Over the Irish Sea

 

Templeboy

28 May

Just for a change, it was cold, grey and wet today but as it was a travel day, it didn’t matter too much. I caught the train from Lydney to Bristol Temple Meads, the bus to Bristol Airport and then the Ryanair flight to Knock, where I arrived at 4.15pm. There was, of course, a fair bit of waiting around to do, particularly at the Severn Tunnel Junction station, where I had to change trains, and then at the airport, but as I had plenty to read it wasn’t a problem.

Road by the lake
Road by the lake

At the Severn Tunnel, there wasn’t really a waiting room, just a few covered seats on the platform, so it was a bit chilly. The girl sitting next to me wrapped herself in a blanket that she conjured out of one of her many bags, so she was well prepared, unlike me.

Peat bogs and wind farm
Peat bogs and wind farm
View towards the sea
View towards the sea
Derelict building
Derelict building
Irish countryside
Irish countryside

My sister, Rose, and her son, Finn,  were waiting for me at Knock, as was the blue sky and sun and we had a beautiful drive to their home along the narrow lanes of the Irish countryside.

Russ and the dogs came to greet us when we arrived and we spent a very relaxed evening. It didn’t get dark until after 11pm which is quite disruptive to the body clock!

Shaggy mountain sheep
Shaggy mountain sheep
View from Russ and Rose's garden
View from Russ and Rose’s garden

Templeboy

29 May

Street in Ballina
Street in Ballina
Sculpture in Ballina
Sculpture in Ballina

The sun was shining brightly this morning when Russ went fishing for the day and Rose, Finn and I drove into Ballina to do some shopping. We were out for a couple of hours and then had an exceptionally lazy afternoon, chatting and reading.

Templeboy

30 May

Unbelievably, there was yet another blue sky when I woke up this morning.

Morning view from my bedroom
Morning view from my bedroom
The neighbour's garden
The neighbour’s garden

As Rose was out all day today, I spent all morning talking to Russ about everything from poetry to drugs and then we walked down to a neighbour’s house, with Minnie, one of the dogs, to go and water her plants. By this time, the wind was quite cool but the sun still shining. There are some beautiful views across the fields towards the sea from their lane and it was a beautiful day.

View down the lane
View down the lane

Ballyvaughan

31 May

Road to Knock
Road to Knock
Windmills
Windmills

The day dawned not quite so bright and beautiful but at least it wasn’t raining! Rose and I set off just after 9am for the drive to Ballyvaughan, which was about 2 – 3 hours away. We headed along the bog road towards Knock and then joined the main road as far as Galway before turning off to travel to the coast and Kinvara and Ballyvaughan.

We stopped at Kinvara for a coffee and a quick look at the town and then ate our sandwiches on a seat by the harbour. By this time, it was quite grey and a bit chilly, but still not raining!

Kinvara
Kinvara
Burren Herb Garden
Burren Herb Garden
Pubs in Kinvara
Pubs in Kinvara

We then decided that we would go to the Burren Perfumery, which is somewhere Rose had wanted to visit for years, on the way to Ballyvaughan. This involved quite a twisty drive through some narrow lanes in The Burren and we would never have found it without the directions and sign posts. It was certainly a little off the beaten track! Once there, however, it was very peaceful and quite delightful (and not too crowded, given that it was a Bank Holiday).

Burren Perfumery Herb Garden
Burren Perfumery Herb Garden
Poppy at the Herb Garden
Poppy at the Herb Garden

We had a walk around the garden and then sampled everything in the perfumery shop, without actually buying anything. After that, a cup of tea and piece of cake was required before we headed off again towards Ballyvaughan. (We did wonder what beat the Guarda were on that they could enjoy afternoon tea at the Perfumery. It must have been a quiet afternoon!)

Tea at the Herb Garden
Afternoon tea at the Herb Garden

We arrived at the B&B, which was a little way out of the village, at about 4.30pm and, after we had checked in, decided to go for a walk.

View across from the B & B in Ballyvaughan
View across from the B & B in Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan
On the Woodland loop in Ballyvaughan
On the Woodland loop in Ballyvaughan

Our hostess advised us that the Woodland Loop would take about an hour and was a good walk, so we drove back into Ballyvaughan, left the car and set off.

Two hours later we were wondering whether we were just very slow walkers or she had meant it took an hour to run the track! However, apart from being unprepared for a hike (who takes their handbag on a hike?!), it was very enjoyable, with a perfect temperature, blue skies and beautiful scenery.

Stone wall at the Burren
Stone wall at the Burren
Flowers at the Burren
Flowers at the Burren

Once back in Ballyvaughan, we stopped at the Hyland pub for dinner, where we both had a balanced diet of soup and chips, (seafood chowder for me and leek and potato for Rose) before returning to our room for wine and reading before bed.

The Burren
The Burren on the Woodland Loop

Ballyvaughan

1 June

Sign outside a pub in Ballyvaughan
Sign outside a pub in Ballyvaughan
The road to Fanore Beach
The road to Fanore Beach

The sky was looking a little ominous this morning when we awoke. After a hearty breakfast (full Irish breakfast for me and tepid pancakes for Rose), we drove into Ballyvaughan and had a look at the craft fair, which was small and, not surprisingly, totally tourist orientated. The town seems to be full of B&Bs and there are tour buses going through almost continuously. We also checked out the cake stall in the pub, bought a couple of slices of carrot cake for later, and then continued on to drive around the coast towards Fanore Beach.

On the road to Fanore Beach
On the road to Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach
Surf life guard - a bright spot amongst the grey
Surf life guard – a bright spot amongst the grey

The road was very narrow, twisty and busy and the landscape became bleaker and bleaker and greyer and greyer as we approached Fanore. We parked at the beach and had a lovely stroll along the sand/rocks and even though the weather wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, beach weather, there were a number of people walking along, as well as a few hardy souls in the water. The coast apparently is very good for surfing but the surf certainly looked a bit messy today.

Dunes at Fanore Beach
Dunes at Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach
Mobile home at the beach
Mobile home at the beach

We were there for quite a while and then continued our drive along the coast towards the Cliffs of Moher. By this time, despite the large breakfast, we decided it was at least time for coffee, if not lunch, so we were lured in by several signs along the way for the Stonecutter’s Cottage. This proved to be an excellent choice and we both had soup in a very cosy cottage (funnily enough) with extremely helpful and friendly staff.

Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach
Stonecutter's cafe
Stonecutter’s cafe

Next stop was the Cliffs of Moher. Here, there was a large charge to walk along the cliffs, which we were reluctant to pay, as well as a lot of people, so drove a little further on and then followed a car that had turned off down a lane towards the sea. Amazingly, at the end of this (several kilometres of even narrower, twisty road), an enterprising Irishman had turned his front garden into a car park for which he was charging 2 euros, as opposed to the 6 per person in the official car park, so that is where we parked.

We then walked up to the Cliffs of Moher coastal walk, which is a track that passes right the way along the top of the cliffs. The car park was full so obviously a large number of people knew about it even though there were no signs off the main road.

View from the Coastal Track
View from the Coastal Track
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

By the time we started the walk, the sky was looking very black and it was obviously raining in the distance. However, it was good to walk and actually see the cliffs (just) without being with the coach loads of tourists at the other end of the track. We walked along for about 45 minutes but when the rain started in earnest we turned around and came back. Despite having jackets on, we were both fairly wet by the time we got back to the car. As it was then about 5pm, we drove straight back to the B&B to find some dry clothes.

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Track
Cliffs of Moher Coastal Track
Cliffs of Moher in the rain
Cliffs of Moher in the rain

Our hostess had told us of a jazz and barbecue evening in one of the local pubs and we intended to go to that. However, when we arrived, it was in an open courtyard, the place was packed with people and the band was most certainly not playing jazz, (Dire Straits and the ‘Sultans of Swing’ not being my definition of jazz), so we went to the same pub as the previous night, where it was warm and the food was good. After that, it was back to the room, like the boring ladies we have become, for wine and a good book.

Gloomy Cliffs of Moher
Gloomy Cliffs of Moher

Ballyvaughan

2 June

The morning dawned nice and grey. After another very large breakfast, we drove along the archaeological trail up to the limestone plateau of the Burren and made our first stop of the day at the Portal tomb at Poulnabrone.

Karst Limestone plateau at The Burren
Karst Limestone plateau at The Burren
Rocks at The Burren
Rocks at The Burren
Limestone rock at The Burren
Limestone rock at The Burren

We rushed ahead of the coach party that arrived at the same time and had a wander around the extraordinary landscape. The tomb itself dated from about 3000 BC and it was amazing how the plants grew is such a barren place.

Fossil on the rock at Poulnabrone
Fossil on the rock at Poulnabrone
Poulnabrone Tomb at The Burren
Poulnabrone Tomb at The Burren
Flower growing on the rocks at The Burren
Flower growing on the rocks at The Burren
Raindrops on a spider web
Raindrops on a spider web
Portal tomb at The Burren
Portal tomb at The Burren

After this, we went back to the Perfumery and tried a few more products before making the big decision about what to buy. We had to have coffee and cake to assist!

Tea table at The Perfumery
Tea table at The Perfumery
Dry stone wall at The Burren
Dry stone wall at The Burren

After making major purchases, we meandered along the road a little further until we reached the Hazelnut Chocolate place that we had seen signposted. This was a bit more disappointing as there was little to see, the chocolate was very expensive and, even more importantly, there were no samples to try, so we didn’t stay very long.

Beach at Flaggy Shore
Beach at Flaggy Shore

We continued our drive along the road until we reached the coast and then took a detour off the main road to Flaggy Shore. Here, we checked out an art gallery and the beach, which looked too bleak and hard to walk along, so we drove around the estuary and rejoined the main road heading back towards Ballyvaughan.

Our walk today took us along the beach at Bishops Quarter, which had a lot of rocks, low tide and also looked quite bleak, the weather still being a bit on the grey side. However, we both enjoyed the stroll in the fresh sea air.

Rocks and seaweed on Bishops Quarter beach
Rocks and seaweed on Bishops Quarter beach
Bishops Quarter beach
Bishops Quarter beach

We arrived back at the B&B at about 5pm and had an hour or so to relax before going out to dinner, which we intended to have at an Italian restaurant which had an early bird menu. The food was very good and we felt extremely full afterwards but, somehow, somewhere during the course of the evening, we were subtly manipulated onto the main menu by the restaurant staff, the result being that the bill was much more than we anticipated. This left rather a bad taste (no pun intended) for both of us.

Templeboy

3 June

Rusty sculpture in Galway
Rusty sculpture in Galway

An interesting house in Galway!
An interesting house in Galway!

As is the way, now that we were leaving, the weather was much brighter today. After our last large breakfast, we packed up and headed towards Galway and home. The countryside certainly looked a lot more attractive and less bleak with some blue sky and sun.

Tea shop in Galway
Tea shop in Galway

We drove back along the coast to Kinvara and then joined the main road into Galway, where we decided to stop for an hour or so to have a wander around. The hour or so turned into 3 somehow, as we walked through the pedestrianised centre, with its many buskers, had a hot chocolate and then strolled along the waterfront to the marina. Naturally, there were one or two shops investigated along the way, as well!

Street in Galway
Street in Galway

By the time we returned to the car, it was about 2.30pm and so we just managed to avoid the school traffic. Apparently, the roads are always congested at peak times, so it would have taken a lot more time and patience if we had got the timing wrong.

The river in Galway
The river in Galway
By the river in Galway
By the river in Galway
The marina in Galway
The marina in Galway
Street in Galway
Street in Galway
Looks like a Wedgewood plate!
Looks like a Wedgewood plate!

We made one stop at a supermarket and arrived home at about 5pm by which time we were back to grey clouds and, coming over the bog, some very torrential rain. We had spotted the very large black cloud from quite a distance away, (it was difficult to miss!) so were not surprised at the deluge.

Galway or Costa Rica?
Galway or Costa Rica?

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