trip report- Ceol Agus Craic

Jun 29th, 2006, 01:00 PM
  #1  
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trip report- Ceol Agus Craic

The theme of our family tour was Ceol Agus Craic...and good music, drink,and fun was had by all!

The unpacking is completed and laundry well on the way so it's time to get this trip report started.

I appologize now for the many spelling and grammar errors to come. I do have a great book for those with a "zero tolerance approach to punctuation", Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss.

We (mostly I)have been planning this trip for nearly a year and it was well worth it.
We made the decision early on to hire a driver/guide. After much research we decided on Discover Ireland Tours, working with Eric O'Gorman. I can honestly say that we could not have made a better choice! He was very helpful, friendly, and professional and everything went as planned. Our driver/guide, Paddy Kilbride, became one of the family and was witty and warm hearted...as well as excellent at his post.

With a group of 10 family members ranging from 12 to 70 something it proved to be wise to have a planned schedule so everyone knew what to expect (atleast they should have)and Paddy was the perfect buffer to keep us from getting on eachother's nerves...too much. Our mercedes coach was a new 18 seater-gave plenty of room to spread out, +each day someone road shotgun up front with Paddy...very comfy!

We started the first day early meeting in Dayton, Ohio (most of group from around Columbus, but $200 cheaper to fly out of Dayton, so...)made connections from there to Philly then Boston with ease. Picked up final 2 members of group in Boston and on to Ireland on Aer Lingus. Note-US air...even smaller jet was more comfy than Aer Lingus...liked early arrival time in Shannon but not impressed with service...left light on all night, older plane, kept bugging us...will probably not use in future if can avoid. Landed on time in Shannon.

Quick freshen up and on to arrival area where we met our driver, Paddy, with a little sign for our group...fulfilling another check off my cool things to do...be met by one of those signs at an airport.

We were ready to start our Ireland adventure...1st stop, The Burren.
chip is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 02:49 PM
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gr8 report so far..keep it coming!
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Jun 29th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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The Burren drive was a nice introduction to Ireland for the family. We passed the ruins of Red Mary's house and Paddy told us the story. First stop the Poulnabrone Doleman, had it all to ourselves, very different from first visit. Took a walk around got the first of many sheep pictures. Very nice ride, very little traffic at 7am. Saw a big red fox...lots of sheep, cows, and horses too...oh, and lots of rocks!

Next stop Dunguaire Castle for a quick photo and look around then on to Thorballylee (Yeat's home). Saw a short video and took a look around. First set of steep winding stair cases, many more to come.

Got to Moran's too early for lunch so got an extra...quick tour of Galway. Carvery lunch outside of Galway at a pub, The Trapper.

On to Cong, enjoyed walking around. The abbey is interesting (look for the cross toward back with the gaelic writing and soldiers cap), but really enjoyed the stroll thru the wooded path to the bridge and the Monk's Fishing Hut...already filled up a memory stick. Everyone enjoyed first of many coffee breaks at the Monk Coffee Shop just beside the abbey...looked like some good desserts and sandwiches, next time.

On to our destination for the evening, Westport, lots of ruins and napping on the way.

The Olde Railway Inn is in a great locations and the river running in front with stone bridges going over decorated with flowers is so quaint. the hotel is very victorian and each room is unique...another first of many, running around...look at my room , did you see their room, too many that is so cutes. The common areas, sitting room, dining room are full of interesting collections...loved the owls on the mantle in the sitting room and the giant stuffed bear near the front desk.

After a quick cat nap and shower we walked to dinner at JJ O'Malley's, very good. They didn't dissapoint us...peppered burger came with fries and mashed potato salad. Seafood chowder and brown bread also good...second Guinness...first at lunch!

Took a walk around and ended up at Matt Malloy's for Guinness #3 then back to hotel for early evening...great sleep.

Thoughts for the day...highly recommend Discover Ireland Tours and our driver, Paddy, is the best. Could tell by end of first day that he was going to take good care of us. He is full of great stories and jokes. You can tell he loves his job and loves sharing Ireland with others. I have to admit that until I saw that sign in the morning I was a little nervous, but the first day went so well and everyone is enjoying everything. Couldn't wait for day #2...
oh...and Guinness is still better in Ireland than at home!
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Jun 30th, 2006, 05:25 AM
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forgot...on way out of Matt Malloys actually heard an elderly Irishman singing Danny Boy in the corner...now how is that for our Irish cliche moment!

I must say that my family was very punctual (Paddy even commented near end of trip that he has never had such a timely group)and each morning we were at breakfast as early as they would serve it (8 or 8:30...half 8) and onto the bus by no later than 9 and on our way.

Breakfast at the Railway Inn was very good and they offered a nice variety in a glass sunroom again filled with antiques and old pictures. They, like all the B&B's, used a toast rack at the table which sent me on a quest to find one for home.

Drove around the Quay (pronounced key)first stop Famine Monument at the base of Croagh Patrick. Walked up to the statue of St. Patrick. Ran into a few hikers on their way up to the top...bless them. Not sure if I could make it...getting to the statue was enough for me...oh, then of course to the gift shop. View of Croagh Patrick are quite stunning.

On down the road from Leenane to thru Doo Lough Valley to Delphi. Beautiful mountain pass. stopped at 2 shrines for famine walks. This is a very scenic drive between the mtns. and black lake. Very poiniante when you think of the history. At Delphi you drive along the fiord and by Aashleey Falls. the rhododendrums were in full bloom, they grow huge and are like weeds there...they cannot control them, but they are stunning. Paddy got a kick out of how much we enjoyed the nature and how we scattered when the bus stopped...the kids went all the way out to the falls. You know you are in a special place when even the tour guide gets out there camera! I think our affinity for natural beauty is what really bonded us to our driver and prompted him to give us some extras along the way.

Took a walk on the bog...must try...you actually bounce. Paddy gave a nice talk on peat cutting, he obviously does not like the machines because they destroy the bogs,he brought this up several times throughout the trip...hand cutting allows for vegetation to be put back into the ground. Interesting process.

Arrived at Kylemore Abbey in a heavy mist. Did the tour of the Abbey, nice but only a couple of rooms offered to view...fun to read the guest book...found our friend who had been there a month before. 400 meters along the lake to the miny catherdral, would have been wonderful if not raining...had some nice areas to stop and enjoy the beauty. The cathedral has pretty tri-colored marble pillars. took short walk to mosoleum...not much to see. Skipped the gardens because rain was getting heavier, quick bite in the cafeteria, got nice CD in gift shop of girls' school chorus.

On to Clifden and the Sky Road...WOW! Could only do part of it with the coach, wish it was a sunny day, but still WOW.

Not part of the tour, but suggested by Paddy and most of group wanted to see...so on to Roundstone. on the way stopped at the coral beach and explored. At roundstone stopped at Bodhran shop and got a case for chip's bodhran being made (story later).

The trip to roundstone put us back in town kinda late (7:30)which put a rush on things. quick change, thank goodness St. Mary's is just across from the Olde Railway.

The church's, B&B's, and pubs need to get together to help out us faithful Catholic tourists who don't want to miss Mass but don't want to miss anything else either. Atleast in Westport and Kenmare (our 2 weekend stops) Mass is late on Saturday (7:30 or 8pm) so unless you have dinner real early and cut your day of touring short or go to dinner late, after Mass, could run into problems with getting to pub and getting a good location scoped out for music...I know I think this out to much and should just go with the flow...but time/opportunity is so limited on vacation....anyway, morning Mass is also late, and so is breakfast, so unless skip breakfast of start day late...well...It works well if pub serves food late (I like early Sat. or early Sun. Mass)...enough, or off to confession for me.

Funny, part of the homily was actually about people not being respectful and cutting out of Mass after communion (who would think of such a thing?...). It was actually quite beautiful and nice to share with family.

It is quite strange to walk out of church and have a pub right next door. around the corner and up the street we grabbed a quick bite at the Stuffed Sandwich which was very good. then couple doors down to Matt Malloy's. The rooms here are a little confusing...from front you go thru 3 smaller rooms, the last of these is where they have trad. session, then thru doors to RR, thru next door to larger "entertainment" room. Both nights this back, large room was empty until music started...other rooms were packed. we stayed in "session" room for music...2 fiddlers, button box, flute/bodhran player, didn't start until 10:15.

before session we were serenaded by Turk "o'natural" as he called himself (he had been at a wedding all day...) he sang 3 songs...actually very good, kept trying to get bar to sing along..."everybody sing" only a couple of takers.

session was good, but pub packed, full of hen and stag parties...love how they get into it with costumes/props/masks and all. one man was in full viking gear complete with horned helmet and one hen was carrying a big stuffed hen around...they get quite rowdy. Slowly our group dwindled down till around midnight we decided to call it a night...I slept well but some reported hearing singing and yelling all night...may want to watch where you sleep if in town on a weekend, they party all night!
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Jun 30th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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----Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.
Lovelle Drachman

Sunday, Father's Day...rain, rain, rain all day except for a brief hope of sun during breakfast. Our routine for the trip up at 7, breakfast at 8, on our way by 9am.

farewell to westport on to our 1st stop of the day Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary-Passage tombs older than Newgrange but not as escavated... totally different experience, more natural here...more info and experience of inside tombs at newgrange. just got brief intro in building because of rain and wandered around on our own.

Stopped at Yeat's grave at Drumcliffe Church outside of Sligo below Ben Bulben mountain. A simple slab "Cast a cold eye on Life, on Death, Horseman pass by."...watch, don't knock it over when parking.

Next stop, Belleek in Northern Ireland...bring your pounds. Pulled our shopping resources to meet the minimum for "free" shipping.

went back across the "border" for lunch at The Jolly Farmers, watch how you order...when ordered a ham and cheese sandwich...brought 2 sandwiches...one ham ...one cheese.
sister continued quest for best "egg mayonaise" (found out later on in trip...was common in north but not south...probably why didn't remember from last trip...this is also true for Murphy's, will have to wait until further south).

----Look closely. The beautiful my be small.
Immanuel Kant

Next stop, one probably not frequented, judging from the poor lonely guide at the sight, was Tully Castle on loughshoreroad between Belleek and Enniskillen.

Now we picked the sight for quite a silly reason...our cairn terrier's name is Tully...so...anyway, it is actually a very nice stop. The castle ruins are interesting to explore and the nice center, 17th century garden, and toilets...always very important. would have lingered longer if it wasn't for the rain...also scenic drive along the lake.

About an hour drive to Castle Murray House which is in donegal just passed dunkineely on St. John's Point...WOW...their card says "staggering sea view" and they are right. probably not wise to have your "best of" everything on your 3rd night but...WOW. Even with a mist it is wonderful. Again we ran from room to room, all with great views and unique decor, obviously recently redone, very posh. The bathroom had the bowl sink, tile, mosaic, great tub/shower. cute pub, lounge area had the ultra comfy leather loveseats where you could enjoy the panoramic view from huge windows...cows in rolling patures to the right, horses and 3 of the cutest frolicking colts to the left and in front of you some castle ruins and a beautiful sea view with blinking light house in the distance (reports that there are dolphins during the day!). can you tell we loved this place...did not want to leave!

Pre-trip there were some concerns about the "expensive" meal 4-course/46euros...after, everyone wholeheartedly agreed one of best meals ever...and well worth it...perfect food, service, setting!
Had before dinner drinks in lounge, where we were served yummy appentizers and they took our dinner order...then we were "called to dinner". Great starters, good reports on house special, lobster, and even the tomato soup...oh, and the bread choices,try them all, were great(haven't mentioned yet, but the butter everywhere is wonderful). Main courses, fillet w/shrimp, scallops, and pheasant were great. Desserts were of course yum...especially suggest cherries flambee and pos. best creme brulee ever. enjoyed coffee/drinks in the pub and lounge...took stroll out to see horses...lingered in the lounge, could have slept there...of to bed.

---We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
Jawsaharal Nehru
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Jun 30th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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----For an occurence to become an adventure, it is neccessary and sufficient for one to recount it.
Jean-Paul Sartre

and so I continue...
We all got up early so we could take advantage of the clearing weather and walk to the ruins and on the beach. then we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast...they offered wonderfully thick french toast with real maple syrup.

overcast and having heard that the road up to viewing was narrow...probably not good with a coach, we drove coastal road but not up to slieve league viewing spot...was still very scenic and the road at times was a bit narrow...Paddy says not to worry until you start seeing grass growing in the middle of the road...which we did on one occasion.

so what is the difference between the coatal road and the main road? 4 less bumps!

sign you see now an then states "temporary road"...Paddy, "that means they haven't put the pot holes in yet"

drove thru killybegs, interesting harbor town. on to glencolumbkille. took scenic coastal road, dungloe to gwedam to Glenveagh National Park...beautiful drive, mountains, lakes, sea view. Note: even with Irish driver, maps, signs you can and will get lost a little.

----The first step in the journey is to lose your way.
Galway Kinnell

also saw 3 signs still up for the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikers, with black ribbons (kinda set the stage for the next day in derry).

At the park you buy tickets to a shuttle and then when you get to the castle and gardens you can buy a ticket to tour the castle...unfortunately they don't tell you that the tours could be all sold out...so if you want to tour the castle be sure to go there first. some of our group ate lunch first and didn't get to tour the castle, but did enjoy the grounds/gardens...beautiful lake/mountain views. they also had several walking trails. the castle tour was nice, several rooms and the guide was informative about castle history....especially interesting was the heated pool.

our stay for the evening was just outside of letterkenney at the silver tassie hotel...got a stinky reception, literally, next to a farm and they had just spread fertilizer and everything smelled like __________. It did eventually clear.

this was a big business/convention type hotel...rooms ok...but redeeming factor was the pub and food was very good.

our waiter the first night was very friendly (turned out his grandparents originally owned the hotel on this site and they now live in state/long island). they earned best seafood chowder award and best chips...especially when I was given about 7 different sauces to try...liked the garlic mayo, sour cream, cheese/salsa and of course vinegar and tomato sauce (ketchup-but better).

----Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on ,deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.
Miriam Beard

Nice breakfast, included meat and cheese assorment.

the only way you can tell that you have entered Norther Ireland is the yellow side line on the road turns to white, the towers and police are not around like before...do see more more active during marching seasona and on weekends near the borders.

Paddy also reminded us that the most "northern" part of Ireland is actually in donegal and also that 3 Ulster counties are in republic so not all of Ulster is in northern ireland

Today, first stop is Derry, in the rain. Met our tour guide, Caroline, outside the TI center, walked thru a modern mall. We toured part of the wall to apprentice boys headquarters and requested to tour the bogside murals from there...must see. Our guide, who actually grew up on the bog side during "the troubles" and lived in house across from the shirt factory, was so interesting and informative and quite unbiased, part of hopeful future. It was so easy to forget, but had to be sensitive to the fact that this history was her life. It must be hard to relive some of the events...I am sure that all of the guides are wonderful, but if you have the opportunity and are interested in this history, request Caroline, you will be very pleased. She shared so many personal stories and memories, now I need to go see the movie Bloody Sunday again, since I have been there.

the murals are very interesting and she explained each one to us...ended with the peace mural. we saw the H block memorial in front of Free Derry sign walked thru to the city hall where they have an auditorium where they hold singing and dancing events...matter of fact she was just there the night before because she now does adult Irish dancing, enjoyed coffee in the cafe next to city hall then we had to run into the mall and get a new charger for our camera (blew on first night even with convertors/plugs), niece had enough time to get a new pair of shoes (like the ones our guide was wearing) very pretty.

On thru portrush to Dunluce Castle...very windy...slippery, be careful. It is another wonderful scenic sight.

Giant's Causeway was just a short ride from there. Stopped at visitors center for snack and to watch the video, then took the shuttle down to the causeway. did some climbing, sat on the boot for a pic. then shuttle back up. very nice, but would have enjoyed more on a clearer day.

----Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.
Frank Tyger

The quest for a new bodhran...on towards dungiven to find Seamus O'Kane and Chip's drum. After several experimental tours we came upon Seamus's quaint farmhouse. Chip got his brush with fame moment...as he walked in Seamus was on the phone with Frankie Gavin setting up a gig with himself and Tommy Peoples (kinda like Irish music royalty...wow). the drum sounds great. Seamus is quite the tinker and we got to see him at his craft in his workshop. Could have stayed for a long chat but unfortunately the rest of the group was waiting. so we said our goodbyes and we were on our way back to the silver tassie for the evening of more good pub grub and guinness.

spotted our first rainbow in Ireland...bout time, we earned it after all that rain!

another wonderful day in Ireland!

Paddy on the Donegal accent---going down the road you say that the duck goes quack, quack...the man from dongal says, "I can't go any quacker.''



"when is marching season?, Paddy, "Well you have january, february, then march, march, march!"

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Jul 1st, 2006, 09:02 AM
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----Never miss an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

After another good breakfast, today we leave Donegal on our way to Doolin via Knock, Burren, Cliffs of Moher.

We start the day with a rainbow. Several jokes, stories, and history lessons later from Paddy (another bonus to having a driver/guide) we arrived at Knock at noon.

We planned an hour and a half stop for lunch and a look around, which worked out nicely. Very special moments here. Had fish(plaice) and chips and a cafe across from the chapel. Also finally got my soft serve ice cream with a flake (got some flakes at duty free!).

Next stop was Ballyvaughn at Monk's for a coffee break (funny, only the driver and mom got coffee...finally Murphy's!). continued along coast road to black head point...nice views of aran islands...nice scenic pull off points.

arrived at new visitors center at cliffs of moher...what a mess they are making. during contruction you have to walk up a very steep new path to get to viewing area...especially challenging in nearly gale force winds. felt bad for older members of our group, the walk use to be very easy. they only made it to the first viewing point...that's progress for you, take a great thing an ruin it. o'brien's tower and path, closed for construction.

just up the road to doolin and cullinan's which is just to the right when you come down the hill at the cross roads/with all the signs...more changes. they are putting up a large shopping, hotel, pub? complex right across the road from cullinans...there goes my quaint village experience, will have to see future reports on what poeple think of all the new builds.

cullinan's is nice...one of our group (not us) got a ground floor room with a hot tub. nice views from back rooms of fields and 2 funny mules.

paddy gave us a ride to mcgann's for dinner/evening music. shortly after we arrived, about 8, they got packed, ordered just ahead of the crowd. family award for best mussels, best Irish stew and also very good apple crumble with ice cream and they give you lots of chips.

some of us stuck around for the music, which was ok, banjo, guitar, bodhran, some singing.

stayed till midnight, gave a quick peek into mcdermott's on way home(same set up, not very enthusiastic), easy 5 min. stroll, nice and quiet...again watch for cars on dark roads.

----As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are, otherwise you will miss most of your life.
Buddha
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Jul 3rd, 2006, 06:29 AM
  #8  
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note that if you have gotten to this point and can't take any more, I added a short version on another post.

seems like no matter how much you write, just can't do it justice. so many beautiful places.

just re-watched the movie Bloody Sunday, really different after having been to Derry. Highly reccomend to anyone interested in that history.

really did feel quite safe, but the "londonderry loyalist still under siege..." sign was still smoking from vandalism the night before.

do get an informative guide for the bogside murals...there are murals on other side also I believe, so lots to see and learn in derry.

Oh how it hurts to go back and read all of my errors...just in case you are going up north...it is gweedore not gwedum (and I do know the difference between there and their)

just a couple more days to go
chip is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2006, 03:14 PM
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Chip,

Have enjoyed your trip report so far. We'll be going to some of the same places this August...Clifden, Sky Road, Roundstone, Westport, Enniskillen etc.

Can you really get lost driving to Glenveagh National Park ? The route looks so easy on my map.
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Jul 5th, 2006, 09:32 AM
  #10  
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----though we travel the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

thursday we awoke and enjoyed a donkey show out our window...2 donkeys playing tug a war over a piece of hay, beautiful sunny moring.

cullinans does not serve dinner on wed. night so we missed that (of course mcgann's was pretty good). if you can judge by quality of breakfast then I am sure that dinner would be great. cullinan's earns our family's best of award for breakfast... chocolate chip scones (went very quickly), lemon/honey pancakes(do try, very good!)-a little crepe-like, eggs benedict...all choices received rave reviews.

today we are heading off to dingle for a variety of activities so timing was crucial.

pretty coast road views past lahinch golf course...lots of bumpy dunes, thru kilrush with a nice town square and they were having farmer's market this morning, looked interesting but need to catch the ferry at kilmer

ferry from kilmer side leaves every hour on the half hour...at 10:30 leaves every half hour until 5:30

in was an hour and a half from doolin...made the 10:30 am ferry across the shannon. took aprox 20 min.

saw the "real" windmill (also several of the electric power windmill fields all around ireland).

lots of traffic around tralee, slowed us down a bit

even a smaller coach was too big for connor's pass, but the drive is still very scenic...the area reminds me of a large green patchwork quilt.

as we neared dingle passed castle ruins on dingle bay (that we had explored on last trip).

made it to doolin by 1pm (so doolin to dingle via ferry=4 hours). drove thru town and made a quick assessment of how we would go about getting everyone to their scheduled activities.

first stop, 20 min. from dingle, dropped off the horseback riders at Long's stable in Ventry (interesting ride...the bus did make it, but had some doubts at times...they were a little early (if make appointment be very clear and go over and over with owners...a little unorganized)-after we left, the riders first walked down the hill to a pottery and had a bite for lunch. a bit dissapointed about not able to do beach ride, until looked down and saw the beach packed with riders...go early if you want to ride on the beach, reported that the mountain ride was still wonderful. they supply you with hats, boots, and chaps, you ride a horse that is a mix between an Irish cob, clydesdale, and thoroughbread.

next stop for the bus was to drop off the golfer at dingle golf club in ballyferriter (took short cut instead of going around the loop...about 20 min.)-he reported that the course was easy to walk (had a slow 4some in front of him) and he enjoyed the course.

stopped for a great lunch in ballyferriter (just past the school-enjoyed seeing kids play outside school- on the same side) looked newly refinished. great fish and chips.

next stop-drop off the rest of the guys for pitch and putt (was just over the bridge on way out of dingle. the owner said that it would take about an hour and a half to do 18 holes-par 3 course...easy for beginner, fun for casual golfer.

the rest of us went back to dingle to check into Doyle's B&B at the top of town on John Street...good thing I was able to help navigate a little from memory of last trip (Paddy usually has the big bus and usually just goes down main drag past harbour and never realized dingle was such a nice little town...he had never stayed and really enjoyed walking around...nice when you can show the driver/guide a couple of new sights).

funny story...in the scurry to unload bags, help assign rooms and get bags to right rooms...my room was on 3rd floor, so as getting things settled the girl from the front desk knocks at my door..."I thought their were 3 people from 3 different parties with you, I only see 2??". as we get to the bottom of the stair and to the front desk a clerk gets a strange call...turns out my mother-in-law had noticed her daughter's purse still on the bus...picked it up and everything fell out...well she bent over to pick it up and paddy didn't see her, locked the bus door, and went to check into his b&b...she had found his cell phone and was calling our b&b...she was locked in!!! just about that time paddy was heading back as we headed out to the bus...we all had a great laugh, this was a first for him~!

well, chatted with Paddy a bit then headed off to shop. I got sidelined at the dingle music shop on john street...wonderful place to find those hard to find and special local flavor CD's(great cran CD that was out of print!)...also a great place for an impromptu session and a wee sip under the counter! Michael (played at the Marina pub that night) from the shop grabbed his button box to play me a toon then a friend (plays in session at O'Flaherty's) of his came in and took down a bodhran from the wall and joined in...very nice moment...caught a little snippet on my digital camera/movie...will share if figure out how to do it.

he highly reccommened the church show-trad. music/dance, unfortunately, not on thurs., but would suggest to check it out if you are there on the weekend

went back to B&B to meet up with rest of group returning from all the activities... off on our own for another quick stop at music store (unfortunately Michael was not there) and we enjoyed a nice meal at Paul's...rest of group highly recommend the smokehouse (across from small bridge pub) and doyles...sadly the half door was closed for a long weekend when we were there.

we headed off to the small bridge and watched the world cup on large screen tv's ...crowd really into it...rooting for australia...I just wanted music to start. stayed to listen to eoin duignan and tommy o'sullivan...very good. we were joined by sister and niece (who plays the flute) and she enjoyed talking to eoin at the break...inspired to learn her new penny whistle and some Irish music.

bout midnight too tired to do any pub hopping, so called it a night.

Paddy joke---
the man driving home from the pub was weaving back and forth on the road . the guardi stopped him and told him that they thouth he was drunk-thank goodness, the man said, I thought there was something wrong with my steering wheel!

during our trip one of Ireland's former presidents, Charlie Haughey, passed away, Paddy gave us all of the background info...people either loved him or hated him...just a note to those traveling in western kerry, dingle in particular, they loved him for the service and saving of the harbor, he was very popular there and ownend an island off the coast of dingle...

Paddy acknowedged his questionable dealings but felt that he did a lot for improving the economy of Ireland and for helping the Irish people, especially retirees...he noted that if he hadn't been working, he would have attended the funeral to pay his respects...will be interesting to read more about him.

Paddy on politics...
"Charlie Haughey couldn't tell the truth...
Fitzgerald wouldn't tell a lie...
and the current on couldn't tell the difference!"
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Jul 6th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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Great trip report. Just a note on Charlie Haughey's funeral - huge crowds were expected to turn out, so they erected barriers and big screens outside the church so those who couldn't fit in could watch the service. It wasn't necessary - there was still space inside the church! Good ol' Charlie - still wasting taxpayers money from beyond the grave! (he notoriously lived the high life when the rest of the country was struggling - pre celtic tiger - fine dining, expensive shirts and multi millions worth of property - including his own private island!).
cailin is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #12  
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After another nice Irish breakfast at Doyle's we left Dingle to meet Tadgh at Kate Kearney's Cottage at 10am for a jaunting cart ride thru the Gap of Dunloe.

If you have a nice day, you couldn't find a better way to spend it. Our group had 3 carts. This was a definately a highlight...the whole day was filled with wonderful memories in the making. The scenery was beautiful. Our driver wasn't the most talkative. He did tell us how his family had been doing tours for 4 generations along with farming. He didn't like the cars at all...and we were surprised to see them and even a camper. I do believe that we were the first to go out that day on carts, so if you did want to try it by car, go early in the morning.

We played road tag with about 20 Harley Riders...there was an international Harley ralley in Killarney the same weekend we were in the area, so we were treated to quite a sight.

Twice us "younger" ones got out and walked when we got to a steep sections, my uncle did find us some shortcuts at the cutbacks. It was a bit strenuous, take your time and enjoy the surroundings...we could have probably taken more time.

We got to Lord Brandon's Cottage at around 11:30am. We got a snack and enjoyed an excellent Irish coffee...well some of us had 2!

They called for the boat driver to come earlier...there was a boat already there, but he was in a private card game in the back room...

we enjoyed relaxing, petting the cute dog, Brandy, watching the swans, and we even saw some deer down near the dock.

The boat came in at about 1pm and we all boarded without incident and started a very nice ride thru the lakes. keep your eye out, we saw more deer on the way.

at one point we came upon a wonderful bridge, but due to the low levels some of the group had to get out and walk a bit so we could navigate the "rapids" under the bridge. the boatman had to use a large pole to keep us from hitting the bridge and rocks. A little bit of excitement in what was a very leisurely and relaxing trip on the lakes to Ross Castle.

we got a cute concert from some school girls who passed us on one of the larger site-seeing ferries, they sang to us as we passed by...can we have an aahhhhh

great views of the castle approaching from the lake. lots of swans swimming around and little boats tied up.

we got another quick snack and wondered around the outside of the castle until our 4pm tour. The tour of Ross Castle is very interesting...lots of steep winding steps up.

It was a 45min. ride thru killarney and round to kenmare(the "scenic" route is one way for coaches...even smaller ones, but they are currently working on widening all the roads, soon you'll be met by the big busses everywhere!).

checked into the Hawthorn House B&B on Shelbourne Street shortly before 6pm, smaller rooms but still comfy, nice little sitting room downstairs, perfect location...very close to everything. could easily walk everywhere in town. They even have a car park in the back...and the most wonderfully fragrant flowers at the entrance...very nice welcome!

convenient post office on the corner and a couple of places to download your digital pictures on to a disk if needed...and by that time in the trip...we needed!

hungry from all the walking during the day, we quickly dropped off our bags and all ended up having dinner together at Davitt's...very good, get the specials they were very good. some enjoyed the early bird special 21Euro, 6-7pm...I found the rest of the menu and other specials too tempting. Finally had my bannoffee pie. The veal with fetta and sun dried tomatoes was super!

after dinner...9ish, went to landsdown arms pub, with hopes of some good trad, already very busy with world cup fans. got 2 stools at a table with an older couple and their daughter from just outside of Limerick, they were staying at a cottage for a long weekend vacation. They had a dairy farm...must be where we get all that wonderful butter and cream. Very nice chat. when we told him we were from ohio he sang us a bit of one of his favorite tunes, banks of the ohio. His favorite singer was Dean Martin...another ohio connection. funny. by the way, our new friends ate at Packies, twice, and said that it was wonderful. you definately need reservations.

musicians didn't show up until 10:30, but not really that good anyway, enjoyed our conversation more. there was a button box player and a singer/guitar player...and a "tick, tock, box", one of those electric organs that keep the back beat...strange. they did all the folk standards that you would here on a best of pub tape...fine, but not with that beat box.

hung around for about an hour, then off to bed.

another wonderful day in Ireland...sad that we are nearing the end of our trip, but 2 and a half days of adventures left in Ireland!

I'm sure we will return but...

----The place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut you eyes.
Hamilton Henning


chip is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 06:37 AM
  #13  
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-----Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.
Leo Buscaglia


Saturday...
breakfast at 8:30 on the road a little after 9am...holding true to our pattern.

On our way to the Beara Peninsula... since this was new to me, took the front seat with Paddy. Nice views of Kenmare Bay on way out of town. stopped for a view of some falls on the way. Nice day so we decided to start with trip to Glengariff and ferry to Garnish Island...good choice.

Enjoyed a few harbor seals basking on the rocks. Boat ride about 15-20min. Saw Maureen O'Hara's house to the left.

The island was interesting. The paths to the different gardens were flanked by interesting specimans...kinda like being in the land of the giants, kinda like plants we have seen but huge. Unique plants, moss covered trees, walls, wonderful rose covered gates, nice tower to explore. Enjoyed some coffee at the center waiting for the boat to return...more seals.

Off to the Healy Pass. Just before you start the pass...Paddy stopped at the "magic spot" (like ones we had been to out west somewhere...where the balls roll up, magnetic pull...) going downhill, put coach in neutral and it rolled up the hill...funny!

Paddy loved the illusion of being close to the top, yet really so far away...Several switch backs, sheep, ooo's and ahh's later we reached the top with the white calvary cross statues, gift shop, 1931 rock, and cork/kerry border point, be sure to walk to kerry...great views of both...Paddy felt best to cross pass starting at glengariff.

once you drive it, you will be amazed at the bike riders who pedalled this path...we passed them on the way up and they caught up to us at the top...that is power cycling for sure.

at the end of the pass we turned left into ardgroom and enjoyed lunch at a pub. more great mussels, stew, bread, and murphy's. chatted with bartender and she gave me my coveted murphy's pint glass...I will cherish it and enjoy my murphy's at home...maybe the Irish glass will make it as good as being there...it doesn't by the way, but it will do for now.

also picked up a small pottery piece from a local potter sold at the pub. the town was cute and colorful...got a great pic of a white horse. kids played with a local dog and in the creek/falls that ran near a bridge.

decided to head back to spend some time exploring kenmare. stopped and had some digital pics downloaded. enjoyed a chat at the music store and got a CD of a local artist. bought some linens w/fuchsias...love those fuschias.

back to the hawthorn house to drop off packages and relaxed in the sitting room and waited for the rest of the group to head off for 8pm evening Mass at Holy Cross. Beautiful church with wood ceiling, carved angels, and stained glass.

after Mass headed off to Foley's for dinner, got a good seat for entertainment to come. food ok, not nearly as good as davitts (even tho someone said they were actually owned by same people). tried the colcannon (potatoes/cabbage) and it was good.

Music started on time (he must be getting paid in more that just drinks)ballad singer, sang all of the standard folk song. enjoyed the fun of another hen party. last song of the set at 10:45 made the day..."take me home country roads" (last trip we heard almost every night...funny to hear everyone sing along from all different countries).

stayed for a few more tunes then headed back to the B&B.

we were a little sad that our trip would soon be coming to an end as we walked up to the door, greated by the sweet smell of roses at the entrance.
chip is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:51 AM
  #14  
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"It's all in the tellin of em",Padddy

Our driver paddy had endless stories and jokes...and it's true, I can't tellim as good as he can.

Found out at breakfast that we could have bumped into George Clooney...was in Kenmare with Harley for the drive in... so close to celebrity.

Finally tried a wee bit of the porridge...kinda mushier oatmeal, didn't like, but enjoyed the cream in my coffee...note everything seems a little mushier...actually had "mushy peas" on menu at dinner last night and most of the soups are creamed...so can't really tell what veggies are in veggie soup...but most are good and the sausage consistancy is mushier too, and that's all I have to say about that.

Our last full day in Ireland...sigh.

Nice weather, taking the section of the ROK thru moll's gap past ladies view thru to Killarney. This a specatular drive. Loved the stop at Ladies view with the lakes where we had been 2 days ago. also got to see different view of the gap of dunloe, from above. I love the tunnels that you go thur...you see the rock ...so cement finishes, neat.

got lots of great stories from Paddy about fairy trees, rings, and leprachauns...watch for the leprachauns crossing just past ladies view...really. the wooded section just before killarney is wonderful...the fairy's and leprechauns surely hang out in this magic area.

"be sure to tie your shoes together or the wee folk will come along and get one"

2 seconds after Paddy reminded us to be on a look out for the red deer in the park we saw a hurd of about 10 deer with huge antlers racks come running into the clearing...they are big and beautiful.

Paddy said that he has taken groups to stay at the Lake Hotel near Muckross and he remembers seeing the field full of the deer and they came right up to the windows in your room...that would be neat.

Left kenmare at 9:30ish and arrived in Killarney at 11am (so this drive about 1 and a half...going around on way there was 45 min.)

In killarney there were still some harleys around from the rally, but didn't slow us down.

on way to Adare got a detour because of an accident ...Muphy's Law...always need to plan for it.

of course directions for detour were non existant, everyone following us, thank goodness we did end up back on the main road...we did go thru the middle of nowhere, but did get to see one of the peat cutting machines (that Paddy dislikes so much since they ruin the bogs) and a military training group.

Paddy told us all about the political system they have lots of parties but basically the same here certain areas of the country are known to back different groups , but the bottom line is they are all working for themselves...not big change whoever in office, just back and forth.

got to adare a little later that thought because of detour...12:30. stayed for about an hour. ate in the tourist information center. did a quick walk to the left to look at some of the thatched cottages and then in front of the center was a park...not worth the stop in my opinion. we saw thatched roof cottages all around ireland. Paddy said that the town use to be almost all thatch roofs but most replaced with shingles...just some in main area on shops for us tourists...looked like.

got to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park at 2:30 and stayed till about 5. We toured the castle first, joined a tour group for some history. We enjoyed exploring the castle ...this is a rare opportunity to wonder around in a castle that has some funishing and decorations and they let you go on your own...I liked that. could go up in 4 turrets of varying heights and degrees of difficulty to walk up. I liked the little peek whole down into the big hall.

next we explored the park, always wondered what it would be like. it was set up in different sections of a village showing different time periods.

it was actually very pleasand and I would suggest a visti there. Being a teacher, I really enjoyed the school house. some of the buildings were set up with furniture, etc. like it would have been and some were little shops where you could by trinkets or hand made goods...we bought a little piece of pottery.

we walked to the mill and got to see it grinding. nice view of the castle from there and a nice horse to pet.

scoped out mac's pub for our return in the evening. bought some mead and back to the bus.

Our B&B turned out to be just a short way from bunratty. I wasn't paying much attention...really could have walked back but Paddy had offered to give us a ride back to banquet at 7:15

We stayed at Bunratty Woods. A very easy, flat, leisurely walk past the winery to the B&B (10 min. to bunratty, another 5min or less to shopping at blarney mills).

B&B had nice flowers in front ...great sittin room with coffee availabel to make. We worked out details for the next day. they were very accomodating,...check out the next morning was early but they said it was no problem to leave bags in lobby and hang out until noon...they arranged for our taxi's to meet us there...cool.

rooms were fine. we relaxed until Paddy came to get us at 7;15. we said our goodbyes to Paddy (he offered to stay and pick us up but when we saw how close it was and it was a nice night we told him to go ahead home, no sense in wasting that time)

It was a tearful goodbye...he had become one of the family. we truly enjoyed eachother along the way, this may not be typical of group/driver relationships, but Paddy was a wonderful man that shared similar interests and loved traveling...not just a job for him, which is special. He really added to the enjoyment and his stories and jokes made the ride so fantastic...I couln't get enough, looked forward to every moment. It was strange to see him go, hope our paths cross again someday.

We walked thru the park to Mac's Pub for a parting glass of Guinness. So if you don't want to spend the day at the park, go to the late banquet a little early and enjoy a walk around the park. or go to early show and walk around after, talked to a couple from PA at Mac's who were coming from the early banquet. the houses and shop close at 5:30 or 6 ...getting ready for banquet, but you get the experience and of course Mac's is open.

at 8:30 headed for the castle courtyard for our 8:45 banquet. we were greated by the lord and lady and welcomed to the castle and led to the banquet hall for some music, history, mead (sweet honey wine), and a 'bite of friendship"=cubed bread that you dip in salt...tradition-meant that you were protected for the evening at the castle. they chose a king and queen for the evening to host the night.

then up to the grand hall for dinner...does have steep winding steps. Seated at long tables. Entertainers served you and entertained with singing, music, stories and interactive comedy throughout the meal. It was really fun...I would suggest that you do atleast once.

there was bread, wine, and water at the table...everything served family style. it was nice that we were all at our own table for 10 ...most tables longer with several different groups.

the first course soup was fantastic. some sort of potatoe...spicey. of course no forks and spoons...did get knife for meat later...I could have gone for more soup. but continued with ribs...very different from what we are use to...some liked, some didn't. next was veggies and chicken and finally dessert...raspberry mouse crumble.

somemore entertainment then envited to the wine cellar for tea and coffee. Perfect evening for a stroll thru folk park with castle behind us in the dusk...still not completely dark at 11:10 when we left for B&B...lovely walk back chatting about the day, trip, etc. wonderful way to end a perfect trip...well almost over.

note...do watch for traffic, no sidewalks. remember opposit..walk on the right.

off to sleep, or last night in Ireland.

chip is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 04:17 AM
  #15  
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topping for rahab69
chip is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 05:11 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 250
Chip, thanks for topping this. I missed the report last year. The content was wonderful; thanks for including some of Paddy's jokes and stories. Bet you wish you could have taped his whole commentary!

I know what you mean about mass times being inconvenient for sightseeing. I have found it so in many places in Europe. I miss the 7 a.m. mass we have at home.

Again thanks for a wonderful story.
teacher33 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 02:11 PM
  #17  
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teacher-

You are so right about wishing I could have captured all of Paddy's stories. He was fantastic and it really was in the telling of them!

Glad you enjoyed. Wish I was back in Ireland now, but the memories are great!
chip is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2008, 08:40 AM
  #18  
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topping for rkovideo

info on private driver/guide...that still allows you to plan your own trip and go where/when you want.

Here is web site to go along with my "Ireland trip report-short version" from June 2006.

irelandjune2006.shutterfly.com

here is extended version of pictures for "Trip report-Ceol Agus Craic"

ireland2006pictures.shutterfly.com

password is vinegarhill (the name of my "Irish" pub band which you can learn more about at vinegarhillmusic.com)

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