Ireland and Northern Ireland Travelogue and Photos
1997: Days 7-14

We awoke in Oughterard at 8:30 or so, showered and dressed (well rested) and headed into town. This B&B had its own restaurant so we had a delicious breakfast there. Then we left town and drove into Galway. We saw Salt Hill, Claddagh and such, then out past Dunguaine Castle and Corcomroe Abbey. We could see the Burren - very neat limestone low mountains. We rode to the coast to Black Head, then up to the Cliffs of Moher.

AAAAAAAAAaaaarrggghhhh!! Tourist Trap!! 1L to park, tourist center, shop selling tapes, necklaces, dog smoking pipe, accordian, harp, floutist/puppeteer. Plus 1L to 'climb the tower'. We went right up the regular stairs, used up the film we had and went to the car for more. Then left and ... PUFFINS!! They were sooooo cute. Tiny orange feet and beaks. Tons in their little puffin holes on an outcropping. They lay eggs in April so the babies were a month old. We walked to the left out to almost the end of the cliff path (a bit too scary for the Lisa - very thin path along the cliffs) and back again. Then ... escape!!

Back through the burren along various routes, down through Ennis. Past Quin Abbey, Knoppague Castle, past Evil Bunratty (one of those medieval monstrosity dinner things) tourist trap. Through Limerick (blech, what a city) and through N21 of boring Limerick/Clare.

The book said to go clockwise around Dingle but instead of Castlemaine from Farranfore we hit ... evil Killarney!! Argh!!! So we headed home.

We hung out with Barbara + Tom. Tom took us down over the tracks to the "fishing hole" which was neat, through an electric cow fence. We saw lots of fish jumping. Back out with Pat (f) to Denehey's bar (long bar which went through more than one room! With a Heinekin "wedding" display for a contest) and then back to McCarthy's for drinks until 12:30.

Friday was a day of rest. We woke late and drove out to Mallow to look for fishing gear. We walked around town - I got a fresh scone and some soda - but found no fishing shop. It was a nice town for walking. We drove onwards to Fermoy, found one. Bob got some cute flies and other stuff. Both towns were great for wandering - not touristy at all. Then we got some sandwiches and drove back home.

We hung out all afternoon, had dinner, then Bob went off fishing for the evening down the stream. I did postcards and such. Eventually Tom went to get Bob around 10:15 but he was fishless. He was tired so we stayed home that night.

I got up early today and hung out for an hour. Eventually I prodded Bob awake and then took a shower. When I got out he'd "gone for a walk" without me!! After I sat there waiting for him to wake up. I walked down to the stream and watched there until 2:30. I saw many birds, a grey crane, a grey + brown bird. Various locals came through to chat about the collies (little fishes). I got back home and he was at the store ... eventually he came back and we headed out with Tom to the Millstreet Country Park.

It was really pretty there, with lakes, red deer (with lots of babies!), pathways, waterfalls, etc. They had an old "cooking pit" that they filled with water, rolled hot stones into and then cooked meat in the boiling water. They also made islands for protection, building a hut and corral on it just out of twigs and rushes. They sold venison there! We booked out of there at 6 to be home in time for the concert. By then I was ROASTED. All up until now I'd been cautious since it was always amazingly sunny - wearing long sleeves and long pants. Today I wore a dress to get some color on my arms and legs. Both were BRIGHT RED when I got home.

We all dressed up and parked in "Lot B". It was on the back side of the arena and we saw lots of people in jeans and were worried. But then we went into the VIP Reception area and had delicious hors d'ouvres, free wine, sandwiches, etc. We met the arena owner (who tried to steal me for his son), the asst to the Irish President (who the Tuckers knew) and saw the members of the Coors and Chieftans. Not quite a real "sit down dinner" but still quite nice. The arena owner used to carry coal on his back for Tom's mother!

Then in to the show. We sat in the third row (VIP) with a bunch of tourists around us. TX, CA, MN, etc. The couple from MN were the ones who emailed me asking for info on the concert. We told them we had avoided SE Ireland becaue it's a tourist trap; it turns out they were goig to spend their last 3 days driving through before heading home from Dublin. Ooops. They also complained about how scary the driving was; they must be the ones Bob zooms around on OUR trips.

We heard lots of bands, saw dancers. The Chieftans were great, the Coors too. Brian Kennedy was very spangly. Mary Robinson (the president) lit a candle, as did we all, and Clinton said words via remote link. It appeared we were in tons of the pictures taken but we'll see.

Then out to the Corkery which was MOBBED. Us "regulars" tried to make walls to keep the insane ones out. Tons of drunk kids were on the street listening to drummers, heading through the bar to get to the bathroom. They all took their pint glasses outside too (smash smash). The Garde finally came in and asked the 'tender to shut the front door, and things quieted down.

Today I woke and waited for Bob to wake, around 11 (grin). By noon we could hear all the music right in the back yard! It was amazingly clear. Bob built the grill and I read Seamus Heaney (in the shade!!) (Seamus is a Nobel Prize winning Irish poet). Around 5:30 we all headed down to the arena - the Coors and Saw Doctors were just finishing up. Then Brian Kennedy (Mr. Sparkle Himself) came on, shimmering for the crowd. Then Van Morrison who was very good. Our porta chairs were quite comfy. There were trillions of people there, all dressed for summer and they got roasted! After the Saw Doctors came back on (Dylan was supposed to be on, but he was sick) we headed out.

We grabbed Eileen (Tom's sister, has 11 kids) and headed up to Knocknagree for traditional music. We got there at 10:45 and every pub was jammed. So we ended up in the Chapel House between Rathmore and Baraduff. It's owned by Brida's brother-in-law. The folks we were looking for - cousin Brida and hubby Donal - showed up and then a button accordian player and a guitarist came to play music. It ws great. Four Americans (very obvious! Izod shirts amongst our comfy clothes!) came and played darts horrendously. I told Bob he should trounce them, but he was kind and didn't. Eventually the musicians played the National Anthem, we all stood, and they were done. We left around 1:30 (had to sneak out) and headed home.

Today was "Dingle Day". It's a bank holiday so everything was closed ... we went into Millstreet (proper) for a newspaper and stuff and it was partially cleaned up from the concert destruction. Then we headed out to Dingle.

We had to go (yet again) through evil Touristy Killarney (The "K Word" we all call it now) and went down to Killorglin before heading around the end of Dingle Bay and down the peninsula.

It was very pretty - nice sparkling water, gorgeous weather (of course) so there were tons of Irish out on the beaches. They drove their cars right down to the water. A lot of farmers had signs out for their "beehive huts" but we ignored them, just enjoying the scenery. We saw four caravans (horse drawn wagons with big "S"s on them for the group that operates them). I imagine the poor draft horses must roast in the heat. Eventually we got to Dingle Proper which was ... tourist trap. Big Surprise. We zipped through there and went out on the end, to the pretty Blasket Islands. We stopped in Dunquin and tried comparing our picture of the mountains behind the "Ryan's Daughter" scene to the mountains we saw, but it must have been far off the "beaten track" so to speak. Very pretty.

Back around, and up through Connor Pass which was quite scenic. Then back around into "K" place for groceries, and home.

We had dinner and then went to Knocknagree again for music. There were ten musicians there! 3 accordians, 3 violins, a guitar, banjo, flute, and small squeezebox. It was lots of fun. Another bar had music, but then we found a dart bar. Bob watched a while, and was invited to play. He held his own! We played long past closing time and then headed home.

Today was rest day. I slept until 11, and we got up and had breakfast. Bob played with the computer, getting things set up, and I went into Millstreet to get a book on birds (a just Ireland one), stamps and then to the library for yet more research.

Bob came along to pick me up, and we hung out at home writing postcards and such. Then dinner - it was quite cloudy by now, for the first time since we were here. We saw a rook (the bigger black crow) hopping around in the back yard, being chased quite aggressively by three smaller carrion crows. It was pretty funny!

Dinner, and then Bob + Tom went out to the fishing spot again to explore. It turns out that one of the farmers was illegally making a path for his cows to the water (they're about to start charging usage on supplied water) and pushed dirt into the water. It's been so dry that it clogged the river further on and the baliffs were tracking down the river. They found Bob and Tom and thought they were illegal fishermen! But luckily they didn't have fishing stuff with them so they were OK. Barbara won 10L in the local lottery too.

Today we did the Ring of Kerry and Beara peninsula. We had to go through Killarney (yet again) - and I had hoped to avoid it completely! We did something different, though. Although the whole time we've been driving around we've been carrying the video camera, we haven't been using it. It seemed silly to take video of still things (castles, causeways) when the regular camera did so much better. But from our last drive across the Beara, we knew that there were tons of free-roaming sheep wandering the roads with baby lambs and THOSE move -grin-.

We'd been advised by the book that it was prettiest counter-clockwise, but that busses went that way (for that reason) so if we didn't want to get stuck with them we should go clockwise. A friend told us to go counter-clockwise so we wouldn't have to pass the busses (going against them) on the narrow roads. Well, Bob is a speed demon and incredible drivers, so after driving so many one-car-only roads, this road looked quite large and we happily started out counter-clockwise with the expectation that we'd just zip around any busses we found. Heh heh.

It started quiet, going along the bottom of Dingle Bay. We went through Kells, and decided half way around to go even farther out to see St. Finians Bay and Puffin Island and such. No busses could go on these roads! Quite narrow (the way we like them!) and windy. Puffin Island was too far away to see any puffins (lucky we saw them on the Cliffs!) and the rise between the bays at Ballynahow was incredibly windy! The Skelligs were very pretty (it was sunny, as usual -grin-) too. Then back onto the 'ring', through Waterville (land of golfers), Sneem, and then the cut over to Beara at Kenmare.

Beara was the only peninsula down here that we hadn't gone out on so we took it slow and fun. I shot video of the landscape, and we cut across the Caba Mountains where there were incredible mountain cliffs and valleys and such. And the sheep started! We went back around to Glengarriff where we had a dinner of excellent soup and garlic mushrooms, and then the best part - the ride across the top of Beara from Glengarriff to Kenmare.

We pretty much shot this whole part on video. Wandering sheep. Flocks and babies and families all stopping to say hello. It was so much fun -grin-. Eventually we got back to Kenmare and the ring, and finished up past Lady's View and the rest which we'd seen before. We headed back home to Millstreet and showed the incredulous relatives the video we'd shot. They dragged us out to Corkery's to ... cure us ...

Today was research day. I wanted to go down to Schull and Clonakilty because that was the best shot I had at finding James' ancestor, Patrick Shea. I figured it was one of the two because of the research I'd done. We meandered our way down through lovely countryside into Schull - very pretty town. I like it down there a lot. Lots of fishing boats, quiet but pretty, an abandoned church with very old graves on the ocean. I checked all the grave but only found one "Shea". I had even stopped in ones in Iniskillen on the way down with no luck. The library didn't open until 3 so we hung out and had fresh fish + chips while we waited.

The librarian it turned out was from Wales so didn't know the area well. Her advice was to go across the street to the pub and talk to the oldest person there! She said they'd know all the history better than any book. We looked through the books there and did find a Patrick Shea and wrote down where he lived, but apparently only the churches had the records and nobody was home or answered the phone at the one there. So I'll have to write them from home.

We drove out to Clonakilty but found the same situation. I have already written both churches there so perhaps the answers are waiting for me at home. It was sort of sad to *be* there but not be able to learn anything. Much, much different from record keeping in the states. Ah well. We then went to Kinsane, usually a touristy town but as we were getting in there late (what a skill we have!!) it was nice and quiet, and there was nobody at all at the Charles Fort on the head. It was gorgeous! Quite a magnificent fort and since it was quiet, when we wandered along the ocean edge there were tons of birds. A bunch of stonechits bobbed on the ends of bushes, darted out after moths, chased them around, then hovered in the air for a while before settling down again. They were all quite happy singing to us ... "click" ... "click" .. maybe they wanted to be cameras? And Bob found a huge grey heron on the water but it was scared when I came down. We fed french fries to the rest of the birds and headed back home.

In Millstreet we had our pictures developed, though unfortunately it turns out the puffin pictures are still in the camera so I have to wait a while before I can see how those look. Then we went out to the "Stables". This bar is where the POG-boy (who we hear DID go on last at the Millstreet concert, drunk from drinking at the Stables all day ... had to be carried on and his first words (slurred as they were) went along the lines of "Fuck the British, if you see a Brit near you kill him" etc. etc. Friendly sort) Anyway, POG-boy had not left his mark there, but since the election is coming up on Friday there was a politician in drinking with his constituency which we found quite amusing. We figured he'd never win - he was quite geeky looking (turns out he did). Irish voting is a bit strange - say you have four seats for your "area" (they have sort of a big house of representatives, with seats for each area. The president is a figurehead and the prime minister is the leader of whichever party gets the most votes). So you vote for who you want 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Then they weigh all the votes, sort of 1st gets 5 points, 2nd gets 3 points, 3rd gets 1 point. So in some cases someone with more 1st votes than someone else can still lose if that other person got tons of 2nd and 3rd votes.

And even stranger, they have parties in coalition. So the red party, say, always works with the yellow and pink, while the blue party always works with the purple and green. If the red candidate has ALMOST beaten the blue candidate, the yellow candidate might "withdraw", granting everyone's votes for him to his friend, the red candidate. And then the red candidate wins. They have to do like 5 - 15 recounts as this keeps going on until someone finally gets the seat.

So anyway, we just hung out drinking at the Stables all night. I didn't want to be asked if I was Irish - when I was out with Bob playing darts before someone asked if I was Irish. I said my ancestors 4 generations back were, and they all burst out laughing. To them, you're Irish if you're born in Ireland. They don't go for this "many many moons ago my great-grandfather" stuff. They don't know their great-grandfathers! You're either born there or you aren't. The Americans at the concert said they were Irish-American which makes more sense to me, if you're going to try to claim it at all.

Days 15 on
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