(13 - 22 november 1998)
In November 1998 I went for 10 days to Ireland. During my holiday in Peru the year before I met some Irish people who I wanted to visit again and because I had to spent some days between changing jobs. An American guy, Scott who I met also in Peru joined me along with his girlfriend Shelley.
I arrived on friday afternoon and my Irish friends picked me up at the airport. They started by taking me to a Chinese restaurant for a wonderful Dim Sum. In the evening I went out with daughter number one, her boyfriend and his brother. We went to the pub called the International where a strange but amusing bluesband performed. Of course it was fun due to the never ending presence of beers.
Saturday morning we picked Scott and Shelley up at the airport after my first Irish breakfast (I have never eaten so many eggs and bacon in one week). After that I went with Eddy, one of the Irish friends were we stayed, to Wexford in the south east of Ireland. On our way there we made a quick stop at St. JohnsTowne castle, the first beautiful caste of many during this trip. After seeing their place in Wexford we went for lunch in Kilmore Quay, a small coastal town. At the Silver Fox I had one of the best fish dishes I probably have eaten so far.
St. Johnstowne Castle
On sunday we went for a walk in the Wicklow mountains nearby Scar mountain in the neighborhood of the town called Roundwood. This is about an hour by car south of Dublin. Fortunately we had great weather and the views were beautiful.
Three different views around Scar
Glendalough, Kilkenny en Clonmel
On monday morning we picked up the rental car and left Dublin. About 30 km. south of Dublin we made a stop at Glendalough. Here you'll find a monastery founded by St. Kevin in the sixth century. The church is the best preserved building and those remains are dated in the 11th century. Besides the remains of the monastery there are two beautiful lakes and some other buildings but for the whole I found it a bit disappointing.
Upper lake at Glendalough
After Glendalough we continued driving to Kilkenny. This town was one of the most important ones in the 17th century and is mostly known because of his castle. Unfortunately the castle was closed on mondays. Instead we went to see the St. Cancice's cathedral. This cathedral is dated in the 13th century and is very well restorated so definitely worth seeing.
After Kilkenny we continued driving to Clonmel to spend the night. We picked a bed and breakfast from the bible (LP) and for 16 pound (around 24 US$) per person we stayed in Benuela B&B. We had dinner in town at Sean Tiernens and that was very good. After having dinner we went to the pub Lonegans and that was great. No tourists besides us and a group of about 8 people started playing music in a way that was relaxed and very amusing.
Cahir, Killarney, Ring of Kerry
The next day we drove through Cahir. Cahir is known because of his castle that is one the largest and best preserved ones in Ireland. The origin of the castle is probably from the 13th century but the main part of the current castle is dated in the 15th and 16th century and built by the famous Butler family. The castle is preserved like this because of the surrender of the inhabitants during the Cromwell period. Besides seeing the castle we wanted to visit the Swiss cottage as well but thanks to the confusing signs in Ireland we didn't manage to get there.
From Cahir we drove to Killarney, a major city in the south west of Ireland. When we arrived we went to see Ross castle first but bad luck again because this one was closed also.
Crows pointing out Ross Castle
After that we went to see Muckross house. This big country-house was built in 1843 and is still in original state. The gardens around the house are absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth seeing. Unfortunately we were there late in the afternoon when it was getting dark already so we couldn't see much of the gardens. That night we stayed in the Fairview B&B in Killarney. This one we didn't pick from the LP but just by driving by and it was a very good one, very nice decorated, near the center in College St. and for a reasonable price of 18.5 pounds per person.
The next day we did the Ring of Kerry. This famous tour of the peninsula Iveragh in the county of Kerry was a bit disappointing. The views were not as nice as expected. We made a stop in Ballinskelligs to see the 13th century church and that was nice because this church is on the edge with the sea and is threatened with collapsing into the sea. All graves around and in this church are facing the sea which is quite impressing.
From the ring of Kerry we continued to Dingle. This little town is situated on the next peninsula. The whole ring of Kerry is feasible in one day although it will be harder during summer when there are a lot of coaches on the small roads where it is very difficult to pass.
The town of Dingle is in the middle of the peninsula with the same name and is mostly known because of his harbor and as a former center for smuggling activities. As far as B&B choosing we found The Old Mill House this time where we paid 17 pond each for an excellent accommodation. The owner, Veronica Houlihan is very friendly and you can reach her through email at email@example.com . The B&B is located on Avondale St. just behind the center. In the evening we went to the pub called Droichead Beag. This is a very nice pub with a lot of Irish people and one or two lost tourists during this time of the year. Of course there was music again and we had a great time until we were kicked out because of the far too early closing time of 11.30 PM. Here we met an American who was in Ireland since four weeks and who met an Irish girl and they'll fell in love. He thought about in staying in Ireland and he was quite amusing because one of the things he told us was that he met her parents already and they said to him "young man, do you know marriage is a serious bussiness in Ireland ?"
The next day we wanted to go with a boat into the bay to see Fungi the dolphin. This tourist attraction got into the bay by himself in 1986 and is known because of his friendly contact with humans. Nobody has any idea why the dolphin came here and why he's staying. The organized trips cost 6 pounds which you have to pay only if you see Fungi. The trips leave two times per day in the afternoon so we had time left and decided to drive the tour called Sleahad along the peninsula.
View somewhere during the Sleahead drive
The Sleahead tour is definitely worth doing because of magnificent views of the Irish coast. For the first time we saw steep cliffs and beautiful views. We wanted to bring a visit to a center about the Blasket islands but this center was unfortunately closed during winter. Besides driving we made a short stop at the Gallarus oratory. This 12th century church is in a very good condition and from the church you have a nice view over the sea.
In the afternoon we took the boat to see Fungi. This was quite funny because he got very very close to the boat just like he wanted to say hi. Taking pictures was quite difficult because you can't see him coming and he dives up very quickly and disappears again.
Kilkee, Cliffs of Moher, Ennis
From Dingle we drove the same day to Kilkee on our way to the cliffs of Moher. Kilkee is a typical sea side place and it's supposed to be very crowdy during summer with mainly Irish and English people. We stayed in the Bay View B&B for 17 pound each. It's a very nice decorated B&B in O'Connel St. but a bit neglected as well.
The next day we had about 50K to drive to reach the Cliffs of Moher. These are the biggest and most famous cliffs of Ireland. Their height is about 650 feet (a bit more than 200 Mt I think). The main road leads quite easy to the central visitor center where you'll find O'Briens tower.
O'Briens Tower and view along the hike
From O'Briens tower you can do a hike of about 8 Km to Hags Head on the point of the peninsula where there is another watchtower. You can reach this point also by road and a short walk but we missed that road. That's why we made the hike from and back to O'Briens tower. The walk is great. It takes about an hour and a half and back again of course. It was quite slippery and because in some places you get about a meter from the edge of the cliffs you have to be careful and wear some good shoes.
View from Hags Head
That night we stayed in Ennis. This is a reasonable big place just north of Limerick. About Ennis isn't much to tell more then we stayed in Laurel lodge on Clare Road. For the first time I had to pay more then my friends because of my single room. On the contrary the room was big and the breakfast next morning was the biggest and best we had.
The next day we had to go back to Dublin. From Ennis it was about a 4 to 5 hour drive and because we were expected around 4 we had some time left and decided to stop at Bunratty castle just north of Limerick. This caste was built around 1425 and was completely restorated in 1954. One of the people from the castle gave us a very good and detailed explanation about the castle. It is a typical tourist spot where they organize "original" evenings also but nice to see anyway.
After Bunratty we continued driving to Dublin and we stayed again with our friends for our last night in Ireland. After an abundant dinner and lot's of booze we unfortunately had to leave. I had to catch a plane at six in the morning (I'm not going to do that again !) and fortunately they lived quite close to the airport and brought me there the next morning.
Ireland is beautiful country and definitely worth visiting. If you like walking it is a must to see. I'm not a big fan of hiking but the two hikes we did were terrific. Disadvantage of this time of the year was that some things were closed. Big advantage is that it is quiet with tourists and that all the colors in nature are beautiful. Of course we were lucky with the weather because we had only two days of rain.
Besides all that the hospitality and friendliness of the people is remarkable. Finally I would like to thank again Eddy, Clodagh, Wally, Ger, Pat and Joe for their enormous hospitality and making our trip a big success.
Last changed: 27-11-98
© 1998: Jeroen
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