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Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Your treasured memories of IRELAND, and your BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Jul 15th, 2005, 10:25 PM
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IRISHBABE and PATRICK: Please tell us what you love in Northern Ireland....treasured memories, special places? I'd love to hear more.

Irishbabe, if I get to Belfast, I plan to take one of those black cabs. I want to understand more about why my Irish grandmother and her entire family were driven to emigrate from Northern Ireland to Philadelphia, and yet maintained a lifetime love for the country of their birth.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 10:51 PM
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SIOBHANP: Thanks for the great tip on asking locals where THEY would go, NOT where they would send a tourist!

I already have a pile of books to tell me where the tourists go. We DO love to stray off the tourist path and find something appealing, local, unique, and "real".

When you say West Cork is stunning, do you mean Mizen, Sheep's Head, and Beara? Or maybe the coast from Kinsale to Skibbereen?

With my 4 guidebooks piled up here, I am still confused on the geography of Ireland!

I would love to hear more details.

Have you ever come across the Ceim Hill Museum in West Cork, owned by Miss Therese O'Mahony? I read about it and hope I can discover it if I'm in the area. She collected everything herself.

Where is Baltimore, SiobhanP? I can't find it on my too-many maps.

BUCKY: I'm glad to know the pub music is from about 9:30 to 11:30. I think I can keep hubby awake that long!

Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2005, 11:06 PM
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MISSYPIE: I think we already have started the Compulsive Trip Planners club! Write to me at [email protected] and put that in the subject line so I'll know it's you. (I pre-screen e-mail before deciding to open it.)

I have 3 "kids" too, but they are 18, 19, and 23 this summer. I was lucky they were all willing and able to come with us on our summer family trip to Costa Rica this summer!

For Ireland 2006, I have 1 daughter who says she's coming for sure, the other daughter says she's not, she'll miss her boyfriend (but we're trying to talk her into it!) and my 23-year-old son wants to come but has to work and save up his vacation time for a trip with his friend to Vietnam!

If you try to make the family trips fun for teens and let them help plan, you might get them to come summers between college too. I treasure our family trips to Italy 2004 and Costa Rica 2005. My "kids" were 17, 18, and 22 in Italy; 18, 19, and 23 in Costa Rica.

Hubby and I are for sure going to Ireland 2006 and I HOPE with BOTH daughters. (what will 1 daughter do without her sister? Hang with her old parents in the pubs?!) At their ages (youngest is now 18), independence vs. family becomes an issue.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2005, 12:29 AM
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Hi Melissa,

I have been saying on this board for some time that NI is a great place for a visit.

The North Antrim coast is the most popular and the Giants Causeway is quite spectacular. Are you the person posting on Ireland with a Geologist Husband? if so it is a geologist's dream. Bushmills, as already mentioned with it's famous distillary and Inn is a lovely village as is Portbalintrae (my favorite) The Glens of Antrim and the villages in the Glens (Cushendun & Cushendall)are also lovely. The walks and waterfall in Glenarif are wonderfull but require good footwear.

This is probably our most popular area but we have lots of others. The Fermanagh Lakes are wonderful and there are lots of things for your children to do (fishing?)the Germans love this area. There are also the Caves for potholing (can't remember their name) for your Husband - this area is highly recommended.

Co Down and the Mourne mountains have some lovely walks and there is Tullymore, Castlewellen and Rostrevor forest parks to roam and the wonderful Silent Valley and the Mourne wall walk.

Co Tyrone has the Ulster American folk park which might give you some insight into the lifestyle of your grandmother and well worth a visit.

Derry I don't know very well but it is a very historical city as is Armagh which is the ecclesiastical capital of all of Ireland and the seat of the Catholic Cardinal and the Protestant Archbishop. Both Cathederals are worth a visit and it was at one time the second most important city in NI. Don't know a lot about the county but Angela will be able to tell you lots more.

As for Belfast - my home town, 10 years ago I would have said don't bother as it doesn't have much to offer the visitor and with road block etc stay away. However in the past 10 years Belfast has gone through a huge transformation. The docks area has been cleaned up and new concerts halls and hotels erected. Boat trips telling the history of the area and a visit to where Belfast's most famous ship 'The Titanic'was build have now been organised. The area around the Cathederal has had it's slums restored and cobbles replaced and new trendy restraurants opened.

I think Belfast is blooming, we still have our grand old buildings intact or refurbished (Queen's University, City Hall to name but a few) and the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens are really very interesting.

I am not a big fan of Black Taxi rides as there as some of them linked to paramilitary activity however there is an open top bus which follows a similar route and it is run by Belfast Counsil.

The greater Belfast Area is also very pleasant - Hilsborough which is the home of the secretary of State for NI and it can be visited in summer months, the North Down Coast and Lisburn has an excellent small museum telling the history of the Linen Industry in NI.

I don't know very much about tradiditional music as it is not my cup of tea and that may be an attraction in Killeagh but apart from there I don't think you will find much of that in NI but I really don't know.

Enjoy your trip to Ireland and if I can help please let me know

cambe is offline  
Jul 16th, 2005, 03:08 PM
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HELEN: Thanks for all the details on a visit to Northern Ireland!

I have a biologist husband, actually. I have posted several questions, as I'm planning a trip for the family to include a look at Ireland's biology, music, people, culture, history...

Since the Portbalintrae village is your favorite I am intrigued, I will look that one up... What do you enjoy when you visit Portbalintrae? I really want to know what YOU enjoy there.

How does one go "potholing" in the caves? I haven't heard of this.

I hope I can get to the Ulster American Folk Park, which might, as you say, give me some insight into the lifestyle of my Irish grandmother and her family.

Some of my grandmother's family worked in Belfast. One or 2 of her brothers worked on building the Titanic. (I like to think they didn't sink it!) I think I would like to visit Belfast and appreciate your suggestions.

I was intrigued when I read about the black cab rides. Can you please explain, though, what you mean when you say that some of them are linked to paramilitary activity? I know what my Irish grandmother would say. She would say that she came to Philadelphia to get away from any violence and oppression, and she would tell me NOT to take my family back into that, but she would be the first to encourage me to take them to see what is beautiful and peaceful in Ireland.

I would like to see the museum about the Linen industry as I think that's how my grandmother's parents met!

I wish I knew my Irish grandmother's favorite places in Ireland. I know she was fond of squirels, trees, the seashore, and tea, and was always darning holes in socks...but that doesn't narrow it down much!
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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Biggest Disappointment? I just had to taste an Ireland brewed Budweiser. Don't bother -- it sucked -- ruined my taste buds. Go for the Guinness or the Smithwichs, and you can't go wrong.
Budman is offline  
Jul 16th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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I think your daughters would love Westport in County Mayo - very compact town in a lovely setting - great pubs [Mat Malloy's from the chieftans, Porterhouse next door, several others within a block] with good music and craic. We stayed at a B&B [Ontario House} that was no more than 5 minute walk, even late at night after a few Smithwick's. Very nice drives from Westport - Achill Island, Connemara, etc. all within an hour or so. Be sure to visit famine memorial below Crough Patrick - go on down the road past the memorial for a great cemetary overlooking the bay.

Most important are the people, and they are terrific everywhere - just enjoy!!!
rogerb is offline  
Jul 16th, 2005, 10:25 PM
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ROGERB: I've heard of Matt Malloy's and a lot of people have enjoyed themselves there. What you mentioned is exactly how I picture enjoying Ireland...being able to stay at a B&B no more than a 5-minute walk from pubs with good music and good craic. Westport sounds nice, I've read about it.

Now, I have a list of so many dozens of interesting towns, I wonder how I'll ever narrow down my choices? But what a lot of great choices!

Good to know that Connemara is also a good day-trip from Westport.

BUDMAN: I trust your taste buds have recovered by now? My youngest daughter, 18, says she likes neither beer or whiskey...Is it illegal to drink anything else in an Irish pub?!

Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 01:49 AM
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Hi Milissa,

Portballintrae is a very small village close to the Giants Causeway and Bushmills. It is a pub/restraurant and very little else except peace and quiet. I stay at a friends apartment overlooking the bay, and read, go for long walks and there are no rowdy drunks at night which can be a problem in places like Portrush.

Here is a link to potholing in Co Fermanagh

The Black Taxis will give you (depending on the driver you get) a baised view of the history of Belfast. Some fund both the IRA and the UDA and are linked to drug dealing.

Do you know if your grandmother's parents were from Armagh or Co Armagh?
Bessbrook is a village in South Armagh and was the first Model Village (Cadburys copied the idea, a fact a lot of Englsh people don't know!!). The Mill was owned by a Quaker family called Richardson and they built a village around the mill to house the workers. This was the only Mill in NI where the raw flax came in at one end and the finished product went out at the other. They employed a lot of people. Sadly the mill is no longer working and now houses the Security Forces but the village is still intact.

If your Belfast relatives worked on the Titanic they would probably have lived in the Short Strand area of Belfast (not a good area at present) or the Newtownards Road as this was the area where the bulk of Shipyard Workers lived, infact nearly everyone who lived in this area worked at Harland & Wolf.

The Lisburn museum is very small but quite informative and there is a film show about what life was like in a mill.

The Ulster Folk Park at Cultra would also be a good place to visit as it has terraces of houses from the Belfast area and you can see what tiny little houses Belfast people lived in and raised their familes in and the scholl house where they were educated. All are original and bulid brick by brick exactly as they would have been in the late 19th century.

Hope this helps
cambe is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 03:20 AM
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Melissa: Your daughters will be fine. Lots of folks drink wine in Ireland. Some pubs have fairly decent selection of Chilean, Austrian, even South African wines, occsionally even a French or California. All of them have at least the small bottles [250cl or 375cl]. Lots of folks also drink vodka, other mixed drinks. Hard drinks are more expensive and the pour is quite small, but you can get most anything you like.
rogerb is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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Just back from 10 days in Ireland. We did a self drive tour and went from Dublin south up the west coast and back through midlands. We stayed in B&B throughout and found them all to be accepatble but some much better than other. We stayed in a great one in Kenmare and did the ring of Kerry, I personally would avoid the Blarney castle and the Guiness Brewery tour typical toursit trap. We found the small towns like Adare and Birr pretty interesting. I would not drive a car in Dublin and avoid Cork if you are a nervous driver.

My wife and I went with my 16 year old daughter. She had a great time.

Our visit had stops in Kilkinney, Youghal, Kinsale, Kenmare, Kilarney Adare and Kinnity and Dublin.

The trip from Kinsale to Kenmare through the mountains was spectacular. That and the ring of Kerry are a must

[email protected] - happy to answer any specifics yoou have
jpoh is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Melissa - Check out this map and see Baltimore at the bottom http://www.mysecureform.com/iismaps/bigmap.jpg
We were there a 4 years back on a bank holiday weekend. It has 1 hotel a few B&B's and 2 pubs...probably still does. It was a really quiet relaxed weekend. We took the ferry to Sherkin Island for the day and had lunch in the ppub and watched a game on TV. It may be a bit quiet thought for the girls. We had our own group to entertain outselves.

I think Westport with Day trips to Connemara may be better for you. Also if the girls do not like beer or spirits tell them to try Bulmers. Its alcoholic apple cider. Like a sparkling apple drink.
SiobhanP is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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Bigges disappointment was twnety minutes standing at the bar in O'Connor's pub in Doolin and my Guiness still never arrived. I know they've started to make an advertising virtue out of the fact that it takes time to pour the perfect pint, but 20 minutes is a wee bit excessive. Highlight was a wlk along a deserted stretch o coast near Doolin, when we headed back inland to rejoin the road we saw a vixen and three cubs playing less than twenty feet away. If you're looking for somehting that's repeatable, the music and Craic in McGann's (Doolin) or the Cliffs of Moher. I liked Galway and didn't like Limerick, though some posters had the opposite view. Being a Scotsman I also enjoyed it when we got an exceptionally good rate for room only in one of the most expensive hotels in Dublin and then they forgot to charge us for breakfast, but you'll understand why I'm not being more specific!
Craigellachie is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 05:40 PM
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HELEN: Thanks for all the information on Northern Ireland! You asked where my Irish grandmother was from. Here is what I know, all this from an older cousin, hopefully it is as accurate as possible.

My older cousin has a copy of a birth certificate, half in Gaelic and half in English, for her mother (my grandmother's sister) showing that she was born in "Tannaghmore W.", probably in County Armagh; birth was registered in the district of "Lurgan No. 2".

Does anybody know, where would that be in the present Ireland, or does it even exist any more?

The family moved to Belfast later. Possibly may have lived in the "holy land" section. Attended a school (Catholic) called Holy Rosary or maybe "Rosario".

2 of my grandmother's brothers worked in the Harlan and Wolf shipyards in Belfast building the Titanic.

Thanks for listening to ancient history!
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 05:58 PM
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JPOH: Thanks for the info! Glad to hear your 16-year-old daughter had a great time as well.

SIOBHANP: I might like to try that alcoholic Apple cider myself as well...Bulmers... thanks for the tip and the other info. I looked up Westport and if we get to County Mayo it sounds perfect.

Craigellachie: Well, if they have to wait 20 minutes for a beer, maybe I should tell my young adult daughters that they have to order beer...that should keep them out of trouble for a while!!!

Craigellachie, since you're a Scotsman, please give me your subjective opinion on the best place to visit in Scotland...in a couple more years I hope to visit Scotland, always wanted to. What I mean is, tell me something that I WON'T FIND in the tourist books!

Craigellachie, one more question...when you said the music and Craic in McGann's, Doolin, is "repeatable", were you recommending it? I assume you meant that I could repeat your happy experience there... Many thanks! By the way you don't have to be a Scotsman to enjoy getting a good deal! (Are you teasing? Are you really a Scotsman?)
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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Well my biggest thrill and biggest disappointment are the same: The Cliffs of Moher.

It was a thrill to see them. Powerful images stuck in my mind.

The disappointment, I was on a canned Insight tour and we had 40 minutes at the cliffs. (Pull the plug on the profanity tank.) I got fussed at for holding up the bus. Had I found public transportation to Ennis where we were lodged for the night in a pitiful hotel, I would have jumped ship right there.

The reason for the haste? We had to get to Ennis in time for a castle dinner.
I bet the guide got a big piece of the pie for delivering about 35 of us to a $5.00 meal and a two bit comic.

Irish food is not very good, but this was under the top.

The 8 waitresses were hired also to sing, which they could do very well. But the violinist kept missing the strings with her bow, and the harpist must have had sore fingers.

It was obvious that in late August they were bored to death with tourists, who are the only people naive enough to go to one of those things. I don't blame the girls for being bored, I was too by that time.

As a treasured moment in Ireland, the holder of the second place position is not a natural sight but a hotel: Hotel Crazy Ass in Tralee.

It got dubbed that for any number of reasons. First, turning on the TV was the cause for inter room communication.
Turn the do funky on the wall first then flip the thing-a-majig.

Second, some of the lamps were on the master electric switch by the door, and some were not. So we played find the switch.

Third, the toilet handle was nowhere in sight. I finally found it in the shower. More interroom vocal communication.

Fourth, at dinner, one lady in my group asked for a second cup of tea. Request denied. A complaint to the tour manager cleared that one up the following night.

Fifth, about 3 AM on the second night, a wedding party at the hotel broke up. Irish custom calls for loud, long goodbyes among the drunken revelers. One of the women in our group was about 6'3" and wrestled sheep for a living. She shouted at the assembled mob in the parking lot to shut the bloody hell up. That touched off a considerable discussion between the hotel windows and the parking lot standees. I don't understand Aussie and Kiwi slang, but some of the terms sounded juicy if not risque.

I did catch enough of it to know that various parts of the anatomy were potentially involved in a manner that I elect not to depict here.

If any one of the parking lot standees had accepted the New Zealand woman's invitation, there would have been a WWF smackdown right there in the hallway.

She was a biiggg girl, and I know that I would not want her getting a headlock on me. Her husband was equally formidable. He was one of 3 other guys who, on the Ring of Kerry, picked up a car and moved it over so the bus could get by.

I guess the 3rd moment came in the hotel in Ennis when the one English chap on the tour asked me to look at the lavatory in his room. It was a fine lavatory, nice and clean with running hot and cold water. There was minor flaw. The drain pipe emptied out onto the floor. He did not know that the first time he pulled the plug.
The trash can might have served as a temporary catch-basin, but it was made of mesh on the sides.

I could not even see a stubbed in pipe to take the water. I guess the cleaning crew had taken the bucket.

bob_brown is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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Waterford - stayed overnight at Ard Ri Hotel in Waterford one night in May 2001. What a kip! (read: dump) Our room was full of missmatched and broken furniture, uncomfortable bed and wasn't all that clean to boot. The neighbors fell into thier bed at about 3am with the TV on loudly enough to even wake my husband and breakfast the next morning was mediocre at best. I found the town of Waterford to be very industrial and we didn't stick around long the next day.

In fact, I've found that most of my hotel stays in Ireland have been disappointments and, for the cost, I will usually take my Euros to guesthouses and B&Bs saving hotel stays for emergency lodging only.

The one exception to this rule was The Park Hotel in Virgina, Co Cavan. One of the best breakfasts I've ever had anywhere!

Doolin: Now I know this is not a popular opinion here on the boards (sorry guys) but I found Doolin to be too contrived. It was full of tourists, certainly more tourists than locals, you couldn't hear the music over the talking or get anywhere near the bar. Granted that this was the height of summer but I didn't enjoy the scene at all. Chock full of younger college age students so I'm sure if you go your daughters will have a blast meeting people from all over world (mainly from Europe) - there were few Irish to be found...

Ross Castle, Mt Nugent, Co Cavan: made reservations (and paid for!) over a month in advance for both the tower rooms only to find that one of them had been given to other guests once we arrived. Plus the new room we were assigned to was dirty with garbage(!) on the floor and dust and bugs all over. The one and only place we have ever refused to stay in in Irelnad. This was back in 2001 so I hope they have cleaned up their act since then - no pun intended!

Best of:

* finding a wee bat behind the door of Aughnanure Castle.
* watching 2 little Irish girls fish for crabs off the pier in Ballyvaughen using rashers, a rock and some string.
* stopping to feed sugar cubes to road side donkeys and horses.

* going out to Skellig Michael last May
* my very first castle I ever visited: Dunguire Castle, Kinvara, Co Galway
* Ceide Fields - loved this place so much that we made a special 4 hour drive just to return to it this past May
* Trim Castle - waited for years for this place to open and finally got to go inside!

* The Burren - best to stay out in the middle of it at least one night rather than just driving through. So peaceful and desolate.
* Co Donegal - beautiful
* Connemara

So many happy memories I really could go on and on but won't.

Geez, now I want to go back...


waffle18 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Sorry; Ard Ri was in 2003.
waffle18 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Hi Mellisa,

I'm intrigued!!

How much do you want to find out about your Grandmother?

Check this link and see if you recognise any names.


The area in question is Lurgan which is in Co Armagh and yes it is still ther. I am not sure of the nearest mill at that time but if you are interested I will find out.

Another web sites on the area

The Holy Land is in the Lower Ormeau area of Belfast and now mostly occupied with students at Queens University.

The Holy Rosary Primary School is still there and now a mixed denomination school (catholic & Protestant)

If you want to know more I will see what I can find out for you.

I love this sort of thing!!

cambe is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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Unless you are into the pub scene forget Dublin. I wasted three days there.

DO NOT go to Blarney Castle/Stone unless you want to have Dumb Tourist tatooed on your lips.

The towns in the south west of Ireland are the best places.
jorr is offline  

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