Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 25, 2009

Ireland Adventures

I’m back from Ireland now. Had lots of fun, so I’ll let you know exactly what I did.

The morning after I arrived I started my tour, a six day North Ireland tour. From Dublin we went to Phoenix Park and saw the spot where the Pope had said mass in 1979, as well as the Presidents residence and the American Embassy. We didn’t see any wild deer though, although we did get some fantastic views before we jumped back on the bus to get out of the wind!

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Phoenix Park, Dublin

From there we went to Monasterboice, and old monastery which had some fantastic Celtic crosses and an old ruined stone tower. After that we went to Drogheda to see the preserved head of the saint Oliver Plunkett but there was a funeral on so I didn’t get to see it. What a shame.

Monasterboice

Monasterboice

Then we arrived in Derry and had a tour of Free Derry and an introduction of some of the troubles. It is amazing how far some of the arguments stretch back, but also how recent it all is. Some of the murals were just amazing though.

Free Derry Wall

Free Derry Wall

The next morning we headed off from Derry, had a quick photo stop at Dunluce Castle (very quick as it was raining!) and then went to the Giant’s Causeway, which was amazing, but we couldn’t appreciate it fully as we were getting really wet so we walked up, took a few photos and then took the opportunity to catch a bus back. Then we spent the rest of the time there looking through all the gift shops.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

After lunch we went to Carrick-a-rede ropeway and luckily the weather had cleared up as there wasn’t a bus! It was a nice walk along the cliffs though with some fantastic views. I did cross over the rope bridge, which was actually a bit scary as it was quite wobbly and windy. On the way back I put my camera in my bag so I had two free hands to hang onto the sides!

Carrick-a-rede ropeway

Carrick-a-rede ropeway

That night we went to Belfast, had a little bit of a wander around the town, although most of it was closed! We did however take a ride on the Belfast Wheel which gave us good views of the city, even though we spent most of the time listening to the commentary and going ‘Which way is West?’ etc.

Belfast Wheel

Belfast Wheel

The next day we did a Black Cab tour of Belfast which was interesting and once again we saw some fantastic murals, and also amazed at all the British flags in the Protestant areas. We got to write/graffiti on the Peace Walls as well. It’s kind of bizarre that there are still walls being erected to separate the communities.

Then we went to Glenveagh National Park, and luckily the weather was good for the 4k walk each way to the castle so it was quite enjoyable.

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle

The next day we visited the grave of W.B Yeats at Drumcliffe and then went to Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain, where we had three hours to climb up and back. I made it about two thirds of the way up as it was steep and the rocks kept sliding under my feet, so I ate lunch on the mountain. Unfortunately because I wasn’t moving I got bitten by lots and lots of midges. Serves me right for being lazy! That night we spent in Cong.

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick

The next day we headed to Galway, going via Connemara and the Black Valley, areas of Ireland that were hit badly by the potato famine. After having lots of rain all day, the weather cleared up by the time we got to Galway so we got to go shopping. We visited one pottery place and had an interesting conversation with a guy paining plates which drifted from Spongebob Squarepants to sexuality, Steve Irwin and Aspergers without any off us getting a word in. Random but fun!

Next day I had a bad start to the day when I realised I’d left half my toiletries in the shower in Cong. Oops, looks like I’m not getting my cute little Japanese bottles back. As I was leaving a bit later I got to buy some more in Galway. Then I said goodbye to most of the other people on the tour as they were doing the 10 day all Ireland and headed back to Dublin. We stopped at Clonmacnoise, a wonderful ruined monastery on the way back, and Phoenix Park (for the second time)!

Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise

Once I got back to Dublin I was feeling a bit full of cold. I don’t think it was severe enough to be swine flu, but I do feel bad that with sharing a dorm room and a second tour bus, I’ve probably passed it on to about 20 people. Rather than seeing Dublin on the Sunday I had free, I ended up spending it in bed and so changed my ferry going back to the Sunday, rather than Saturday evening.

On the Monday I joined my second tour, the six day Southern Ireland and it was a smaller bus, with 13 rather than 49 people on it so we got to know each other a bit better. So we headed off from Dublin to Phoenix Park (third time), except that we didn’t stop at the cross this time, but got lost driving round, so a little bit different! Then we went to Clonmacnoise (again) but this time I got to join in a tour going round and learn a bit more about it. Then it was back to Galway. I ended up in a different room from everyone else, but it did have it’s own bathroom so I think I did quite well. We went out to a few pubs and I was a bit shocked that when ordering a soft drink you’d get less liquid than a half pint of Guinness, but pay more money.  So if you want to save money in Ireland, drink beer.

The next day we had a bit of a walk on the Burren and then went to the Cliffs of Moher. It wasn’t raining, but very misty and so when we walked from one cliff to the next, you were struggling to make out the cliff you had walked from. One of the guys on the bus managed to fix the microphone so then we got taught a few Irish songs.

That night we were staying at a pub called the Randy Leprechaun and we had kareoke. For some reason two people thought I was going to sing something with them, but thankfully the pub shut before I was forced to embarrass myself.

The next day we went to the Dingle Peninsula, but didn’t see the famous dolphin Funghi. We spent the day driving round, seeing some fantastic scenery, and some more rain! Then we went to Killarney and had a fantastic night out. It’s the first time I’ve been kicked out of a nightclub as it was getting closed!

Out in Kilkenny

Out in Kilkenny

The following day we had a drive around the ring of Kerry with some more amazing scenery. We got back to Killarney and had a rid in a jaunting cart. It was raining again so we were all huddled together under the blankets and umbrellas, although my umbrella kept getting blown inside out!

On the Friday we went to a fishing town called Kinsale which was lovely and then to Blarney Castle. It was quite a tricky climb through all the winding staircases to reach the top, and yes, I did kiss the stone! You needed a bit of a head for heights for that with the leaning back to kiss it, but now I should be able to speak eloquently. Not sure if one kiss will be enough though! We had a bit of a walk around the gardens and saw the outside of Blarney House, although it was closed until Spring, so we couldn’t go inside. We ended up having a girls night out for dinner, but then met up with the rest of the group and tried to find a pub. Possibly shouldn’t have done it by getting Italians to direct using an English map, so we had a bit of a hike around Cork in high heels.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Kissing the Blarney Stone

The next morning we were told the bus was leaving at 8:30am, with or without us. By 9am we finally had everyone on the bus…which then turned out to have a flat battery, so we left at 9:30 am and had a very short time in Kilkenny. Then we went onto the Guinness factory, although we did skip ahead to the Gravity Bar where we got our free drinks. I got a coke, but did try some Guinness. The expression I made after trying it was caught on camera. Then it was the end of our tour. I was in a four bed dorm which was nice and met another Australian girl who was on our own, so we went into the Temple Bar area, and the actual Temple Bar and then met up with the Italians from the tour and went to some more pubs.

The next day I spent in Dublin. I went on a walking tour which went around Dublin Castle, Christ Church, the Temple Bar area, the Four Courts, Ha’penny Bridge, O’Connell Bridge (I love the fake memorial plaque), Trinity College and St. Stephens Green. After that I headed back to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and the Long Room, which was amazing. I want a room like that in my house! Then after a little bit of shopping I spent the afternoon relaxing on the grass on St. Stephen’s green looking at the ducks in the ponds before getting the ferry and bus back to the UK. That was a long night again!

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