churches and abbeys. I'm thinking that may be partially due to them not being attacked and burned during the times when all the castles and houses were, mainly the civil war time 1919-1921 and a time period referred to as "the Troubles" in the '20s.

We crammed in 2 more stops that I'd planned for us to see, Carey's Castle, which involved a 20 minute hike in the woods and Ballysaggartmore Towers. We learned to ask for help instead of driving aimlessly. This helped a lot. We also noticed that everyone giving us directions repeated themselves at least once, more often twice. Things became a lot less stressful. We sometimes still had difficulty finding them but we at least knew we were close.

Dinner was a wonderful success at "Foley's on the Mall" in Lismore. The food and ambiance were perfect and they had musicians (mostly kids) playing "trad" music.

That just left the drive into our crummy room in Cork, which turned out to be longer than I'd thought. Oh, well, we were back on track anyway. I just had to scale back the number of stops per day and we eventually started setting an alarm so we started earlier. We can sleep when we go home!

Monday was to be a leisurely day. We only had to go to the Blarney Castle so Sarah could kiss the Blarney stone and then drive part way around the Ring of Kerry. On that drive we also planned to stop at a little farm called Molly Gallivan's and maybe a stop at Ross Castle.

When we were leaving Blarney Castle it started raining and only got harder all day. We stopped in town not far from the castle to get some cash and check out a "charity shop" (thrift store). Rick went to the trunk to get something out and dropped the keys in it before closing it. We ended up struggling with that car for quite a while before we got someone to show us the stealthy opener on the trunk just by the light. Sheesh! What a huge waste of time!

We were hoping to see a "sheep jam" but instead only got involved in 3 cow jams. The first one was just outside of Blarney.

So our Ring of Kerry drive, one of the most beautiful drives on the island (which is about the size of Indiana, or less than half the size of Washington, for those with inquiring minds) was in driving rain and fog in the hilly spots. Molly Gallivan's was closed by the time we got there and we ended up looking for our hostel in Ballinskelligs in the dark. Our host, Frida, was wonderful and told us it was our home while we were there. We had 3 beds in our room, a huge bathroom, full kitchen full of food to eat, living room, we got to park right by our door and the room was comfortably warm for the weary, wet travellers. And it was only about €45!

Talk about an adventure! We're up to day 5 next, stay tuned!

1 cats hacked up hairballs:

Dane June 20, 2013 at 8:45 PM  

The Eddie Murphy part cracked me up. Sounds like half the trip didn't really go as planned. But I'm so glad you guys still had a great old time!

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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.