Monday, October 3rd Cloudy, dry 55 degrees
Had an early breakfast this morning and got to the ferry terminal by 9. By 10 we were on the ship, car parked, in the 1st class lounge and on our way to Ireland. Had free coffee and could have as much to eat as we wanted to. I had a muffin and some cookies but Brian was afraid to eat in case he got motion sickness. The ride was very smooth, Brian had taken a gravol at 9:30 and was ok for the trip. Once settled in a B&B in Belfast, we decided to take a city tour. We went all over the city but much of what we saw was pretty drab - like the harbour which use to employ 35,000 & now only uses 200 because so much has been closed. This is not a very pretty city - very working class - many old historical buildings have been torn down or allowed to get into very poor condition. They are trying to preserve the old looks now but there seems to be a lot of construction going on all over. Much of the tour focused on the troubles in the past between the IRA and the British army (the Catholics vs the Protestants). Each area has murals painted on walls depicting the bad things that have happened - the martyrs and the IRA leaders, etc. The two areas of the city have been separated from each other by a wall, they call it the Peace Wall! It is really amazing that religion has caused such hatred. The 2 areas of the city that are the safest are the city centre (altho in the past buildings in this area were bombed) and the university area because over half of the students are international so the Irish conflict is not an issue in this area. The tour was very interesting because it contrasted greatly from the other city tours we have taken which concentrated on the buildings and their history rather than a political/religious conflict.
The factory that built the Titanic, I am not sure why they want to advertise this fact.
The murals in one section of town.
The top two floors of this apartment use to be occupied by the British army during the troubles.
Murals on the other side.
Red, white and blue curbs showing support for the British.
Belfast City Hall
Queen's University of Belfast.
It makes me feel very nervous here and so we did not stay out late tonight, We walked in the university area for almost 2 hours, visited the Ulster Museum. After dinner we went to a gaming house (like a casino) and spent 20gbp (can’t figure out these casinos with their hold and nudge buttons!), then in the room by 7. Hope the car isn’t stolen during the night - we couldn’t help but notice that every other car had some heavy duty contraption on the steering wheel to prevent it from getting stolen. Must be a lot of crime here in Belfast. That has made us very uneasy. (We found our the next day that an IRA ex-leader was killed, shot while answering his door!!).
Tuesday, October 4th
Had a good breakfast then we got out of Belfast, no problems with traffic. We drove through rolling hills of farm land. Homes are surprisingly modern and North American looking. I guess I was expecting poor people. Got to Glenfarne about 12:30 and started our search for the church where James Flynn, Brian’s great-grandfather and Mary Kilkenny were married. We found a Catholic church called St. Mary’s but the gravestones were too new. There were some Flynns there that I wrote down, might be descendants.
St. Mary's in Glenfarne
St. Michael's in Glenfarne
We talked to an old man who just happened to be driving by who pulled over to chat. We asked him if there was an older cemetery and he said there was at St. Michael’s just up the road, so we went to that church but again the gravestones there were too new. So we went to Kiltyclogher where James Flynn was from and we asked there where the RC church and cemetery were and we were directed to St. Patrick’s but graves too new. Went back into town and asked a lady who told us to ask this man named Joe, she pointed out his house and we knocked on his door. He made us come into his house and drew us maps to two old cemeteries that we should check, one at Rossinver and the older one associated with St. Michael’s (we had been to this church but had not gone far enough past it to the older cemetery).
Flynn graves in St. Michael's graveyard.
This was the one where Joe thought it was probably that they would have been married and that their family plots would be. So we went to the St Michael’s one first and found some Flynn’s and some Kilkenny’s but not the names of Brian’s great-grandparents nor any of the siblings, of course many graves were unreadable. We went into Rossinver and even tho there are graves way back to the 12th century, nothing was there that we think are related. We wrote down the name of the graveyards and hope that we can write to the parishes for more information. By the time we were done all this it was 4 so we had to rush to Sligo to get a room. The road to Sligo went thru some nice scenery. We ate a big dinner so we took an hour walk to the river downtown and then back up the hill to our B&B, hope that will take care of the excess food. Everyone has been so friendly here in the Republic of Ireland.
Wednesday, October 5th partly cloudy but some sun felt warm
Had a good breakfast at Ardmore B&B. Mrs. Donnelly lives alone with her dog. Her husband died a year after he retired, she says you have to ‘run with it’ while you can. The scenery from Sligo to Galway is pretty farmland with pretty farm houses mostly made of stucco painted in pastels, some bright pink, yellow and orange. Landscape is green with more bushes than Scotland, mostly sheep and cattle grazing. Galway was a busy little city with abbeys, castles and old churches scattered about in the city. Then we drove the 238 kms to Dublin - took from 1:30 - 5 to get there, slow traffic and construction. However found our hotel, very cute, nice inside, spacious room. Went walking once we were settled and tried to find the area called the Temple Bar. The streets were full of people. Walked for about 1 and ½ hours and finally found the area, very interesting bars and restaurants. After dinner we went to the famous Oliver St. John Gogarty’s bar for a pint.
At first listened to 3 guys on the 1st floor playing guitar, and flutes. One of the flutist looked just like Brian’s Uncle Marty.
Then we went upstairs to another bar and there was a very good musical act that have been playing at Gogarty’s for 14 years. The lead vocalist played the guitar and there was a banjo player, a fiddler, a drummer (hand drums and spoons) and a bagpiper (only these Irish pipes are played in your lap with air getting in by squeezing the air bags with your elbows, made a great sound!) We listened to them for over an hour and had another pint.
What a great first night in Dublin. Even on our walk home tonight, the streets were alive with people. Tourists like us filled the bars and the younger, better dressed crowd were flocking into the clubs all of which are open until 2:30am or much later. The streets are very well lit so you don’t feel nervous about being out at night. Hopefully we will even enjoy it more tomorrow. Note: the Irish seem to have the most fun.
Thursday, October 6th sunny, needed sun glasses
Had a very nice buffet breakfast. Then grabbed the full city bus tour.
Harpist on the streets of Dublin.
Statue of Molly Malone "she rode her wheel barrow, thru streets broad and narrow, crying cockles and mussels alive alive oh".
then got off at Trinity College, took some shots there, then on to Dublin Castle. Had a guided tour by a cute Irish lad. The castle was built in 1204 and housed the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland until the late 18th century. After the Civil War of 1922, the government surrendered the castle and to this day it is used by the government of the Republic of Ireland for official functions. We were able to go through all the rooms. Very nice.
Then went to Christ Church and St Patrick’s Church. We think that they are both Anglican or Church of Ireland. We are confused because we thought that St Patrick was a Catholic Saint and that the Republic of Ireland was mostly Catholic - strange. Anyway both were very beautiful. There were crypts under Christ Church, very old and creepy but interesting. Under the castle there were the ruins of the old Norman and Viking structures.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
After St Pats we were pretty tired so we hopped on the bus again for a ride near to our hotel. Went to dinner at the Arlington and had The Carver (which we would call a buffet) but here in Ireland, you choose a specific meal from the Carver, they serve it on to your plate and you pay that price. We were done by 7 and started walking up to the Temple Bar area, window shopped along the way.
Finally went into O’Flaherty’s where a man was playing Irish music on his guitar (he also threw in some American tunes). He was okay but not as good as last night at the Oliver St John Gogarty’s, so we went back there. The entertainment started at 9 and we stayed until their first break at 11. Tonight there was a different vocalist, a younger lad. He was a fantastic guitar player. The piper was not there but this young vocalist played mostly newer Irish folk songs, not too many of the old traditional songs (no Molly Malone). It was very enjoyable.
I even tried my first Guinness (but I didn’t really like it). Have had a wonderful time here in Dublin. Would love to come back here again.
Friday, October 7th mostly sunny but got misty rain after dinner
After another fine buffet at Ripley’s Hotel we took a short walk to Connolly St to a gift shop and bought some souvenirs for the kids.
Then said a sad farewell to Dublin and drove south toward Waterford. The air was hazy so we didn’t get a clear view of the mountains along the coast, they were mostly just a dark mass. As we approached Cork we noticed that everything was getting very green, I thought things were green before, no way, now they are green. It is quite mountainous here with gorgeous farmlands. Traffic is heavy especially in the towns. The lady at the TIC said that they are the crossroads in County Tipperary. Now we are in County Cork headed for Blarney. We found our farmhouse guest house. Yes it is on a farm - kind of scary looking but ok on the inside. Then drove into Blarney for dinner at the Muskerry Arms restaurant. Then went down to the pub for a pint. Met 2 couples about our age from Scotland from the Borders just like my relatives. They had been at the Blarney Stone yesterday and told us all about it. Sounds like a good hike of stairs up the castle and then quite a feat to kiss the stone. Should be fun! Sat with them till about 10, then made our way back to our room which has NO TV.
Saturday, October 8th sunny in morning 17 degrees Celsius
Nice breakfast at Garrycloyne Lodge - guest farmhouse. Met 3 lads from England who had taken a 3 day golf trip. Went to Blarney Castle. It was built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy , King of Munster. It is believed that the King of Munster helped Robert the Bruce in the War of Independence and in gratitude Robert the Bruce gave half of the Stone of Destiny to the King and it is now called the Blarney Stone.. It is believed that all who kiss it are blessed with eloquence or 'blarney' defined as 'pleasant talk, intending to deceive without offending". Walked up to the castle & then climbed up the 130 stairs to the top. Had to lay on the ground and bend over backwards to kiss the blarney stone. You are basically dangling about 130 feet above the ground with a man holding onto you so you don’t slip down. We both did it! And we got our pictures taken to prove it. It was fun.
Then we walked around the castle grounds, there was a large acreage of beautiful park/rocks, babbling brook, etc. Very nice, almost fairylike. The Rock Close had a witches stone and wishing steps all with druidic connotations. The gardens have beautiful yew trees and evergreen oaks.
Then we headed for Killarney. We took the scenic route which we later discovered was called the Ring of Barra. It was a gorgeous ride with beautiful scenes on the Gaelic Sea and mountains sometimes green and sometimes rocky brown. The lakes were beautiful as well.
All in all a beautiful day. We now understand why people say Ireland is so beautiful. We saw some of that beauty today. We got into Mallow and started looking for our B&B, What an adventure. We had to call the lady and she gave us directions to go to a pub in Castle-townroche. The instructions included ‘turn left when you see the crucifix”! Oh well, it is Ireland! Got into this little speck of a town and got gas and went to Reynolds Pub and restaurant (he owned the gas station and the variety store too). We had roast turkey and ham and watched the soccer matches - playoffs for the World Cup. England won their game and Ireland is winning 1-0 as I write this. Ireland did win 1-0. Our food was excellent - getting used to a pint every night - not a good habit I’m sure.
Sunday, October 9th cloudy - some mist - some sunny breaks - 15 Celsius
Had a good breakfast at the park South Guest House outside of Mallow. Met 4 Americans, a mom and dad and daughter with her husband (from Birmingham England), the rest were from Boston. They missed the baseball and football coverage from North America too! Paid Eva and started out for Rosslare. Took the scenic route through the mountains, narrow road but gorgeous scenery including the Virgin Mary statue on the side of one mountain (this is Ireland!). Saw a huge castle in Lismore.
Took a scenic ride around Dungarvan too. Beautiful! Booked accommodation in Rosslare in a small village called Tagoat. Drove to Rosslare Harbour - checked out our B&B - checked out the ferry - then went to the town of Rosslare, walked down to the beach and collected shells.
Drove to Wexford and walked along the harbour and then thru town. Then went to Johnstown Castle just outside of Wexford and walked all over the castle grounds - beautiful walk around a little lake with swans. Castle not open. Very nice way to spend the afternoon, lots of people were there walking their dogs or their kids or both.
Have to turn in early tonight with a 6am wake up time (if we can wake up then). Otherwise our lady is going to wake us up at 15 to 7 and then we’d have a real rush. Off to sleep now!
We woke up in plenty of time and got the ferry. It was very windy and the water was very rough, I am afraid Brian is not going to enjoy this ride. Good-bye Ireland!