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Re-post: My Irish dream come true trip report

Re-post: My Irish dream come true trip report

Old Oct 11th, 2005, 04:04 AM
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Re-post: My Irish dream come true trip report

Sorry - I'm reposting this because there was another trip report with exactly the same title as my original plus the original got lost somehow and I had a hard time finding it again.

And thanks to all of you, it was better than I hoped it would be. I'll have to do some of this later because I need to catch some zzzzz's tonight, but here goes:

To start, I got very lucky with the weather, although you wouldn't have known it to hear me wonder/whine about where the sun was. Except for rain late on my arrival day and a brief period the next day, it was dry until late this past Saturday night. However, it was very cloudy for most of the time..though mild. My driver, Liam, kept reminding me that this was exceptionally good weather for October, as the visibility was fine and it was dry. As I thought about it, I did consider myself lucky. I had perfect visibility for the Cliffs of Moher as well as the Slea Head drive. In fact, it was perfect throughout. I kept thinking about how others have had their share of bad luck, rain and mist ruining their one day at the Cliffs. The sun tried to break through the clouds but, LOL, those clouds are THICK and they hang VERY low. You could reach out and touch them. It seemed like the whole country was under cloud cover, which as Liam explained to me, wouldn't be too unusual this time of year - Ireland is only approx. 417 miles long. It's a dot in the Atlantic. It's also the most incredibly beautiful place I've ever seen.

I'm sad that I'm home for a number of reasons, one being that I won't get to find out what happens on The Clinic. LOL I got hooked on Irish dramas/soaps (B&B's didn't have many channels ), including Ross na Rune, a Gaelic soap opera. I hope there is a web site for The Clinic -it's good! Much better than a lot of the garbage aired in the U.S.

I also got hooked on McVitties Digestive Biscuits - Plain (dark) chocolate, but I went on a quest the last few days in Ireland and I found every variety except! Plain, light plain, caramel, milk chocolate, light milk, fruit and nut..........sob. I never found the plain chocolate again. However, I found a new favorite term, because I love saying digestive biscuit. Cookie is no longer in my vocabulary.

Just a couple of other points. I'll probably post the rest tomorrow.

Regarding the Shores: Bill, Budman - wow, you were soooooo spot on about this place. The location is spectacular but Annette was even more so. What a wonderfully nice person she is, so accomodating and friendly. I mentioned Bill and Felicity to her (sorry Budman!) - you guys are famous! More details to come, but just had to say that.

Cliffs of Moher - words can't describe how utterly breathtaking and awesome they are. They blew me away......and the wind almost did, too. I have a story about my day here, but I'll tell it when I get to that point.

Kylemore Abbey - wow and double wow. Incredible location, most peaceful place I've ever been.

Slea Head drive - not sure anything can top that, whoa that was spectacular.

Derrynane - wonderful self guided tour of Daniel O'Connell's home. I think it's a must do, but then, I love this kind of stuff.

Sky Drive- more wow! More details to come......

-Loved the ocean and how it was sapphire and turquoise blue- just gorgeous.

-The wind (and it got VERY windy at the Cliffs and more so at Coomakesta pass) was actually invigorating; I loved it. If felt like Ireland should feel, and I felt sometimes like I was at the end of the world.

More tomorrow, and thanks again for your help!


Author: Budman
Date: 10/09/2005, 08:55 pm
Welcome back. No doubt you had a wonderful time. Waiting to hear more.

The Shores? Oh, yeah, a very delightful place to stay. Annette is such a sweetheart. Did you have dinner with her?

Thanks to Bill & Felicity (that's how we learned about the Shores), we'll never be able to ever get a room there in the future.


Author: Betsyp
Date: 10/10/2005, 10:36 am
Hi Budman

Nope, one of the things I was disappointed in with my B&Bs was that none of them had communal tables for guests to talk to each other; tables were all seperate. However, Annette did chat with all of us.........

Day 1 - 9/29/05

Smooth plane ride from NY to Shannon on Air Lingus; surprisingly, I was able to doze off a bit. It helped that the flight was not fully booked and I was able to stretch out on three seats. The weather was cloudy upon arrival and it turned rainy later on. Unfortunately, I was unable to really explore the grounds of my hotel, Ballynahinch.

Ballynahinch was a beautiful place, but I'm not sure I would stay there again, mostly due to the lack of sleep I got over the last 2 days of my three day stay. The keys were very jangly and the people next door to me were extremely noisy. With 40 rooms, it's just a lot of people to be dealing with; it wasn't quite as quiet as I'd hoped. However, the pub food was very good and the restaurant was delicious. I also loved the crackling fires in the public rooms.

Day 2 - 9/30/05

Passed through tiny, tiny Leenane on the way to taking boat ride on Killary Harbor. It was chilly and gray, but nonetheless, the fjord was beautiful. Decided to stop in Oliver's (Cleggan) for lunch before heading for Kylemore and boy was it worth it. I loved Cleggan, which is an adorable little fishing port. Checked out a memorial to a 1927 fishing disaster (celtic cross gravestone), watched some children playing in the yard and had a delicious meal at Olivers (yummy seafood chowder and fish and chips). I loved the atmosphere of the little pub. The sun did come out for a bit and the waters were gorgeous shades of sapphire and acquamarine blue. Patted some horses at the Cleggan Riding Academny and made our way to Kylemore Abbey.

I was blown away by Kylemore - the setting is spectactular and utterly serene. The weather forecast had predicted gray skies, but the sun came out and that made the surroundings even more beautiful. The Abbey itself is lovely, and while I was touring, I could hear choir practice going on - such a nice touch. The mini-cathedral was stunning and so was the walk towards same. It was so peaceful; I could have stayed there all day. Beautiful victorian gardens as well.

The sunny skies held for the next couple of hours, thank goodness, because the beauty of the vistas from the Sky Road was overwhelming in the sunshine. I literally felt like I was at the very ends of the earth; it was very windy, but that made it even better as it completely invigorated me.

Saw forests of pine and my driver advised me that some farmers grow them for Christmas trees!

More later!


Author: cailin
Date: 10/10/2005, 11:18 am
Here's the website for the Clinic. I've heard it's excellent but haven't been following it myself!



Author: Betsyp
Date: 10/10/2005, 11:45 am
Thanks, Cailin!

Oops, and I forgot to mention that I had an excellent dinner at Mitchells' that night.

Day 3 10/1/05

Not a good night's sleep due to the racket from the people next door. Day started out cloudy and rainy, then alternated with sun in the afteroon.

Decided to drive up to Westport today, via Cong. It's a cute town (and I know nothing about the Quiet Man); the ruins of the Abbey were beautiful, unfortunately they are right next to a bunker-like modern church. Continue to see lots of sheep and cows.

Stopped at Ashford Castle for a quick look around. It's immense and spectacular on beautifully landscaped grounds. I was perfectly glad to just be walking around and not staying there (for 600 euros a night?!).

I loved Westport, especially how all the shops are painted in such bright, bold colors. Had lunch at a little cafe above an art gallery then bought a necklace and connemara marble necklace and earring set. Also bought a CD of live Irish music from Matt Malloys. Ironically, the CD was playing in the store while I was in there, and the name of the song had Ballynahinch in the title! I had been undecided as to which CD to buy and figured this was a sign, so I bought it. As we left Westport, the clouds threatened ominously. Soon we were passing through Louisburgh to the Doo Lough Valley. I do need to comment on Croagh Patrick; it's like the mountain of every kid's imagination. When kids draw mountains, they draw them like upside down like such ^(upside down "V's&quot. That's exactly what Croagh Patrick look like to me.

The Doo Lough valley was spectacular in a very desolate sort of way; I actually enjoyed the fact that it was cloudy and rainy, as the area seemed to warrant that type of weather. The mountains were shrouded in fog and it was very atmospheric; when the fog came in, it was so thick that you would have had no idea that there were actually mountains there. It rained extremely hard for about 10 minutes, then stopped completely. The famine memorial was very poignant; the valley just has an air of sadness about it.

On the way back to Clifden, the most incredible rainbow appeared. It was was a complete arch of vivid color and below it lay a solitary house. Spectacular and magical! Clifden was very cute, but I didn't spend much time there.

Day 4 - 10/2/05

Left Ballynahinch on my way through to Berry Lodge in Milltown Malbay.

The Burren is a very odd, beautiful landscape of 200 square miles of limestone. Saw the Dolmen which was neat, and basically jumped around on the limestone like a kid playing hopscotch. At this time of year, there weren't many flowers growing, but the few that there were were beautiful specks of color in a barren landscape.

Lunched in Vaughn's Anchor Inn in Liscannor - very atmospheric pub with wonderful food. I had pan fried plaice (whitefish) with amazing onion mashed spuds - so creamy and smooth.

The day was cloudy, but there was very good visibility for the Cliffs, thank goodness. My jaw dropped when I saw them - wow! As I said above, there are no words to describe them. It's cliched to say they are awesome and spectacular, but they truly are. It was very windy, but that just made the scene more dramatic as the surf was crashing against the cliffs. Interesting story - I didn't know it cost 1.50 euros to climb O'Brien's Tower, so I left my pocketbook in the car with the driver (didn't want to be weighed down). I asked the guy in the Tower if I could just go up and take a pic, but he wouldn't allow it, since everyone else was paying. I was disappointed, so I left. Later, I asked this woman if the view was worth it and she said yes; she also gave me her ticket. The guy wouldn't let me go up, said I needed to buy my own ticket. I asked again, saying that I didn't know when I would be back in Ireland again - couldn't he make an exception? "No", so I left, but I was a little annoyed...and surprised that he didn't relent. I actually thought about asking people to lend me the $ to go up, but I couldn't get up the nerve. Anyway, it was getting really windy, so later I went back to huddle under the arches where it was not so chilly. The guy saw me ( don't know if he thought I was hanging around to see if he would change his mind - I wasn't) and let me go up!

I really hated to leave the Cliffs - I just couldn't draw myself away, and when I finally did, I walked backwards part of the way.

Loved the Berry Lodge -very cute and charming and a nice, quiet place to relax after the noise of Ballynahinch

More later
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 06:24 AM
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Hi Betsy

Sounds like a really great trip. Looking forward to hearing more. I'm so glad that you like The Shores. I finally get to see Annette again in May. It's been too long since I've been to Dingle. Still trying to work out the time frames for the trip.

You've got to like a place called Vaughn's Anchor Inn. It just sounds good

Let us know more abot the trip.

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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Betsyp, great report, waiting for more.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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I am anxiously awaiting to see if you did get to visit the South Pole Inn in Anasacaul? Will keep looking for your additions to your posts. So interesting and glad you had a good time. Halfpint
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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BetsyP, loving all the details of your trip report. I feel like I've been blown right into Ireland.

I'm planning our first trip and reading good trip reports really helps.

If you go on-line enough you hear about the special places. The Shores sounds really special. If I understand correctly it's near Dingle but not in Dingle? Can you (or anyone) explain what sights are convenient to drive to from The Shores?

Budman, think of it this way. If a B&B really was too secret, they wouldn't get enough business, and they would have to close down, and you would never be able to go there again. So if we share we can keep the good places full of business! The best places are often full if you try to book at the last minute...I've found that to be true all over the world.

By the time you buy a guidebook the accomodation info is already getting dated. I always like to upate it by asking on-line.

In the old days the independent traveller had no clout. But Fodors on-line travel talk actually gives us some clout and many people who run accomodations know that.

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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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Dear Besyp, Thanks so much for getting back to us with such a great trip report. I'm so sorry about Ballynahinch. I'm sure I am one of those that suggested it. My room was at the top of the steps over the front door with a view of the garden across the drive. I was there midish Oct. and I don't think I had people next to me. My son was a few doors down. It was very quiet. Lack of sleep can ruin it for you, doesn't matter how nice the room is. Sounds as if you had a good trip anyway. Betsyp, after one night of noise I would have gone to the desk and told them I couldn't sleep and ask them to do something or leave. You spent too much money to be there and they should have taken care of you. I'm angry with them. I'm acting like an old mother hen. Can't wait for more. Joan
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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I meant stairs not steps.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Day 5 October 3 * Halfpint, this is for you!

Took the ferry from Kilimer to Tarbert; walked on Inch beach. What a beautiful beach; this is something I would never do at home (mostly because on a nice day, the traffic to the beach is unbearable, and I lack the patience to deal with the traffic.....or even to walk slowly with no goal in mind). I just never associate beaches with Ireland, despite it being an island, but there are some real beauties, including Inch.

Now to one of the very best parts of the trip. Ever since Kenneth Branagh's movie on Ernest Shackleton aired a few years ago, I have been obsessed with this previously (to me, at least) unknown explorer. The Endurance expedition (to cross the Antarctic continent) failed, but it truly is the most remarkable story of survival in modern (if not all) history. Tom Crean, one of the most importan men on the expedition, was from Anascaul, on the Dingle Peninsula. After returning from the Antarctic, he opened a pub called the South Pole Inn, where he ran it (well, apparently, mostly his wife did; Tom enjoyed telling stories but wasn't cut out to be a publican).

The South Pole Inn still stands today (and in very good shape) and I am so glad I checked it out. The outside is painted bright blue, and on the side of the Inn is a small mural-type painting of a penguin/ice and snow. Inside is even better, for the original structure is intact and there are loads of pictures and articles on Tom Crean; for anyone interested in human drama, if not Polar exploration, it's a must-see. The owner was awfully nice - just very sweet. He told me that one of Tom's daughters (Eileen) just died in December, which I was very sad to hear about. However, his other daughter (Mary) is still alive and well.

There is a statue (a good one, too, and I had no idea it was there) of Tom holding a quartet of squirming puppies. True story: there were sled dogs on the Endurance and one of the females gave birth to a litter of pups. TC took to these puppies and basically became an adopted father to them; unfortunately, he also had to shoot them when it was determined that they (the other dogs were shot, too) were more a burden than a help; the men survived on the dog meat for awhile. Anyway, when he returned to Anascaul, Tom bought two new pups and named them after two of the pups he'd had to shoot. There is a very well known pic of Tom holding 4 squirming pups, and that is what the statue is based on. Ironically, a black lab puppy appeared out of nowhere, begging me to play fetch. He was sooooo cute; I hated to leave, but after 10 minutes, I was hungry and needed to make my way to Dingle itself.

I loved Dingle as soon as I saw it; what a charming little fishing port. By 2pm, I was starving and ended up (Old Smokehouse was closed for lunch and Lord Baker's had just finished the lunch service) at the Goat Street Cafe, a tiny lil cafe I hadn't heard of. I had yummy green thai vegetarian curry, a nice change of pace from all of the fish and spuds I'd been having.

That's it for this installment - I'll try to do more tonight and tomorrow.

Bill, say hi to Annette for me; she'll remember me because I'm sure I talked her ears off! I'll bet May is a beautiful time to be in Ireland; next trip to Erin, I "may" go in May.

Thanks Babs! I enjoy reliving my report.

Halfpint, the South Pole Inn was VERY cool. Actually, I bought a book in the Shannon duty free shop written by a cousin of Ernest Shackleton; it kept me busy for the 7 hour return trip home!

Thanks, Melissa! You're going to have such a fantastic time with your family. I hope it lives up to your dreams! I buy guide books but only use them for basic information on sites, etc..I prefer to get my hotel and restaurant info on-line, from locals and those who have particular knowledge of certain areas. Guide books are good, but very limited; they generally only push the already well known establishments.

Joan, please don't feel bad. I had already decided on Ballynahinch way before I started researching on this board. I did mention the problem to hostess/receptionist and asked that she tell people as they left to try and be quiet that night. I really did enjoy Ballynahinch and would recommend it highly - I just am a very, very light sleeper.

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Old Nov 1st, 2005, 01:18 PM
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don't know how I missed this, hope you are still checking in...

just about to put down our deposit with Discover Ireland Tours...our problem is opposite of yours...too many people, not enough drivers though!

have gotten a lot of good references, but never hurts to hear one more.

I actually did the planning for itinerary and b&b/hotels...with input from eric

sounds like you had a positive experience...did driver add to your trip interest with dining tips, history, other info?

anything we should consider before making deposit?

thanks so much!!
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