Nicole O'Neil Photography
I figured it would be good to highlight the places I loved seeing and the places I loved staying while in Ireland (and the ones I didn't love, but may be good for others).
The first places that I LOVED to stay was Avelow B&B in Kenmare, Co. Kerry. The owner, Pat was wonderful. He was attentive to everyone's needs (everyone meaning everyone staying there) and helpful in giving suggestions for places to eat, hearing good Irish music, and things to see. When I arrived in the afternoon, Pat got me some tea and a snack after showing me to my room. The room was beautiful and clean, the breakfast was very good and fresh, and there was parking right out front. The B&B is right on the Ring of Kerry and just outside of the beautiful little town of Kenmare. I would HIGHLY recommend staying there if you go to that area.
I stayed at a B&B in Galway that felt like more of a hotel. It was two buildings connected and there must have been 20 rooms total. I didn't like it much, but it may be good for people who aren't picky about the hotel feel. The room was very large (and had a double bed as well as a twin) and they have parking. It was also affordable and right in a neighborhood of Galway. It was Amber Heights B&B.
The next B&B that I was very happy with was in Boyle, Co.Roscommon. It is Linsfort Bed & Breakfast. Patricia and Michael were unbelievably nice and helpful. When I arrived, I was shown my room (one of 4 en-suite rooms) which was large and spotless. I had a larger bedroom with a double bed and desk and then walked down a few stairs to a smaller room with a twin bed and then a large bathroom. It was situated on a street right in the town close to attractions. Patricia got me some tea and a snack when I arrived and provided me with a map and showed me where she recommended I visit as well as possible places to eat. There was a room to sit and watch TV and where breakfast was served that was comfortable and inviting. It felt like my nana's parlor. When I was leaving the next morning, we had a great conversation about Boston and Ireland and they made some great recommendations on places to see. I would definitely stay there again.
The next B&B that I absolutely loved and will visit again was Aras Ghleanna Cholm Cille. This was when I stayed in Glencolumbkille, which is a great traditional and beautiful area on the west coast of Donegal. The house is large and the owners live there with their sons. It felt like being at home. There is a large room that has tables for breakfast and a couch in front of a fireplace as well as large kitchen area that is for guests to use. The room was a great size and was en-suite.
I was not overly happy with the other places I stayed, so I won't go into detail about them.
Now, for favorite places I visited.
As said above, I loved Kenmare. It was just a small town and great location if you want to do the Ring of Kerry, which I thought was good, but did not live up to the hype in my eyes. It may have been better had the weather been nicer for better views. I did, however LOVE Dingle and the whole Dingle Peninsula. I loved the town of Dingle and all of the fishing boats as well as the views across the water. As I drove the peninsula, I was constantly seeing amazing views and what I describe as a more "traditional Ireland". I also enjoyed the sites such as the famine cottages and the beehive huts along the way.
When in Boyle, I visited the Lough Key. It is a large park which includes historical buildings and beautiful scenery. I walked around a while and also walked in the servant tunnels leftover from a house that used to stand on the grounds. I then, walked along a treetop canopy that overlooked the water (lake) and an island that you can visit with a castle still standing on it. There are also some other great attractions in the Boyle area.
My trip toward Glencolumbkille was filled with great places. I visited the town of Bundoran, a surfing town on the coast. It is a popular summer vacation spot with great beaches and atmosphere. In Sligo, I visited the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery which is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland. After this, I went to Slieve League Cliffs, the largest cliffs in Ireland and one of the highest in all of Europe. It is considered a sacred mountain. I personally enjoyed this more than the Cliffs of Moher. You can drive or walk up the road leading to a view of the cliffs and an amazing view of the ocean. You can then go higher including a hike all the way to the summit which is certainly only for those prepared. I plan to do it next time, as it was very rainy and windy the day I was there.
Glencolumbkille is beautiful and worth staying for a few days. It is near Slieve League. There is a lot of tradition still there and the landscape and seascape is absolutely breathtaking. There is a beautiful cove which is at the end of a road and beautiful little beaches and hills as well as historic sites.
Let's just say that ALL of Donegal is beautiful. As I drove through the countryside and along the coast, it was all amazing, and I even missed some of it. I plan to spend a lot of time here on my next trip traveling along the entire coast and spending time on the Inishowen Peninsula, which is steeped in history. I can't even tell you to visit specific places because I believe you need a lot of time to explore the entire county. (That last place was actually in Donegal County as well.)
The northern coast of N. Ireland is beautiful with castles, old houses, and Giant's Causeway. I also heard about the Ulster-American Folk Park which I did not get to, but plan to visit on a future trip.
Belfast is a must see, if only to take a Black Taxi Tour and visit the Titanic Museum. There is a lot of history here, and much of it is not accurately portrayed to us. Take a longer tour and see as much as you can.
That sums up my absolute favorite places and places I plan to visit next time. Hope this helped if you are considering a trip!
Cemeteries, Castles and Guinness.
I think this is the worst jetlag I have ever had, but luckily, it's getting better. I only woke up at 4:30 this morning instead of 2:30. I have had the last two days to catch up and readjust which is nice and I've spent quite a bit of time staying awake and meeting up with people at my favorite place to meet, socialize, and work out of the house, Zumes Coffee House. After a 4 month renovation, they opened the day I got back and I couldn't have been happier.
Anyway, this is the last of my Ireland blogs. I plan on having an exhibit that will feature pictures from my travels to Ireland, Italy, and DC as well as Charlestown and Boston pictures. This should take place in November, so keep an eye out for the announcement. I will also do a recommendations blog to summarize the best places I stayed and visited during this trip.
I headed out of Belfast in the morning, as I stated in my previous post, with one stop at Milltown Cemetery. The first picture below is from that cemetery (the rest were featured in my last blog post). I then, traveled south toward Dublin and stopped in Trim, Co.Meath along the way to check out the Trim Castle. Trim Castle was the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland.
I arrived at my next and last accommodations in the afternoon. I was staying in a country house in Ashbourne. I had decided that I did not want to stay in the city for my final nights. There was an equestrian center on the property as well, so I walked around and explored that afternoon before going to get dinner and then again the next morning.
I started my final day at Glasnevin Cemetery, the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland. This cemetery was created in 1832 as a result of Catholics not having the right to conduct a catholic funeral in protestant cemeteries (and not having cemeteries of their own). Many prominent figures of Ireland are buried there. These include Daniel O'Connell, an Irish political leader who fought for Catholic emancipation as well as Michael Collins, an Irish revolutionary leader.
My next stop was the Guinness Storehouse for the tour (and of course, my free pint of Guinness). It's one of those things you should do when you're over in Ireland. I was lucky to be there on a Sunday so the drive into Dublin was not bad.
After, I drove along the coast and back to the B&B, but had enough of my camera, so the Guinness pictures were the last. Hope you enjoyed!
Belfast: A city divided?
I was trying to post this in the morning while I waited for my flight, but the internet wouldn’t work for me, so here is the latest Ireland post.
Well, I leave Ireland today. It's raining. I know, I know, you're shocked. But it was beautiful for my few last days and I saw more blue sky than I had in the first 10 days of the trip. This post is going to be a lot of reading because to understand the pictures, you need to understand some of what I learned. It is about my day in Belfast.
I cannot write everything I learned because it would be novel, but I’m happy to talk about it in person. As is the case with many of you, I knew history of the area. Some of you may know everything (or may only know a biased or media based history), some may only know bits and pieces, and some may know nothing. No matter what, as in anything, keep an open mind with things you read and never believe anything 100%. And don't take sides. Something I learned being there and meeting people is that they don't always take a side, so why should you when you haven't lived it. In addition, it is important to remember that there were years of build up leading to the first violence seen there.
Belfast is a city full of history, struggle, and torment. However, it is also home to many people and these people are just like you and me. There are many misconceptions about Belfast, especially about the safety in going there. When I would tell people that Belfast was going to be one of my stops, I got a lot of "Is it safe for you to go there?", "Why do you want to go there?", and "I heard it's dangerous, especially for someone alone." Well, my response was that I had talked to people who are knowledgeable about the area and I know people from there and it was fine. We tend to believe everything we hear and see in the media. Yes, Belfast has problems, like any city. In any city, you see segregation, gangs, extremists, and "problem areas". Belfast may have some areas that are a bit more dangerous depending on who you are, but that is true of everywhere.
I took a black taxi tour with Paddy Campbell's Black Taxi Tours. When my guide, Tom, picked me up at the hotel, he was full of energy and friendly. He is a Catholic who grew up in the Falls Rd area of Belfast. He spoke of the history and helped me to understand the struggles the city has faced from the point of view of someone who lived through it. He made it clear that not all residents are about fighting the "other side". He told me that he has friends on both sides (protestant and catholic) as do many other people. He also made it clear that this is not a religious issue, which I think many people believe. Historically, people tend to hide behind and use religion in fighting personal, political, and other "fights”. Belfast is no exception. This was and is first and foremost a political fight, not a religious one. (you may agree or disagree, but from all I’ve read and learned from those who lived it, that is what I think).
This first picture is an art piece that replaced an old mural of Oliver Cromwell on the wall in the background. This was one of many paramilitary murals being replaced (or just simply eliminated) with a newer murals or other pieces of art with different messages. The words here are Remember, Respect, Resolution.
This is all part of a project to bring a new image to the area. Unfortunately, there are still extremists who want to keep things the way they are, but as a community, the people want to show the world they are not the community as portrayed in the media. I decided to keep the fence closed in the picture because I feel it is symbolic. While there is a movement for things more positive, there is still separation. The following is an excerpt from the Shankill website about this sculpture:
This stainless steel triptych is part of the re-imaging process of the Shankill, and is also the first large scale statue to be found in the Shankill Estate. It is a physical manifestation of the community’s desire to remember and respect the past. It is also a commitment to working towards resolution and a peaceful future. Beside the statues are a group of benches, giving the community a space to sit and reflect. Website: http://shankillwelcomesyou.co.uk/rememberrespectresolution/
The next is a mural commemorating a top killer in the UDA. This man was responsible for at least 12 (known) Catholic killings. He is said to have died from a cocaine overdose, but there is some speculation on whether one of his own killed him (you can read about it all. He had angered some people in the UDA and other groups).
To be honest, I hope this will be on the list of murals to be replaced, as it certainly shows respect for a ruthless killer.
The next is a mural that replaced another negative one. It is made up of pictures from the area (you know I love this idea!) My guide, Tom's car was even represented. :)
This is a disturbing mural. The following is the description from the website: "This mural shows the development of various military and paramilitary groups until the development of the UDA, a paramilitary group."
The gun in the middle stays pointed at you no matter where you stand. Doesn't seem like a welcoming mural to me.
There are MANY flags hanging in the Shankill neighborhood. It seems they want to make it clear who they associate with. I barely saw any Irish flags in the Falls Rd.
Another mural of a UDA member (killed by UVF...a group the UDA was at odds with from the same "side").
The next pictures are of the "peace wall". The first is a gate that is opened to create a passing between the two areas. These used to stay closed at all times, but are now open for the daytime hours (well, most of them). They are still locked up at night.
You may wonder why, if it is not as dangerous as it is portrayed, why the wall still stands and why the gates are there and locked. Well, there are still people that hold anger toward the “other side” and cause problems. The residents feel it actually keeps peace to have the areas separated and they are also used to life like this. They will tell you that even having the gates opened at all is a huge step forward. The wall is not the only one in Belfast, although it is the longest and highest. I will tell you about the wall’s height a little farther down. There are 40 of these such walls across Belfast separating neighborhoods and if put together, would stretch over 13 miles.
The second picture shows the Dalai Lama’s contribution, a quote: “Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values..This is followed by a quote by Bill Clinton, “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.”
I signed to the left of this. (The one of me signing is an iphone pic.
We crossed through the gates and were now in the Falls Road, the “Catholic” side. This neighborhood has identified with being Irish and not British. There are not a lot of flags like the other side and to be honest, there is a different feel (at least to me). We stopped at Bombay St, which was the epicenter of the 1969 violent rampages of attacks and burnings of many Catholic residences and businesses. Almost all the houses on Bombay St were completely destroyed. The scene has been described as horrific and there were many refugees as a result. There was no peace wall then, but there was after.
The wall was even made higher at one point because there were still things being thrown over to attack those on the other side. You can see in a photo below, that there are even what look like cages covering the back of the homes, as an added protection from anything that makes it over the wall. They say things are still thrown, though now, it is less to do with gangs and violence and more to do with sports teams winning/losing. Either way, this is life on Bombay St and most people would rather keep the wall to avoid any troubles that could arise if it were removed. There are also some pictures showing plaques and memorials to those from the neighborhood that had been killed or died during "The Troubles".
I actually found this old interview from the day after the attack. http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1042-northern-ireland-1969/1048-august-1969/320452-vast-areas-in-ruins/
The next two murals are representative of the Hunger Strike. There was a hunger strike in 1980 which was a culmination of 5 years of protests. That one ended after 53 days, but another one took place in 1981. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
"The second hunger strike took place in 1981 and was a showdown between the prisoners and the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. One hunger striker, Bobby Sands, was elected as a Member of Parliament during the strike, prompting media interest from around the world. The strike was called off after ten prisoners had starved themselves to death—including Sands, whose funeral was attended by 100,000 people. The strike radicalised nationalist politics, and was the driving force that enabled Sinn Féin to become a mainstream political party."
You will see near the bottom of this post photos from a visit to the Milltown Cemetery where the hunger strikers are buried.
Sinn Fein Headquarters
The following are along Falls Rd and are murals depicting different political messages both in Ireland and abroad. The painter of the murals is also pictured as he cleans up from the day. Tom said new murals pop up constantly and even he doesn’t know what they all mean.
It would be hard to visit every mural in Belfast, as there are so many.
Well, after an informative and eye opening tour, I was dropped off at the Titanic Museum, not far from where the Titanic was built. It brings you through the process from the history of the shipbuilding industry through the aftermath of the Titanic tragedy. If you get to Belfast, make sure these two things are part of your trip.
The next morning before heading off, I stopped at Milltown Cemetery. It is a very large and beautiful cemetery and also famous because many of the fighters for the IRA are buried there. I have always like cemeteries. I think sometimes they can seem creepy, but there is also something peaceful about them, especially when they are old. There is history there.
Since this was heavy, I leave you with a picture that represents driving in this country. This was at the end of a road. I wish I had gotten a picture of one of the 100km signs in front of a sign that showed sharp curves ahead. (And, yes, they still drive fast around the curves…with only fences or walls of trees/bushes on the sides.
I will make this short on words since i'm tired and I know my next post about Belfast will be wordy. I spent the day driving the top of Inishowen Peninsula followed by a ferry ride to drive the norther coast of Northern Ireland. I love the mist rising in the morning (and check out the moon in the top of the pic that I didn't notice until downloading the photos).
I made my way to the Doagh Famine Village. This was a great way to hear about the famine and history of Ireland (and that area in particular). It was half tour/half self guided. I knew some history about the famine, but got a lot more information. It's also interesting to hear the way history repeats itself. I won't go on about it in case you don't want to hear, but i'm happy to talk about what I learned in person.
When I crossed into N Ireland, the first thing I came to was Downhill Estate. On the national trust website, it says you have to pay admission, but myself and others freely walked the grounds which were massive. Here's a little history on the estate:
18th-century mansion of the eccentric Earl Bishop that now lies in ruin
Sadly the interior of the house shows little of its original character. The house was almost entirely gutted by a fire which broke out on a Sunday in May 1851. The library was completely destroyed and more than 20 pieces of sculpture had been ruined. Most of the paintings were rescued, but a Raphael, The Boar Hunt, was reported destroyed.
This was the house of which the Earl Bishop had written to one of his daughters from Rome in December, 1778, that: 'I am purchasing treasures for the Down Hill which I flatter myself will be a Tusculanium.'
In his later years, the Earl Bishop spent very little time in Ireland. His Irish estates were administered by a distant cousin, Henry Hervey Aston Bruce, who succeeded him following his death in 1803.
In 1804 Henry Hervey Aston Bruce was created a baronet and Downhill remained with the Bruce family until at least 1948, though the family rarely lived there after around 1920.
The only other occupation of the house came about during WWII when the site was requisitioned by the RAF. The house was subsequently dismantled after the war and its roof removed in 1950.
It was massive.
One shot of Dunluce Castle (more when I add all pics to Facebook and my site). A little history: Dunluce Castle is located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea, along the North Antrim coast. There is archaeological evidence of a village that surrounded the castle which was destroyed by fire in 1641. The site was also witness to the sinking of a colony ship that broke up on the rocks off Islay in 1857 with the loss of 240 lives.
The 17th Century mainland courtyard, containing domestic buildings, leads downhill to a narrow crossing to the rock, formerly protected by a drawbridge to the gatehouse. The buildings on the rock are 116th and 17th Century.
Lastly, Giant's Causeway, which is beautiful. Giant's Causeway and the last two pics that I got leaving (second to last) and when I was almost to Belfast (last pic) show how amazing Mother Nature is.
This is a long one again! And I even tried to narrow down! I had time to go through the photos and upload this evening because it started pouring at 3:30 on my ride here and didn't stop. You last read that I was in Boyle, Roscommon where my nana's mother was born. I stayed at a wonderful B&B there. It was the Linsfort Guest House. The couple who runs it could not have been nicer or more helpful. I got there and Patricia got me some tea and showed me around. She also outlined everything on a map that I may like to see. Her husband, Michael was also great and I had a nice chat with them before I left in the morning. They gave me some more helpful info and suggestions for the rest of my trip. If you are every in Boyle, stay there!! The room was a great size and had stairs down to another small room with a twin bed and that room led to the bathroom. It was also one of the best breakfasts I have had here in Ireland.
I believe I showed photos that I took in Boyle in the last post. If not, you will have to wait until I get home and upload all my pics to Facebook! I read about a place, Carrowmore, which is a megalithic cemetery. It is one of only four in ireland. Read about it here (very interesting!): Carrowmore.
You'll notice i'm loving this perspective! This is amazing that this has lasted for so long.
So, I walk over to the most important Dolmen (they say it's the largest in ireland that has stayed perfectly preserved), and of course, there's cows just hanging out.
I then stopped in Sligo to see Sligo Abbey. It was beautiful and you can only imagine how it looked before.
The interesting part of this stone is that it had information removed. There is speculation that he may have been moved to another location.
I next headed to Bundoran, where I would spend the night at the Bundoran Surf Co. It is a popular vacation spot in the summer and big surfing town. I got only a very short time before pouring rain hit for basically the rest of the day. Snapped a few pics though.
The next pics are just of places in Bundoran and Donegal Town that were decorated (and some random pics in between) showing their fierce dedication and appreciation for their team that was competing in (and won) the All-Ireland on the 23rd. I wish I could have stopped and taken pictures on some of the roads where houses were decorated and big signs were in front of houses.
I walked around town and found a beautiful church next to the river and then went on a little walk along the river. It was beautiful and led me out toward Donegal Bay. I then went to see the Abbey cemetery in Donegal Town as well.
Next stop was Killybegs, Ireland's premier fishing port. I walked around a bit and had some lunch (fish of course!) and then headed off.
My next stop and highlight of the day was the Slieve League Cliffs. I enjoyed this much more than the Cliffs of Moher and it is a MUST see. You hike up this road (or can drive) until you get to the view shown in the first pic below. You can then go higher (actually all the way to the summit of the cliffs themselves-which I will do the next time I come for sure-hopefully when it's not freezing and so windy since it's steep and narrow at times). I went a little higher but not all the way. The views were breathtaking.
Last two for today: Sheep! I found this area to be where I saw the most sheep just hanging out by (or in) the road. I wil talk more about where I am now in the next post!
I haven't had good internet for a couple of days, so this blog will cover 3 days of pics (and not even all of the ones I took). I woke up in Dingle to see the sun was shining and this was the view from the B&B..yay!
I walked down to the harbor and took pics of the boats and the fishermen getting ready to head out.
You may notice in the last few pics, that the sky looks very dark and grey... Yes, the weather changed in a matter of minutes from bright and sunny to dark...pretty typical here. :) Rain soon followed, but I was able to get a few shots before heading on my way.
I made my way out the Dingle Peninsular. I loved it. It was serene and beautiful and had all of the characteristics you would want to see...farms, old stone structures, beaches, grass with stone walls.... I visited the famine cottages and these cows were making a lot of noise...and staring me down.
I first visited the famine cottages.
These "people" scared the crap out of me...and they weren't the only ones lurking in the dark. Loved checking out the cottages and the history (sad), but could have done without the people.
I next made my way down the road to the beehive huts which have been there for about 4000 years.
I made my way around the peninsula, stopping along the way to take in the scenery, churches, and other structures as well as the quaint towns that you pass through.
I was then on my way to Galway. I had a little roadblock on the way.
This time, I was staying in the city so it was more of a hotel than a b&b. The room was huge and the cost was low, so all was good.
I headed out the next morning to explore and visit a fishing village I was told about, Roundstone. Before I went there, I stopped at Aughnanure Castle. You can read about it here: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/West/AughnanureCastle/
This guy was making a lot of noise at me as I walked past...luckily he was on the other side of the water. He then followed me along while I walked above toward the castle. I think he wanted to hang out...
I had a nice drive back to Galway along back roads that went along the coast and through mountains.
I stopped at a beach just outside of Galway to sit and enjoy the crashing waves (and blustery wind).
The next morning, I left Galway, headed for Boyle, where my great grandmother was born. I passed this beautiful Friary and decided to stop and snap some pics.
I found this old castle on a website. There is a photographer who discovered abandoned castles, houses, churches, and other buildings and created a book around them. I decided to try and find some of them myself. This is one.
It was very quiet in Boyle since it was Sunday, so I just walked around a while and went to a beautiful park where I went through servant's tunnels that were once part of the large "Rockingham House". I then walked over a treetop canopy which had views of the lake.
This next pic was taken from the top of a tower..which was very high. I am not a big fan of heights, but the walk up and the view were worth it! (The next pic is the tower).
I finished with another walk around town, stopping to take pics of the Boyle Abbey and the Boyle River.
You'll have to see pics from today later on. That's enough for one post! ;)
A bit of blue sky...just a bit....
Well, it's pouring. So, to kill a little time before going to grab some dinner and some Guinness (Happy Arthurs Day!), I figured i'd share photos from the last two days. I believe I talked about the wonderful B&B in Kenmare. I didn't want to leave, it was so great. The man, Pat, who runs it was so nice and attentive to all who were staying there, had great recommendations for Irish music and food, and was overall a great host. If you go to Kerry, stay in Kenmare (tiny, beautiful town) and stay at the Avelow House B&B-you can find it on booking.com. Anyway, this is the cute room I had there.
Yesterday (Wednesday), I set out to do the Ring of Kerry. I started out on a winding road that looks over what is called Moll's Gap. I stopped on the side of the road a few times to snap some pics. It was SO windy, I could barely open the door and had to brace myself against the car to take pictures. The blue sky peeked out on occasion from behind the very dark clouds.
I then came to the Killarney National Forest which has beautiful lakes, mountains, and the beautiful Torc Waterfall you will see below.
I came upon this little church, called Derrycunnihy Church. There were sheep hanging in the side yard of the church. Oh, and shortly before this, was the first time I had to stop on the road for sheep to finish crossing. I'm sure it won't be the last.
I made my way past Killarney and onto the the coast, stopping along the way to take some photos. I missed a few things I wanted to see because the signs sneak up on you as you're travleling at 60mph and there is no way to stop or turn around. Ah, well. I saw a few of those places today instead and will see the rest on my next trip here!
At the end of the peninsula, I took a back road to check out the coast. I found the town of Ballinskelligs. There was a beautiful beach and The Ballinskelligs McCarthy Tower.
I made my way back to the main road and stopped along the way taking photos. I stopped in a great little town, Sneem, for some afternoon tea and continued on my way.
The first, and hopefully not last rainbow of my journey. I am so happy there was a small patch of gravel to pull over.
Next, I walked around Kenmare a bit taking some pics and then headed off back up toward Killarney to check out the grounds of the Muckross House, a Tudor mansion built in 1843. There was also a beautiful Abbey about a mile away from the house, also on the Muckross Estate. A guy tried to get me to pay him 20 euro to take a jaunty ride down to the Abbey and back, but walking the mile down there seemed like a much better idea. :)
Now, I am going to get a little sentimental for a minute, which I generally don't do.
Ireland reminds me of my grandmother for some reason. It could be that she played irish music all of the time, that she loved all things irish-sweaters, shamrocks, etc, or it could be that she drank about a gallon of tea each day. Anyway, many people know that my grandmother was one of the most important people in my life. I don't dwell on her passing a few years ago, but instead think about her often and the wonderful person she was. So, I brought a piece of her here with me (No, not an actual piece). In my bag, I am carrying the chaplet I had made from the roses at her funeral. I wanted to bring her with me because she would have loved this trip. I was actually thinking about her a lot yesterday and especially on my walk back from the Abbey. When I arrived back at the clearing, this is what I saw. It was amazing and this picture does not do it justice at all.
I went to a small town to visit the relative of someone who was a huge help to me in tracing my ancestry. I sat in this pub, drinking Guinness, surrounded by Irish men of different ages, speaking Gaelic. They also talked to me and asked questions about Boston and what my plans were for this trip. After two pints of Guinness, I was on my way back to Kenmare (along the back, winding roads at night--I'm totally used to this driving on the left thing!). I stopped for some delicious Salmon at a pub and another Guinness before heading back to bed.
This morning, I stopped back in Kenmare to see the Stone Circle. These stones are not native to this area and it is a mystery as to why they are there and how they got there. It is a beautiful, serene place though. After walking back through town, I set out to see a few things I missed on the Ring of Kerry before heading to Dingle.
Ballycarberry Castle...beautiful and amazing.
The beautiful beach in Inch on the way to Dingle.
And, finally, arrived. This B&B is not as welcoming and cozy as the last, but it's still very nice. It is right on the main street along the coast and the back has a beautiful view of the water (I'll take a pic when the rain-hopefully- stops before I leave tomorrow morning). I walked around town, stopping for tea and checking out places I may go grab a pint and dinner. And speaking of, it's almost that time, so I'm off to get ready to brave the wind and rain. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!
Well, maybe more than a "little" rain, but hey, it's Ireland. If you're not expecting rain here, you're in trouble. After a decent flight (minus crying child and little sleep), I picked up my rental car and was on my way. Turns out, I'm actually pretty good at this "driving stick on the left side of the road" thing. I was nervous that it would take time (especially since I haven't driven stick in a while--say, 2 years at least). You really do have to think about it every time you turn (and I almost did mess up, which could be dangerous!). The major roads are decent, but those back roads will get you. I have faced many trucks coming flying toward me while crossing over the middle line on tiny roads where the speed limit is 60mph and there is literally only room enough for your car in the lane. It's funny, interesting, and scary all at the same time. :)
Yesterday, after driving 2.5 hrs from Dublin, I visited the town of Lismore in Waterford County. I found out this past week that my great great great grandparents (O'Neil and Doran) lived on a small road called, Church Lane before heading to Boston. The town was a typical Irish town. I visited the Catholic church where my ancestors most likely attended services. This first picture is from the graveyard just outside the church.
This family was obviously very happy that Donegal won the All-Ireland.
Where the O'Neils and Dorans lived in the 1800s.
Saint Carthage's Cathedral (The "protestant church" as described by the locals when telling me how to find Church Lane).
I saw locals going in here, so decided it would be a great place to have afternoon tea and scone. I had some nice conversation with the owner and a patron, who talked to me about how to find more information on my family.
Saint Carthage's Church (Catholic).
After a long day, I headed to Cappoquin, about 15-20 min from Lismore to my B&B. It was located out of the town and in a more remote area on Mount Melleray. I was so wiped out (now, 5:30 pm) I decided to take a walk to keep myself awake until a more normal bedtime. The top of this church reminded me of St. Mary's in Charlestown.
I next walked up a road toward the Mount Melleray Monastery, which I could see just a bit from my B&B. The walk up was beautiful with trees lining one side and the other looking over a soccer field and mountains. At the top was a beautiful and large monastery.
I then went back and settled in to the nice little room I had at this B&B. ...and slept for 11 hours! I don't think I've slept that long in years!
Today was a long day. I headed out toward Kenmare in County Kerry. I ended up with a flat tire in the middle of NOWHERE. A nice man on his tractor stopped to help but the wrench in the trunk was broken, and so I had to wait for AA (Ireland version of AAA) on the side of the road for 1.5 hrs. I then found a tire place just past the next town and was fixed and back on the road quickly. I enjoyed a scenic ride, but it was POURING most of the day (ironically, not while I was stopped waiting), so I did not get many pictures. I do really like this one though. This cow knew as soon as I stepped out of the car that I was there.
I stopped in a small town to the pub belonging to someone I know, but alas, he was at the Ploughing Championships. I had a glass of Guinness and was on my way. I arrived at my B&B and was greeted by my host who was one of the nicest people I've ever met. He got me some tea and I took some time to get settled in. He then recommended a pub in town that had great irish music, so I headed there this evening for dinner, some beer, and some entertainment where I met a couple also from the U.S. and had great conversation sharing travel stories and tips. :) Off to bed now so I can get up super early and see the Ring of Kerry!
Okay, there are a lot in this one post, but I decided it was just easier to fit my last two days into one blog. I had a little bit of a later start since I got in late the night before. I also had to move to the new apartment I was staying in for my last two nights. Once settled, I went back to Portovenere (the place I had taken the night photos the night before) via Ferry. This view is of the Church I had photographed at night and the following ones are from around the town.
The next few are from Riomaggiore when I got back from the Portovenere. I had a little rest down on the harbor and then went off to Monterosso to meet with Connie, my new friend from San Fran. We met the day before on the ferry and since we were both traveling alone, we decided to meet for dinner and drinks. We had an amazing dinner (shocking, I know).
Last day. :( It was a cloudy and rainy day. I went to Monterosso for two reasons. One was that I wanted to start a hike from there to the town of Vernazza. The other was that they were having a lemon festival. Lemons are one of the main things they grow there. There are lemon trees everywhere including right outside their doors and windows. It's awesome. The next bunch are from the lemon festival. They had lots of things made from lemons. I decided to try a torte. It was SO Decadent.
The next bunch of pictures are from the hike I took from Monterosso to Vernazza. It was another great hike with a million stairs and up into the mountains. It wasn't as beautiful as the other big hike, but still good. It rained pretty hard, but a little rain never hurt anyone. The downside was that I couldn't use my camera much during the hike, so less pictures. :)
This is apparently how they get things to and from the gardens up high in the mountain. Yeah, there's no way i'd get on that thing.
The area was devastated by heavy rains and flooding on October 25. Monterosso and Vernazza were affected the most with homes, business, and the main roads being destroyed. The next pictures show this devastation. The first two are of a home that was ruined and the third shows the rebuilding happening.
Next, I wandered through town until grabbing an artichoke pizza for lunch. Individual pizzas are enough for 2-3 people, but they do taste good...as much as you can eat of them at least.
My last really good cappuccino at the local Bar, Bar Centrale.
I spent my last evening shooting pics in the harbor and of the local kids playing. I was totally bummed to have to leave and can't wait to travel again, whether it's to Italy or somewhere else.
I woke up even more sore on Thursday...but only in my calves. So weird. I mean it's not like I don't do stairs. I live on the 2nd and 3rd floor and do the stairmaster. hmmm... Oh well, like in all things, I power through. I woke up at 5:30 to take some pics which I'll have to share another time since I forgot to download them. Then, I went back to bed for an hour and got up to start my day. I started with another omelet and tomatoes but added a "fruit drink" aka a smoothie. BEST smoothie. Seriously.
I decided it was going to be a long day so I started with laying on the beach and reading/listening to music. You'd think this beach would be uncomfortable, but NO. Loved it.
I love how clear and beautiful the water is here.
I took the ferry to the last town, Monterosso after lunch. I was going to meet up with a photographer who has a gallery here. He is popular in this area and has even been in National Geographic. I had met him last year and visited him on Tuesday. He told me that if he brought his car on Thursday, he would bring me to the best spot for night photos. So, it was now Thursday. I also met a new friend on the ferry. Her name is Carrie and she is also traveling alone. We chatted and agreed to try and meet up the next day.
I went to meet the photographer, Mauro. We drove through the countryside which was awesome. We stopped at this church which is the oldest shrine in Liguria. Learn more here: Oldest Shrine
We then went to Portovenere, a beautiful town on the water outside of Cinque Terre. We had amazing pizza and then set out to take pictures. The first is before it was too dark and the rest are after dark. I am still working on my night photography and felt lucky to be with such a talented photographer. I was also happy with the results. :) Mauro told me that the buildings were built so tall and thin because when pirates came in to port, the residents would go all the way to the top and poor things like hot oil down to stop them from coming in. The way they are all connected was also because of protection.
This is the Church of San Pietro, the most sought after church for weddings in this area. It is beautiful and lit up perfectly at night.
We walked up to the top of the church and took pictures of the sky, which was amazing with vivid color, looking back onto Cinque Terre.
To end, we went farther up in the town and took pics of the church from another angle. How beautiful is this place???
Last, we stopped on the way out so I could take a shot of the whole town from above. Great end to another great day. Not as many pics because I was taking some down time. :)