Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Complete Ireland trip - 2000

Heavy winds up to 60 mph

October 27, 2000-November 9, 2000

October 27

Diane and Bill picked us up at 2 pm and we drove to Annapolis. We hadn’t been down for quite awhile and even Hoover has grown. Sue had a wonderful supper for us and drove us to the airport at 7:30 p.m. It was 70 degrees today and gorgeous. The plane was an hour late due to a clerical work stoppage at Air Lingers but the flight was smooth as silk in a French Airbus arriving before the expected time due to 160-mile tail wind.

Going through customs was fast and easy and we were out in the pouring rain in our rental cars very quickly. It is cold and bleak and we are adjusting to driving on the left. The Fearens fallowed us to Dromoland Castle where we stopped for coffee and scones. It is very old world – tapestry and suits of armor – gorgeous displays of fresh flowers and fine linen service where we were served. Then we drove to Ennis, through Connolly to the coastal drive North to Doolin. A funky little town on a blustery sea at the Cliffs of Moher. The wind is over 60 mph and we could barely walk to the door of our Hotel Aran View. It is a good stop and we can see the Aran Isles from our window. Diane and Bill are in the honeymoon suite. Cocktails at 5 after an hours nap. We are t-i-r-e-d!! Off to O’Connor’s Pub for dinner and some fine traditional Irish music. The place is jammed and we sit next to a couple on their honeymoon from North Carolina. There was a recorder, a clarinet, a guitar and a fiddle. Back and early to bed. A fine first day.

Sunday, October 29

We started our day (after a great breakfast in our hotel, The Aran House, in Doolin) by going to Mass at a church we thought was St. Catherine’s, however it had another name. Mass was fast – church was cold and no music at all. I suspect the priest was rushing due to the cold, as he mentioned several times that it was the first day of winter. We went to the Cliffs of Moher from there and what a spectacular view of the cliffs from O’Brien’s tower. The wind nearly blew us all in the ocean and it blew the ocean in our faces. We then drove to Kilfenora where we saw films about the Burren and had lunch at a lovely teashop. On to Ballyvaughan through the Burren. After having the lecture at the Burren Center, we were able to appreciate the ecological process at the Burren and understand about the Tullochs or lakes that form after heavy rains. It is very interesting. The stonewalls are so much a part of Ireland.

Ballyvaughan to Kinvara where we visited a Tea and Bar Shop on the harbor. It is a lovely town and I wish we had time to visit the shops, but time is getting late and we wanted to find the Killeen House before dark. This is a beautiful house on 25 acres. Beautiful grounds and gardens surround it. The rooms are exquisite – beautifully decorated with antiques. Our room has two comfortable armchairs by a fireplace and two queen-sized beds dressed in peach linen. It looks so comfortable we can’t wait to go to bed. The bathroom has a étagère with a collection of antique chamber pots. We will be here two nights.

Monday, October 30

John and I are still recovering from jet lag as we overslept for the 2nd day in a row. Breakfast was quite elegant – linen service, large silver compote filled with fresh fruit centerpiece and every serving bowl was sterling silver antiques – sugar bowls, cream pitchers, tea and coffee pots, small trays for marmalade, hot plates. Fabulous breakfast from extensive menu to start our day. By ten we left for Galway – another rainy, windy, cold day. We took the city bus tour. It is not an attractive city, but is growing faster than any European city. Since 1995 it has grown from 23,000 to 75,000. The tour took us to Salt Hill and Spanish Arch – nothing very impressive to keep us in town so we drove to Oughterard, which is a cute, small town for lunch. Most shops were closed due to the Bank Holiday. We had smoke vegetable soup for lunch – 3rd day in a row. It is delicious – a puree like the others, each with their own special flavorings. We drove down a lane to Loch Corrib – about 7 miles. Beautiful views of the lake and between rain storms tried to get some pictures. Back to Killeen House and our cocktail hour before going to Kellehan’s Pub for a fantastic dinner. None of us were able to finish our dinner. Seven vegetables surrounded by three larger slices of pork – an immense serving and delicious. Back to bed and a good night’s rest in this wonderful bed.

Tuesday, October 31

Before our 8:30 breakfast, John and I walked in the garden. The path took us down to Lake Corrib where swans made a picture on a frosty morning. We see some sun but know it won’t last. Rain came soon enough as we drove to Clifden. We had a little shopping time before lunch and I bought a scarf for someone. Then on to Renoyle and Tully to call on Nonie Nue. I reached her on the phone, but she was in bed and wasn’t up to visitors. Her remark was “And what would you be doing here in November anyway?” On to Kylemore Abbey and a rush to beat nightfall as we crossed the Partry Mountains to Tourmaheady. John hit a bridge abutment knocking out our front left tire and we left the car on the road until morning. Fortunately, only a mile from Annagh View. Bruge and Patrick welcomed us and had supper for us – then a trip to Maura Lukes for a nightcap. Tired. A long day and very stressful after our accident.

Wednesday, November 1

Awake to a fabulous Irish breakfast and unknown to us, Patrick went out to our car and changed our tire for us. He is such a super guy. We had a tour of the hostel and the rental cottage where mom was born. Paul and Alissa were staying there as they were home for a wedding. We visited Sarah. Her house is beautiful and she invited us for dinner. Then off to Castlebar, where the tire was replaced and then to Westport for a little shopping. That is a great town. We drove by the Quay, which is quite upscale with shops and restaurants before returning for an early rest and to catch our breath. Tomorrow we separate from Diane and Bill as they go south and we go north to Donegal. We’ll meet again in Shangarry at the Ballymaloe House. Sarah’s boys are wonderful. Fugal keeps smiling and Cogall is more serious. Still can’t get over our white-knuckle trip from Leenane over the mountains in the dark. We were invited to Sarah’s for dinner and it was excellent. Our first course was salad: smoked salmon and shrimp salad. Then a beautifully seasoned vegetable soup pureed and garnished with sour or sweet cream. Then a lamb dinner: roasted, sliced lamb, beets, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Then a dessert of bread pudding with vanilla ice cream. We are too full to move – about twice as much as we needed. Sarah and her family are charming. The boys are well mannered and helpful. Serving at the table so competently that you know it is something they do all the time.

Thursday, November 2

We said goodbye to Bill and Diane, then Bruge and Padraig after a few pictures, and Marion also. They were so hospitable to us and our friends. John and I visited the cemetery to see Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dan’s graves. There are so many Heneghans in the graveyard – maybe some related. St. Mary’s Church was locked and the graveyard there is also full of Heneghans. We drove to Foxford Mills and took the tour. It was worthwhile and shows Ireland in 1891 – what a sad place at that time. I bought a couple of throws – they are so gorgeous I couldn’t resist. Then we drove to Strandhill on the outskirts of Sligo. The beach is magnificent and the hotel, Ocean View, is excellent. We’ll head up to Donegal tomorrow.

Met a young couple at dinner – schoolmate of Stuart Knade at Gettysburg. Jeff Cuddback, Kim Watson and two children.

Friday, November 3

Had a great room and breakfast at Ocean View Hotel in Strandhill. Met couple from Gettysburg again at breakfast. They now live in Orlando, Florida. We drove through Yeats country up to Donegal. The views along the ocean are beautiful, however, once you leave Donegal and head North to Glencolumkill, the cliffs and ocean views are incredible. Crashing waves against huge cliffs and giant rocks. The road is narrow and it is a white-knuckle ride. Upon arriving we discovered the hotel is out in the mountains and electricity has been shut off until 4 p.m. We haven’t had lunch – everything is closed except a dirty-looking pub called Biddys. We went to the grocers and picked up some apple tarts and went to the pub because it had a warm fire in the grate. The whole town was there trying to get warm.

Our hotel is freezing but the heat did go on at 4, but at 8:30 p.m. it is still cold. We had a wonderful dinner in the pub: Chicken stir-fry. There is a large group (40) of scuba divers here to dive tomorrow in the ocean. They say it is not cold because of the jet stream, but it must be as the air is very cold. We’re leaving before breakfast in the morning to get far south before nightfall. We met loads of young people in the bar from Belfast here to scuba dive.

Saturday, November 4

We left Glencolumkille at 7:20 to get a head start on our 200-mile drive South. We are happy to leave. The room warmed up, but there isn’t any hot water for a shower this morning. This is in the middle of nowhere and you have a cliff drive to get in and out of this hotel. The views of the ocean are spellbinding and incredible. That is the only thing worth our drive all these hours to get here. The time of year is not the best as everything is closed. I will never forget the giant jagged rocks with the surf raging against them and the cliffs. There is so much foam produced, John thought it was snow in the water. We made good time but even at that it took twice as long as you would at home. We went 233 miles in ten hours. Stopped in Adare, a darling town, found a nice B&B and we had an hour for shopping. I bought my souvenir – a pink cashmere turtleneck from Scotland. Not hungry after a day of driving, but had a light supper at Woodlands House and Hotel. Their pub is well known for good food. Stayed at Cartsland B&B in Adare – very nice.

Sunday, November 5

Breakfast at 8 o’clock was a bit lighter fare as we begged off the Irish Breakfast of 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. We drove south toward Cork, stopping in Charleville at Holy Ghost Parish for 10 o’clock Mass. The churches don’t have early Masses. The church was cold and mass lasted 30 minutes. It is pouring so hard, the front steps of the church look like a waterfall. We headed for Kinsale but were lost and ended up in Shanagarry, which was fine as it gave us time to visit Stephen Pierce and buy a piece of pottery, and visit Ballycotton and the little fishing pier. Ocean, ocean, everywhere. Then back to Ballymaloe House, which is lovely. We have a gorgeous room called New West Wing – part sitting room. The dinner on Sunday night is a buffet, which is a little disappointing after hearing of their wonderful meals. It was all cold – great selection, but you can only eat so much. Choice of pork, ham, goose, turkey, ox tongue, roast beef. Off to bed by ten – inviting King-sized, 6 pillows, 3 gorgeous Irish blankets. We do love the Irish beds – the blankets are gorgeous everywhere. Wake on Monday and the shower was luke warm. They explained that the terrible wind kept blowing out their perpetual fire they use to burn rubbish, and heat the house and water. The smell of the incinerator is terrible as the smoke is blown in all directions. It is a lovely house, but I would not recommend it as it is overpriced for what we got. Overrated definitely.

Monday, November 6

Diane has a bug so there were three of us for breakfast. It was fine, but nothing unusual. All the breakfasts have been excellent. We drove to Middleton and took the distillery tour, telling the story of Jameson’s Irish whiskey. It was very interesting and we nearly froze, as the old buildings are not heated. Following the tour, each person had a shot of whiskey, which they needed. Then we drove to Waterford where we toured the Waterford Crystal Plant. We enjoyed that and realize why the crystal is so expensive. We had lunch at the reception Center and by the time the tour was over, it was 4 o’clock and time to find out B&B: Sion Hill Guest House. It is an old Victorian home overlooking the harbor and the city. The view from our room is quite lovely.

Tuesday, November 7

We are very aware that today is Election Day and we will miss all the excitement of watching returns. Tomorrow morning, November 8, when we wake up at 7 a.m., it will be 2 a.m. in the USA and we’ll get the results. The sentiment here, due mostly to a liberal press, is in favor of Gore. The papers are more like tabloids in covering the candidates and people hate to see Clinton leave, because his presidential term was so titillating. We left after a huge Irish breakfast at the Sion hill Guest House and drove to Kilkenny. Thank goodness we didn’t hit any flooded roads. We visited Dunnes Dept Store and took a walking tour of the town. It was a medieval city enclosed by walls, and its history is very interesting. We took a tour of Kilkenny Castle, which is fabulous. It has been completely restored – carpets and lots of furnishings and wallpapers ­– very beautiful. I bought the newest CD for Sarah, Carrie and Lauren of WestLife, the craze here in Ireland right now. Our B&B is Killarney House – very nice, modern, not ancient.

Wednesday, November 8

The American election has everyone on edge. It is not conclusive yet and Florida is having a recount. It is tough to be here because everyone favors the democrats due to a liberal press much bolder and opinionated than our press. We took the dart into Dublin after driving up from Kilkenny and spending one and a half hours trying to find our hotel. The hotel maps were terrible and they are in an offbeat location at Kennelly Beach. We visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. We still can’t understand where the gospels came from to be written in these books – from word of mouth or previous writings. The long room full of manuscripts is very impressive. We took the Dart home after a nice dinner and it is right across from our hotel. We plan to go to Dublin again tomorrow to take the bus tour.

Thursday, November 9

Last day in Dublin – early breakfast and off we go on the Dart. First stop is the bus tour of Dublin, which gave us an overview. We had a great tour director – funny. She had a story to go with every point of interest. There are many Catholics in Ireland. 96 % of the population is Catholic and yet they are diminishing in church attendance, and some churches are being closed because they don’t have enough priests. Also, people are surprised they overwhelmingly would support gore for President of the U.S.A. due to a very liberal press, but he is pro abortion and this is a Catholic Country, and life is sacred to Catholics. I don’t understand it. The two churches we visited were Anglican: St. Patrick’s and Christ Church, both built very early. Christ Church by Vikings in c1030 and St. Patrick’s by the Normans in 1191. St. Patrick baptized converts in a well on contiguous land, a park alongside the cathedral. Jonathan Swift was Dean from 1713-45. Both churches were Catholic until 1530 when King Henry VIII broke from the church because he wanted a divorce.

We did a little shopping and returned early as I am very tired and we travel home tomorrow.

Tully Cross

Kay, John, Diane, Bill

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