Onward north! Today we make our way into Northern Ireland for the first time. We paid for our meals last night in cash so that we won’t have too many euros to exchange because northern Ireland uses British pounds as currency. We’ll be in northern Ireland for a few days time visiting sites.
This morning we left our little B&B in Sligo. Before leaving the town of Sligo we drove around the town to some scenic viewpoints. I got attacked by a swan at the edge of a lake and decided that was enough of that view.
Then we started towards the north. We went out of our way to see the ocean at Mullaghmore and then again at Bishops View both along the coast on our way to Londonderry.
We got into Londonderry or just Derry, depending on which of the locals you ask, at around 1pm. We parked our car and got out to stretch our legs by walking the Derry wall. This is the only fully walled city in Ireland and it is spectacularly maintained. Half way around the wall we took a detour out to Bogtown which is part of Londonderry where the troubles took place. Those that have been around long enough couldn’t go an evening or two without hearing about northern Ireland on world news in the late 70’s and through the 80’s. We got to see all of the Bogtown Murals that were painted in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. It’s hard not to walk through this section of town humbly humming Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 in your head. It was quite amazing.
Then we got back to the wall and finished up the loop just under two hours walking. We got back in our car to head to Coleraine for the evening. Our Guest house is so large, we can see why people spend a week in this place. Our room has its own kitchen and living space with three beds total. It’s bigger than our first apartment and much nicer than our castle stay from the other night.
We had a good meal and plan on turning in soon. Tomorrow will be a packed day of more beautiful and strange landscapes. And hopefully some free whiskey tastings!
We had planned this day to get from point A to point B. And we ended up seeing some amazing sights.
After our breakfast at the Abbey Glen castle we continued on the Sky Road to a lookout. It was a wonderful sight early in the morning.
Then we got back on our main route through the 12 Ben’s Mountains. Up to Westport and then onto Sligo.
Since we didn’t have much planned for the day and we were just expecting to drive all day we got into Sligo around 3pm. There is a mountain range around Sligo and some scenic lookouts so we drove out to those before we bothered to check into our B&B. The weather was spotty but we found a megalithic site and decided to hike the hill up to the site. The sign said it was a 45minute walk but we didn’t know if that was one way. I caught a French dude that said it was about 20minutes. Now that I think about it, he was probably right, if you sprinted!
Anyway, we hiked up to the Knocknarea Cairn. It was a really good workout after sitting in the car all day. Our hearts were pounding after a quick 1000ft climb. The views were spectacular though. Well worth the journey. It seemed very off the beaten path from most visitors, we were glad that we did it. It’s pretty amazing to think how old some of the things we’ve seen are thought to be. This site alone is thought to be 3000 to 2500 B.C.
We found our B&B easily in Sligo and then went out to a pub for dinner and drinks. It was a cold and rainy day and we needed a warm dark pub and some food in our bellies to make us happy.
p.s. – I’ve went back and added a bunch of photos for some other days since we haven’t had internet access for a few days. The ring of kerry day only has one photo because it was a rain-out and the Adare to Galway day I didn’t take a single photo because of the rain.
We rose early and ate some french toast for breakfast. Luckily we didn’t stay too far from the Cliff of Moher and were able to take a second crack at it. The morning was filled with a crisp blue sky and we were off the earliest we had been since this trip has started. I guess that lazy rainy day did us some good!
We drove south back through “The Burren” and made our way to the cliffs. It was sooo windy!! The shop owners at the cliffs were worried about all of the wind. The views were amazing though. If there ever was a picture of the end of the world, this is it! 700ft of sheer cliff and then ocean waves crashing at the bottom. It doesn’t get any more mind boggling than this.
Only pictures can tell the tale.
After the cliffs we took a scenic route north towards the town of Doolin which is reknown for it’s traditional Irish music. Although we didn’t stay for the music, we simply wanted more views! We drove out to the town’s pier and onto this crazy limestone cliff. It looked like this is where George Lucas got his inspiration for the surface of the first Death Star, you know at the end of A New Hope and he’s flying his X-wing down the trenches. Awesome, I got some photos, of course!
After Doolin we went north again up to Blackhead. It’s another high mountain of just limestone rock. It’s no wonder that there are castles all over this place! So much easy to access building materials. I want to build one. We drove past a group of climber ascending a cliff face.
After this we made a way back up through Galway and on through to Clifden. Apparently there was a pony sale in Clifden because it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and I got stuck driving behind many slow trailers full of ponies. So Clifden was all booked up for the show. We stayed at the Abbey Glen Castle our only castle stay while in Ireland. I’ve got to say that the castle stay itself was a bit disappointing. Not much to tell about it, so I’ll just leave it at that.
We went into Clifden that evening for a meal and a drink and ran into some Americans that were chatty. We had a good time hanging out with these two at a pub filled with live music. Afterwards we called it a night. It was a long day of driving and site seeing.
This day was another rain-out. We drove over to the cliffs, but that was a mistake. We went a few hours drive out of our way to pass by the cliffs and didn’t even bother to stop because we weren’t going to get out of our car in the pouring down rain. There was a lot of localized flooding again this day. Just the other day when we got hit with heavy rain the little town we had stayed in previously Kenmare got flooded. Here are a few articles from it: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/images/2008/1024/1224715114761_1.html and http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/1023/breaking39.html. It’s really sad, it was such a cute little town and we didn’t even take a picture of the streets that we walked in and the next day they were completely flooded.
So after our “cliffs” diversion and lots and lots of rain. We made it into Galway and found our B&B, St. Judes. This was a very cute early 1900’s looking home converted to a B&B. We loved it! Since we got into Galway early on a wet Saturday with nothing to do, we found an Omniplex nearby and went to see Burn After Reading. We both enjoyed the packed showing a little more than our Irish friends. Spent a few minutes after the show debating on seeing another movie because of the weather but decided to leave instead.
We went out to eat near our B&B later that early evening. We got Italian, which had been sadly missed by both of us. The meal was great and we turned in early. We opted for a lazy evening after all of the stressful hydroplaning driving from the day.
Not much, but hey it’s our holiday!!
We both slept well after some yummy pub food and a soccer match in Tralee. Sara wanted the “stripes” to win. Our host Tim was very nice and made us a nice Irish breakfast in the morning. We had to talk to another guest that was very outspoken. He left soon enough.
We headed out of Tralee towards the Dingle Peninsula and filled up on petrol, no spilling on the foot this time. There were breezy blue skies ahead and we were ready to go to some “lookouts” that were marked on our handy road atlas, thanks Roberta! Honestly it’s too amazing to describe. All day long we drove through mountains, ocean views, river valleys, villages, and more. It was so unbelievable. Our pictures probably won’t do it all justice. I think I took over 100 photos today. So don’t expect me to pick out the best just yet.
After we exhausted the Dingle drive, and believe me I didn’t want to leave, we headed back through Tralee and onto to Adare. Adare is a small little town just outside of Limerick. We stopped in at the Coatesland House and were greeted warmly.
After settling in, we went into Adare to check out the town. All of a twenty minute walk and we’ve seen it. We are planning on going into town for grub and hopefully this time some live Irish music at a pub.