Mar 212009
 
Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Now that your pronunciation is correct, just work on that Irish accent and I will begin.  The Cliffs of Moher are located on the west coast of Ireland, just half an hour from where we stayed overnight at Corrofin.  In true backpacker style, we parked a kilometer from the designated car park (€8, that’s $16 people – to park!) and walked along the road until we got to the entrance.  It was a fine morning, although (as there has been every day) there was a band of smog or similar hanging in the air and the far cliffs were almost impossible to see.  It defies me how this ‘smog’ can hang in the air for days when there is a 60km/h wind…?  A postcard will be sent to whoever can explain this phenomenon!  I digress.  The cliffs were very impressive; almost exhilarating to stand atop the sheer 200m vertical rise above the Atlantic (and hold on for dear life).  No photos for P-Bear here!

Tonight, we’re in Galway, the only city in the world to rival Brisbane in terms of road traffic congestion.  Obviously they need some tunnels…  Tomorrow, we keep heading north; almost back into the CHEAP (relatively) United Kingdom, phew!

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

An Daingean peninsula

 europe  Comments Off on An Daingean peninsula
Mar 212009
 

An Daingean

An Daingean

We spent a wonderful morning today following “Rick Steve’s” suggested An Daingean Peninsular Circular Tour. The tour, if done with stops, takes approximately 3 hours and takes you through some spectacular coastal regions. This is the Ireland of movies, and the Ireland I envisioned before I came here. One side of the road falls away to sheer cliff face and crashing breakers, whilst the other features quaint farmhouses and hillsides lined with stone walls and scatterings of sheep.

One of the things I’m constantly amazed by the is sheer number of ruins in a small area. Today we saw a fort dating from somewhere in Ireland’s Iron Age (500BC-AD500), the ruins of a 6th century monastery, an oratory from the 8th century and a ruined 12th century church. All this is the space of about 30km! It does make me wonder, however, if you have to be from a young country to truly appreciate the wealth of history freely available in an ancient one…

12th Century church

12th Century church

Gallarus oratory

Gallarus oratory

This afternoon we hunted fruitlessly for some traditional Irish cuisine, and a McDonald’s with working wifi! After a cursory survey of the hustle and bustle of Limerick we escaped to quieter pastures, namely, Ennis. Although we failed to find any Irish food there, despite a dearth of pubs, it seems a lovely little town. We eventually struck some luck and found a pub serving (among other things) Irish food, just down from our campsite in Corrofin. I enjoyed some bacon and cabbage (with the world’s largest side of potatoes) and Jules had the lamb stew with homemade brown bread. I was pleasantly surprised with my meal actually – the cabbage was really very tasty! However, I can’t say I blame the Irish for wanting something else to eat when they go out – while the meals were tasty and the portions huge, the food is simple and quite plain.

Stone walls on the peninsula

Stone walls on the peninsula

Mar 212009
 

Dingle

Dingle

Ireland has started to redeem itself! We made the long trip over to the west coast and settled for the night in Dingle (technically it’s called An Daingean (on DANG-un), but don’t say that to the locals! They are very irate that the powers-that-be unilaterally changed the official town name to its Gaelic version).

We spent the night in the backyard of a lovely hostel on the outskirts of town – Rainbow Hostel if you’re ever in the area. After a shower and some food, we made our way into Dingle proper to explore the nightlife and hopefully catch some live Irish music.

After a delicious sticky toffee pudding (bread and butter pudding for Julian) at Murphy’s pub, we headed down the road to John Benny Moriarty’s where we had a Murphy’s stout and a Bulmer’s cider and enjoyed tapping our toes to the “trad” Irish music.

Irish trad

Irish trad

Paddington had a bit too much to drink, and attempted to make the trio a quartet, but he doesn’t have the legs to hold his Guinness I’m afraid.

Can't handle his Guinness!

Can't handle his Guinness!

Overall it was a very enjoyable night, although we still didn’t meet any Irish folk – the pub was full of Americans! I do want to make on small comment though. Foxy John’s is a hardware store by day, but at night it becomes a pub. Maybe it’s just me, but I question the sense in combining drinking with hardware and tools…seems like a recipe for disaster to me! But I guess we are in Ireland!

Hardware by day, pub by night!

Hardware by day, pub by night!

Mar 192009
 

Leaving Dublin, we ventured south on some reasonably good roads to Cashel. Ireland has far less round-a-bouts, far more speed limit signs and very few speed cameras compared to the UK. What they also lack is the recommended speed limit signs for bends in the road. In Ireland, the road is marked ‘Slow’ for a gentle bend, ‘Slower’ for a reasonable corner and ‘Very Slow Very’ for you’d better slow down quickly to 15km/hr or end up over the edge.

Rock of Cashel - Round Tower

Rock of Cashel - Round Tower

The Rock of Cashel is a chapel, cathedral and castle, built in stages from the 12th to 15th centuries. Prior to this, the fortress was fought over by local clans until, in 1101, it was given to the Church in a move that prevented rivals from regaining possession while at the same time gave the donor a certain sway with the Church.

Rock of Cashel - Cathedral

Rock of Cashel - Cathedral

From Cashel, we pushed on to Killarney then Dingle. Killarney is a lovely little town – we had a short exploratory walk around the town centre looking for some camping gas. It seemed very clean with friendly folk and had shop fronts that were fresh and inviting but maintained the traditional appearance of the town.

Mar 172009
 

I got the job to write about Dublin, as Leah is going by the principle “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

We’re not sure if it’s the cold weather, the city being so grey, the beggars on the street or the fact it is so expensive (for an Aussie anyway) that turned us off Dublin.

Crowd for the parade on O'Connell St, Dublin

Crowd for the parade on O'Connell St, Dublin

St Patrick’s Day redeemed it somewhat.  The parade started at 12pm (Irish adjusted time) through the city.  There were grand floats and marching bands and hundreds of thousands of people.  Many of the floats were space-themed, as 2009 is, apparently, International Year of Astronomy.  Then on to Gallagher’s Boxty House for some great lamb ‘burgers’ (no buns?).  And finally to an Irish pub in Temple Bar for a drink with the locals and other tourists.  Great Guinness, ought to be since it’s made about 2km (yes, back to metric) from here.

Figures in the parade

Figures in the parade

Guinness!

Guinness!

mmm...

mmm...

Our trip map is starting to look a bit better now!  The ferry crossing to Dublin took 3.5 hours and was quite pleasant.  Our final morning in Wales we had a walk on the beach at Trearddur Bay – if you ever need to campsite here, go for Bagnol.