Saturday, July 7, 2007

Training and Vacation in Ireland

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland. I was there for 2.5 weeks, the first 1.5 weeks in training for work… sounds rough, I know! For training, I was staying in Kilkee, on the west coast in Clare County. It was beautiful. I have never been that far north in the summer and was amazed when the sun rose about 5AM and set about 11PM. The weather really cooperated and the lack of rain allowed us to spend the day studying the rocks / outcrops (I am a geologist.) instead of working in a classroom, which was wonderful. The scenery was beautiful, with the teal green waves crashing against or upon the rocks. I got to catch up with some friends from Houston, mainly Taskin and Ashling, and meet some new people. The night I will remember most is when Taskin, Ashling, and I sat in cozy seats of a hotel, drinking a pint and watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

When the school ended, I traveled by bus and train to meet Bob in Dublin to start a week of vacation. We stayed in Dublin from Friday until Monday. The best hotel we stayed in, in terms of view and value, was the Eliza Lodge. Here is a picture from the top floor, where our room was.

On Saturday we met up with Bob’s brother Brian and his girlfriend Miriam who flew in from London for day and a half. It was great to see them. Here is a picture of us out on the town and a picture of the Temple Bar the "party" area of Dublin.

Once Brian and Miriam left we relaxed one more night in Dublin before heading off on a long drive. It seems most people tour the southern half of Ireland but we wanted to get away form crowds so we went to the west and then north. Our drive from the east coast to the west coast took us to Galway, a smaller more artsy version of Dublin, and Clifden in beautiful Connemara, where we stayed in the cozy Sea Mist House (B&B) for the night. The next morning we drove Sky Road, a beautiful drive along the coast, and then went to Strandhill, Europe’s surfing mecca ( Next we made our way through Donegal to Slieve League, England’s highest sea cliffs where the weather was not cooperating limiting our hiking and view… but it was still beautiful. We then drove over Glen Gesh Pass to Ardara where we stayed for the night in a placed claimed to be Ireland’s Best B&B! The Green Gate is owned by a French writer named Paul who moved to Ireland years ago and fell in love with it. The accommodations, restored cottages, were primitive (concrete floors, limited lighting, very low ceilings, no shower, only a tub) but the hilltop view and the ambiance made up for it.

From Ardara we drove the most direct route into Northern Ireland and our first stop was to check out Portrush’s harbor and beach. From there we went to the ruins of the 13th Century Dunluce Castle.

Our next stop was Giant’s Causeway, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and a vast area of regularly spaced (~30cm across) hexagonal columns of basalt formed during the cooling of the basalt flow.

After few miles down the road, we hiked out to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which was not a grand as the pictures made it look, strung across a 20m chasm only 30m above the ocean (it looked a lot higher in the Lonely Planet book). The bridge is a reconstruction of the type of bridge fisherman had built for the past 350 years to allow them to access the best places to fish for migrating Atlantic Salmon. The surrounding view was beautiful with turquoise blue water with steep cliffs and white sand beaches.

After a long day of sight seeing we stayed in the university district of Belfast, then headed back to Dublin for one more night to shop for a few things and then we headed home to Lagos.

We covered 1100 km in 3 days!

Dublin –
Clifden, Galway County -
Ardara, Donegal County - - the best B&B in Ireland
Belfast, University area – nice location but not worth advertising for

How would I describe Ireland… beautiful, very green, rolling hills, stone walls, partitioned fields, sheep, very skinny roads, unpredictable weather, very nice people, expensive but worth a visit. I believe Bob will eventually take the same training and then I may meet him to travel the southern part of the country.


IamMBB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IamMBB said...

Nice pics! I enjoyed seeing them all.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're feeling better now. Sounds like you may have lost a few pounds being so sick. I should come and eat with you soon.
Loved the pictures from your trip and your descriptions.
Love ya,
Aunt Toni

Anonymous said...

Loved reading about your trip to Ireland and seeing the pictures. We loved traveling in Ireland although we were in the west and south. Hope you are feeling better. Judy/YLM