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Category: trips:Ireland

June 14, 2005

Link roundup

June 16, 2004

Ireland Trip Log

I thought it would only take a week, but it's been ten days and I'm only halfway through. This entry sums up my progress: the entries that are unlinked are those which I still have to do, and some of those that are linked need a bit more revision, but if you've been dying to see my Ireland photos you can check them out.

I've mainly done the 'scenic' entries. Most of the Dublin/Galway nightlife stuff I still haven't got to yet, partly because I'm relying on ginfiend/wdj/psychoshepard to blog their recollections and save me the effort of recollecting.

May 29
Dublin I (St. Stephens Green, Trinity)

May 30
Dublin II (Chester Beatty, O'Donoghue's)

May 31
Dublin III (Jameson, Guinness, Temple Bar)

June 1
Dublin to Cork (Kilkenny, Cobh)

June 2
Cork to Kilkee (Ring of Kerry, Shannon Ferry, Kilkee)

June 3
Kilkee to Galway (Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Doolin, Galway I)

June 4
Connemara (Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, Galway II)

June 5
Galway to Dublin (IV)

June 6
Dublin V

June 7, 2004

Back from Ireland

photo Hi all. I'm back from Ireland. I'm looking forward to posting all my photos, which should be as exciting for you all to go through as attending a slideshow, but I look forward nevertheless. My current estimate is that there are 547 photos. I plan on writing entries to go with most of these, so this may take me all week.

June 4, 2004

Kylemore Abbey

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We were speeding through Connemara when we noticed a huge castle-like house jutting out the side of one of the mountains, which was notable because there was mostly nothing but sheep, rocks, and mountains around. We stopped for a quick lunch and some photos. Above the abbey, a couple hundred feet up the mountain, I could barely make out some sort of statue, most likely a Christian statue of some sort; there is a path up that goes up the mountain to the statue and would probably provide some great views, but I couldn't figure out where the trailhead was.

Apparently the place was built about a century before by someone with a lot of money, and there was a really nice garden, which didn't survive the place being bought by a bunch of nuns. See what detail I have for historical stuff?

Regardless, the place has a killer location.

Kylemore Abbey Photo Gallery (7 photos)

Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park was nice, educational stop, with a little bit of exercise thrown in. We started off our visit at the visitor center, where they have a small exhibit showing the evolution of the land in the park area. About ten thousand years ago the area started emerging from the Ice Age and eventually became covered in oak and pine forests. Then, about five thousand years ago, people started arriving and, as people do, began cutting stuff down. They figured out that burning the forests down was a quick way to clear the land, and, over the course of thousands of years, bog land started developing as the soil became waterlogged from the lack of trees and large amounts of carbon in the soil.

There is now a reverse effect going on in Ireland. Once numerous, the bog lands are rapidly disappearing, and there was an exhibit at the visitor center featuring an unhappy anthropomorphic pile of peat that was sad over its shrinking home.

There are two trails that you can hike there: a 1.4km loop that takes you up a hill, and a ~20min (each way) hike that you can take through some of the more bog-like areas (with plenty of sphagnum, which I unfortunately don't have any good photos of). Our guide indicated that there used to be longer hikes you could take around Diamond Hill, but when we were there those trails were closed to reduce erosion damage. I'm used to US national parks, where the trails are endless, so the lack of hiking was a bit of a disappointment.

In the photos you will see several near the end that look like bumpy grasslands. These are the bog. If you were to step in that grass you would sink a good amount. You'll also see a photo of a totally punk sheep.

Connemara National Park Photo Gallery (31 photos)

Connemara

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We drove through Connemara today (as meta mentioned in her blog, the Aran Islands were cancelled on the account of morning being early). We had to dodge a lot of sheep as we looped the region (from Galway and back), but it was worth it. It surprises me how each of the peninsulas on the west side of Ireland has very different geography; I'll have to rely on the photos to properly demonstrate the variations. Connemara has these mountains that jut straight up from black lakes below. The valleys are wide, though, so driving around them is easy.

Connemara is covered in bog land. I didn't have a good idea of what bogs were before, other than they were wet. It turns out that they look like bumpy grass that's quite squishy. Scattered about the bogs were blocks of peat that the locals had cut out of the bog to dry, possibly to use as fuel. Its rather neat to think that you can literally cut blocks out of the soil. We learned a lot about the development of bogs in Connemara when we visited the Connemara National Park, which is in the northwest part of the peninsula.

We're headed to Dublin tomorrow to turn in our rental car; hopefully we won't lose too much of our deposit on some hubcap 'scrapes' that we collected. As I've said before, driving here is not for the faint of heart. Even being a passenger can be panicking.

Related Entries:
- Kylemore Abbey
- Connemara National Park
- Galway II

The photo gallery mostly contains examples of drive-by tourism. If the pictures seemed blurred right to left or has reflections on top of it, it was taken as the car was moving. It was raining on-and-off as we drove around, so I wasn't always able to roll the window down.

Connemara Photo Gallery (40 photos)

June 3, 2004

The Burren

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The Burren is awesome; for its sheer uniqueness it ranks highly on the places I visited. It's like being in a gigantic quarry. The hills here look almost man-made, as if someone kept stacking rocks up and up for several generations.

The Burren is also a key to understanding Irish architecture. The numerous stone walls, circle forts, and castles make much more sense when you see that the Irish could pretty much pull a cart up to the hill, cut some large stones, and carry them away.

We visited one megalithic structure in the Burren, Poulnabrone tomb, which is popular postcard photograph. Looking at the photos beforehand, I had the impression that the tomb was much larger and would be visible from a mile away. As it turns out, its barely larger than a person, and wouldn't be worth visiting if the rest of the Burren weren't so darn cool.

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The photo gallery contains numerous photos, including some drive-by ruins we saw on the way out and a dog riding on a tractor.

The Burren Photo Gallery (60 photos)

Cliffs of Moher

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We had stayed in Kilkee to the south so that we would be able to get to the Cliffs of Moher easily, but the morning fog in Kilkee didn't bode well for us. As you can tell from the photos, I couldn't even make out the outline of the cliffs; the only good photo I got is the tower above, which overlooks the cliffs.

We each bought a postcard of what the cliffs would have looked like had we been there, content that if the weather had been better, the view would have been spectacular. If you search Google images, you yourself might agree, and from the comfort of your own home, have about the same quality of experience we had ;).

As a consolation, I think they should sell at least one postcard that's all white.

Cliffs of Moher Photo Gallery (4 photos)

Doolin

I don't have much to say about Doolin. We visited the Lower Village while were there, not realizing that there was a second village about a mile away. The Lower Village was quite tiny, containing a single pub (O'Connors) and about five or so tourist-oriented shops. Given that Doolin only has about two hundred residents, the other village probably wasn't any larger.

Given that Doolin is famous for its traditional music performances, meta picked up a Dubliners CD while were there, and due to the poor quality of Irish radio, the CD effectively became the soundtrack to the rest of our vacation.

We stopped for a pint at O'Connors, but it was the middle of the afternoon. Unfortunately we had to jet to Galway so we didn't get to listen to merry trad music.

The photo gallery is about as large as Doolin is. I failed to snap a photo that captured the entire Lower Village, which would have been quite easy, but I did snap two photos of a rusty bike, which I think may be one of the most photographed bikes in Ireland, given that I saw two other people photograph it in ten-or-so minutes.

Doolin Photo Gallery (4 photos)

Galway

We are now in Galway, back within the reaches of the Internet, having travelled from Kilkee this morning (your typical beach-side resort town), past the Cliffs of Moher, through the Burren, and a brief stop in tiny musical Doolin. The Burren was really cool; it's might be best described as driving through a giant rock quarry in the shape of large hills. The Irish architecture makes much more sense having seen where all the rocks come from.

Yesterday we drove from Cork and around the Ring of Kerry, which was beautiful. It is the Irish version of Maui's Hane Coast, though the roads are *slightly* more navigable. We even found a nice sandy beach and relaxed for a bit before we made it to a lookout point from which you could see both sides of the peninsula.

Having a rental car is nice, and meta is adapting the left-side driving experience rather quickly, though we haven't quite picked up any good Irish road-rage insults to shout at other cars yet. The roads here are about two cars wide, so in the passenger seat I have the constant sensation of being just about to graze a parked car or run into a hedge; luckily this has only happened a couple of times, with only minor scrapes on hubcaps and side-view mirrors to show.

If anyone wants me to pick them up Irish trinkets, speak now or forever hold your peace. There is standard tourist fare, including Irish pins, family crests, Celtic designs, Guinness goods, and stuff in the color green. Otherwise, everything else here is about the same as what you'd get in the US, but with the poor exchange rate about 1.5 - 2x as expensive.

I'll have plenty of pictures to post when I get back. My current count is somewhere between 300-400 photos I think. The iPod and Belkin reader are performing like champs. Sadly, my only descriptive photo of the Cliffs of Moher are on a postcard; my photos are a spectacular gray fog.

June 2, 2004

Kilkee

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We got through the Ring of Kerry faster than we had anticipated, so we made it up to Kilkee and stopped there. It's on the southern half of the peninsula that the Cliffs of Moher are located on, and we wanted to be within striking distance.

West Clare County is probably the Irish equivalent of Cape Cod -- it's where all the wealthy Irish go to vacation. Kilkee itself is your typical resort town, but we visited midweek on an off-week (apparently the upcoming bank holiday weekend was going to be a popular weekend).

My major photographic endeavor was to try and capture the sunset along the Kilkee beach. When I embarked on this plan, I had estimated only 30 minutes until sunset. meta had estimated an hour, and it turns out that she was far closer. In addition to having to wait out on the beach much longer than I had planned, the clouds started moving in from the west and the sunset was completely blocked. I did, though, managed to snap quite a few photos that I'm fond of, even without sunset bonus points.

Kilkee Photo Gallery (40 photos)

Selected favorites are in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Kilkee" »

Ferry to Kilrush

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We took the ferry from Tarbert to Kilrush, which had many beautiful views of the Shannon River. When we pulled up to the ferry a guy with a donkey and pony towing a janky cart were trying to board the ferry. Sadly, we were denied the entertainment of their company, and we were left wondering how one would circumnavigate the Shannon River with a donkey and pony cart.

A less interesting form of entertainment was provided by a crow that spotted meta and her tea biscuits and began following her around the ship.

Ferry to Kilrush Photo Gallery (16 photos)

Cork to Kilkee

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We had a little trouble navigating out of Cork in the morning, but we eventually made it on our way to the Ring of Kerry. You can tell almost immediately when you enter into Kerry County. Immediately you're confronted with large mountains/hills made of of rock that undulate up into the sky. It was also the first place that we started encountering sheep.

The Ring of Kerry was even more spectacular, and we made good time around the loop and back up north towards the ferry across the Shannon that would take us into Kilrush. From there it was a quick drive into Kilkee, where we stayed the night.

Related entries:
- Ring of Kerry
- Ferry
- Kilkee

The photos in this gallery are mostly taken while driving, so the quality is not great. However, you should get a good idea for some of the landscape there, and there is an adorable lamb.

Kerry Drive-by Photo Gallery (14 photos)

Ring of Kerry

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The Ring of Kerry is really nice. It's like the Hane Coast of Maui, but without the tropical rain forests, and little easier to drive, which I guess makes it not that much like the Hane Coast, but I'll stick to my analogy.

The ring takes you around the Kerry peninsula, occassionally passing through small towns, but for the most part large farm fields with sheep, hills, mountains, and coastline. While we were pulled off on the side of the road to take some pictures and old Irish guy appeared to chat with us about the poor quality of the Kerry soil. After we got back into the car we looked around to see where the old man had gotten off to and was gone, *poof*.

We stopped for a bit at a beautiful beach cove, which, continuing the tropical analogies, was like a island beach, but with colder water. There are some really nice photos in the photo gallery.

There are also some nice photos from a hill we climbed about halfway around the peninsula. There was a large parking lot, just waiting to trap tourists and their tour buses. meta and I went up a large hill adjacent to the lot in order to escape the throngs and get a better view. We could still hear the Wild Rover on accordian, but it was otherwise peaceful.

Ring of Kerry Photo Gallery (57 photos)

Continue reading "Ring of Kerry" »

June 1, 2004

Cobh

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Known for being the last port of call for both the Lusitania and Titanic, Cobh seemed to me like a beautiful, but dying, seaside town. The main part of town is located on a steep hill that runs down the shoreline, with a large cathedral halfway up the hill that stands over the town. Along the shore there are numerous shops, but many are out of business and their fascades are falling apart. Nevertheless, the lodging that we wanted was full, so we ended up continuing onto Cork instead.

The photo above is actually taken just outside of Cobh, on the north side of the small island that the town sits on. The tower is one of many, many ruins that one sees as you drive around Ireland.

Cobh Photo Gallery (10 photos)

May 29, 2004

Dublin I

dublin

We didn't do much the first day here. We checked into Cobblestones, which is a hostel in the middle of Temple Bar. We ended up not liking this choice, as they don't seem to do too good of a job monitoring who actually enters the place, and the 'breakfast' wasn't much more than tiny bread rolls and tea (then again, didn't really expect that much from a hostel). The main problem was that there didn't seem to be much of a noise difference between the windows being open and the windows being closed, which is a problem when you are staying above all the bars and nightclubs...

Most of the day involved exploring Dublin on foot, stopping at the occassional bar in Temple Bar and elsewhere. Dublin is remarkably walkable, so we had explored most portions of our map by the time the day was up. meta made me promise to wait for Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery until the drunken louts showed up.

My first $50 was gone by the afternoon, as it would appear that Dublin is ridiculously expensive.

Temple Bar

meta and I are in Temple Bar now (part of Dublin). Just arrived so not much to report, other than that meta's hair, five weeks since dyeing, now has the appearance of faded denim. Also, my blog's already had two comment spams, which doesn't bode well for the maintenance while I'm away...

BTW - Why is it that even English-speaking nations don't have the same freakin' keyboard layout? The letter keys are fine, but the shift and enter keys are screwy so I keep having to delete \# characters...

Off to go find a pint of Kilkenny

May 27, 2004

Leavin' Here

05-27-04.shamrock.jpgI'm headed off to Ireland tomorrow morning. I'm not bringing my laptop, so my posting will be confined to what whims allow while in Internet cafes. I'll be back two Sundays from now, full of Guinness and Kilkenny.

If you have any suggestions for Ireland, please post quickly before I go, as we have no plan as of yet.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to kwc blog in the trips:Ireland category.

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