An Irish Experience

Jul 1st, 2009, 01:57 AM
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An Irish Experience

Two Weeks in IRELAND Travelling at Our Own Pace:
Vehicle: Rented Motorhome
Accommodation: Same

"How do you recognise an Irishman in a carwash?"
- "He's the one on the motorbike" -

The Irish seem to have a cheerful disregard for political correctness and even take a perverse delight in universal jokes made against them. So much so, they even print selections on linen tea-towels which they sell at fancy prices in souvenir shops.........I know because I bought a dozen or so on our recent trip in May this year!

The informal Irish friendliness, the magnificent countryside like a patchwork quilt divided by a hotpotch of stone walls, and the salty wind blowing off the Irish Sea made us fall in love with Ireland at first sight. Here is our story, not in as many words as I would like - that would keep me typing indefinitely, but seen through some the photos we took.

Flying our national carrier to LHR because that's how we are able to acquire Business Class seats through an accumulation of Airmiles, was excellent in every way. Smooth flight, lovely food and a comfortable bed.
I was just as excited to be back in London en route, but there was no time to hang about.
We took the tube into the city hopping off the Picadilly Line at Russell Square and taking a leisurely walk down Marchmont street towards Euston Station.
Passing the highly recommended fish 'n chips restaurant, The North Sea , we stopped for a photo and were soon having a nice hot cup of tea at the station. Our train was still 2 hours away but being too early has great advantages like : - calm nerves, a sense of slowness in finding the toilettes, getting the emailed booking number changed into an actual ticket (this was an unforseen problem because the machine would not take a credit card without a chip) so queueing up was necessary and fraught with off-hand staff who eventually and relunctantly processed our tickets. They were purchased on line at very low prices and I was told by the second counter clerk ' doing this transaction for you is going to stuff up my computer' - (The first clerk behind the counter refused and sent me back to the machine) See why you need lots of spare time!!

We are starting our Ireland trip with 3 days in a little town called Rawtenstall just outside of Manchester with good friends who have lived in South Africa.
It was wonderful to spend time eating real English food and watching a Burnley football match on TV with all their family members.
We were taken to a wonderful seafood restaurant to have traditional fish 'n chips with a difference, curry sauce, and also a large factoryshop where I found the most fabulously comfortable shoes and the ones that I would wear nearly everyday for the rest of our holiday.

Early Sunday morning our friends took us to Manchester airport for the AerLingus flight to Dublin.
Upon arrival we were met by the Campervan Company and in no time at all were heading along the M1 Toll Road to Belfast. Our trusty Garmin guiding us every inch of the way!
We spotted a huge Sainsbury's along the roadside and stopped for a good hour to load up on groceries. The new and unrecognisable products had me mesmorized and it was hard not to buy too much.
We phoned ahead and had an overnight place at Drumaheglis just outside Ballymoney, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The trip there took most of the day because of shopping and we arrived late afternoon on a bright windless sunny day. What a start to our holiday!

The next day we drove to Ballymena to take the train to Belfast. Peter needed to get to Jessops where he had ordered a special lense. The little train ride was lovely.
After the photoshop we walked back to Victoria Road staion stopping at a typical Irish Pub, McConnell's, for a delicious lunch of non other than Irish Stew! A quick whip around Boot's Chemist and we were done.

Back at Drumaheglis we wondered around the lovely setting alogside the River Bann.
That night we feasted on crusty bread, olives, spicy chicken legs, a Somerset Organic Brie cheese & lots of wine.


Coming up - Along the Coastline
tod is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 02:08 AM
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Looking forward to more!
jamikins is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 05:06 AM
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Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read all of your report. I think I remember your trip to UK by motorhome last year?
irishface is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 05:27 AM
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Definitely bookmarking this one
GreenDragon is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 06:15 AM
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Thank you both - Yes, in 2008 we tackled a roundtrip of the UK going as far as the Isle of Mull and other places in Scotland.
Heres the next lot but I must mention here the dates of our journey which I neglected to put in my first post:

10th & 11th spent at Drumaheglis Ballymoney along A26

After collecting our motorhome from the station at Ballymena we decided to drive around some of the Antrim coastline.
First Port of Call was Ballycastle and the site of the Marconi Memorial. It's a great mound of rock in the middle of a carpark where Guglielmo Marconi first seriously tested wireless telegraphy making his historic transmission between here and Rathlin Island 8 miles off the coast towards Scotland's Mull of Kintyre.
The seagulls and other birds have made good use of it!

Unfortunately with the lateness of the day we didn't attempt the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge but went on to White Park Bay.
It was beautiful in the late afternoon sun.
Somewhere we missed the last turn-off to the Giant's Causeway and by the time we got to Port Rush realised our mistake.
It was a pity but from the pictures I've seen it is nothing like the other end of the Giants Causeway which we saw on the Isle of Staffa last year. Now this IS something no-one should miss! Spectacluar is putting it mildly.
Well, as they say, 'save something for next time'.

Just after White Park Bay the scenery becomes quite spectacular as the road winds around the ruins of Dunseverick Castle. Trying to keep well off the narrow road in a wide motorhome is one thing we were soon to encounter time and time again!

Passing through Port Rush, we saw row upon row of holiday park homes. How lucky we thought we were not to be spending our holiday cheek to jowl with neighbors in front, behind and to the side of us.
When we arrived in Portstewart there was a motorbike rally in progress and the street were lined with cycles of all descriptions from Harley's to Sidecars.
We walked the entire length of the Victorian seafront and back without finding one decent restaurant. As 9 o'Clock approached we settled on dinner from a fish 'n chip shop near to where we had parked the motorhome. One of the worst meals I've ever eaten in my life never mind in Ireland!
I guess we are not used to more greasy batter than fish.

The evening was really nice out near the tiny harbour. Young men were enjoying themselves plunging off the end of the pier although the notice stated "No swimming or diving permitted"!
The sunset was like liquid gold floating on top of the sea but, it was time to head back to Drumaheglis for the night.

Here are more photos:

to be continued....
tod is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 01:20 PM
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Hi Dot,

I'm really enjoying your report, and I must say, Peter is quite the photographer. Can't wait for the next installment!

travgina is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 11:24 PM
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Thanks so much Gina! I am working hard at getting this up as quickly as possible but as one Fodorite put it in a nutshell " Trip Reports are a labour of love"! How right they were.
Peter will be pleased you think his photos have some merit!
tod is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:18 AM
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There's something to be said about waking to the sound of birds twittering in the trees above your window. Peering into the forest next to our motorhome there is a flurry of activity. A dog on a lead is being taken for his morning constitutionals down a windy path, sunlight striking his master at angles through the trees.
With such good weather we decide to put a load of washing into the machine while we have some breakfast.

Looking at our large fold-out map of Ireland we plot a course for the day. We are ready to hit the road but the tumble drier is taking for ever and our clothes are still damp. Too bad, we can't wait any longer and hit the A26 to Coleraine.
Here we join the A2 and refuel at the tiny village of Ballykelly. I dash into the local bakery and buy hot crispy bread for lunch.
Soon I can see the control tower of Derry City Airport (Londonderry) as we pass. Following the River Foyle we cross into The Republic of Ireland at Lifford/Strobane.
Lifford has a famous old courthouse, so if you have the time to go there it may be fun:

Turning onto the N15 at Ballybofey we are en-route to Donegal through the Barnesmore Gap. On our right are the Blue Stack Mountains. The road signs have changed from 'miles' to kilometres.

Interested in Stone Circles? This is one at Beltany we unfortunately did not get to, but have it down for 'next time'!

County Donegal has 11 Blue Flag beaches starting at Bundoran -we drive through it and soon are passing through Leitrim which is 16km away from Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

Pulling off onto a sideroad just after passing through Sligo we had a quick lunch on the banks of Lake Gill. Here swans glided past as we enjoyed the lovely crusty bread and different cheeses I had gone overboard with at Sainsbury's.
A road sign way back told us we were entering Yeats Country -
On Lake Gill you can visit Yeats's Lake Isle of Innesfree.

Somehow we ended up driving miles out of our way via the town of Boyle before cutting across narrow country lanes to arrive at our campsite in Knock. The sun was still high in the sky and we even had time to hang out the wet washing.

Tomorrow we explore Achill are photos in the meantime:
tod is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:53 AM
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Thanks for your report and pictures. I'm enjoying your trip.
irishface is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:46 AM
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You are always so supportive and I appreciate it very much!
Lots more to report on tomorrow...........
tod is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 10:01 AM
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Glad to see you 'reporting in'. Enjoying the report and pix, but impatiantly HAVE to ask -- Did you find your flowers and/or seeds???

Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2009, 06:25 AM
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Our long drive yesterday to Knock was rewarded by entering an imaculate caravan park and the offer to take up any space we fancied. While Peter went out to take photographs in the late afternoon sun I prepared our dinner.
I grilled a rack of Irish lamb, boiled some young Irish potatoes and added a salad on the side.
My ever complimentary husband said it looked so good he just had to take a photo or two!

This morning we are all set for the drive to Achill Island and set off at about 8am stopping in Newport alongside the river for breakfast. There are old fishing boats around in various stages of repair and it is lovely and peaceful while we eat our kippers and toast.

Passing through Mulrany on the mainland we notice a large hotel called The Park Inn and Bistro. Newport Bay is full of what looks like oyster beds or fish farms.
Achill is just 24km by 18km, it is joined to the mailand by a bridge built in 1888. Once across Achill Sound the stark landscape appears to be vast and lonely. Every now and then on a hillside or tiny village a brand new house appears on it's neat plinth of cement. Nearly all sport a red door and a facade of local stonework on the front of the house. Some houses have outlined red windows and roof, and mostly painted stark white.
We even see a brand new Chinese restaurant un-opened at this stage - or 'you know who' would be dashing inside!
It was nice to see an effort being made to mend some of the old original stone houses which are much more in keeping with the remotness and landscape.
Suddenly we come upon hundreds of policemen and women, police vehicles, and buses. Stopping to ask what is happening we are told there is a State funeral being held for one of their policemen. We sit in a side road for about 30 minutes to let the procession go past.

The weather dulls and occasionally it rains a little. We take the scenic Atlantic Drive along steep mountain slopes which look down on coves of white sandy beaches.
Our first siting of peat bogs appears as we criss-cross the island.

On the way back we go to the area called the Deserted Village. More than 70 roofless stone houses are all that remain of an 1837 village. It is high up on the slope of a hill and one needs good binoculars if you are not inclined to do the walk up.

On the western side of Achill Island is Corrymore House, a former hotel built by Capt. Charles Boycott who was a land agent for Lord Erne. His harsh tactics made him extremely unpopular and as no-one would work for him or even speak to him, his surname entered the English language as a word meaning to ostricise or shun. So there is the history about 'boycotting' something!

Our return to Knock takes us via Westport and we go into a cafe for a cappucino. In Claremorris we pull over to take photos of several lifelike bronze statues on the sidewalk.
They are amazing.

This is a small shrine town with an international airport, visited by over 1 million pilgrims from Britain, Europe and direct transatlantic flights from New York and Boston. The season lasts from the last Sunday in April to second Sunday in October.
Small shops line a main street and everyone sells religious paraphanalia. Here is where you can choose a rosery in cheap plastic pearls or an expensive one in faux Swarovski Crystals.
I decide to buy my Catholic sister-in-law a Virgin Mary holy water holder and a small photo frame embelished with roses.

We take a peek inside the old church which is quite lovely.
The main Basilica seemed deserted at the time of our visit.;

Here are the photos:

Next, I will relate our trip to Galway and paying homage to my fathers memory.........
tod is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2009, 07:52 AM
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Itallian_Chauffer - Hi, I am still coming to our experiences in the Burren. Thanks for asking, I am glad you are following our trip around lovely Ireland!
tod is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 02:23 AM
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Our route today is down the N17 to Claremorris then cutting across country on the R331 to Ballinrobe where buy fresh bread rolls before heading to Cong on the R345.

Cong is as picturesque as a postcard and still trades heavily on the Quiet Man film. I found a gift shop selling childrens handmade toys and my new grandson will have a unique wooden puzzle to play with in a year or two.

Finding our way along the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's largest lake, we pull off the James Joyce Country Drive for a spot of lunch. What would one do without bread and cheese topped off with enormous green olives?? The weather isn't that good and distant rain showers make photgraphy difficult. We can just make out the islands in the middle of the lake.

There is no Caravan Club site near enough to Galway so have phoned the Tourist Office in Galway for help and are directed to a place in Salthill. This is what I would call a suburb of Galway city but at one stage in the past must have stood out as a little coastal village. Now Salthill is swallowed up by the big city allowing one to walk along the beach path from Salthill and arrive at the pubs and restaurants in Galway within 20 minutes.

We are met by a casual manager who after taking our money allows us to park anywhere we fancy.
Seeing the wide expanse of lawn facing Galway Bay we have no desire to set up anywhere else for the night but right here! Wow, the view over the bay is gorgeous and Peter leaves me to start preparations for tonights supper.
A strong wind is blowing and we admire a young couple setting up tent near us for their sheer tenacity in getting it pegged down before the whole thing took off over Galway Bay!

FRIDAY 15th May
My great wish was to take a ferry to the Isle of Aran called Inishmore but too many things were against such a trip.
First the weather was lousy. It's drizzling heavily and the wind is freezing. We find out the two ferry companies, Aran Island Ferries - and Aran Direct - - only operate from one place: the port of Ros a'Mhil or in English, Rossaveal, on the Connemara coast, and it is an entire day trip lasting from 10am to 5pm. On the island one can hire bikes or walk. In nice sunny weather this may be great but today was not one of those days. This reminded me not to plan or set your heart on anything the weather has control over!

Instead we drive as far as Clifden and encounter the famous Connemara Ponies wandering on the misty hillsides.
Circling the fragmented coastline via Roundstone we travel past bays and inlets and a series of alluring villages. The landscape is one of hilly grassland, bogs, rushing streams, few houses and quite lonely. A real 'get away from it all' place!
Near Oughterard on the N59 we see the Golf Course which looks beautifully green, before passing through Rosscahill and Moycullen.

This morning we were to early for the craft village at Spiddal so turn off onto a country road that takes us through Keeagh and back to Spiddal. This time we are too late and all have shut up shop!
I stock up at a supermarket in Barna and find Irish potatoes at long last. So far on offer have been potatoes from Cyprus, Israel & England.

Some photos:

Leaving Galway to relive the past.....
tod is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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still enjoying your trip and pictures.

A question: if one comes into a camp area with a rig such as yours and if you want to stay more than one night, what happens when you go out for the day? Do you get to keep your same site for the next night or when you return, do you have to take what isn't already staked by someone who arrived when yo were out?
irishface is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Hi Irishface - Well it depends. It depends on whether or not you are staying at an exclusive members only or members & everyone else, campsite. In England you were told to leave deck chairs or something propped up against your stand, but in addition, the office had 'inked' in your arrival and subsequent choice of parking space.
In Ireland everything is different - we were sort of 'out of season' and the camp officials said to park anywhere. At places like Salthill ( which was independant)for instance, if your space was taken you were expected to move elsewhere. We were lucky - we spent 2 nights in the same place everywhere!

I would not go the motorhome route unless I had joined The Caravan Club in England. Their sites are of a very high standard but unfortunately are few and far between in Ireland.
tod is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:29 AM
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EAVING GALWAY – Saturday 16th May

The weather has turned for the worst and has rained all night. This morning it’s damp and still drizzling. The beautiful Galway Bay is not blue any longer but a choppy grey expanse of water disappearing into a swath of misty rain.
Even so, yesterdays bit of sun was all we needed for a fond memory of this part of Ireland.
Just before dinner last night a call came from home, “Where are you now?”
So I said “We are in Galway Bay – I mean right on the edge of the water!” Reply#8221;What’s Galway Bay?”
“Galway Bay, Galway Bay! you know the song?” - “No, what song?”
I am now holding the phone like a mike and start singing-

‘If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
Then maybe at the closing of the day
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh,
And watch the sun go down on Galway Bay’

Shrieks of laughter follow…………………..I’m not surprised as I have a very bad singing voice!

By 8am we are passing the Spanish Arch , the only remaining gate of the walls that surrounded the ancient city. It was across the Corrib River, on the other side from Galway that the original Irish settlement of Claddagh was situated outside the city walls.
There’s little trace of the original cobblestone streets in the areas current modest housing but it was the fishing village which gave it’s name to the Claddagh Ring.
This was a traditional ring with two hands holding a heart that wears a crown.
Earlier I was given a small one by a woman wrapping my souvenirs. It was made as a brooch and can be pinned onto a blouse.

DESTINATION: THE BURREN – Meaning ‘ Great Rock’
Rain or no rain, we are heading to the Burren to try and find some rare flowers.
Before we get there our route takes us to Kinvarra. It is so pretty down at the harbour we park right beside the 200year old restored granary. Now rescued from it’s previous derelict state, it houses a smart coffee bar and a craft shop selling seaweed based products. Unfortunately they are still shut so we can’t go in but decide to have a spot of breakfast while the next tour bus loaded with French people arrives. The rain is making them dash around frantically taking photos and within 10 minutes they’re all gone.

We take a walk alongside the quay and have a look at what I think, probably wrong, is a Galway Hooker. The highlight of the year is the annual ‘gathering of the boats’ in August when these old boats race against each other.

After driving through Ballyvaughan we turn onto the R480 which takes us into the Burren and to Ireland’s best known, most visited, and most –photographed megalithic burial tomb, the Poulnabrone portal dolmen(“pool of the sorrows”) with it’s huge capstone.
We are lucky as the rain holds off and there are only a handful of people about.
It is roped off for protection and we walk over the great limestone rocks with their ‘grykes’. Down these crannies are the hiding place of the rare a strikingly blue ‘Gentian Violet’. We find a number of blue flowers but don’t think any of them are IT. There are also little orchids and the Burren Fern.
A Canadian couple ask us to take a photo of them & they inturn takes one for us. We are the only two couples still walking around the tomb.

We call in at the visitors centre at the stonewalled farmstead of Caherconnell. This Caher has yielded up a lot of useful archaelogical evidence of Bronze Age life.
We want to see more of the botanical holy ground of the Burren so carry on the road until the junction with the R476 and ruin of Leamaneh Castle.

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER - that weren’t

We stop at Doolin at park at the harbour. The waves are rough but the little ferryboat comes and goes as we have a bowl of hot Irish potatoe soup with the last of the breadrolls.
When we arrive at the cliffs the weather is really terrible. People are clinging to umbrellas and raincoats while they walk up the pathway.
This may be what everyone comes to see but today we decide maybe on another trip to Ireland but not this time. Great pity but I don’t think we would have enjoyed the view in the freezing cold wind and rain.

At a little village called Ennistimor we stop at the bakery and I meet Ungelbert in his bright floral trousers. His accent is sort of German but I think he is Austrian or Swiss.
His pastries are lovely and I go overboard again!

The next large town of Ennis on the N85 we are able to get our cellphones changed from 02 Northern Ireland to 02 Southern Ireland. We have found out after buying airtime that the one does not correspond with the other – darn nuisance actually! Had to get new numbers as well.

Our camp for tonight is just out of Tipperary in the Glen of Aherlow. This stunningly beautiful area is made for hiking and marked trails of different lengths are visible everywhere. From the hillside one can get a nice view of Galtee mountains.

The campsite is five star and we are given a friendly and warm welcome by the gentleman running the place. We are left to choose any space that is not occupied and we settle in for the night.

Here are some photos:
tod is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 03:55 AM
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A BLAST FROM THE PAST – Sunday 17th May

Well, it’s exactly one week since we picked up our motorhome from Dublin airport!
We have certainly put some miles on the clock and feel as if we have been in here for months instead of just one mere week. Ireland is definitely growing on us!

In all my months of planning and reading every post that came up on the board titled ‘Ireland’, I had one specific desire above all others and that was to pay tribute to my father’s memory by visiting the Flying Boat Museum in Foynes.
In the months before our trip I had been in contact by email with Margaret O’Shaughnessy, curator of the museum. I told her I had some old photos of a Flying Boat on one of it’s trips to South Africa. My father was an engineer for BOAC in Kenya where I was born, and came to work in South Africa after the war. Margaret and I agreed to meet when I came to Ireland.

When we left the very green Glen of Aherlow in fairly heavy drizzle we had visions of coming back for another night but as things happened, we did not.
By the time we got to the small medieval village of Askeaton where the River Deel flows into the Shannon (just across the water is Shannon Airport) we were ready for a breakfast of hot croissants and parked facing the river in the parking lot of a Health Centre. On the opposite bank was an old ruined Franciscan Priory.


Yes, it was at Foynes during the flying boat days that Irish Coffee – a mix of coffee and whiskey topped with whipped cream – was invented by barman Joe Sheridan, who wanted to cheer up a group of cold, travel-weary passengers who had been forced back by bad weather.

I have never heard of anyone on this Fodors board ever mentioning the town of Foynes situated on the River Shannon. The main attraction of course is the 20 year old Flying Boat Museum. I am posting a link for anyone interested in the history of Foynes and the museum:

This place is truly amazing and after a good wander round taking photos we met with Margaret and I handed over several photos taken just before the flying boats were discontinued here in Africa. The history of these magnificent old airplanes is barely noted in the African route they flew. I am hoping that this might be looked into and a whole new aspect added to the museums collection and history.
Margaret told us that new donations of memorabilia and information is regularly forthcoming even after all these years.

In the photos I am posting I have purposely shown the inside of the craft so you can see the austere seating and enormous cockpit. There weren’t many passengers either so they were able to dine at tables with starched white linen cloths, silver cutlery and china plates!

When leaving the rain had stopped enough for us to get some photos of the original terminal building where the museum is housed and of the River Shannon where the flying boats landed. For me, this sentimental visit was definitely the highlight of our entire trip and far exceeded my expectations.

Travelling along the N69 we pass Glin Castle following the drive along the wooded shoreline:
Stopping in Tarbet we are met by sirens and a fire engine. A car seems to be on fire and the owner has apparantly taken the ferry across to Kilrush. They get the doors open and hose down everything inside but find the smoke is coming from the engine. We don’t stay to see what happened next!

The N69 takes us to Tralee . From here we must decide whether we are going to motor around Dingle or drive around the Ring of Kerry. I am dubious about Dingle and the famous Slea Head Drive because of the width of the motorhome – it takes both of us to reverse it, one watching (me) the rear to see how much further to backup! It would be impossible to do this on a narrow road for any distance so we decide it’s going to be Kerry.
We stock up with more provisions in Kilorgan and make for Glenross Caravan & Camping Park at Glenbeigh a small picturesque village. There is a stunning view across Rossbeigh Strand, a superb Blue Flag beach which stretches for over 2 miles with views across to the Dingle Mountains.

Here are the photos:
tod is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 11:03 AM
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Love your report and enjoy your pictures. What a great mix of landscapes and little details! I am always sorry when I get to the end of a set of pictures. Wish I could see more--a sign of a great editing job!
irishface is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 12:36 AM
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Another early start as we intend to drive the entire length of the 180km (112 miles) of the Ring of Kerry and reach a new campsite in Killarney by tonight.
If we were to drive non-stop it would take 4 hours but nobody in their right mind would even consider such a wasted trip.

We leave the very nice Caravan Club site of Glenross , situated in Glenbeigh and join the N70 which is the main ring road around Kerry. I doubt whether many people ever venture off this well trodden path to explore further inland.
This morning the sky is allowing patchy sunlight through the clouds but the horizon doesn’t look too promising.
Our first stop for photos is at the pretty little Bay of Kells.

When we arrive in Portmagee we have a lovely breakfast of real kippers (yes, the rest of the ones I bought at Sainsbury’s and have been deep frozen since!). The car ferry ploughs back and forth several times to Valentia Island in the hour we are there and Peter notices through his telephoto-lense the wording “ God Met Ons” on the side of the ferry. This was a real surprise as that is a language very familiar to us, namely Afrikaans which is widely spoken in South Africa. I am guessing it is also written exactly the same in Dutch or Flemmish. It means “God with Us”.
Valentia’s name comes from the Irish name for the channel between the island and the mainland, Beale Inse, and has nothing to do with Spain!

We left the main road when we called at Portmagee and carry on the ‘the scenic route’ around St Finan’s Bay with views towards Great Skellig & Little Skellig.
Just past Castle Cove you can look down onto Staigue Fort. This well preserved
example of a prehistoric stone fortress dating from 1500BC, consists of a circular dry stone wall 35metres (115ft) in diameter in varying thickness from 1.5 – 4 mtetres(5-13ft).
It is on private land and the owner requests a small donation.

In Sneem we stop at the Bakery and I buy two lovely lamb pies for dinner tonight. We don’t bother to ask for directions to “the Pyramids”. To find it there is a signpost next to the Catholic Church directing one to ‘The way The Fairies Went’. All you will find are small beehive huts inlaid with stained-glass panels and look pretty ancient. In fact they were built in 1990.
The road goes through Parknasilla where there is a most amusing pub with stark white walls. A very clever artist has sketched various characters on the walls with a saying next to each one.
This part of The Ring of Kerry is the most sheltered and the lush subtropical growth of wild rhododendrons, azaeleas, camellias and bamboo is evident everywhere.

At Kenmare we turn off to drive through this fantastic place but unfortunately for photography, it is raining. Thick mist obscures the lakes and surrounds so we carry on to our campsite called White Bridge just out of Killarney.
It is going on 6pm when we drive through the centre of Killarney town and I notice a shop open that sells sweaters (jerseys to us). Peter has been looking for more sweaters for some time but has not found any he likes. In this little shop he is spoilt for choice. We eventually leave with 2 beautiful chunky ones and hope they can fit in the suitcase!

It takes some time before we eventually locate the chap running the place but eventually go into his office to pay up. He is a charming Irishman with the ‘gift of the gab’ and it is an hour later before we literally stagger out of there to park the motor home for the night! Our ears are buzzing and we now know all about Irish history, Irish politics, Irish religion and have definitely learnt that ‘real Irish’ is not spoken unless it is interjected with the ‘F’ word often – very often! After the initial shock of the first 50 ‘F’s I realized this is just ffffffffflipping normal! He disappears and we never see the jolly fellow again .

The rain keeps pouring but at least we get to do some laundry for a couple of euros. After dinner we lay the big map out again and make plans for the next move. We have 3 days left and I’m getting nervous we won’t be able to see everything we have set our hearts on.
Here are the photos:

Next: Kilkenny
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