Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Enniskillen to Falcarragh - Monday 29th August, 2016

Tonight we are high up on the West Coast of Ireland, a wee place called Falcarragh.  We have been travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way which is a tourist route mostly along the coast, often small, tiny and narrow roads.  We love being on these roads, whilst slower travelling we really are seeing the countryside and the little settlements.  The weather continues to be good, although did have the wipers on as we travelled over the moors this morning.  Just an Irish mizzle and didn’t continue.
We left Anita & Dave’s home this morning.   Anita (& the boys) wanted to show us some more spots before we left the Feranagh Lakelads.  She is very proud of her area and knows all the historic and scenic spots.
We first went to the Drumkinny Stone Circles then onto the Jauis Figures, after these we walked to a waterfall.
The Drumskinny Stone Circles were amazing, I think about 32 are still standing but the info as we entered said there may have been 39 stones.  There wasn’t any date mentioned and seems to be a lot of “presuming”.
Onto the Janus Figures – incredible!!   Google says & in my own words “Called the Boa bilateral figure (meaning both sides) and the similar Lustymore Island figure (which was moved to this site in 1939) are found in the Caldragh graveyard on Boa Island.  This graveyard dates from the Irish early Christian period (400 – 800 AD).  The larger of the two, is called the Janus-figure because it has two faces, one side a female the other side a male, reminding some of the Roman two-headed deity Janus??”
I found this graveyard so interesting, left to the elements the headstones covered in moss and lichen, many headstones fallen over and partly covered in grass.
We then stopped off to walk to a waterfall, which was really pretty, a many layered drop.
We said our farewells to Anita and the boys at their Shamrock Cottage on the shores of Loch Erne, taking  to the road, passing through Donagal then following the coast as much as we could.  Stopping at Killybeg for lunch. This is a large fishing town, the boats rather big, doing serious fishing.  We continued on the Wild Atlantic Way road, through many settlements, over the moors which were laden with heather and in lots of areas they were taking the peat.
We kept plugging on, as we wanted to get as far north as we could.
The daily travelling is taking its toll, we are very tired come night time; have just returned to our BnB from a lovely dinner in the local pub and shortly we will be “hitting the hay”.

At Anita's

Part of the Drumskinny Circles

Beautiful layered waterfall, the colour is the tannin from the soil 

The Janus Figures

The old and overgrown gravgeyard

Our lunch stop - pretty daisies in a window box - Killybeg

Beautiful old arched bridge, well weathered

Taking the peat
The heather covered moors, the cut away part is where the peat has been taken

One of the many wee lochs - they are everywhere.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Clifden to Ballina

Thursday 26th August, 2016

We left our colourful B & B after a very nice breakfast; adequately filled.  Our host suggested we take a side trip to a fishing village of Roundstone which we did.   It meant going south again, but a round trip back to Clifden.  Well worth it, the countryside very pretty, the heather and gorse at its peak I think; the landscape barren & sparse at times.  Many little villages along the winding seaside road, when we arrived at Roundstone we weren’t disappointed – these little harbour villages have a certain charm.
Because we couldn’t get into Kylemore Abbey yesterday (there was a function) and as it was on our way north, we called in, paid the necessary Euros (with senior citizen discounts) and wandered around the rooms that have been made available to view.  Around the walls is the history of the Abbey – very interesting and quite sad too.  We then meandered through the beautiful trees to the Gothic Church, built in 1877, ten years after the Abbey.  In the other direction is the Walled Garden covering 6 acres..  Quite a walk to this incredible area, both formal gardens and a vast vegetable garden.  What they do with all the produce I have no idea but impressive it was.
We had lunch at a wee cafĂ© and finally we found a sandwich (like the ones we have in NZ, two in a cardboard pack affair) very yummy along with a coffee.  We sat outside and watched the continuous flow of people come and go.
Then off we motored north into County Mayo, via Westport, through Newtown with the lovely arched bridges, past the long narrow Kilery Harbour,  with many many mussel farms.  The landscape I thought, not unlike our McKenzie Country but greener of course.  Gone are the rock fences and replaced with post and wire.
We passed many areas that have been harvested (not sure if that is the right word) for peat.  The peat in groups of white bags which looked awful in the landscape I thought.
We drove through Bangor then onto to Ballina where we have found a superb B & B on the outskirts of the town.  Early to bed tonight.

Our Colourful B & B in Clifden

Boat Harbour Roundstone

Love the coloured houses throughout Ireland, these at Roundstone

Boats in the harbour

Fishing area, surrounded with heather and gorse.

Kylemore Abbey

Interior of the Gothic Church

Walled Garden

The arched bridges at Newtown

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Burren to Clifden

Thursday 25th August 2016

I have decided to skip (in the meantime) the days I have missed and try to load daily from here on in.  If I have the time (unlikely) I may upload some of the missing days.
We left Lisdoonarva  this morning – the lads were busy putting up the buntings in readiness for the International  Match Making festival which this town is renowned for.  Gracious, we just got out in time!!!  Take note of the NZ flag!!
We headed for a nearby village & the Information Centre which we were keen to find out about The Burren – an area that we were to travel on.  We watched a video then walked through a display. We visited a local church and graveyard which was really interesting before hitting the Burren.
From small fields surrounded by stone fences to vast expanses of rocky landscapes with the odd rock fences.  Lots of lovely wild flowers to be seen.  Beautiful place.
Continuing on towards Galway, we came across the lovely castle so made a stop, paid our Euro and went for a walk up the 77 steps to the top.  Magical 360 view to be seen.
The weather was becoming cloudier; rain was forecast but didn’t really come too much.  Just a little shower as we left Galway.  We loved Galway, the pebbled pedestrian streets were seething with people, bars, cafes filled with folk…..finally we found a nice wee spot outside for a simple lunch.  Met a lovely Irish couple and had a good chat.
Getting out of Galway proved difficult – We called on Dora, who wasn’t helpful at all.  I think she may be “blonde”!!  She has a way of taking us what she thinks is the quickest way – we went rural big time, down the tiniest winding roads until we finally came to a road with a white line – bonus.
The landscape from there on was beautiful in a NZ kind of way – a national park which revealed the Kylemore Abbey (my last picture) – jaw dropping beautiful.
Finally arrived at Clifden rather late, another pretty village.  We are in a hilarious B & B, upstairs, very colourful room.  Bright yellow walls, sheets are yellow with a shocking pink bottom sheet, towels bright aqua, plugs for cup of tea in a drawer, cords all over the place. Toilet/shower can’t swing a cat, bonus there is a tiny couch that I can sit on and do my blog. 
We went up the street for dinner, great wee pub, very popular with live music.  Staff so friendly, I enjoyed a local brew, Doug enjoyed a alcohol free beer. 
A big day, a great day. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sheepshead & Bantry - Friday 19th August, 2016

This is the day we left Sheepshead Peninsular and spent time in Bantry before driving to Blackwater Castle for the weekend wedding.
Now, about our day.......big, long, hectic, wet, dry, lost, reunions, happy, tearful, exciting and another year older.

We were on the road early and to Bantry for the necessary laundrette experience with stops along the way to view the poignant memoral to all the lives lost in the 1985 Air India tragedy.
Friday morning is market morning in Bantry, we wandered about the market in the Irish mizzle. It was exciting to meet someone we knew; Lisa (blipper Teachersjoy and her lovely daughter Rachel). The tide was out and the light flat but moody, the anticipated reflection shot of the colourful buildings were a failure, but I have the memory etched in my mind from our visit the previous evening. 

We left Bantry at 11.15am and followed the route that Amanda & Peter (blippers freespiral and himself) had given us.....piece of cake, until road works had closed part of the road. However we mastered the extensive detour with ease. A stop for lunch at Mallow, where we decided Dora could be given a second chance as we had not a clue where Blackwater Castle was, as it turns out nor did she. Long story!!

We of course did find it, after numerous stops talking to folk, and getting caught up in a funeral possession in the village of Castleroche. 
Amazing to see my lovely vivacious "Irish daughter" Brid again and her kiwi bloke Hayden again, big cuddles and chatter, again struggling to understand her broad Irish accent . (She has always called me her Kiwi Mum).

Meet, greet, drinkies followed by a meal, then the local 6 piece band arrived to play and sing to the guests. We knew a good number of people, with some surprise guests that we knew as well. So funny!
We were about to sneak off to bed around 11 pm when Brid grabbed the microphone and made a big thing of my birthday and why I am so special to her...OMG, a tearful time. Group hugs, a cased bottle on Moet given and Singing "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow" followed. I felt slightly embarrassed.

The entrance of our B & B

This and the following photo's are the inside of a derelict house, not seen from the outside as completely covered by growth.  There was an upstairs, but I would have been foolish take a step or two.
  Further out the back the house has succumbed to the weather, age and vegetation. 

Now unused, on the dereliction journey, pretty hydrangea 

We stopped to view the memorial to the tragic Air India crash back in 1985 - I recall this 

Doug reading about why it is here in Ireland and the way it is pointing

The Irish mizzle - definitely a black & white morning - Kitchen Cove

A derelict and overgrown grain store - the last photo from Sheepshead Peninsular.

Friday morning is market morning in Bantry

This old codger looked so forlorn, sitting in a shelter.

Despite the mizzle & low tide, the buildings added colour to the town