Road, rain, Irish town name obituaries, and a giant who dressed as a baby
09.11.2008 - 13.11.2008 10 °C
We spent our last week in Ireland sightseeing western and northern ireland by car. First Stop the Cliffs of Moher. we arrived near sunset, for a spectacular view over Ireland's answer to the 12 apostles. It was windy as hell and freaking cold, but worth the visit to see amazing cliffs, with huge sea spray.
cliffs of moher at sunset from a distance
cliffs of moher
Stayed the night in Doolin, in the cosy, well recommended Rainbow hostel. For dinner we went to the famous McGanns for a pub meal. Unfortunately we were too sick to stay for the live music that the pub was most renouned for. The Irish weather had finally got to us, as we were both suffering from the most severe colds that we can remember.
Doolin old cemetary
Next stop was Galway, where we had a quick walk around of the sights and the town center. On the way to Galway we passed through "The Burrens", best described by Fi as looking like the rock man from the never ending story movie.
We also drove through the Connemara, a beautiful part of ireland just north of Galway that was described in our guidebook as "so beautiful it makes your brain hurt". Unfortunately it was raining so hard we couldnt see 10 meters outside the car, in driving conditions so difficult, it made our brains hurt. We had a pitstop in Westport which seemed like a beautiful town, but as it was 4pm and getting dark we pressed on to Sligo. Our Hostel receptionist in Sligo asked us what month it was.... It's a bit of a slow town. For dinner Fi had the "recession special" - Dont ever be tempted to try curry cheese chips. It tastes even worse than it sounds.
We stopped at a waterfall just out of Sligo, and visited the Carromore Megalithic tombs. 2500BC stone tombs and stone circles. pretty impressive stuff. It was actually closed but there was a contractor emptying the sewerage tanks and he let us in for our own self guided tour. Nearby was another massive stone tomb on a hill of some important queen, but time restrains and more rain dissuaded us from scaling the hill for good views etc.
megalithic tomb with knocknorea in the background
waterfall near Sligo
We pushed on to northern Ireland, where the roads were much better maintained and the distance was now in miles. We visted the Giants Causeway. The legend goes a Giant named Finn McCool built a stone bridge from ireland to scotland to challenge a rival giant. He got scared and when he saw his rival approaching and ran home to his wife for advice. His wife disguised him as a baby to hide him. When the rival saw the baby he was scared at the size of Finn's "baby" and ran away destroying the giants causeway behind him. So the moral of the story is.....
a castle on the cliff edge - apparently built so close to the edge, the kitchen fell in
Giants causeway rock formations
After a massive day on the road we ended up in Belfast. In the morning we did a black cab tour of Belfast. Our very thickly accented driver took us to all the politically important sites - Shankill road with its pro loyalist, anti IRA murals, to Belfasts very own "Berlin Wall" which has gates that still close every night to separate the two communities. We saw the most most bombed hotel in the world (it has been blown up 36 times), and visited the IRA headquarters. For 90 minutes we were submerged in the turbulant history of Northern Ireland, learning that there are no easy answers to this political (not religious) land dispute, about the desparate struggles, hunger strikes, and the 18 bombs that have been disarmed in the last 6 months.... It also really brought into perspective the situation in palistine. We were also given the opportunity to write a peace message on the wall - and so are now part of the history. We found it absolutely fascinating, one of the best tours of our trip so far.
shankhill road mural
On our way back to kilkenny we went via powerscourt waterfall and glendalough - fi's favourite place in ireland, so beautiful.
powerscourt waterfall south of dublin
We covered a lot of ground and managed to see a lot of things in such a short time. A few things stood out about the green isle...
- the irish really do love their guiness and drink a lot of it
- the country roads are somewhat narrow, and all the roads are country roads... and there are ALWAYS tractors driving slowly and nowhere to pass them!
- the names of towns read like an obituary - kilkenny, killarney - there are heaps!
- other favourite town names include - Borris, Borris-in-Ossory, Two-mile-Borris, Doon, Emo park, and Bally.... (insert about 1000 names here..)
- they always talk about the weather (but its always raining)
- you are "just after" reading the end of our blog.