A Travellerspoint blog

Day 50 Dingle - Old Head Golf Club, Ireland

Thursday 1 September 2016

rain 16 °C

First day of Spring for you guys at home. It should have been the first day of Autumn for Ireland but when you don’t actually have summer, I am not sure they know where they are. Today we woke to cloudy skies and, yes, can you believe it - rain. I believe we have finally experienced Ireland’s true weather. It did not stop raining all day.
Our stay at the Dingle Heights B&B at Dingle was pleasant. The room was clean and spacious and breakfast was nice. The host was a lovely lady. The view was spectacular. We walked off the street yesterday and asked if there was vacancy so at least I won’t be getting those online review requests. Drives me nuts.
Initially we headed for Milltown at the north end of Dingle Bay. Once again we were lead up the garden path. We turned to this road that I thought was the only coast road. It was as wide as the car. After twisting, bouncing and avoiding oncoming traffic we came to an intersection and the main road that we should have been on appeared. You have to laugh. We thought we had the sat nav sorted. Ross has created a new trend – sat nav rage. That’s when you give the stupid thing a good whack! Anyway, there was little of note at Milltown so we pushed on. Our journey today was one I had been looking forward to – the Ring of Kerry. Now we experienced windy and windy roads (that one’s for you Daniel) all day accompanied with rain. When there was an occasional break in the cloud we could see that we were up very high and the view below would have been magical if it had have been fine weather. We could see the water and coastline occasionally. There were young kids riding bikes up these steep winding roads. Apparently that’s what you do – ride a bike around the Ring of Kerry. They were soaking wet. I did not envy them. We made a stop at a café near Kells so that we could have a cup of tea. They had the best scones yet. We tried to take photos from some lookouts but it was in vain.
We arrived at Kenmare, only to find the visitor centre closed on a Thursday and the lace lady was not in her shop. We prepared to drive on when I realised that I was also advised to look at Quill’s shop for woollens and linen but I didn’t find anything. The rain was pouring down so we set off on our journey again. Even though the trip calculator would say 50 kilometres it was taking us double the normal time as the traffic was slow and the roads were very wet. We travelled very close to the ocean at times with only a wall separating the road from the sea. Close to Old Head we could see a section of the road being sprayed with the waves of the ocean. The sea was very rough. We drove through the section. Some parts have sand washed across the bitumen. They call this coastline the Wild Atlantic Coast and it runs from way up north to the south, where ever the shores are washed by this mighty sheet of water. Apparently there are several lows coming from the ocean and hence the rain.
Around 6pm we arrived at our target. Ross has been looking at this place for nearly 12 months. It’s called Old Head Golf Course and it is near the city of Kinsale. The course and hotel is built on an isthmus of land. The hotel is actually built into the headland like a bunker. I guess that would have reduced its impact on the landscape. We had to walk from the car park and it was not pleasant as the wind was blowing and the rain still sprinkling. We booked in and went for dinner. I decided to try an Irish lobster and I wasn’t disappointed. I have tried all their seafood now, all except prawns. Not sure if they have them like ours. Ross is booked in to play golf at 8.30 in the morning but it all depends on the weather.

Posted by gpric6 14:05 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 49 Doonbeg – Dingle, Ireland

Wednesday 31 August 2016

sunny 18 °C

Saying goodbye to the Trump Castle was a bit sad as it is such a beautiful spot. We stocked up on shampoo, conditioner and body wash and were off after a beautiful breakfast looking out at the Atlantic. Our heading was south towards Kilkee to see their cliffs as a guy at the pro shop said they were better than Moher. They looked pretty good but it was raining and we had a big trip ahead of us so no walk here.
Suri thought we should take a ferry today so we turned that option off and we headed back up towards Ennis and for the third time, roared down that freeway this time exiting at Limerick. I had hoped to have a look at the town centre here but after fuelling up, we missed the turn so we headed out. We were meant to go south towards Tralee but Suri took us west, the coastal route. I realised too late as to what she had us doing. It turned out better as we made a detour and Ross got to see Ballybunnion Golf Course on the west coast. Our course was set for Tralee Golf Course and we wondered why the sat nav kept trying to take us westward. It turned out that Tralee Golf Course was actually quite a way north west of the city of Tralee – a beautiful spot indeed. We grabbed a cup of tea and scone there and headed off for Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula.
Thank goodness we have a map. We were being directed to take the middle track down to Dingle but I over-road this decision. I had no idea of what we would see but we knew we had to cross the mountains. The sign said Conor Pass. We were in for a treat. The pass is 1500 feet high and gets to a single lane near the steepest section. We noticed a heap of cars stopped so we pulled over too. It looked like a pile of rocks but it was actually where a glacier once sat, leaving a lake. I looked up and people were climbing up so I suggested we try. As I say, mind is willing, body not able but being determined, I made it up to see the lake. It was worth the effort. The hard part was getting down without killing ourselves but we managed.
Once we reached the top of the pass, it was a quick drive to the other side and we were in Dingle, a lovely little town. We drove around and looked at an assortment of B&Bs and finally settled on one. We had dinner at what is supposed to be the oldest pub in town. Tonight I tried crab claws and Ross tried a local fish, Tarbert, both of which were delicious but not as good as ours in Queensland.

Posted by gpric6 15:05 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 48 Bunratty - Doonbeg, Ireland

Tuesday 30 August 2016

all seasons in one day 21 °C

Something that makes me happy in Ireland is sunshine. That’s what we woke to after our late night in Bunratty. We checked out the wool shop near the hotel and then headed back up that freeway again to Ennis and its three roundabout. Roundabout – now that is another story in Great Britain and Ireland. Our intention was to return to the Cliffs of Moher to see what the weather was like. As we drove away yesterday, we noticed a parking sign about 200 metres south of the visitor’s centre. Ross also saw a sign that said parking for walking track to cliffs. We took the turn and went along this goat track, weaving between farm fences but following the parking sign as we went. What we found was a family that has set up parking in their year. They charge €2 and you walk to the cliffs so we thought we would give it a go.
The walk headed uphill, a southern approach to the cliffs. The cows sat chewing their cud in the fields on one side of the track. They were a strange looking animal with short legs and very stocky feet. The farmers have set up fences and stone steps for gateways to guide the visitors. Finally, we reached the top of the fields and we weren’t disappointed. We were actually looking in the reverse direction to what we saw yesterday afternoon but in this area, there are no protective fences and when you are nearly 700 feet above the water, it was a little unnerving. You can see the shale rock ready to crack away. They use the rock to build their fences. Ross is quite comfy on the edge but I am not so brave. We walked around three of the headlands to what we thought was roughly half way, maybe four kilometres from where the car was parked. If we had have had time, we could have walked all the way to the visitor’s centre but we had an appointment. On our way back out of the goat track, we found our route blocked. A semitrailer had come up one of these very narrow lanes and had jammed himself as he attempted to take his rig around the corner - craziness. I thought for a moment that we were stuck, but there was another road out. It turned out to be the road that Ross saw the sign for briefly this morning. We were not sure how the truckie would get on but when we left they had a tractor trying to pull him back. What a mess.
After the disappointment of Ross not being able to play golf on some of the golf courses we had seen due to it being the weekend, I rang from Bunratty to see if he could get a tee time at Trump International Golf Course at Doonbeg, another links course. He managed to get a start at 4.10pm - twilight golf – and we had a room for the night. Our room was not ready when we arrived so we grabbed a bite to eat and headed for the tee. It was a fantastic outing for the first six holes. Unfortunately, it started to rain. Being the official photographer, I wrestled with my umbrella just to try to keep telling the story. The back of my pants were all wet as we had left the ponchos in the other bag. It cleared for a bit and then the clouds built again and by this time, we were heading back towards the hotel. This meant that the front of my pants were now saturated and the water was running into my shoes. “Molly the Brolly” was not fairing so well in the wind. The group ahead of us was soooo slow once again and it was so frustrating having to wait for them being so wet and cold. Now I had the umbrella of sorts but Ross was totally saturated from head to foot and his club was slipping when he tried to hit. By the time we reached the eighteenth hole, the wheels had fallen off – ball ended up in the long grass – and Ross didn’t even get to putt on the last hole. We did get to watch a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean though. You’ve got to love this game called golf!
We had a lovely meal in the bistro bar. I had the best seafood chowder I have ever tasted. Ross’ rack of lamb was yum as well. Our room was beautiful – the toilet flushed, the shower worked and the bed was soft and comfy.

Posted by gpric6 14:28 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 47 Donegal – Bunratty, Ireland

Monday 29 August 2016

all seasons in one day 19 °C

Our stay in Donegal was uneventful and we were off as soon as we could with the sun shining brightly. We were told that the drive to Galway was a big one – 3 to 4 hours. They would have a fit to know that we actually went as far as Bunratty. It was fortunate that I checked my notes from Jayne and checked where Bunratty was as she had told me about the medieval dinner. Once we were on route it was time to call the Bunratty Castle Hotel, not a castle as such but next door to a castle. We checked availability for the dinner and all was good so the decision was made to make Bunratty our destination.
We headed east to Enniskillen, hoping that it would be a scenic drive but there was little to see. We did find the Enniskillen Castle but did not go into the museum, just scouted around the exterior and took a photo of what was left of the old castle. My intention was to go into Sligo but we detoured to the south and headed straight for Galway where it was raining. We parked in the central parking area and wandered over to the main shopping centre to have a cup of tea. They were out of scones so we had rhubarb pie and apple pie – very healthy. While eating, the sun broke through so I urged Ross to get going as I thought we should try to go by the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Bunratty. We had booked the dinner show for 8.45pm so we had time. Never waste an opportunity!!
The drive west to the cliffs was interesting. We wondered what all these rocks were on the hills. Once I checked on the map, it showed this area as The Burren. Further investigation on Google said the it was a ‘karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites.’ There are many roads leading to the area at various points. It was still raining so we thought that there would be little hope of seeing the cliffs. However, as we drew closer, the rain stopped and the heavy cloud was lifting. It was around 6pm by the time we arrived at the visitors centre and we paid €8 to park the car – that is the senior rate! I have never seen a pedestrian crossing going across the main highway but that is what happens there if you use the visitor’s centre. We climbed the steps to the various vantage points and were astonished at the beauty. It was not totally clear but we could see the cliffs clearly close to us. We were pretty happy – better than nothing at all.
Back in the car, it was pedal to the metal to get to Bunratty. We actually had a chance to drive on a freeway and Ross enjoyed hitting 120 km/hr. We checked in, showered and walked to the castle in time for the dinner and show. As promised, the actors were dressed in medieval garb. A harp and a fiddle played while we sipped our honey mead. We were told the true meaning of ‘honeymoon’. Dinner had to be eaten with a dagger (knife) and our fingers. First course was soup, (yes, sipped from the bowl) followed by spare ribs and then chicken and vegetables. We had a plentiful supply of red and white wine and the meal concluded with a tasty dessert. The last half hour was for entertainment. The group sang lots of great ballads and Irish songs. The acoustics of the castle were amazing as were the voices of the singers. We had a lovely night but it was a late for us after such a big day.

Posted by gpric6 13:46 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 46 A Day in Derry/Londonderry – Donegall

Sunday 28 August 2016

sunny 20 °C

Day 46
A Day in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland – Donegal, Ireland

Fire alarms in bedrooms – are they a good thing? Yes, they are in case of fire. However, when they start beeping every 30 seconds at 2am they are not very likeable. That was the story of our sleep at Burnfoot. At breakfast, we told our host what had happened. We were not game to remove it so Ross put ear plugs in and I slept on my side with the opposite finger in my ear! The husband was not happy when his wife told him about it and he stormed out to our room. He didn’t speak as Ross spoke to him but the host said to us that he was deaf. Anyway, it was a pity that this happened as it was a lovely place with a beautiful view. Our host offered to reduce our board but that wasn’t going to fix it. She was very lovely.
We left feeling a little ragged around the edges, not really knowing what we were going to do for the day. Geraldine had told us about a fort on top of a hill which we could see from her house - Grianan of Aileach. I wrote down what I thought would be sufficient instructions to find it but needed a little more guidance. Sat Nav was useless. So we put another place into the sat nav. We arrived at this place and it looked quite large. I thought it was a place we had put into the system but Ross realised that it must be Derry. I had had thoughts of visiting here but there was no accommodation and then I thought it was going to be too hard trying to find parking in the day. Well, as it turned out, most of the parking places were shut but it was lucky that we started to head south again and spotted the Information Centre and it was open with a Hop-on bus parked outside. The young girl told me the cost and where it went and she also told me about the Bogside Tour. Now this was the type of tour I had wanted to do in Belfast to get an idea of the history of Ireland’s battles that I saw in the news as a young person. It was just a matter of parking the car.
The instructions were to meet a chap at the Guild Hall, a lovely building near the Peace Bridge. We were able to walk through the Guild Hall and the chap there pointed out a coat of arms for Australia in the coloured glass windows. This Guild Hall has had a torrid life having been burned down, rebuilt, bombed and refurbished in the last decade. There is a beautiful marble statue of Queen Victoria inside and she is missing her hands. Apparently the IRA put a bomb inside the door one day and she was thrown quite some distance. Her husband also looked a bit battered as he experienced the bombing as well.
Finally, we met Paul outside as instructed. He had quite a large group to talk on his walking tour. Initially he took us inside the Guild Hall and he spoke to us as to why he does this tour and the background to the story from his perspective. His motivation for doing these tours is that his father, Patrick Doherty, was killed on Bloody Sunday, Sunday 30 January, 1972. His dad was 31 years old and left a wife and six children behind. As he grew up he saw many things happening and he has fought for a clearer understanding of the events of that day and justice in the courts. He took us to what is referred to as the Bogside and pointed out where the atrocities took place. He also showed us the murals that have been painted to tell the story. He told us that his brother had done five years in jail and someone asked him why he had. He told them that it was shop lifting – lifting houses 20 feet into the air! His mother found the sleeves of his coat cut off when he was seventeen. Apparently they cut these off to use as balaclavas. Anyway he spoke really fast and told many stories and we really had to concentrate to follow what he was saying. It was his side of the story but it seemed very real and helped us understand what all that horror and bloodshed was for on our television sets years ago and their fight for civil rights.
Derry was a walled city. We walked the entire distance around the old town walls, that are still intact, looking at all the eight bastions that still exist. We could also look over Bogside and we located the murals from a higher perspective. With the sun shining brightly, it was ever so pleasant out walking. Ross thought that the jail was across the Peace Bridge so we went across but it was something to do with the navy. The Peace Bridge is certainly a very innovative piece of architecture.
After a scone and tea, we were back on the road on route to Donegal. We had great difficulty locating our accommodation as it would not come up on the sat nav. Cheryl and Bruce stayed here last year so we thought we would try it as well. What a beautiful spot. The male host made us a cup of tea and we had some biscuits before we headed back into town to check out the Donegal Castle. There was a fair happening so the city was extremely busy. After walking around we chose a restaurant. We had local oysters and mussels and they were delicious. We also had Irish stew which was nice too.

Posted by gpric6 13:19 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

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