A Travellerspoint blog


Ireland, Coast To Coast

My Roots

sunny 65 °F
View RussRaff Crossing on paulej4's travel map.

RUSS_RAFF_crossing.jpegAfter finding a small, automatic transmission car at Avis, no small feat, we negotiated the round-about laden route to downtown Dublin and our hotel. Dropping our bags we trekked to Gallagher's Boxty House, recommended by Alan, the doorman, for chicken boxty and corned beef and cabbage. Beryl sampled beer!fa1ae7e0-d0b7-11e8-9942-e18619e9bbf2.JPG

We slept in at our inn: The Westin Dublin where we were (due to my Marriott Honored Guest Lifetime Platinum status, earned by spending over 2,150 nights over the past 29 years) upgraded to a lovely two-room suite. Negotiating downtown city streets in a left-hand drive car, we head west with B4 navigating aided by the wonderful app, Waze. Along the way, a leaning tower beckons so we make a sharp turn (dangerous when you're not used to making right turns that are more like left turns) and end up at Kilmachdaugh, a cemetery and leaning tower. KilmachdaughTowerBeryl.JPGKilmachdaughTower.JPGHere was a monastery founded early in the 7th century, plundered in the 13th, remaining as the seat of a Bishop until the 16th, resting place of nearby families until the 21st. The Round Tower was a place of refuge for monks in case of attack. It leans 2 feet out of perpendicular and has no doorway at ground level; access was via rope ladder which could be withdrawn from attackers' reach.

Next stop: The Burren, if you're interested: https://vimeo.com/66888162

Next, we visit The Burren. This is part of a national park which encompasses nearly 100 square miles. The Irish word “Boíreann” means a rocky place and this is that. There is virtually no soil to cover all of this limestone which is so ubiquitous that it is referred to here as “pavement.” In 1651, a Cromwellian Army Officer named Ludlow said this: “of this barony it is said that it is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them.” From here—or near here—came to America the penniless Russells. The season here is over; the park information center closed a week ago to reopen in April but we stopped in a pub where nobody knew any Russells. The coffee was good though.


After driving in circles, we find the Burren Perfumery and Flower Garden where we and a cat have tea in the garden. From there, after receiving directions, we head for the Poulnabrone Tomb, a portal tomb with two tall portal stones flanking the entrance to a rectangular stone-lined chamber covered by a single large capstone. This limestone formed over 320 million years ago on the floor of a warm, shallow sea proven by fossils preserved in the rock. Glaciers scrubbed this place leaving a stony mess behind. During excavation work in 1985, the bones of 33 people were discovered here. The bones ranged from 5800 to 5200 years old. PoulnabroneTombBeryl2.JPGWe made it out in one piece and headed further down the extraordinarily narrow lanes a half hour or so to the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher video if you're interested: https://vimeo.com/36758304

On Ireland’s west coast—about 175 miles and one day across the country from Dublin—is the most breathtaking geological feature of this island: The Cliffs of Moher. I am drawn here again—I visited with a few family members in 2001—because it is beautiful but it is also my roots: County Clare.

Nearly 400 feet above the Atlantic at Hag’s Head to 700 feet high at O’Brien’s Tower five miles away, the place takes your breath away—and also your life if you stumble and fall. O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 by the local landlord and Member of Parliament, Sir Cornellius O’Brien as an observation tower for tourists. At Hag’s Head, still standing is Moher Tower, a ruin which was a signaling tower and lookout during the Napoleonic Wars which lasted for twelve years beginning in 1803. CliffsOfMoher1.JPGCliffsOfMoherBeryl.JPG

If you are anxious to see this beautiful place, please make haste. Coastal erosion from waves constantly crashing into the base of these cliffs is eroding the rock causing the upper face to collapse. The drop is vertical, loved by seabirds. One million tourists like us make their way here every year. If you cannot come here, take a look at these cliffs in the films “Ryans Daughter,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” or what is in my estimation the best movie ever made: “The Princess Bride” which was wonderfully parodied in my honor by my ej4 team in my Seventieth Birthday Celebration Video.

From here it is a half hour more to Spanish Point and the Bellbridge House Hotel--nothing fancy but free with British Airways Frequent Flyer points. The sunset over the North Atlantic is beautiful as we arrive. Our room isn't.large_SpanishPointSunset.JPG

Posted by paulej4 13:44 Archived in Ireland Tagged burren cliffs_of_moher kilmachdaugh poulnabrone_tomb Comments (3)

Windy, Rainy, Gloomy

Beware "Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight" as it is not always true.

all seasons in one day 65 °F
View RussRaff Crossing on paulej4's travel map.

RUSS_RAFF_crossing.jpegMorning broke; or rather it didn't. Yesterday's sun and majestic sunset is long gone. The sky is heavy overcast and a light rain is spitting into the wind.RainySpanishPointMorning.JPG We fled our Room 19 accommodation where the radiator puts out heat as if it were the dead of an Irish winter for the lovely lobby which is not only cooler but also the only place where WiFi is available. For B4, WiFi is as high on her priority list as is "clean" and "en suite." The Bellbridge House Hotel is lovely except for the bedrooms which are not. The staff is more than welcoming and anxious to make our stay perfect which it is as long as we avoid 19.

In the morning, B4 is quickly into work mode, concerned as she always is about business, metrics, planning and more, leaving me time to just soak in the ambiance. I love the Irish accent. Three is "tree" and all words that end in the letter "T" are crisply finished rather than allowed to drift off into nothing as with our American accent. That becomes "ThaT" with a hard "T" at the end making the speaker sound particularly eloquent even when they are not. Antiques or furnishings that pass for that are commonplace in the public spaces of the hotel and, perhaps, with the mattresses.

We count our blessings that our self-styled itinerary happened to put The Burren and The Cliffs of Moher on the calendar for yesterday's wonderful sun. This would not be a good day to visit either of those unique venues. I will opt for the "Motorways" today rather than the rural lanes of yesterday which are winding and unbelievably narrow. But first, we are going to make our way a half-hour to Kilkee, the village of my ancestors now become a resort town. Protected from the Atlantic Ocean waves by the Duggerna Reef, the horseshoe bay here is flanked by a beautiful coast walk that leads to Loop Head Peninsula. As we arrive, the sun comes out. KilkeePoint8wide.JPGKilkeePointWave.JPGd8ba9670-d1db-11e8-b7a5-4db70cd0c4b1.JPGKilkeePanorama.JPGI can only imagine what torment there must have been to motivate Michael Francis Russell, born 1872, to leave this place as a teenager and head to America.

Along the way we pass a new development.TrumpSign.JPG

Then we are off on the wide divided motorway across this island nation back to Dublin. Again, the Waze App proves its worth guiding us efficiently and clearly to The Westin where we are checked into the Oscar Wilde Suite, again on British Airways points. Inefficient and quirky it is fun and most certainly is an upgrade from Room 19.OscarWildeSuiteDownstairs.JPG

We stroll Grafton shopping street where traffic is not a problem. GraftonStreetUp.JPGDublinPrideBusRear.JPGB4 finds a wonderful dress and we stop for dinner at the ornate and fun Bank Restaurant where the pianist is worthy of a generous tip as he riffs from Dire Straits to The Beatles to Billy to Elton and back again.BankRestaurant.JPGlarge_BankPanorama.JPG

Tomorrow we are off to Canada and then the United States. Brief but wonderful, I bid Ireland goodbye in a way far different than did my grandfather.

Posted by paulej4 00:14 Archived in Ireland Tagged street dublin grafton kilkee the_bank_restaurant Comments (0)

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