Killarney–Days 5 and 6

Here we are in Killarney, having arrived last night. It was a harrowing approach to what used to be a fairly navigable city. Now it is crowded with touristy things: a bus-train (miniature size) as a means of ferrying tourists around the city. The B&B, as advertised, is right near the center of the city so that we could walk into the city and walk around. Given the traffic, it’s a challenge just crossing the road!

We visited the pub, intending to have dinner. Many pubs stop serving food at 4 pm. The proprietor of the B&B assured us that Hannigan’s served food al the time. We arrived and were told that we could order from the lunch menu for five more minutes. And we would have to eat in the bar rather than rhe restaurant because of golfers who booked the restaurant. Boo. Well, we must have looked too sad for words. They returned to say they’d found us a spot in the restaurant. So two Irish coffees for me and cider for Linda were followed by a delicious fish and chips dinner. We walked back to the B&B–a bit cool out, but not too bad.

Sunday morning was beautifully bright and sunny. We had breakfast and got ready for the bus tour around the Ring of Kerry. I’m brave enough to drive on the left side of the road in Dublin, Limerick, and Killarney. I am not brave enough to drive the Ring!

Sligo–Days 8, 9, and 10

We left Doonbeg at 9:30 am. The drive to Sligo was about three hours. Because of our many intended (and some unintended) stops, we arrived in Sligo later than my way-exaggerated confirmation to the proprietor: that we’d arrive by 6 pm. We arrived at 7.

Along the way, we stopped at Galway Crystal Showroom. Everything was beautiful and tempting, but neither of us bought anything. So on we went to Galway. Somehow, we missed the beautiful photo-op of Galway Bay. We saw glimpses of it, but we never approached from the scenic direction. The quaint little town was okay, but finding the quaint part required several passes through, and around, various parts of the city. Once we located the old town center, we parked near St. Nicholas’s Church, saw the Lynch House, and then the little shops and pubs, and finally went inside the church before returning to the parking lot to continue on our way to Sligo.

It was too late to go out to eat when we arrived at the B&B, but Liam suggested the gasoline-grocery store as an option. There we bought sliced ham, sliced cheese, crackers, and a bottle of wine. That was dinner.  The next morning we left at 10:30 to meet my cousin Mary at The Thatch in Belleek. After lunch Mary invited us to “sandwiches” (my request) the following day. The next stop was the Belleek China Showroom. There we bought several precious memories and souvenirs. On the way back to the B&B, we saw the Glencar Waterfall and took some great photos. Then we visited Yeats’s grave and took photos of Benbulben from the cemetery at St. Columba’s.

That night we actually had dinner for the third time this whole vacation. We ate at what had been Yeats’s Restaurant, now called Chris’s. Linda had stuffed chicken, and I had lamb stew. Then back to the B&B.

Friday morning we planned on visiting Rossinver, Kiltykloher, and Ballyshannon. We did NOT want to be late for our 5:30 rendezvous with Mary. However, since we had three and a half hours to spare, and since Donegal was only 26 km down the road, we knew we could make the run for Greg’s Donegal football jersey and still get back to St. Aiden’s. Along the way, we stopped at a new historical site: Sean MacDermott’s home. He was the hero of The Rising in 1916 an, along with about six other Irishmen, was executed by the British. Because of the significance, I picked some ivy and bracken fern along the way to Donegal. Somehow, at one little ditch, I found a great patch of fern. It involved placing one foot across the tiny stream. Unfortunately,  that left foot landed in dried gorse, so it sunk several inches, throwing me completely off balance. There was no way to extricate myself and get my foot back on the road. The idea of falling into the ditch and looking awful prior to arriving at dinner horrified me. We were both laughing so hard, though, that neither of us could do much except teeter on the brink. Somehow, I did, with Linda’s help, get both feet back on the road. I had, however,  managed to grasp the thorny wild blackberry vines and bloodied up my left hand. We went on to Donegal, bought the jersey, and arrived back at 4:30. Nothing short of a miracle!

Due to some miscommunication, though, Mary waited at another church. We tried a number of ways to contact her, and then we finally left for Sligo. Sadly, we didn’t get to see her before leaving.

Doonbeg–Days 6 and 7

 

Driving into Doonbeg (near the Cliffs of Moher) we were, once again, late. The drive to the town was unusual in that we were greeted with a large sign announcing the Trump golf links. Sigh. We had flown housands of miles away, only to find that Trump invaded the Emerald Isle, too!

We arrived at the working farm, the B&B, and we were greeted by Bernadette. She immediately brought out fresh baked goods and coffee before showing us to our rooms. Then we left for dinner in  Doonbeg, a wonderful restaurant in the town. We spent some time first (since the restaurant didn’t open until 6) scouting out Trump International. Then we returned to the restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful fish and chips dinner.

The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast before setting out to see dolphins, Carrigaholt, Loop Head, Kilbala, and finally The Cliffs of Moher. That all sounds straightforward enough. However, please remember that any destination projected to take one hour typically took us two.  We ended the evening at Stella Maris in Doonbeg, another two-hour meal. We didn’t spend two hours eating; we spent thirty minutes eating and ninety minutes waiting for the bill.

Wednesday morning it was time to leave.

Waterford, Blarney, and Cashel–Days 4 and 5

 

Thursday night we arrived in Waterford, actually Tramore, just on the outskirts of Waterford. We found a quaint B&B (compensating for my oversight of a night with no place booked). The proprietor was from Tulsa, he married an Irish girl, and together they set up a B&B, hostel, and restaurant–all in Tramore. It was a great place, right near the beach.

Friday morning began with a great breakfast and then a shopping excursion at Waterford Crystal Factory and Showroom. We were to meet John Bynum, former student, at 2 pm at Blarney Castle in Cork. Easier said than done. I have become convinced that any projected time–verified by Google maps–should, in fact, be doubled to ensure accuracy. John was standing at the door of Christie’s (the cafe adjacent to Blarney Woollen Mills) at 2 pm. We arrived at 2:30. We had a really nice lunch, visited, and shopped. There was a tentative plan to hear some traditional music at a Cork pub, but the music didn’t begin until 9 pm. And, we still had to drive to our destination for the night, another two hours (according to Google). That drive, as it turned out, did take three hours. We arrived at the B&B at 7:45 rather than 4:30 pm. This B&B is combination of Tara and an English garden a la Henry VIII’s Hampton Court. So gorgeous!

Today we plan to take some photos outside. After that, we are on the way to Killarney with a hoped-for jaunting car ride around the park and dinner. I don’t think we’ve had any food after lunch or late lunch this entire trip.

 

 

 

Dublin–Days 1, 2, and 3

Departure from Houston was, for the most part uneventful with the exception of one Yeti, the contents of which spilled into Linda’s purse, saturating the boarding pass and other documents. Mercifully, though, the flight went smoothly and we had only a short layover in Amsterdam. Had we not flagged down a motorized cart, we might very well have missed our connecting flight to Dublin.

We arrived at Trinity City Hotel about 11 am, had lunch at Kilkenny’s, and walked around a bit. The next day, Wednesday, we had a lovely Irish breakfast at the hotel and then took the Hop On, Hop Off bus tour of the city. We did get off to tour St. Patrick’s and to begin the second part of the tour on another bus. Then we had a very nice late lunch-early dinner of cheese and crackers and fruit with Irish coffee at the hotel bar. Dublin was, on the whole, largely a disappointment. It had changed quite a bit due to lots of construction. I hardly recognized the places that were most famliar to me.

To my dismay, I had forgotten to book a B&B for the stay in Waterford. So we searched a few online before leaving Dublin. Then we called for a cab get to Enterprise car rental. The cabbie was so helpful! He gave us advice for driving, pointed out the roads we would be on to get to Kildare, and saw us safely into the car rental office. Once there, Linda did not have her driver’s license, presumably lost at Houston airport in security. For the time being, I am the driver. We did fairly well getting out of the airport with only a few repeats on roundabouts. While typically I HATE roundabouts, they were a blessing in disguise, allowing us to go once more through an intersection and get on the LEFT side of the RIGHT road. With blisters on both hands from tightly gripping the steering wheel in an attempt not to commit vehicular homicide, we tried not to break too many laws (driving on the wrong side of the road only once, making an illegal U-turn on a major roadway only once, and running one red light).

Finally, we arrived in Kildare, traveling through the beautiful horse country. Then we redirected to Waterford on our way to Tramore to spend the night at a quaint B&B with beautiful seaside view. All is well except for the loons or gulls or owls apparently nesting in the skylights of our room. Not to worry; we’re so exhausted, we probably won’t notice the chirping during the night.