Category Archives: travel

Ireland 2013

On August 11th, Brian and I will be off on our anniversary tour and for this special occasion we’re off to Ireland.

Count down is on. Guides are booked for Derry, Belfast and Dublin. Where else do we need guides? Guess we’ll figure that out along the way.

We’ve arrived in Dublin. The wind is blowing and the sun is just coming up. It’s 5am! The suitcases needed a bigger car, so Audi Q3 it is. Premium price for a premium car but they threw in a free road map, gave us air miles and a ‘deal’ on the price. Thank you Hertz. Now we wait for our friends Chris and Karen to arrive from London. It’s now 7am, only two hours to go.

Clare County, Cliffs of Moher

We left Killarney and headed to Tralee, from there to the ferry at Tarbert. The ferry cost 18€ and was well worth it. The view of County Clare and the mouth of the Shannon were spectacular. From the ferry we took the road through Knock to Ennis, the capital of Co. Clare.

We had to stop to take a photo of the best thatched roof cottage we’ve seen so far. Beautiful, until the husky scared us away!

The road to Ennis along the Shannon is picturesque. Stone walls are high, roads narrow but views of the Shannon and Co. Limerick are worth it.

Stopped at Knox’s Pub for lunch (hope it’s as good as The Blind Piper in Caherdaniel, on the Ring of Kerry. Both Brian and I really enjoyed our lunch of curried lamb, steak and kidney pie followed by the homemade Banofi Pie, yum!

After lunch we did some shopping and noticed that the whole city was displaying the county colours of blue and yellow to celebrate yesterday’s GAA Hurling victory.

After Ennis we took the scenic route along the Atlantic coast through Milltown Malbay to the Cliffs of Moher.
Magnificent, even in the whipping windy rain. We carried on up the coast noting ocean front castles, some still occupied, past the caves of Doolan, through the rocky ‘moonscape’ of The Burren. Can you believe that there are rock fences all the way up these barren rock hillsides!

Dinner at Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Kilcorgan, still operated by 8th generation Moran. Some of whom have held the International Oyster Shucking Championship.

Off to Galway, expecting to arrive around 9pm after a full day.








County Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Fermanagh, and Derry!

Wednesday, Aug. 21st – 9 days left!

Today we got an early start, tis true! Driving to Sligo we passed by Knock, made famous in 1879 by the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John appearing against the south gable of this tiny town’s church. The countryside here is lush, people appear to be better off in this area, with larger farms, nicer houses and plenty of livestock.

A slight detour to go back in time to 5,000 BC took us to Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary. The largest found burial sight in Ireland. Awesome!

Having lunch in Sligo means we’re eating in a pub which was probably frequented by Yeats, as it is the oldest in Sligo, Hargadon Bros Pub- awesome lunch!

A quick stop to see a 15 min video on Yeats and on to see his grave site in Drumcliffe.

Belleek Pottery is well worth a stop. Did you know they make all the pottety they sell around the world here in Belleek and it is still hand made and painted? Yes, I did buy my Christmas ornament there! A snowman carrying an umbrella, how fitting!!!

Donegal has a castle in the middle of town. We missed the tour, but wandered the town with delight. I talked Brian into purchasing a taupe houndstooth jacket which he promptly wore around town while I carried his other jacket! Lol!!!

Arrived in Derry and our hotel is within the walled city. We walked down to the lake to eat at The Custom House. Wine choices – Australian, California and Chile. Settled on Californian out of fear that Yellowtail set the standard! It was a great meal. Every store, business, pub and restaurant were closed on our way down the hill, I hope it’s safe to walk back up!!!

















County Mayo

The Radisson Blu in Galway is a great hotel with a wonderful spa. I’m looking forward to swimming tonight!

Leaving Galway, we headed into Mayo County. First stop – Cong! As I’ve seen The Quiet Man every year, at least once during baking season, I was looking forward to seeing where it was filmed! The original cottage is not mentioned, but the museum is housed in a replica of White O’Morning! We toured the Abby and set off for Westport.

We stopped to see the National Famine Memorial, a bronze ship covered in skeletons. Across from this gruesome ship is the mountain St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland from. There is a pilgrimage to a chapel at the top and in the pouring rain with gusts of wind so strong I was almost blown over, we could see many people climbing. Unbelievable!

The heart wrenching trek from Louisburg to Delphi was made even more sorrowful when experienced in the pouring whipping rain. 200 of the 600 died on this barren road after their request for food to their landlord at the Delphi Lodge was denied, heartlessly!!

Kylemore Abbey would’ve been an awesome visit if I had worn something other than my rag dress! Yup, open toes sandals too! You guessed it – totally soaked even with a warm coat and umbrella. Brian in his shorts had to drive 1 1/2 hours soaked through all the way back to Galway. It was interesting to see the Abbey nevertheless, and they had Irish music in the Chapel. Brian took excellent photos but google it for a nicer rain free view. Definitely worth a one hour min. stop.

We checked out Galway, changed our clothes and had an early night!












Thursday, Londonderry !

We started out today with a 2 hour walking tour of Derry. The Tower Hotel is inside the wall. This was perfect for Ellish, our guide, to show us around the walled city. The wall overlooked the areas where historical and recent sectarian battles, such as bloody Sunday, took place. We walked down the grand parade which is where the phrase the ‘cat walk’ originated. We finished our tour at the Guild Hall, which looks like a church but was created by the commercial trading companies responsible for bringing the English and Scotish ‘Protestant’ craftsmen to Derry in the 17th century. It was a great tour! Then we loaded the car and were off, in the sunshine!

Leaving Derry, we headed to Dunluce Castle. Wow! This castle is built right on the cliff, so close in fact, that part of it fell into the sea. Legend has it that it was the kitchen that disappeared just before Christmas pudding was to be served. It never was served and the lady of the castle refused to live there after that, which is why the castle fell to ruin! Archeologists now question this legend as they say the wall was intact up to the 18th century. It must’ve been the ‘white lady’ who scared them away. The locals claim she is a banshee and no good comes out of meeting one of those!

Onward to The Giants Causeway! A National Trust site dating back over 60 million years ago (give or take a few) which features volcanic rock. Words cannot describe the beauty!

Onwards to the ‘rope bridge’. I started to shake at the mere thought of walking across a suspension bridge that was strung up by fishermen! Only 8 people can be on the bridge at one time. 8 not 96 elephants (Capilano) or 51 killer whales (cliff walk)! So, I volunteered to stay behind and take Brian’s picture!

Off along the coastal highway we went enjoying this wonderful ocean front drive. We arrived in Belfast at 8:30, had dinner and went straight to bed! The fresh air, sunshine and exercise made us very tired!















Lisburn, Hillsborough

Lisburn, Hillsborough

Sunday in Northern Ireland is quiet. Most places are closed or don’t open until noon. We had a leisurely morning, leaving the hotel around 10am. Brian wanted to stop in Lisburn at 22 Castle Street to see the townhouse where his grandfather’s family lived just before emigrating to Canada in 1925. The townhouse has a flower shop on the main floor but as it wasn’t open, we couldn’t go in. There is a tiny entry beside the flower shop which leads to the Church of Ireland, Lisburn Cathedral, where the first church found on site was dated 1623, so we headed around the church for a walk. Brian could imagine his younger great uncles, Tommy, Jack and Charlie, playing in the church yard, while the older brothers Sam and Brian’s grandfather, Bill, worked in the family drayage business, hauling coal from Belfast to Lisburn. I found it fascinating that the names on the headstones in the graveyard, McHenry, Crossley, and Birney are the names of people I know in Canada. My thoughts were of how many Irish people from the same areas in the world find a kinship without even knowing how far back they really are connected!

Back in the car and off to Hillsborough Castle. We had coffee at a tiny cafe called ‘Humble Pie’ and my apple cinnamon scone was delicious.

We arrived at the ticket booth at 12:10 and were told that if we hurried we could join the 12:00 tour. We were initially refused at the gate, but after requesting to see the officer in charge, a retired police officer, who was delighted upon hearing that Brian’s grandfather from Lisburn had worked as a Policeman in Regina for over 39 years, we were personally escorted to join the tour!

After the tour ended, we went back to the Greer homestead, picked up Graham, May, Robert and Ruth and set off for Armagh City. There we took in the magnificent St. Patrick cathedrals, one was Church of Ireland, one Catholic. Both are magnificent and within a five minute walk of each other! The great King of Ireland, Brian Boru, who was murdered in the 11th century, was buried very near the site of the C of I Cathedral. As it was Sunday, we headed back to the homestead stopping for apple tart in Gilford, and Ice cream in Moira, which we had back home with tea, joined by Graham’s daughter, Dianne, two of her children, Katherine and Craig, and Robert and Ruth’s children, Rachel and David.



























Belfast, Saturday, Aug. 24th

Saturday, Belfast

We started out our day with Virginia Moriarty giving us a walking tour of historical downtown. Awesome. She left us at 12:30 after filling our cameras and notebooks with many historical stories and facts of life in Belfast.

Brian is now driving like an Irishman (yes, faster and cutting corners) and so off we set for Lisburn to have lunch with the Greers!

Graham and May love to eat out and they took Brian and me out to lunch at one of their many favourite places ‘The Half Way House’. It had recently changed ownership and undergone renovations so Graham wasn’t sure what to expect. We were delighted and the food was excellent! More chatting about Greer family history and we were off on a tour of the countryside. We ended up in Newcastle sitting on the seaside looking at a Hastings Hotel, owned by the same company as the Stormont, which we are staying at ( and really love)! We checked out this beautiful hotel, took photos of the seaside and headed up the hill for a treat, Maud’s Ice Cream! We each had a waffle cone with ‘pooh bear’ ice cream (honeycomb – vanilla with chips of honey). Truly delicious!

Our tour us in a circle around the Mourne Mountains, where we stopped at the Spelga dam, which provides drinking water for the Belfast area. We continued our tour through Hillsborough, caught a glimpse of the castle and back to Lisburn.

Tea at the Greer homestead and back to the hotel for the night.