Our trip to Antrim and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
April 9-23, 2013
Barbican Gatelodge in County Antrim, Northern Ireland:
I have received many notes from strangers who have read our travelogues and used them to plan their own trips. If you are one of these people, know that we really love hearing from you and are gratified that you enjoy these webpages as much as we do.
Keep in mind, though, that I create these travelogues primarily to help US. They remind us what we did when, who we met, and what we would do differently next time, so they are full of things that most people don’t care about. They are personal, and that personalization might help make your trip a better one, but it makes for some very, very long webpages….
We came home with over 2000 pictures from which almost 500 were finally chosen.
I put these travelogues up as quickly as possible after we get back. I’m SURE there are grammatical and spelling errors all over the place. I correct them as I find them but if YOU find any, please let me know! If you find any broken links, please let me know that, too.
The web page was developed in Google Chrome. If you use a different browser, it will not look as intended.
This travelogue is very long. If you prefer to read it in smaller pieces here are links to daily pages (they are repeated at the end of each page as well). A new window will NOT open.
This was our SEVENTH vacation in Dingle
so I will focus on those things which are unique to this trip.
It amazes me that we have not yet run out of things to do! Every year is different
(and seemingly better than the last) so please read all our travelogues on this wonderful area
to see the many interesting things it has to offer. You will get much more out of them if you read them
in order from the earliest to the latest since I don’t repeat all the little tidbits that will make your visit more enjoyable.
Again, I apologize for the minutia that most people will find irrelevant; but, because we use these logs to plan our future trips, I record everything that might come in handy later. Everything! A picture might be worth a thousand words but there are some things they can’t convey, like the fact that if you order "bacon" in Ireland you will get what Americans call "ham" or Canadian bacon, which comes from the loin (back) area of the pig, whereas traditional American bacon is made from pork belly and is called "streaky bacon" in Ireland
Another tidbit a photo can’t convey is that if you want half-and-half with your coffee, you will have to ask for "full cream" or you will get milk. If those distinctions aren’t important to you, skip the commentary.
A NOTE ON THE MAPS
Most of the maps I posted here were created using MapQuest, Google and Adobe Photoshop. I found that MapQuest had more detail, especially in the shoreline, than Google. But, neither MapQuest nor Google was detailed enough for our nature hikes so those maps I created by scanning the Ordnance Survey maps we use when we were hiking and then photoshopping the scanned images together. Please do not rely solely on my maps if you travel to this area!
Once again, we planned our trip to avoid the Easter holiday. KC wanted to go for a full two weeks this year so we settled on April 9-23.
As usual, we booked our seats in coach and requested system upgrades for Business class.
We like starting the trip by visiting a new part of Ireland so, this year, we researched the properties managed by the Irish Landmark Trust and decided on the Barbican Gatelodge in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
If you have read our other travelogues, you know that food figures prominently in them, partially because we’re foodies, and partially because I am unable to eat many things due to my sensitivity to MSG. I get migraines often and have found that managing my diet reduces their frequency significantly. This makes travelling difficult because restaurants rarely take food sensitivities into account and most of them do not avoid packaged ingredients, which are rife with MSG. (Yes, it’s rough being a foodie with so many limitations.)
I am now following the Genotype Diet – the last diet I will ever follow because it has been scientifically proven(*), it makes sense, and it works. It’s extremely hard to manage away from home, though, because the rules are impossible to categorize: Fresh, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, MSG-free and GMO-free would be as close as I can come to describing how I’m supposed to eat. I am an O positive non-secretor, a GT1 Hunter, and I should not eat corn (including cornstarch), soy, potatoes, apples, vinegar, or pork. I follow the diet close to 100% when I’m at home.
Unlike many people, who use vacations as an excuse to cheat, I resent being put in a position where I can’t follow my diet because I feel better when stick to it: I get fewer migraines, I have more energy and mental clarity, and I’m able to control my weight. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels! I realized that if I hoped to eat right for my blood type on this trip, I was going to have to bring food with me.
Throughout this blog, things I’m not supposed to eat are referred to as AVOIDS.
This year I planned ahead to minimize the last-minute thrashing that always precedes our trips. Because sugar and gluten are verboten for me, I prepared lots of snacky things, the hardest food item to find on vacation. They’re the hardest food item even at home, because nothing purchased is avoid-free, so I have to make every snack I eat. Nuts, which are a superfood for me, are one of my staples.
Two weeks before we left, I made 2 pounds of chili-walnuts using New Mexico chili and pepitas using aji amarillo; the week before, I made almond butter; and three days before, walnut-cranberry fudge. I use mesquite instead of sugar in the fudge. Mesquite is a low-glycemic fruit pod that tastes a little like maple. It’s a member of the pea family, and peas are a superfood for me, so this is a dessert I can enjoy and know that it’s also good for me.
Chili-walnuts and aji-amarillo-pepitas:
Making almond butter and walnut-cranberry-fudge:
Four days before we left, I started packing. I intended to have everything packed by Sunday which would give me Monday to acquire/clean anything that wasn’t trip-ready. This year, we planned to take three hard cases: one large, one medium, and my carry-on. These bags are made by Heys of Canada and hook together in such a way that one person can pull all three of them with one hand. They’re lightweight but strong (except for the zipper, which I’m sure is going to fail) and I love them except for the fact that the biggest one is so big it’s hard to manage and it exceeds the weight limit easily. (KC, who doesn’t love things, agrees that they were a very useful purchase.)
We usually don’t take the biggest bag but we needed two large bags this year because I packed additional shoes and coats to avoid being cold and wet, as I was last year, and I brought more foods and supplements than in the past. In addition to my snacks, I brought my favorite spices, coffee, and sugar.
Coffee is especially high in pesticides and organic is hard to find in Dingle so I always bring our favorite coffee with us. I brought 1.5 pounds and we only used 1 because we were travelling alone. In the future, figure ¼ pound per person per week. This year Ré Nua,the health food store, did have organic ground coffee for sale. Garvey’s Market , the biggest conventional grocery store in Dingle, sells mostly instant and no organic.
When packing, I usually distribute our clothes between the two checked bags so that our vacation isn’t ruined if one bag is lost or stolen; but, this time, I put everything we needed for Antrim in the bigger bag so that I’d only have to repack one bag after our three days there. I hate packing.
On Monday, I packed my supplements and smoothie ingredients into individual ziploc bags. I then packed everything into three larger bags, to avoid making a mess in the suitcase if one of the seals failed. One bag went into each suitcase. I had purchased a 220v stick blender but it didn’t arrive before we left so I resigned myself to mixing my smoothie in a glass and packed some vegetable glycerin to improve the taste.
Smoothie packets, one for each day:
My purse, a large A-La-Carte tote bag made by Baggallini, is the best carry-on I’ve ever found. There are three large open pockets in the front and a zippered pocket in the back. There are slip pockets and an additional zippered pocket inside, and the top zips closed. The black one looks much better than the red one but the red one is easier to spot if someone tries to walk off with it.
My purse fits inside a Tumi Just-In-Case bag which has a sleeve on one side that slides over the pull-handle of my rolling bag. It gives me a place to store tickets, maps, and directions as well as an extra zip-top bag if I buy something in the duty-free store.
I brought two reusable grocery bags and remembered to pack them in my tote for our trips to Garvey’s. I also brought a larger Herve Chapelier tote for shopping in Dingle. I was really trying to avoid all the things I’d done wrong in previous years!
When I researched the Giant’s Causeway, looking for advice on how difficult the climb was going to be, I found several warnings about the rocks being slippery.
According to their website:
• Come prepared for a long/intense walk (it would be recommended to wear waterproof clothing and comfortable flat foot wear).
• Keep your distance from the edge of the water and be aware of large waves, especially when exploring the stones. The stones are uneven and can be very difficult to walk on, especially if wet, and they can become very slippery.
Remembering the trouble I had last year fording that stream in Coumaloghig, I bought a new pair of SLIP-RESISTANT SHOES, women’s Alpine from SAS Shoes. They’re really ugly but they are made in the US (and correspondingly expensive) and were the only ones recommended on the various sites I visited.
They aren’t tall enough to be wading around in water so I have let the company know they need to make a taller boot (it would be better looking, too, if it were taller) but these will be fine for the Causeway.
Monday night, while I was lying in bed making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, I realized that I really wanted to bring my laptop. It would make putting up this webpage much easier if I could update each day’s activities directly into the code AND it would give me something to do while we were relaxing in the cottage.
Since I couldn’t check it, I either had to persuade KC to carry it (along with his laptop, his iPad his MP3 player, his phone, both cameras, etc…) or I had carry it myself. He refused, understandably, so I removed some of the snacks in my rolling bag and managed to fit it in. This was a miracle – it is a very large laptop!
Travel to Dublin
Thursday, April 12
I woke up with a migraine again today. I’ve had one for three days now so I hope it’s winding down but it means the trip will be difficult because the medication I take, which masks the pain most of the time, makes me run to the bathroom every hour. But, if I have to choose between pain and incontinence, I’ll take incontinence every time. I take the pill and hope for the best.
We arranged to have the car pick us up at 3:45 again this year, even though we got there very early last year, because I wasn’t sure how long the extra laptop would delay our passage through TSA screening. Before we left, I was able to get 6 hours sleep AND tidy the house AND have my hair cut and blow-dried. Starting early and having a checklist to work from made a huge difference.
We left the house at 3:48 (a little late because I couldn’t find my front door key and had to exit through the garage), we arrived at O’Hare at 4:15, and used curbside check-in. There was almost no-one in the line at security; and, although they did rifle through my bag, as they do EVERY year because it’s full of foods that look like liquids (chocolate, breakfast bars, etc…), we were on our way to the gate at 4:35, earlier than last year and with over an hour to kill.
So glad to be finally on our way:
In the Flagship Lounge, KC had veggies and humus and I had some delicious smoked salmon with wasabi. They also served sushi, which I love, but it didn’t look fresh and sushi frequently has soy in it which is an avoid for me. I had a Jargon Pinot Noir, KC had a Seven Sisters Odelia white from South Africa.
The chairs in this lounge are really uncomfortable – too big, the backs are too low to lean back comfortably, and they’re so slippery you practically have to lie down in them.
At 5:45 we walked down to the gate. I wanted to board early to insure that we’d get space in an overhead bin on the outside of the cabin since last year my hard case didn’t fit in the bin over the center seats. Lo-and-behold my case did fit over the middle seats! It will fit sideways. Right after take-off, the sun set on the left side of the plane so I understand why that side filled up first.
We left 20 minutes late, but KC told me that the 767 is the fastest jet in the air now that the SST has been retired, so I was confident we’d make up the time. There was turbulence right after takeoff which delayed dinner service. They were offering filet this year, and Forrest had loved it two years ago when he had it, so both KC and I opted for it this year. Big mistake.
AA Business Class Dinner menu for outbound flight between Chicago and Dublin:
The food on American has deteriorated. The nuts, which used to be warm and mixed, were cold almonds, pecans and cashews (no pistachios or walnuts); the salad was tiny and anemic looking; and the filet was so overcooked I gave up after two bites. The shrimp appetizer was good – I should have had KC’s when he offered it – but I thought it would be too much food with the filet. This year we only got two shrimp whereas last year there were three. What a shame. I wish I had remembered to take pictures.
We both ordered the Malbec, Fabre Montmayou Reserva, but I asked for mine with my meal. They never brought it. I wasn’t about to share KC’s because he was recovering from a cold. Yes, I could have reminded the flight attendants to bring it but, in the past, I wouldn’t have had to. We both asked for the small breakfast and they never brought that, either.
In addition to the bad service, the announcements were poorly worded and delivered with large pauses while the speaker decided what she was going to say. She couldn’t even read the standard UNICEF Coins for Kids spiel properly. I was not impressed. I wonder if these are Continental flight attendants in AA uniforms. That is bad news for AA customers if they were.
On to the in-flight entertainment: There were a lot more movie selections this year but none of them appealed to me. I started watching Hyde Park on the Hudson with Bill Murray, thinking it was a comedy, but it was maudlin and boring. Then, I stepped through Les Miserables to see how they interpreted my favorite tunes and while I thought the movie was very well done it dragged on. I thought about watching Life of Pi or The Hobbit but decided sleep was more important. My migraine was coming back so I took another Maxalt and fell right asleep. KC watched Django Unchained and then he fell asleep, too.
KC trying to sleep:
The next thing I knew, it was morning. I’d slept 4 hours straight and didn’t even wake up when they served breakfast. No loss – all I wanted was fruit – and the time had passed quickly. KC was asleep and had also missed breakfast but said he had not slept well, probably due to the lingering effects of the cold he caught the week before we left. He was still sniffling, coughing, and not eating much although he DID have a sundae after last night’s dinner.
I could barely get my hiking boots back on. Have my feet grown?
Travel from Dublin to Glenarm’s Barbican Gatelodge
We landed on time and were the first to arrive at passport-control but there was an entire plane in front of us this year! The line moved quickly, and when we got to the baggage carousel both our bags were right there in front of us. We each grabbed one and loaded them on a cart. On our way out, they sent our bags through a scanner, questioning the amount of electronics we had. I don’t remember that from last year.
KC had a new phone, through his work, and wasn’t sure international service had been activated so we tested it and, sure enough, he did NOT have service. He used my phone, which did have service, to call the appropriate people. We got some Euros from the ATM, and snacks for KC at the convenience store, then went to get our car.
We used Hertz this year which was a big mistake. All their cars are in a remote lot, so we waited outside for their shuttle bus and when it finally arrived we were driven to Kishinev (euphemism for far, far away). We were given an Audi A3 – the only good thing about this experience so far. KC loves the A3. Then, we were offered insurance at FORTY EURO PER DAY. No wonder the rental was so cheap – €100 for ten days – there was no insurance included! Nada. We took the insurance, of course, but we don’t like surprises like that. Next year, we’re going back to Avis.
Our A3 had a turbo drive 200-horsepower turbo diesel engine
and a 6-speed manual Quattro (4-wheel-drive) transmission.
When we got to the car KC noticed lots of small damages – a piece missing from the front bumper, scratch marks on the rear, etc…so we asked the agent to make sure they were recorded. He told us it didn’t matter since we had full insurance. Our bags didn’t fit in the trunk and there were no rear doors so I thought we were going to have to get a larger car until the agent showed us how to put the rear seats down. Everything fit but having no rear doors makes accessing the back difficult. I hope the funness-factor overcomes that.
In spite of all these delays, we were on the road at 9:20, 40 minutes earlier than I had planned.
There are no Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps for Antrim County, it is part of the UK not Ireland, so I printed out directions using Google Maps. We should also be able to use the GPS in our iPhones. Yes, I have a new phone!
Route from Dublin to Barbican, 132 miles, 2.5 hours:
The earliest check-in time at the Gatelodge is officially 4:00 pm and we expected to be there between noon and 1:00 pm. Irish Landmark protocol required that we call the House Manager, Penny, 4 days before arrival. When I did, I asked whether we could check-in early, and she told me any time after 2pm would be fine. We would be met by her son, Yatelyn. That was perfect for us as 2pm will give us time to have lunch and/or stop at a supermarket.
Penny recommended the ASDA supermarket in Larne, 12 miles south of Glenarm, as a good place to buy organic food. Sainsburys supermarket in Ballymena is another option but that would be too far out of our way. She said there is a shop in Glenarm which is fine for basic essentials but not good for fruit and veg. There are some good small supermarkets in Carnlough which is 3 miles north of Glenarm. One of them is a SPAR, which we remember from Dingle.
I suspect we will be eating dinner in the local pubs, and lunch wherever we happen to be for the day, but we will need breakfast fixings, TP, and water. If we buy enough to last us through our first night in Dingle we would avoid having to stop in Garvey’s Market on our way to the cottage.
Using Google Maps, I found a pub one block way, and several restaurants in a Carnlough, 3 miles up the road.
KC and I discussed stopping at the Kilbeggan Distillery , west of Dublin near Athlone, but it would add 2 hours to our trip, plus whatever time the tour will take, and we didn’t want to get into Antrim that late.
We had the ‘best map ever’ from 4 years ago, which included Northern Ireland, and I had printed off step by step directions in Google. Nevertheless, we made a wrong turn at Lisburn, taking M1 west instead of east, and ending up on A26/A52 to Larne, instead of M2. This cost us half an hour and the pleasure of seeing the castle at Carrickfergus so we’ll have to make a point of going to Dingle that way.
When we paid our first toll, on the M1, KC asked me whether we had paid for the Gatelodge in Euros or Pounds. When I said pounds, we realized we were in the UK and all we had were euros! Hoping there were no more tolls, we decided to stop in the ASDA in Larne to get cash in addition to some groceries. Those directions were easier to follow.
ASDA Supermarket in Larne:
Across from Curran Court Hotel
6 Redlands Road
Larne, County Antrim BT40 1AX UK
We used the ATM at the ASDA and went inside to stock up. There weren’t as many organic items as I’d hoped; in fact, none of the fresh produce was organic, but they did have local free-range eggs and cream. KC also bought some sausage rolls. It didn’t take long and we were back on the road shortly and nearing the gatehouse just before 1:00pm.
Unusual canned fruit at ASDA in Larne (we don’t have these in the US):
The scenery along the coast is stunning, and very different than the western coast, but both cameras were inaccessible so I took a few pix with my phone and they are less than stellar. For much of the way we were very close to the water with only a low stone wall to separate us.
The Northern seacoast:
I tried to text Yatelyn but the send failed so we tried again while stopped at a lookout point and again it failed. Since KC’s phone didn’t have service at all, and mine was now acting up, we wondered what we’d do if we weren’t able to contact him.
We drove to the bridge leading to the Gatehouse where I finally managed to reach Yatelyn by phone. He gave us the code to open the gate and told us he’d meet us in 5 minutes.
The Barbican Gatehouse in Glenarm:
KC walked over the bridge down to the gate and entered the code. Lo and behold, the gate opened!
Opening the gate:
Look at the bottom edge of that huge iron gate above KC’s head!
He walked back over the bridge and just as he reached the car the gate closed!
The gate closing behind KC just as he gets back to the car:
We drove UP TO THE GATE, opened it, and quickly drove through. We parked the car in the spot to the right of the gate and moments later Yatelyn arrived to give us the keys and the grand tour:
The view into the castle grounds!
(As you drive through, the door to the utility room is on the right, the door to the living area on the left.)
The back of the gatehouse
Yatelyn was there in less than 5 minutes and explained that before going in we had to wait until the gate had been closed for 2 minutes. There are electric eyes in the sally port that will prevent the gate from closing on your car so, once the gate has started closing, don’t trip them or the gates will stop and open again. This is to enable you to pull into the sally port and unload your luggage, groceries or passengers without damaging the car. Finally, we went in.
On the ground level, opposite to the entry to the living area, is the utility room with a washer and dryer and the controls for the heat, water, and electric. He explained that the heat is set to go on at specific intervals and that they can be overridden if necessary by pressing the buttons on the thermostat. If the fire alarm goes off – a common occurrence – there are instructions on how to reset it. I hoped we weren’t going to need them.
To get to this room from the living areas you have unlock the door to exit the living area, cross the sally port, unlock the door to the utility room, take care of business, lock the door to the utility room, and the lock the door to the living quarters before going back upstairs. We weren’t planning to do laundry so I didn’t expect to be visiting that room again….
The Barbican Gatehouse Entry Door
You can see the winding stone stairs just inside the door:
Through the door pictured above, the bedroom and bathroom are on the third level, up two flights of narrow winding stone stairs. As we were making our way up, I debated whether we could get away with leaving that huge heavy suitcase in the car for the next three days. The rooms are EXACTLY like the photos on their website; exactly. I took some pictures but wasn’t able to capture the room and the unusual vaulted ceiling so I am including the pictures from their website.
The Gatehouse Bedroom seen from the door:
The Gatehouse Bedroom seating area seen from the door:
The Gatehouse Bedroom bed seen from the seating area:
The bathroom is off the bedroom, down two flights of 3 stairs, and has a commode, a sink and a tub. I didn’t realize it when I booked it that there is no shower. We never take baths so this will be an experience for us. I’ve heard baths are much better for you as they encourage dead skin to slough off, so I’m looking forward to taking one. We’ll have to buy some Epsom salts tomorrow. Negotiating those stairs in the middle of the night, though, is going to be interesting…I hope I don’t fall.
The Barbican Gatehouse Bathroom seen from the bedroom door:
Up another flight of winding stone stairs – this really is like living in a castle – is the living/dining/kitchen room. It, too, looks exactly like the photo on the website. Up a third (fourth?) flight of stairs is the patio: a circular area with crenulated walls and another stairway to a lookout point, the patio is a perfect place for meals, weather permitting. I doubted we would be able to use it, as it was unusually cold, and I was sorry about that. I did not get a picture of it.
The Barbican Gatehouse Kitchen area:
The Barbican Gatehouse Living area:
My best attempt at capturing the ceilings:
My pictures are not as good as the ones on the Gatehouse website so here are the official ones for comparison. Notice the vaulted ceilings!
The back of the Gatehouse looks out on the Glenarm Castle and the castle grounds around it, which it was designed to guard.
View of castle from living area.
In the summer, when the trees are in leaf, you wouldn’t be able to see it:
View of castle from bedroom:
The Gatelodge looks at the back of the castle. Here is a picture of the front of Glenarm Castle from their website.
The castle operates The Walled Garden Tea Room which is open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5.00pm and Sunday 11am until 5.00pm. They serve homemade cream tea or a light lunch, overlooking the kitchen garden.
We asked Yatelyn about the Tea Room and he explained that it was not IN the castle, but overlooked the walled garden, and that wandering around the castle grounds was frowned upon as it was still the private residence of the Viscount and Viscountess McDonnell. That was a disappointment, as the grounds were gorgeous.
The Glenarm Castle behind the Gatehouse:
View of the grounds from the bedroom windows:
The windows in the living-kitchen area look out on the village of Glenarm and it was interesting to watch the goings-on in the small town which were easy to see because we were so high up.
View from Living-kitchen area:
After Yatelyn left us, KC managed to get our luggage into the bedroom while I took the pictures seen above. It was COLD in here! We hoped it would warm up, now that the heat was on, and we left to get something to eat. Neither of us had eaten breakfast and I had only had two pieces of shrimp and two bites of beef for dinner so we were famished. I’d been looking forward to eating at The Walled Garden Tea Room so we made our way there.
It was late for lunch, 2:00 pm, and there was only one other patron, but they serve until 5:00 pm and welcomed us graciously. We were given the table right by the garden. There weren’t many plants blooming at this time of year but we were able to watch one of the gardeners repairing the stone walkways. He was so conscientious; he was a pleasure to watch.
When I asked about organic ingredients they told me that all the veggies are from their garden and they are organic. The castle raises organic sheep and cattle but these are not served in the Tea Room. They only serve ham and the locally farmed Glenarm organic salmon.
Guess what! They had several gluten-free options on the menu! While I know that most gluten-free products are made with potato, corn, and xanthan gum, all of which are avoids for me, I need to support and encourage this practice so I ordered a Glenarm organic smoked salmon sandwich on gluten-free whole wheat bread and a side salad. KC ordered a toasted sandwich with cheese, tomatoes, and onions as well as a cup of Earl Grey tea.
My meal was surprisingly good! The salmon was excellent – I could have eaten twice as much even though they gave me a very large portion – and the bread didn’t taste much different than wheaten bread, the soft type you would use to make sandwiches. The small salad turned out to be three mayonnaise based salads – apple, potato, and cabbage-carrot. They were all good but not as good as that salmon. I would LOVE to have that with scrambled eggs….
KC inhaled his sandwich, his cabbage-carrot salad, and part of mine. He also had two cups of tea, hoping the caffeine would mitigate his sleepiness. He hadn’t slept well on the plane and was really feeling it. In fact, he almost fell asleep right there in the café waiting for me to finish my scone.
Yes, I ordered a gluten–free scone! It arrived piping hot with sides of butter and strawberry jam. I tasted both but prefer my scones without jam. This one wasn’t as good as the wheaten cream biscuits that KC makes for us occasionally (in addition to all his other talents, he’s a great cook!) but it was very good for being gluten-free. I had only intended to eat half of it but managed to down the whole thing. After two years of avoiding baked goods, it was a real treat.
It was almost 3:00 pm now, too early to go to bed, but we had nothing planned for the rest of the day so we decided to drive up the coast and see some of the Nine Glens of Antrim.
The Nine Glens of Antrim are Glenarm, Glencloy, Glenariff, Glenballyemon, Glencorp, Glanaan, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie
I had forgotten to bring the directions so we hoped there would be signage. When we saw a sign for "Scenic Route" we decided to follow it and were not disappointed. They have had a LOT of snow here lately! There were still large drifts of it in the fields as well as banks along the roads.
The scenery was no match for my drowsiness, given my propensity to fall asleep in any moving vehicle, and I dropped off frequently only to be jerked awake as KC swung around another bend. The road was very twisty-turny and would have been a joy to drive had we not been so tired! We gave up and returned to the gatehouse.
Before going in we noticed some birds flying between the trees on the castle grounds and making a loud racket, like sticks banging against each other, whenever they flew. Were their wings really making that noise? I’ll have to research that when we have access to Wi-Fi.
Brrrr! It was still REALLY COLD in here. We lay down on the bed for a short nap and had to spoon to keep warm, something we never do because I am like a furnace in bed. We were both asleep instantly and woke to hear my phone barking. Literally, my ring tone is a dog barking. I grabbed it and handed it to KC: it was his contact at work regarding the problem with his phone. Finally, they got it working! Not two minutes later, his daughter called. We had invited her and her family to join us this trip and she was calling to let us know whether they would be able to make it.
KC had trouble getting a good signal and went upstairs to improve it. While he was gone, I realized my migraine was coming back and took another Maxalt. If this continues, I won’t have enough to get me through the trip. I also had cramps in both my calves so I took a swig of magnesium. I hadn’t had my smoothie or vitamins this morning and wondered whether those were the consequences.
I sat in the chair in the bedroom, right next to the radiator, and remarked on how comfortable it was – nice and small for a small person. The radiator was barely warm, and I was so cold, I called Yatelyn to ask for his help with the heat. By now I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get any warmer.
Yatelyn was very accommodating. He met me downstairs in minutes and together we solved the problem. In the winter, the heat is supposed to go on between 7:30 - 9:30 am, 1:30 – 2:30 pm, and 5:00-10:00 pm. So, it had been off while we were sleeping; but, even though it was on now, the radiators weren’t hot enough to do any good. We turned the knob up to “max” and hoped that would make a difference. It did! Within minutes the radiators were too hot to touch and the rooms were getting warm.
I asked Yatelyn about those funny sounding birds and he told me they were probably rooks, black birds that use big sticks to build their nests. They break these sticks off trees and that is probably the noise we heard. There was a mess of sticks on the ground by the gate, which had been created by the birds while building a nest right above the LR window; and, while we were talking, one flew overhead with a stick in its mouth!
I went up to tell KC the good news about the heat and found that he, unaware that I had been fiddling with the controls, had put a pan of water on the stove and was trying to heat the room with steam! When he remarked on how it seemed to be working, I explained what I’d been up to. We kept the doors to the stairs closed to keep the heat in.
Speaking of the doors, they were massive, with great rings for handles, and required considerable strength to turn the knobs. I loved them! But I forgot to take a picture so I’ll have to ask Yatelyn if he can send me one.
I also loved the stairs. Having to go up and down stairs every time I needed to use the washroom, or get something from our suitcases in the bedroom, I was getting lots of exercise.
Looking up at the bottom of the stairs to the living area
While the rooms were now warm and KC was comfortable, *I* was not. For some reason, I was chilled to the bone and even the warm room was not helping. So…I took my long underwear out of the suitcase (top and bottom) and laid it on the warm radiator with my balaclava, scarf, and slippers. When they were toasty, I put them on over what I was wearing, and finally got some relief from the cold. In fact, I had a hot flash and that was the end of feeling cold for me. I removed the balaclava and scarf and was comfortable the rest of the evening.
After debating what to do the rest of the day we decided we didn’t want to go out. KC fixed some cheese, crackers and sausage and I made myself some scrambled eggs. He opened a bottle of pear cider; I opened a bottle of Perrier. The cider was good – less sweet than I remembered it – but I stuck with the Perrier in an attempt to eliminate this migraine. After dinner, KC made half a pot of coffee which we shared. I was pleased with the quality of the dishes and flatware. The plates are made by Abbeyleix in Ballyroan County Laois , one of my favorite potters, and the flatware was heavy.
Then, for the rest of the night, KC played with his iPad and I updated this web page. I had been taking written notes since we left and transcribed them here. KC sat in the chairs by the fireplace and remarked on how small they were. He wasn’t uncomfortable, but they are definitely “period” chairs, and you really get a feel for how people lived when this was built, in 1825.
Barb working on this webpage:
At 1:00pm it started to get cold again. I felt the radiator and it was no longer too hot to touch. We didn’t want to sleep too late tomorrow so we hit the hay.
Wow! It was 10:30 am when we finally woke up – we had slept nine and a half hours! And, it was cold in the room. The heat goes off at 9:30 and, while the radiators were still warm, the room was not, and we were loathe to get out of bed. I went first since I had to use the washroom and was amazed that I slept over 9 hours without having to go. And, I was pleased that I no longer had a migraine. Maybe sleep was all I needed.
KC mentioned that he needed to buy toothpaste because all I bring is dirt (I use clay and neem oil to brush my teeth) and that we should stop at a grocery on our way home.
Neither of us wanted to take the time to run a bath so we washed in the sink, had a quick cup of coffee, and were on the road around noon. It took that long for me to get all my hiking gear out and dress for a walk in the rain. Yes, it was raining. Not hard, but it was overcast and it didn’t look like it was going to clear up.
The Gatehouse is equidistant from the three places we want to visit, about 1 hour and 15 minutes away.
Route from Barbican to the distillery (B), the causeway (C) and Dunluce castle (D), 43 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes:
My original plan was to do the Causeway on Thursday, when there would be fewer people and, therefore, better pictures; but given the weather, I suggested we do Bushmills and Dunluce today, in case the weather was better tomorrow, but KC thought we should check out the Causeway first, in case it cleared up on our way there.
Here are some other options, if we have time (obviously, it wasn’t going to look like that to us, given the weather):
We took the Causeway Route along the coast and it was stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many good pictures because KC was driving too fast and the camera has trouble focusing on cloudy days even when stable.
Causeway Costal Route:
Right as we were getting to the first big outcropping, and were looking forward to the views, KC said, “uh oh.” The road was closed ahead. The detour was up the mountain along Tower Road, away from the cliff, but we had no choice, so we took it. It wasn’t as scenic as the coastal road would have been but it wasn’t bad, either. Once we find a surveyor’s map, we’ll see where it took us.
There were several old stone bridges and a viaduct. About halfway, on our right between us and the cliff, was a stone wall surrounding a collection of old buildings – a castle, a church, a graveyard, and a few others all built of stone. What was it? Next to it, were two soccer fields. We hadn’t seen any signs. With the soccer fields, KC thought it might be a school.
We picked up the Coastal Route again right before Waterfoot and noticed the roads around the church there were lined with cars. It was noon on a Thursday, what could be going on? We figured out it must be a funeral and that whoever it was had been popular. The rest of the route was unremarkable except for the scenery which was gorgeous at every turn, even though it was partly obscured by fog. I took lots of pictures but with the fog and the windshield in the way, most of them didn’t turn out.
There were very few cars and none of them were in front of us for long – KC either passed them or they turned off – until 2 miles before the Visitor’s Center when we picked up this huge tour bus that hogged the road and refused to let us pass. We pulled into the Visitor’s Center together and then he blocked our entrance to the parking area while he sorted out some business with the attendant. We come in April to avoid this kind of annoyance. Imagine how bad it is during the summer….
Road sign and edge of bus:
Although it was still misty, we decided to attempt the Causeway anyway, knowing that if it was too bad, we could always come back tomorrow.
Pictures I found on the Internet, taken when it was not overcast;
these are the pictures that made me want to see this area:
There are a number of stunning walking trails at the Giant’s Causeway. Recently upgraded, all are colour coded and offer breathtaking views of jagged cliffs and bays. There’s a trail for every ability, from pram friendly to a challenging coastal hike and, in addition, a new accessible cliff top walk for families and people with disabilities.
• When walking on the coastal path, be aware of vehicles including the shuttle bus and move to the side of the path or when possible walk on the pedestrian footpath.
• When walking on the cliff path, keep your distance from the edge and do not attempt to climb or stand on the safety fencing. Be careful when there are strong winds and keep your distance from the edge.
• For all emergency situations dial 999. Please note, mobile phones may not work.
Coastal Walking Maps website offers surveyor’s maps of the Causeway trails that you can print at home. I’m sure they are available for purchase at the Visitor’s Centre but we printed them before we left so we could determine which trails we wanted to follow.
Here is a video of the area:
We bought two passes, each of which entitled us to an audio tour: a handheld device the size of an iPhone that you hang around your neck (and connect to an earpiece, if you want to, which I did but KC didn’t) and then listen to as you follow the path. There are buttons for each attraction if you want to repeat any of the commentary. I have to admit that I didn’t listen to much of it.
As you leave the visitor centre the coastal path leading you to the stones has a steep descent and the cliff top path has approximately 162 descending steps before you can explore the stones.
There are two pathway options: the “medium difficulty” trail, which is a gentle slope (described above as “steep descent”) down to the Causeway which is at the base of the cliff on a paved path alongside the road the tour busses take, is blue. If you can manage the slope, the rest of the path is wheelchair friendly and could be negotiated by anyone who can walk the half mile or so and back again.
The red trail, along the upper edge of the cliff, is described as “difficult” due to the uneven rocky surface and the Shepherd’s Steps, a series of 162 stone steps that join the two trails. When I read the description of these steps as, “steep, uneven, and slippery when wet” I was sure I would not be able to manage them but they are not as bad as they sound.
Yes, there are 162 of them, but they are no steeper than normal stairs, there is a handrail, and they are made of square stones, not boulders or Causeway rocks, which are what I had imagined, and I had little difficulty climbing them. I wouldn’t want to go down them in the rain but up was no problem and down would also not be a problem if it were a dry day.
We decided to start on the blue trail and take the Shepherd’s steps UP only after we had seen them. In retrospect, this was absolutely the best way to do it.
The first feature is the Camel which can be seen sitting in Portnaboe (Port of the Cow).
At the start of the blue trail is The Camel but I must admit that I couldn’t make it out. Can you?:
The stones are made of basalt (lava) and were formed naturally thousands of years ago. The columnar stones are hexagonal and some of them have concave tops. I noticed that many things in the Visitor’s Center were also hexagonal – the paver stones in the parking lot and all the mesh underlying the walking path by The Camel (you can see it in the middle picture above).
Opposite the camel is another interesting stone outcropping:
Interesting rock (could this be Granny’s Rock?):
As you come to the end of your decent and at the base of Great Stookan (known locally as the Windy Gap), the path takes a sweeping right hand bend and across Port Ganny (Sandy Port) the Causeway formation (The Little Causeway, The Middle Causeway also known as the Honeycomb and the Grand Causeway) unfolds.
Looking back to the Great Stookan, you will notice an outline of an old lady walking up the steep hill (known locally as Granny’s Rock).
In the Middle Causeway, you will find the Wishing Chair. Legend says all wishes made sitting in the Wishing Chair will come true.
Take time to explore and walk upon the expanse of basalt columns that stretch out before you and disappear under the sea (the tallest columns are about 12 metres high).
Finally, we started towards the Causeway itself.
The area around the Causeway is AWE INSPIRING. Whether you are close to the stones or further away, they look amazing. No matter which way you look at them, they take your breath away. I took a dozen pictures of every “vista”. I have wanted to see them for YEARS, and I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, our pictures did not capture the how impressive this area is.
Giant’s Causeway Blue Trail:
I attempted to climb the causeway rocks but only got halfway. KC went to the top of the rocks nearest the cliff and warned me that it was slippery up there. Because of that, he decided not to go to the end of the spit. Although my (ugly) new SAS slip resistant shoes were really NOT slipping, and his new Timberland boots from Zappos WERE slipping, I was much more unstable partly because the “steps” are too steep for my short legs and partly because my balance is so bad.
At one point, one of the guides advised me to remove my hood as it was obstructing my view, AND not to rely on my walking stick as it would get no purchase on the rocks. This was good advice except that I needed the hood to keep the rain off my face – I hate getting my face wet – and I was only using the stick in the dirt around the stones. KC raced down to help me when he saw me being chastised and together we made it safely back to the path.
KC’s climb to the top
(smudges on pictures are rain on camera lens):
Looking back on where KC had climbed:
If we saw the Wishing Chair we didn’t recognize it….
On leaving the Grand Causeway, a narrow pathway takes you between tall vertical basalt columns, known as the Giant’s Gate, where you enter Port Noffer (the Giant’s Bay).
Along the coastal path is the Giant’s Boot, a basalt rock weathered into the shape of a boot.
We continued on to the Giant’s Boot, took a few pictures, and then walked up to The Organ.
The Giant’s Boot:
KC slipping as he gets off it:
One of the most visible landmarks on the coast is the Chimney Tops. They have been formed by a number of columns which have been separated by erosion from the cliffs.
Zooming in on the only pic I have of them:
Is this part of Chimney Tops visible behind the boot?:
As you look across Port Noffer, you will see the impressive Giant’s Organ Pipes which consist of 60 visible columns which are 12 metres high, set into a steep grassy slope.
Just past the Giant’s Boot the trail gets quite steep and I’m not sure whether a wheelchair could manage it. I was short of breath but I didn’t have to stop until we got to The Organ. At that point, the trail was closed due to falling rocks so I can’t comment on how difficult the rest of it is.
The path to The Organ (you can see it nestled in the cliff-side behind me on the left):
Right after taking the shot above KC say, what are you wearing on your feet?! I guess he didn’t like my new slip-resistant shoes….
The path to The Organ:
The Organn Pipe are impressive, but not as much so as the Causeway. There was one couple following us as we approached it so we waited until they left and then took people-free pictures. The man was trying to tell the woman how easy these stones would be to climb. I wonder if anyone has attempted it. On our way back, we passed a couple of women with their dogs. Other than that, there was no one on the trail between the Giant’s Boot and The Organ.
The Shepherd’s path connects near the Organ to the upper cliff walk via the Shepherd’s Steps (the Shepherd’s Steps are made up of 162 steep and uneven stone steps).
At the top of the steps you can take the path in the direction of Dunseverick Castle or you can return to the Visitors' Centre.
When we got back to the point where the red trail joins the blue we decided to walk to the base of the steps and see whether they were doable. We thought they might be, because we had seen other people walk up them when we headed over to The Organ, and when got to their base, we decided to go for it. I went first and didn’t slip once. The steps wind around and there are two areas where you can catch your breath if there are people behind you. The women with the dogs caught up to us on the steps but they needed a rest then, too, so we went on ahead and there was no one in front of us for the remainder of our walk.
The Red Trail:
The Shepherd’s Steps:
Looking back on where we’ve come:
At the top of the steps you can take the path in the direction of Dunseverick Castle or you can return to the Visitors' Centre.
The path to Dunseverick Castle follows the headlands above the bays including Port Reostan, Port Na Spaniagh, Port Na Callian and towards Benbane Head. Port na Spaniagh is where the Spanish Armada galleass ‘La Girona’ sank in 1588.
At Benbane Head, Hamilton’s Seat (named after Rev. W. Hamilton, the first observer to describe accurately the origin of the basalts in 1786) is the highest point and offers superb views of the Causeway Coast and its geological successions in a series of bays and headlands.
At this point the weather was getting worse: the misting had changed to a drizzle and it was getting colder. While I always start out bundled for the arctic – as you can see in the pictures – I usually peel once we get going but today I stayed bundled. My gloves were wet and my hands were cold. Next year, I need to bring warmer waterproof gloves. The camera, too, was having trouble with the weather. We were using the small Canon Elph and had to wipe drops of water off the lens more than once. We didn’t dare take the big camera out of my knapsack.
We decided to return to the Visitor’s Centre rather than walk to the castle.
The Red Trail along the upper edge of the cliff, looking down on the Causeway:
As we walked along the upper edge of the cliff we wondered why this trail was deemed “difficult” as it wasn’t steep, slippery or muddy. We decided it had to be due to the fact that it was a gravel strewn trail, not a paved pathway like the blue trail. We had no difficulty with it, though, and the views it provided were worth the effort of climbing the Shepherd’s Steps to get here.
The drizzle had now turned to sleet and we were pretty wet so we welcomed the sight of the Visitor’s Center. It was 3:15 – the entire walk had taken us about 1.5 hours – and I suggested we go on to the Bushmills Distillery and have dinner at their hotel. KC was famished – all he’d had for breakfast was one piece of bread and some cheese – but he didn’t want to rush our visit at the distillery, so he suggested we have a late lunch in the hotel next to the Visitor’s Center and a late diner in Glenarm. Since there was plenty of time to do both the distillery and Dunluce Castle tomorrow, and we do like to patronize the local establishments, I agreed.
We returned our audio-tour contraptions and walked over to the Causeway Hotel. ,
Yes, they had a restaurant. They gave us a table by a window and took our order – goujons of cod with chips and mushy peas. Wheat breading is an avoid for me but fish is a superfood and there was nothing else on the menu that appealed to me. I figured the breading was less risky migraine-wise than any of their other options, peas are also a superfood for me, and I didn’t intend to eat the chips.
The Causeway Hotel dining room:
Two waitresses brought our plates with great fanfare. We each received 5 small pieces of heavily breaded fish, more breading than fish in fact, and a large serving of peas. I had one taste of the fish and knew it wasn’t worth either the calories or the avoids. I gave KC two of my pieces and peeled most of the breading off the remaining three. The peas were edible but the side salad was browning at the edges and unappetizing. KC thought it hit the spot but he likes overcooked fish and doesn’t mind copious breading although he did admit that it was a bit dry.
Gojons of Cod:
We paid our bill and headed home. It was 4:30 now which would get us home around 5:30. We went through the same Tower Road detour as on the way up and discovered that the stone buildings on that road are indeed a school – St. Killian’s College. What an incredible location for a college!
Causeway Costal Route return:
There seemed to be a lot more snow on the way back so I pulled out my Height Finder app and discovered that we were 250m above sea level. The temperature was 6.5C and fell as we descended. At 150m it was 2.5C and then it climbed back up to 4C. But…why weren’t we home yet?
We checked the map and, somehow, between Cushendall and Waterfoot, we missed the turn onto Garrion Road and ended up near Ballymena, 20 miles inland and out of our way. We realized this when we went through two roundabouts that weren’t there on our way up – there weren’t any roundabouts on the way up – so we backtracked to Cushendall, at least we hoped we were backtracking to Cushendall as we couldn’t figure out where we’d gone wrong, found the place where we had gone wrong (right before Waterfoot), and got back on track.
Where we went wrong, just before Waterfoot:
Snow on the wrong road:
We stopped at the SPAR in Carnlough for toothpaste, water, and some sausages just in case dinner out didn’t materialize. We bought some more cheese and KC asked me if I’d like to try the medium cheddar. I asked what was special about it and said, “Well, your other options are mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, or extra-sharp cheddar. Oh, look, they also have low fat cheddar.” He was right; cheddar seemed to be all they had. Then, I noticed a package of Red Leicester, which we decided to try even though it looked like cheddar.
As we were getting back into the car, commenting on how we were tired of the wet weather, KC mentioned that, “unfortunately, we aren’t going back to a nice warm cottage.” I reminded him that the heat will have been on since 5:00 pm and that the Gatehouse should be toasty.
By the way, I felt really guilty turning the heat so far up, because I know these properties are managed on a shoestring budget and fuel is very expensive. So I contacted them when we returned to compensate them for the additional heat we used and they sent me a nice letter explaining that, there really is no need to pay any extra amount. We want our guests to be comfortable and sometimes the weather is so extreme (or the guest is used to much warmer weather) that extra heating is necessary. They sent me a link where we could make a donation, which we did.
When we got back we changed into dry clothes and settled into the living area, KC on his iPad and me on this webpage. He asked what time I wanted dinner and I told him no later than 8:00pm. We lost track of time. At 8:20 I suggested we either leave or make the decision to eat in. Neither of us wanted to cook so we threw on our coats and went in search of a food. We had seen a restaurant in Carnlough on our way back from the Causeway so we made our way there.
The restaurant we had seen on our drive back to the Gatehouse:
We found the restaurant, and it had a “food all day” sign in front, but when we went in they told us their chef leaves at 8:00. In fact, no one serves dinner past 8:00 pm and it was now almost 9:00. Our only option was Chinese Takeout. We saw a Fish and Chips Takeout, too, but having had a bad experience at lunch I wasn’t willing to risk it; so, we drove back to the Gatehouse and resigned ourselves to scrambled eggs and sausages. Given that this is not yet the high season in this part of the country, we really should have done a better job researching our food option BEFORE it was too late to make alternate arrangements. Our bad.
When we pulled up the drive to the Gatehouse he remarked on how inviting it looked from the bridge (we had forgotten to turn the lights off). I suggested that KC let me out in the sally port, so I could make sure the heat was on while he parked the car, and he agreed, but he didn’t get out of the car to open the gate. He expected ME to open the gate. Argh! I was trying not to get wet again, but I did as he asked.
As soon as the gates started to open, I slipped through, and let myself into the utility room. When I looked back, the gates had not fully opened and KC was still waiting outside them. I walked over and tried to push them with no luck. All of a sudden, KC came charging through the gates, “Dear! You keep tripping the electric eye, and every time you do, the gates stop moving! Oh. I’d done that at least three times now. No wonder he was frustrated. But…did he really expect me to wait in the rain while he pulled the car through and then go into the utility room? What was the point in that?
Inside the Gatehouse, we put out the bread and cheese for nibbles and KC started washing yesterday’s dishes, which I had left to soak overnight in the bucket in the sink, so that we’d have a pan to cook in. He couldn’t find anything with which to clean a dirty pan – no scrapers, no steel wool, nothing – so he managed with just his hands and a dishrag and then I dried them.
I guess we’ve been spoiled by Phil and Alec’s cottage which has everything you might possibly need. The Gatehouse, on the other hand, really gives you a feeling for what it was like to live during the time when it was built and that is a valuable lesson. It really makes you APPRECIATE our modern conveniences.
KC put his sausages in the oven and I agreed to fix the eggs once the sausages were cooked. I opened the Red Leicester and KC had a taste. “You know what Red Leicester tastes like” he says, “Cheddar.” Ha, ha. It doesn’t, actually, it’s much creamier and has a very nice taste. It was the right choice.
We continued with our respective activities until we heard the doors rattling. Was someone coming up? KC went down to make sure the entry was secure. An hour later we heard it again! We figured it must be someone going through the gate so we peered out the windows, to see whether they were going in or out, but saw nothing. When it happened a third time KC said it must be a ghost; but, he went down to double check the door. On his way out, he determined that it was the wind blowing the doors and causing the handles to rattle. The wind does blow through the windows a bit (remember, the building is over 200 years old) but I didn’t think it was strong enough to rattle the doors. Perhaps it was a ghost!
At 10:30 pm KC called his friend, Rick, to find out how he broke his ankle. It was a long story which doesn’t belong in this blog except to note the time KC spent on the phone and the fact that he had a good connection.
It took me until 12:30 to finish updating this page and I hadn’t processed any of the pictures yet. This might not work for the entire trip if I spend 5 hours every night on the computer. I didn’t have time to process the pictures but I did download them, in case something happened to our camera, and then we went to bed. It was 1:44.
Bushmill Distillery, Dunluce Castle and WATERFALLS in Glenarm Forest
I woke up four hours later to use the bathroom. Five minutes after I got back into bed, KC got up to use it, too, something he rarely does. A half hour later, he got up again. What was wrong? Apparently, he had a rash on his lower legs that was itching so badly it woke him up and was keeping him awake. He got up and made coffee.
I got up and rifled through my pills, potions and powders for something that might help him. Fortunately, I had anticipated poison ivy, since we do so much hiking, and brought up all I had – a cream, , a spray, , and a gel. He tried the cream, Keys MetaCare with Neem & Karanja Oil, and it gave him immediate relief. Thank goodness (and score one for natural cures!).
It was really cold in here now and the radiators were blocks of ice. Neither of us wanted to go outside to the utility room to turn them on so we tried lighting a fire in the small stove. There was one expertly built and ready to light already in the stove so I put a match to the starter and it burned brightly for several minutes, until the kindling was gone, and then went out. We re-lit it three more times and then ran out of matches.
Attempting to make a fire:
By now it was 8:00 am and the heat should have been on half an hour ago, but it wasn’t, so I went down to investigate. For some reason, the heat was not on so I turned it on and went back up. It took about 10 minutes for heat to start coming through the radiator and another half an hour for it to get hot enough to start warming the room. We joked that the only time we were truly warm was when we were in the car.
We drove directly to the distillery via the longer but more scenic Causeway Costal Route (A2) and arrived around 11:00 am.
Bushmills road sign:
Bushmills entrance sign:
Bushmills seen from the parking lot:
KC signed up for the tour while I used the washroom. We were slotted for the 11:20 tour and our guide was Seamus. He asked each of us where we were from and given that one of the tour members was from Scotland he kept comparing the Irish method with the Scottish one. He was pretty funny.
Unlike the Old Midleton’s Distillery, Bushmills is a working one, and we were not allowed to take pictures because there are fumes everywhere and they’re afraid the flash might ignite them. As soon as we walked in the door, you could smell the fermentation. Their process is the similar to Midleton’s and, in fact, they do all Midleton’s bottling and shipping. They also use Midleton’s in their blended whiskeys. They’re both owned by the same parent company, Deagio, but I didn’t realize there was so much cooperation between them.
We almost didn’t do the tour, expecting it to be similar to the one at Midleton’s, but it was vastly different. One difference is that Bushmills doesn’t malt their barley; they get it already malted, from Midleton’s if I remember correctly, so the first step for Bushmills is to grind the dried malt and ferment it. It then goes to the stills where it is triple distilled, cut with reverse osmosis water, and finally bottled.
Another difference is that the distillery is newer so everything is state-of-the-art, stainless, and computer controlled. Stainless except for the stills, which are all copper because copper helps draw out impurities; and computer controlled except for the steps that require tasting!
Like Midleton’s, the tour ends with a free tasting. I requested Bushmills Black and KC requested Bushmills Original. The Black was really delicious; the Original was too aggressive for me. When KC mixed a little water with the Black, I didn’t like it any more – it brought out the alcohol and sent all the creamy chocolate and caramel to the back. We debated whether to buy a bottle of their 21-year old for L126 but, since it is available in Chicago(for $120), we figured we’d buy it in Chicago rather than lug it all the way home.
Bushmills 12 year, personalized:
We did buy several bottles of their 12-year old, which is ONLY available at the distillery, and we had the labels personalized: two bottles for Quark’s and two for gifts.
We started with an order of “toasted soda farls with lashings of melting butter” which turned out to be buttered soda bread toast (I didn’t eat this). Then KC had the Pheasant Beaters Nose Bag which was an upscale bread, ham and cheese plate with house-made apple chutney and branston pickle; I ordered their fish and chips with mushy peas and a side of green beans, and KC ate my chips.
Sandwich page of the menu at Bushmills Inn:
The fish was very good. Not as good as Niall’s – nothing is – but miles better than the goujons we’d had the day before. I was hoping for something gluten-free but all their other options would have given me a migraine.
Fish and Chips at Bushmills Inn:
Pheasant Beaters Nose Bag:
KC’s eyelids were drooping: he had trouble falling asleep last night and was forced out of bed early so he was running on fumes and needed to get moving. On our way out, we asked the front desk for directions to Dunluce Castle (they also told me about a free app, Dunluce Castle, which gives you an audio tour, AND they gave me the password for their Wi-Fi so that I could download it). The castle was 10 minutes up the road and we got there just after 2:00 pm.
is where the McDonnell’s lived before they moved to Glenarm Castle. According to legend: It was the 2nd Earl of Antrim and his wife who finally decided to abandon Dunluce. In 1639 as they were waiting for dinner one evening the kitchen, along with kitchen staff, fell into the sea. This is thought to have been the final straw.
Dunluce Castle seen from the road:
Dunluce Castle map from the pamphlet we received in the Visitor’s Center:
The 2:00pm tour had just left so we got the audio version and went off to explore on our own.
WOW! What an interesting place this used to be. It changed hands several times, as most castles did, and ended up in the hands of Randall McDonald who expanded it to the size it is now – which is huge – and turned it into a center of social activity, entertaining dignitaries and hosting huge parties with concerts and other activities. The oft-told tale that the family left when their kitchen fell into the sea, leaving only one survivor, is a tall one. It wasn’t the kitchen that fell; it was the entire north end of the castle! It had been hastily constructed and not properly supported. The family moved to Glenarm, which is where they still reside.
Dunluce Castle guestrooms in the outer ward for ‘lesser’ guests:
Dunluce Castle seen from one of the guest rooms:
Dunluce Castle entry to inner ward:
Listening to audio tour
(bars in foreground of pic with KC are referred to in Manor House description below):
Dunluce Castle Manor House Reconstruction, from the pamphlet:
Dunluce Castle Manor House description from the pamphlet:
Dunluce Castle outside manor House:
Dunluce Castle inside Manor House:
Dunluce Castle main hall exterior – with reconstructed bay window similar to original:
The audio described the castle in its heyday as opulent, with wooden floors covered in oriental carpets, large tapestries on the walls, and paintings by the masters. Now, it is a ruin, and it’s hard to imagine its former glory. I would LOVE to see pictures or a reconstruction of the castle when it was intact.
Dunluce Castle view of the coastline from the tower:
Dunluce Castle view of ocean from the inner ward:
Inside the visitor’s Center was a mock-up of what the castle used to look like. I wasn’t able to get it all into one shot so I took two and stitched them together in Photoshop. Except for the round towers, it looks like a normal house. Were all those buildings connected with an interior hallway, since we know they get snow in these parts?
Dunluce Castle mock-up front:
Dunluce Castle mock-up back:
Before we left, KC got a coffee-to-go in the Tea Shop next to the castle, and it seemed to revive him. I, on the other hand, kept nodding off, only to be jerked awake when KC rounded a curve at break-neck speed. On the detour I did manage to get a shot of some of the college buildings, even though KC refused to slow down. I also got a picture of the road signs at the entrance to the detour and there are two colleges, St. Killian and St. MacNissi. According to their website, St Killian is an all-ability co-educational school and was formerly known as St. MacNissi.
Tower Road college road signs St Killians AND St MacNissi's:
Tower Road Main Building for St. Killian’s College (formerly St. MacNissi):
I also got a picture of the white-washed walls along the road, AND of a sign that had worried me yesterday. Subsidence, means falling away, as into the sea!
Road liable to subsidence:
It was a little after 3:00 pm now so we decided to return to the Gatehouse, turn on the heat, and then take a walk around the village of Glenarm. When we got there the heat was cycled off, so I turned it on, but the radiators were still warm from the last on cycle and the rooms were not uncomfortable. We could now look forward to a cozy night in the Gatehouse.
First, we took some pictures around the entrance to the Gatehouse:
The Barbican Gatehouse from all sides:
We walked down Altmore Street to the Church and then over to the Marina.
Church seen from Marina:
View of the ocean:
Altmore Street south:
Glenarm harbor claims to be the oldest town in Ulster having been granted a charter in the 12th century. Quoted from Wikipedia, the Marina has long been a port of call for sailors and yachtsmen traveling to and from Scotland’s island-studded western coast and has proved a welcoming haven to visitors from all over the world. Glenarm Harbour offers 40 fully serviced pontoon berths within the village’s historical limestone harbor.
At a loss for what to do next, we walked up Altmore Street and found a stone archway at the end of it. It was marked as the entrance to a forest, Glenarm Forest, so we went through.
Altmore Street north:
After looking at the map posted at the entrance, we decided to take the lower path, closest to the river, as far as the totem and return on the upper.
Our path options:
The path we took:
Almost immediately it became apparent that this was going to be a FANTASTIC walk! The trees were miles high and the ground was covered with something that looked like lilies of the valley but smelled like chives. I know lilies are part of the onion family so maybe they were lilies of the valley – billions of them! It was dense, lush, and green with a fast-moving brook snaking through it. We tried to capture the moment but I doubt we did.
Daffodils on the other side of the river:
First we saw the front side of Glenarm Castle on the other side of the river. Then, we saw some ducks with green heads bathing in the brook; then more ducks fighting over a female; then, some pheasants, and a hare.
Dunluce Castle from across the river:
On the left was a small waterfall hidden in the hillside – a fairy waterfall! Further up, there was another one. This forest was definitely more interesting than Glanteenassig. KC disagreed with that analysis – he loves the boardwalk at Glanteenassig – but I definitely preferred this environment.
There were wood sculptures along the path – a squirrel, a salmon, etc… which I thought detracted from its beauty. I didn’t like seeing the hand of man in this bastion of nature.
When we reached the totem pole, another wood sculpture, we debated whether to continue on the lower path or ascend to the higher. We weren’t tired but it was after 6:00 and we couldn’t remember when the sun set. The higher path looked really lush and interesting to me so we followed it.
Totem pole and inviting pathway behind me:
OH. MY. GOD. If I had a bucket list for this trip, what we saw next would have been at the top of it: we followed one of the brook’s tributaries as it tumbled over moss-covered rocks and at its head was a waterfall, THE waterfall; the one that I’d hoped to see but had given up hope on because we didn’t have time to see the Glens. I practically ran up to it.
Running to waterfall viewing ledge:
It looked exactly like the picture I’d found when I Googled, “waterfall glen antrim” only there wasn’t a hoard of people there now. We had it entirely to ourselves and it was stunning. We gaped at it for a few minutes and then walked up the trail to the upper path, which crossed the brooklet, intending to look down on it. Instead, we saw another waterfall!
Steps to second waterfall:
Barb jumping for joy on the way to the second waterfall:
The second waterfall:
I was in heaven. We have seen so many waterfalls on our trips to Ireland but they’ve either been too far away or not big enough to be impressive. These two were almost touchable, they were surging, and they were surrounded by moss covered stones. Perfection.
Looking down on first waterfall from bridge in front of second waterfall:
The upper pathway out:
This gem that we stumbled on was the jewel in the crown of our trip to Antrim. Not only did we see all the things we’d intended to – and that was quite a bit to pack into two days – we also saw one we didn’t.
The rest of the trail was uninteresting, compared to what we’d just, seen so we hurried back to the Gatelodge. When we got there, we went up to the upper level and took some pictures down onto the village.
Gatehouse upper level:
Glenarm Castle seen from the Gatehouse upper level:
Glenarm seen from the Gatehouse upper level:
Looking down at the river from the Gatehouse upper level:
Mouth of the river seen from the Gatehouse upper level:
Glenarm forest seen from the Gatehouse upper level:
Back inside the Gatehouse it was toasty warm so KC took a bath … in 3 inches of water. When I asked how he managed that he said he splashed a lot. I have no idea why he ran so little water.
I went straight to my laptop and started documenting the day. Around 9:00 I started nodding off at the computer. I stuck it out until 9:30 when I finished the commentary, and then suggested to KC that we both go to bed now and make an early start tomorrow. He agreed so we set the alarm for 6:00 am intending to leave at 6:30. We cleaned up as much as we could and went to bed at 10:45.
Drive to Dingle, Murphy’s Pub, Best Cottage on Earth
Saturday, April 13
Three hours later, at 1:45 am, KC’s phone rang. He ignored it. Five minutes later it rang again and he ignored it again. The phone rang SIX times! Three different people had no idea they were waking us up in the middle of the night. When it finally stopped, we went back to sleep again and got up four hours later not quite as rested as we had hoped to be.
We left a glowing review in the guestbook (I wish we had read the other entries when we first arrived – there is a pub less than half a block away!), we loaded the car, and were on the road at 6:45. The sun was shining and it was 6.5°C (45°F).
In spite of the cold, we would both HEARTILY RECOMMEND staying at the GATEHOUSE. I think the Irish are hardier than we are. Yatelyn was never wearing more than a heavy sweater when he came to help us while I was bundled in 4 layers of clothing. At home, in winter, we keep our house at 70F during the day and 66F at night. I will be contacting the Irish Heritage Trust to recompense them for the additional heating fuel we used.
Glenarm Castle at dawn:
There are two ways to get from Barbican to Dingle, via M7 through Belfast and Dublin, and via N21 through the middle of the country. The N21 route adds an hour to our travel time but it will be much more interesting and will take us through parts of the country we have never seen so that’s the route we will take.
Route from Barbican to Dingle via N21, 342 miles 7.5 hours:
I had printed out the directions before we left and Google maps estimated that it would take us 7.5 hours and get us into Dingle at 2:15 pm.
Sun reflecting on the ocean:
We made really good time. Going through Belfast at 7:30 on Saturday morning was a smart move.
Traffic coming into Belfast:
Just before leaving Northern Ireland, we stopped to spend our remaining pounds sterling on gas.
Gas prices in Northern Ireland:
The temperature fluctuated wildly as we drove, dropping to 2.5 just before we left Northern Ireland and then climbing to 10 as we approached Dingle. At 10:30 we stopped for breakfast at a tea house in Ballinahown and had a perfect meal – locally sourced scrambled eggs and a latte for me, a freshly-baked raspberry scone and coffee for KC.
Tea Rooms at Ballinahown:
Thus fortified we continued on to Dingle and got in just after 2:00. We would have been earlier if we hadn’t hit traffic from Newcastlewest onwards. The most traffic we’ve ever experienced on that route.
Traffic before Newcastlewest:
Traffic at Newcastlewest:
At one point, we were behind three (slow-moving) horse trailers!
FINALLY, we saw the first road sign for Dingle!
My favorite view on the way into town:
Location of The Cottage in Graigue (pronounced groig) northwest of Dingle:
As you can see, there are two routes from Dingle to the cottage. The northern route through Ballyferriter is a little shorter; the southern route along Slea Head drive is a longer but more scenic. We generally take the shorter route in the evenings (when there isn’t much to see), and the scenic route when the weather warrants it.
We stopped at Garvey’s for provisions, had a quick late lunch/early dinner at Murphy’s Pub – lemon cod for me and fish and chips for KC – ordered a sticky toffee pudding to go, and arrived at the best cottage on earth shortly before 4:00 pm.
Tig Meaig – Meg’s Stone Cottage
our PHILOMENAL home base for the next 9 days
New Pictures This Year!
The cottage we rent is owned and managed by Philomena and Alec Ó Conchúir (O’Connor). We call it the The Philomenal Cottage, an intentional misspelling, because the cottage and Phil are both PHENOMENAL!
The cottage is large but cosy, traditional but with every modern-day convenience, and is ideally situated to either explore the countryside or just sit and gaze out the windows. It is truly perfect. And the owners concern for your comfort and safety is unparalleled.
Obviously, we love it, since we have stayed here six years in a row and have already booked next year’s trip.
I have posted a few pictures below; but, rather than reiterate all of its virtues, which would add reams to this webpage, here is the link to a webpage I created with dozens of pictures and other information that anyone looking for a rental in this area would be interested in knowing:
Close-up location of the cottage with respect to the shoreline
(i.e. what you are seeing when you look out the window):
Here are pictures of the living, dining and kitchen areas, where we spend most of our time. Although the cottage has 4 en-suite bedrooms, and we have never used more than two of them, it is NOT too big for only two people.
Because of the incredible view from the living-dining room we would not want to stay anywhere else.
Pictures of the living, dining, fireplace and patio:
The Archeological Book we had bought last year – Phil had saved it for us!
She really is amazing:
While KC unloaded the car, I took pictures of those things that were different in the cottage this year: a small table in the kitchen (which I don’t know how we lived without) and new bedding in the master bedroom.
We always use the master bedroom, upstairs, because we like the extra space the sitting area offers (and the phenomenal view of the costline when we wake up). We could just as easily use the large bedroom on the ground floor and reduce our heating costs by turning off the heat to the upstairs; but, the heat is so reasonable, we can’t justify the savings.
New this year: small table in kitchen, which came in VERY handy:
New this year: new bedding in master bedroom:
New this year: picture of view from master bedroom:
No sooner had we unloaded the car than Phil’s daughter, Sharon, arrived to welcome us! We chatted with her for a short while, got her phone number in case of emergency, and then settled in: I put the groceries away and then, while KC napped on the sofa, I unpacked my stuff and took a long hot shower – did that ever feel good after not washing for three days!
When I came downstairs, KC took a shower while I stored all the food I’d brought with us. I set up my MP3 player (my new phone!), hooked up my laptop, and started documenting. It was REALLY windy and we were hoping for another storm! We were so glad we decided to stay in tonight. The wind is so loud we can hear it OVER the sound of the music!
KC started a load of laundry and then brewed a pot of coffee so we could make Irish Coffee. There was a recipe taped to the cabinet in the kitchen, which we followed, and it was delicious:
Warm a stemmed wine glass (I used hot water to do this);
Mix 1 oz whiskey in warm glass with 1 t. sugar;
Add coffee to within 1 inch of the rim and stir to melt the sugar.
Top with whipping cream using a spoon to float it on top of the coffee.
I used ½ oz of the Power’s whiskey we’d picked up in Garvey’s (KC buys Power’s because it’s not available in the US) and extra cream because I prefer it that way. KC used 1.5 oz whiskey and less cream. I had mine with 2 bites of sticky toffee pudding. Since I never eat sugar, I am really going to have a buzz tonight!
I didn’t take a picture because I made mine in a coffee mug so here is a pic of the one I’m drinking while I work on this webpage, made with Jameson’s Black (as good as Bushmills Black) and raw whipped cream. The hot coffee combined with the cold cream really is a marriage made in heaven (and, yes, I like lots of cream in my coffee!):
KC fixed himself a sandwich and then played Scrabble on his iPad. We discussed what we’d like to do activity-wise this trip and chose things that are easiest to do when we’re traveling alone. The Gap of Dunloe, the The Ring of Kerry, and Glanteenassig which can be done even in less-than-perfect weather were moved to next year when we will probably have friends along.
After several hours, KC got up and said he was going to bed. When I asked him what time it was he said, “Late. Very late. After 3:00am.” I couldn’t believe it! I had been trying to process all the pictures we’d taken thus far so that, from now on, keeping the travelogue up to date wouldn’t take me 5 hours every night. He suggested that I continue to do so since we had nothing planned for tomorrow other than a trip into Dingle. So I did. I finally went to bed at 4:45 am! I hope I’m not a wreck tomorrow….
Keep in mind that the wish list is seriously dependent on the weather so we rarely do our first choice first and we never do everything on the list because we always spend a day or two in the cottage.
I woke up at 9:00 am because I had to use the washroom. I was going to get up, because it was warm in the room, but KC convinced me to get another few hours sleep. We finally got up at 11:30 and KC was in a much better mood today. He had been snarky the last few days because he hadn’t been getting good sleep. Today, we were both well rested.
While KC brewed a pot of coffee, I nuked some water in my cup to heat the cup and it worked! (Because I use a lot of cream, my coffee will be cold if I don’t heat the cup first.) Our coffee maker at home measures the coffee automatically so, when we travel, we need to play around with the proportions when we use a manual machine. Today, KC nailed it.
Last night, I noticed that there is a stick blender in the cottage! I could have had my normal smoothie, if I was willing to brew some hibiscus-olive leaf tea, which I wasn’t, so I mixed the smoothie to a paste in a small glass and used it to take my supplements. KC didn’t have anything besides coffee.
We looked at our to-do list and compared it to the maps we had brought along. For some reason, I was convinced that the valley we had hiked last year was Loch a'Dúin but, looking at the map it couldn’t be. Where had we been? I need to follow up with Caitriona on that and correct last year’s webpage.
We left the cottage around 1pm and drove straight to Dingle Music and Coffee Shop intending to have coffee and a pastry. Both Michael and Caitriona were there but the coffee shop wasn’t! They removed it after the 2012 season and replaced it with clothing. They are leasing the space to Dingle Linens a company Dara has an interest in which creates hand-knit linens in Dingle. Dara told us that some of the women who make their clothing have disabled husbands and they appreciate being able to work from home; and he, Dara, likes being able to help them. He travels to the US once a year to sell the line, which is phenomenally successful.
There wasn’t anyone else in the shop so we stayed and talked for quite a while. We invited them for dinner on a date of their choosing which will probably be Tuesday. On Wednesday we’ll be seeing Michael and John Brown at the Mighty Session, next door to An Droichead Beag ..
I asked Caitriona about our hikes and she said that last year we had hiked Coumaloughig. Unbelievably, we have still NOT seen Loc a'Dúin! I have adjusted last year’s web page to reflect that.
A group of customers came in so we left, agreeing to meet Michael at The Courthouse at 6:00 pm for an open session. I wanted to get a good seat this time – I have never had a good seat at The Courthouse to date – so we raced home to get my laptop (KC had half a sandwich while we were there) and returned to Dingle intending to grab a bite at John Benny’s Pub;
but, it was too late, so we went directly to The Courthouse and arrived around 4:30.
I parked myself in the best seat in the house, directly across from where the musicians would be, connected to their free Wi-Fi, and started uploading pictures while KC went to get a slice of pizza.
Our coats on the best seat in the house:
While I was working, I overheard two women talking about The Dingle Distillery – that they’re only producing gin now but it’s supposedly very good – and I decided that we should get some. Mícheál [pronounced mee-hawl], the bartender, told me he lives near Clogher Beach in a green house next to a 2-storey yellow bed and breakfast, Flaherty’s, run by his aunt. That’s right by the cottage.
The place was starting to fill up and I overheard Mícheál telling the people sitting next to me that he was studying Alternative Energy. I’ll have to mention that to KC when he gets back. Speaking of KC, he was taking forever to get one slice of pizza and I was starting to worry about him. Suddenly, he came rushing in, flushed, and without food. He explained that he had gone all the way to the pizza place across from Garvey’s and received a whole pie, rather than one piece. So, he ate half of it, put the rest in the car, and ran back to The Courthouse!
At 5:30, just before the music started, I shut down my computer.
The main attraction tonight was a concert flautist, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh , who was joined by Maire Breathach , a well known violinist from Dublin, and Tommy O’Sullivan, the owner. By the end of the session, there was also a bazuki, a whistle, and two additional violinists who Michael told us were from Northern Ireland.
Michael came in around 6:30 and stayed for 2 Guinness. He introduced us to an American couple who had rented an apartment on Green Street for one year and spent half the year there. KC has not stopped talking about that since – convinced that we should do the same to determine whether we want to retire in Dingle.
The first session:
The second set was Liam, the guy who gave me a bodhran lesson last year, on the flute; Méabh Begley on the accordion and vocals; and a very talented guitarist, Matt Griffin. They were joined later by Méabh’s father, Seamus Begley, and her cousin, Niall, also on the accordion. Méabh is amazing – so animated and obviously enjoying herself that it’s impossible not to love her.
Researching Méabh when I got home, I discovered that she has she has recorded 7 songs for the Children’s Christmas album “Amhrán is Fiche Don Nollaig”, alongside Máiréad Ní Mhaonaigh and Síle. I’ll have to ask Caitriona to get a copy for me.
Every one of the musicians was supremely talented, actually, and Seamus was very funny. He is, technically, the best singer in Ireland having just won 2013 Male Vocalist of the Year . He sang a song for an Australian couple whose last name was Dingle. They were standing right next to our table so we advised them to see Dingle, the owl, at the Ireland’s School of Falconry at Ashford Castle.
They were great fun to watch – they’re so energetic that the whole place was literally jumping. Later on, they were joined by Riona, who had been in the bar when we arrived (and looked so much like Melanie Moore I almost asked her if she was related), and a redhead. Dara introduced us to Riona several days later and she is a sweetheart.
Three women’s voices:
KC managed to down 4.5 Guinness, the half being served in a tiny Guinness glass, and one cider; I had water and two Irish coffees but had no lunch or dinner. This show had been worth starving for! I want one of those baby Guinness glasses….
We left at 11:15, just before the last song, or so we thought. We found out the next day they had been there until after 3:00am!
At home, KC had the rest of his pizza and I fixed an arugula-avocado-salmon salad that was delicious. KC played on his iPad while I uploaded today’s pix and caught up the web page.
He went to bed at 1:30 pm and I followed shortly after, at 2:00. I was afraid that two cups of coffee so late in the day would prevent me from sleeping but I drifted off as soon as my head hit the pillow. Those great Irish pillows….
Shopping Day in Dingle
Monday, April 15
I woke up at 7:30 but didn’t get up until 10:00. KC slept until 10:50. He made coffee while I mixed up my smoothie and took my vitamins. Although it was sunny, it had rained hard all night so we decided to make today our day in Dingle to give the ground a chance to absorb all that water before we went tramping around on it. And it’s a good thing we did, too, because it clouded over just as we were leaving and the wind was blowing hard.
It was busy in Dingle today – more so than yesterday – so after driving by Ré Nua and Dingle Crystal to see whether they were open, we parked by the Internet Café and walked back to them.
First, we stopped in the O’Curnain bakery, in the courtyard next to Dick Mack’s pub on Green Street, where KC bought a loaf of bread and two pastries.
Then we walked up to Dingle Crystal but only Sean was there. He told us that Liz was not well again and was going to Cork every day for treatment so the café might not be open this week. He looked like he was busy packing a huge order so we told him we’d be back tomorrow to place ours and that we’d see him at The Courthouse later that week.
On our way to Ré Nua we stopped in the Dingle Bookshop where I asked about a book on building castles and their social history, as opposed to their military/political history. The woman who owns the store is fabulous – knowledgeable, engaged and interesting to talk to – but she didn’t have what I was looking for and didn’t think I’d find it. She did have some books that KC was interested in so he bought those and I bought a few greeting cards.
Dingle Bookshop on Green Street:
I popped into Hedi O’Neill’s Dingle Pottery to inquire about the musical themed tea sets she sold in Michael’s shop last year and she said he still had some, in the back where the clothes were, so I told her I’d buy one there. She had some tiny cups, in the same style as the bigger ones we bought last year, which I would like to add to my set.
We walked up to Ré Nua on Main Street and bought some duck eggs. Duck eggs! Our co-op had them once last year but hasn’t had them since, and they were delicious, so I bought a dozen. These are bluish so different ducks must lay different colored eggs, just like chickens, because the ones our co-op had were white. Ré Nua also had coconut oil. KC bought some soda and I picked up a jar of locally made Chili jam with ginger and lemongrass.
We were hungry now and saw a sign that said, “Tree House Café breakfast all day” at the entrance to Orchard Lane. That sounded good to both of us so we walked over and sat down. It was a nice comfortable place with large tables and they have Wi-Fi so I may come back with my laptop and finish the webpage here. I ordered scrambled eggs and mushrooms, KC ordered the full Irish. I couldn’t believe it when he finished the entire plate
Tree House Café on Orchard Lane:
Full Irish Breakfast at Tree House Cafe:
Scrambled eggs and mushrooms at Tree House Café :
Our shopping bags were full so, after our meal, we returned to the car to unload them and then walked over to the Woolen shop next to Garvey’s where KC bought a pair of slippers, a cardigan, and another grandfather shirt – plaid this time – and I bought a knit cap. When we walked outside it was raining so I put my cap on the big camera, rather than my head. Rain…thank goodness we hadn’t climbed Mount Brandon today.
KC’s new shirt (you can see the old one in the pic above):
We crossed the street to Garvey’s Sporting Goods where KC bought some gaiters and a pair of gloves, and then we went on to Dingle Music Shop. Michael was there when we arrived and Dara came in shortly after. I added a few CDs to my pile from yesterday, KC found an Irish hat from Dara’s store, and then Dara told us about the line of clothing he was promoting, Dingle Linens.
It’s all handmade in Dingle, of a linen-cotton blend yarn, by three women who work from their homes. The colors are custom dyed, and the best part is that every piece is made to order to your measurements. I have so much trouble finding clothes that fit me – everything is too long and the waist is too big – this was like hitting the jackpot. I ordered a lilac dress with a matching coat, and a long cardigan with military detailing – epaulettes on the shoulders and cuffs – in a blue-gray and natural color-block combo. The cardigan will be ready on Saturday, the rest will be shipped.
KC paid for the clothes, I paid for the CDs, we confirmed tomorrow’s dinner date with Michael and Caitriona – he will make a reservation at Global Village or Doyle’s – and we went back to the car stopping at Garvey’s Market for water and veggies.
It poured on our way home but stopped when we got to the cottage just long enough for us to unload the car. We were really glad to be home and glad that we’d set the heat to go on at 5:00 pm; it was nice and toasty inside.
By 6:00 pm the storm was raging. The wind was making an incredible racket in the chimney but we felt secure because we know how well-built this house is. From the dining room window you could see the wind blowing the rain sideways towards the shore. The sheep that were in the field this morning were nowhere to be seen. Were they in the shed? The wind was so strong we thought it was going to bring down the utility poles across the road!
It started to pour and, simultaneously, the sun peeked out. We ran to the front door to see the rainbow, and there was one, but the sky was so dark the camera couldn’t focus on it.
Sun peeking through clouds in the middle of the storm:
We came back in and settled down. I steamed the beans and asparagus and mixed a lamb’s ear and wild rocket salad with avocado, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. KC had the veggies slathered with butter; I mixed them into the salad and had the rest of last night’s smoked salmon on the side. Lamb’s ear is a real treat for me; we rarely get it in the US. After dinner, I had a small Irish coffee, and KC had the two pastries he’d bought in the bakery.
Lamb’s ear and wild rocket salad with asparagus, green beans, avocado and smoked salmon:
After dinner we tried to call Adriane to wish her a Happy Birthday but she didn’t pick up the phone – she was probably out celebrating. Then, we called Em and Forrest to tell them about the wonderful music we’d heard last night. The wind was so loud they could hear it through the phone! When we hung up, the veggies KC had eaten earlier had worn off so he had half a sandwich. I had caught up the web page so I suggested we play cribbage and KC pointed out that it was almost midnight. I suggested we go to bed so we didn’t sleep the morning away tomorrow. We went to bed at 12:30.
Loch a'Dúin, Doyle’s with Michael and Caitriona, Music at Courthouse
Tuesday, April 16
Wow, what a beautiful day! When we woke up, just after 9:00 am, the weather had cleared and the sheep in the field behind the house were making a racket. I ran to the window to see what was bothering them, all I saw was a tractor, hidden behind the trees next to the shed, and the sheep were running towards the gate by the road. All of a sudden the racket stopped and they returned to grazing.
I went downstairs and out on the patio to take a picture of the gorgeous view and was nearly knocked over by the wind. It wasn’t a noisy wind but it was definitely a strong one.
KC brewed coffee and we looked through the Kerry guide to see whether there was any info on Fenit. There was, and it’s an area we will definitely visit this trip, including Bana beach, right next to it, which is supposedly one of the best in the world.
In Listowel, which we have passed through many times on our way to-and-from Dublin, is a 7-storey 12th (15th?) century Norman castle. Another option.
In Foyne, between Listowel and Limerick, there is a Flying Boat and Maritime Museum containing the only replica of the B314 Flying Boat. Until a few minutes ago, I didn’t even know these planes existed, but now I really, really want to see this museum. Foyne is also, supposedly, where Irish coffee originated.
KC made some boiled eggs, hens eggs, which were delicious even though they weren’t quite as soft as we like them. The yolks were dark orange.
We cleaned up the breakfast dishes, bundled up, and went in search of Loch a'Dúin . After driving past three trails, we determined that the first must be the right one; we backtracked, and drove up to investigate further. There was a farmhouse at the beginning of the trail but there didn’t appear to be anywhere to park and there was no one around. While we were debating what we should do, a car drove into the house next door so we drove down and asked. Yes, he said this was Loch a'Dúin, and we should just park by the house. So we did!
Bundled up and ready to go!
The beginning of the trail:
This part of the Lough Adoon valley is called Ballyhoneen. There was a well-defined path until we came to the first gate.
It couldn’t be opened easily so we climbed over (me with difficulty). After that the trail became harder and harder to pick out and was very wet in places. There are markers but they’re quite far apart and many of them are just wooden posts that blend into the landscape.
The first gate:
We crossed over two ladders:
We were heading towards the waterfalls that feed the lake. The terrain was very grassy and was very wet in places so we strayed off the track looking for dryer ground.
There were also a lot of brambles. In order to avoid the water, you had to walk on the tufts of grass, which were rounded and not very stable, or on the brambles which were very sharp. I felt like a Weeble, wobbling from one mound of grass to another trying to avoid both getting wet and getting pricked. (When we got home my legs were covered with pinpricks and KC had a splinter imbedded in his thumb. It took him days to get it out so next year we will bring thorn-proof clothing!)
The Loch a'Dúin valley near Cloghane contains the most remarkable series of monuments from the Bronze Age. In this valley of 1,500 acres, there are 90 stone structures dating from 2500 BC up to modern times. Running like a web throughout the landscape are several miles of stone wall, hidden by peat which has accumulated over the past 3,000 years.
From archaeological excavations and pollen studies, it has become clear that the Loch a'Dúin Valley was used for intensive agriculture, both pastoral and arable, from 1600 BC to the beginning of the Iron Age. During this time habitation huts, fulachta fiadh, standing stones and enclosures were erected to house both humans and animals.
Even earlier are the wedge tomb and the cup and circle rock art (of which there are nine examples), making it the largest concentration on the Dingle Peninsula. The level of preservation is due to the protective cover of the bog which completely covered the landscape. It is during modern turf cutting that the ancient remains are uncovered.
The peat preserves all organic materials to a remarkable degree. Birch wood found during the excavation of a section of pre-bog wall was preserved perfectly. The bog also holds all of the pollen which was released from the vegetation over the past several thousand years, enabling the botanist to discover what grew in the valley in the past.
The Loch a'Dúin Valley today has been marked out with a walking route, along with a guide book, and is accessible to walkers of all abilities.
(The website quoted above is itself quoting Steve MacDonough’s book, The Dingle Peninsula: History, Folklore, and Archaeology, which I have just purchased because, based on the excerpts above, I’m sure it will come in very handy on future trips. If it’s available in Dingle, I will also purchase a copy for the cottage.)
We made our way down to the water’s edge to look at the remains of what was probably a fort, on the edge of an island in the lake. The water was so clear, you could see the stones at the bottom.
Stones at the bottom of the lake:
We also saw a large group of school kids walking along the other side of the lake, the eastern side. They dogged us the entire way to the waterfall and we had to plan our photos to exclude them (I don’t like pictures with people in them).
We passed a small ruin that was once a bee hive hut and several stone walls:
The island in the middle of the lake is Dooneen Island, according to this website, fortified with a drystone wall over 2m high in places and 2.5m thick set back 3 to 5m from the shore line:
Our first good shot of the waterfall:
The kids got to the waterfall before we did – the other side must be an easier hike – and then settled in for lunch, so we found a large rock and had a small snack ourselves; chocolate for KC and walnuts for me. We tried to text Michael but it wouldn’t go through. Sending a picture to Kevin, in the US, did go through. What’s up with that? I’ll have to ask Dara.
KC’s new hat:
Our stone stopping place with the lake and waterfall in the background:
After a ten-minute break, we started walking again because I was getting cold just sitting around. When we got to the waterfall they were just starting to leave and we noticed them clambering over the rocks to our side. That was what we had planned to do so we watched them to see which route was the safest and there didn’t appear to be any spot where no one crossed without getting wet!
Kids, picnicking by the waterfall:
We were able to get halfway across easily; but were unable to find a spot to cross to the other side so we returned to the western side and returned home the way we came. We’ll come back another day and explore the eastern side.
Barb, triumphant at having crossed the waterfall halfway:
Looking back on the lake from the waterfall:
We seemed to see much more on the return and, of course, it went much faster, partially because we could see the trail markers better. We stayed on the upper path this time and saw another beehive hut, this one intact, and several larger stone ruins.
Intact Bee hive hut and stone walls:
All of a sudden, we were back at the car! We can now say, with certainty, that WE HAVE HIKED LOCH A’DUIN!
KC managed to get through to Michael on the phone while we were on our way back to the car. He confirmed our date tonight: 8:00 pm at Curran’s followed by dinner at Doyle’s at 8:30. On our way home, we stopped at Clogher Beach to take pictures in the wonderful light reflecting off Inishtooskert.
Inishtooskert seen from Clogher Beach:
Our cottage seen from Clogher Beach:
We got home around 4:00. I downloaded the pictures while KC read one of his new books - The Irish Famine. He found it to be so disturbing that he had to put it down and started his other new book, The Civil War in Kerry.
At 5:30 I went up to wash and when I came out of the shower Declan was outside taking care of his sheep. They obviously knew him and gathered round but not close enough to be caught, just close enough to grab a nut if he happened to have them. One sheep appears to be shorn in the front only.
I came down at 6:30 and finished processing the pictures while KC got ready. We left the cottage at 7:15, parked in front of The Courthouse , and ran into Michael and Caitriona on our way up to Curran’s.
We decided to go to The Courthouse for a pre-prandial drink, instead of Curran’s, because Dara was working there tonight. On the way, Caitriona greeted a young man who was the current and 4-time World Champion Irish Step Dancer in his age group, David Geaney. He dances occasionally at the open sessions at Dingle Music Shop and that alone would be reason to come here during the summer.
Me with WORLD Champion Irish Step Dancer, David Geaney,
wishing I was watching him dance, not taking his picture:
The ambience in Doyle’s is wonderful: the interior is all stone and there is a large wooden bar just inside the door.
We had a delicious dinner – carrot-coriander soup and turbot for KC, chili-garlic shrimp and black sole for me. Michael and Caitriona shared the crab claw appetizer, then she had the lamb shank and he had the ribeye. We shared two bottles of Sancerre.
Unfortunately, we were too full for dessert, as I’m sure it would have been excellent. We walked back to The Courthouse around 10:00 pm and the session was in full swing – Pauline Scanlon and Donogh Hennessy. The good seats were all taken so Michael pulled a bar stool over for me and I squeezed in-between a young man and a young couple.
The young man turned out to be 40 years old and I know that because he kept reminding me that today was his birthday. Was he expecting me to buy him a drink? Right in front of me were John Benny and Eilis Kennedy! When he got up to get a drink, he recognized me from past years. I told him we’d be at his place on Thursday but I had the date wrong – we’ll be there on Friday.
KC hung out at the bar with Michael and Caitriona while I listened to the music. Pauline sang a few songs – she really has a beautiful voice – then Riona joined her for a few, and then Pauline invited Eilis to join her. I was in heaven – finally, I was hearing Lumiere LIVE!
The only picture I got, and it’s a bad one, but it’s proof it happened:
Caitriona left about half an hour later, and Tony came in. Tony! I’m so glad we got to see him this year! When the music ended, I went back to join them. Tony told me the stone ruins we’d seen earlier today were over three thousand years old.
Dara introduced us to Riona Madigan, the young girl who had sang a few songs with Pauline earlier. What a nice young lady she is. We told her how much we enjoyed her singing and wished her luck in her career. We’re looking forward to buying her CDs once she starts recording them. At 11:00 pm Dara flashed the lights for last-call and at midnight everyone else was gone.
Sitting at the bar, I noticed the flyer for Dingle Music Shop and it reminded me that they need to remove the coffee shop from their website. I mentioned that, which started a heated discussion about whether the website was necessary. I offered to show Dara how to maintain it, and he accepted the offer, so we will spend tomorrow afternoon in the shop.
KC and I left around 12:30 and it started to rain as we were driving home. I hope that doesn’t foil tomorrow’s plans. We were hoping to return to Loch a'Dúin and check out the path on the other side of the lakes. I downloaded the pictures while KC went up to ‘read’. When I came up half an hour later he was sound asleep! It was almost 2:00 am now and I was asleep minutes later as well.
We woke up at 7:30 to pounding rain! I guess we won’t be hiking anywhere today. Nor will we be getting up this early…. We rolled out of bed an hour later and KC made coffee. He read his Famine book while I updated the webpage.
For some reason, it’s taking me much longer to document our trip in real time than it did to create it once we returned home so I may not do this again next year. However, except for the time involved, it IS nice being able to record what we do minutes after we do it, rather than rack my brain a week later trying to remember.
I figured out what we were doing wrong in our attempts to text locally – we need to do it as though we were in the US, with the area code first – and then I texted Phil and Michael to set up a time to meet.
At 10:00 KC made hard boiled eggs (2 minutes this time, which was perfect).
I was feeling really tired – 6 hours sleep isn’t enough for me – so I went up to take a nap. It was really nice being able to close the blind on the sky light by the bed and I easily slept another two hours. While I was napping, Phil came by, but they didn’t wake me up. She told KC the Wi-Fi at her house is really fast so I’ll go over there once I’ve washed and dressed.
I finished the write-up on yesterday’s hike and went up to change just after 2:00pm. When I came down, KC went up to change, and I called Phil to arrange a visit in 20 minutes. Then I called Michael and arranged to meet him at his shop at 5:00.
Phil welcomed us in and we spent the next hour in her living room, overlooking Cruach Mharthain, going over, her new website . I will make the changes we discussed when we get back.
When we got to Dingle Music Shop Michael was still there but Dara wasn’t – he’d gone home to take a nap and I didn’t want to bother him – so we went to An Canteen for dinner intending to meet Dara at The Courthouse afterwards.
I think Brian was surprised to see us but he recognized us right away and there was no one else in the restaurant that early so we had a chance to talk. There are big changes coming to An Canteen – Declan is raising some lambs and some beef for them, they’ll be growing their own vegetables, and they’re learning how to make cider!
Niall brought us a taste of the sloe gin they made last winter and not only was it delicious, it was beautiful, and the color comes entirely from the plums, there is nothing artificial in it:
House-made Sloe gin at An Canteen look at how beautiful that NATURAL color is:
KC ordered two craft brews. The first was a Golden Ale from Tig Bhric, the brew-pub just north of Ballyferriter. According to their website, …we are artisan brewers and have been brewing since 2008. Our hand-crafted cask-conditioned ale is brewed from our own spring water using only the best ingredients. We’ve been meaning to visit this pub for ages – it’s so close to the cottage – and now we are even more motivated!
The second was Stonewell Irish Craft Cider, a medium dry cider made in Cork from Irish apples. KC said it was the best cider he’d ever had so I contacted them when we got home and asked if they had a US distributor. They said they were working on it!
An Canteen is really expanding our craft brew horizons!
For dinner, I ordered what I’d been looking forward to since we left Dingle last year – fried calamari and fish and chips.
Niall does the best calamari I’ve ever eaten and I could have managed four times what I was given but it was a good thing I didn’t have to or I wouldn’t have had room for the fish. As you know, I’ve ordered fish and chips a lot on this trip, because fish is a superfood for me and that is frequently the only way it’s available. No other fish and chips has lived up to my memory of Niall’s.
KC ordered the cream of vegetable soup and the pork belly he had enjoyed last year.
Niall brought us each a plate of Dingle Bay Prawns and they were the most tender shrimp I have ever eaten. They were so big I thought they were pieces of lobster, and the Thai sauce they were served with was sublime. Even KC liked it and he’s not crazy about shrimp.
Dingle Bay Prawns (langoustines) in Thai cream sauce at An Canteen:
My calamari was even better than I remembered it. I wasn’t going to eat the sauce because it had soy in it (an avoid for me) but I thought I should try it and it was so good with the sesame in the breading that I couldn’t resist it. The calamari is light and not in the least bit rubbery. It really is the best I’ve ever eaten and it’s consistently good: it was the best 3 years ago and it still is.
KC’s soup was so good he practically licked the bowl. It was light and creamy and perfect for this cold rainy day. For the record, Niall’s soups are never thickened with flour, only vegetables, which makes them taste as good as they look.
Our main meals were as tasty as we remembered them. KC ate all of his AND most of my chips. I don’t eat potatoes (they aren’t good for my blood type) and should have asked Niall to hold them because KC ate way too much!
While we were eating, a young couple came in with two kids. They ordered the chicken wings for the kids and the woman had the pork belly. We overheard the kids RAVING to their parents about how good those wings were; and when they left, the woman told Niall it was the best pork belly she’d ever had. So, the superlatives I use to describe the food are not unique to me. No wonder they keep winning awards!
It was getting busy now and we were too full for dessert so we went over to The Courthouse to visit with Dara before Michael’s session.
KC had Guinness and we talked to Dara until the pub got busy. Sitting next to us was a couple from Iowa who had been to New Zealand multiple times and re-kindled our desire to visit. They were going to Ashford Castle next so we advised them to go meet Dingle the owl at the Irish School of Falconry.
At 9:15 we moseyed over to the Mighty Session, next to The Small Bridge, and ran into John Brown in the foyer. FINALLY, we got a chance to tell him how much we liked his music. He lives in Tralee so we talked to him about Fenit and the surrounding area. KC has really gotten into that book on The Civil War in Kerry and Bana Strand apparently figured prominently in one incident so he was really looking forward to seeing it.
Michael came in at 9:30 and the music started.
Michael and John Brown at Might Session:
There weren’t many people in the pub, so it was a bit awkward, but they did play my two favorites – I’ll Tell Me Ma and Galway Girl. Towards the end of the night a couple came in from Tipperary who requested some songs from that area, which Michael knew. Then, miracle of miracles, he requested An Poch Ar Bouile, one of my favorites, and while John didn’t know it, the man did, and Michael was able to provide accompaniment!
I can’t believe I heard it live! When I asked him if he knew Baidin Fheilimi, he sang that, too. What a treat that was for me!
Not long afterwards, the session ended. We talked to John while he put the equipment away (Michael was talking to the guy who sang), and then we went over an introduced ourselves. They were from Tipperary, a part of the country we had not yet visited, but which is on our list for next year.
Their names were Carmel and Danny Morrissey, and we should ask for her at the Tourist Office when we come through. Won’t she be surprised when we do?
Danny and Carmel Morrissey with KC:
It was late now, almost midnight, and there was a storm brewing so we drove home and beat the rain by 10 minutes. KC had a headache AND an upset stomach – he had consumed waaaay too much beer tonight -- so he took some Advil for the headache and Gastro-D Complex, a Blood-Type-Diet supplement designed to protect your stomach health when you overindulge and fell asleep on the sofa. When he woke up an hour later, both symptoms were gone (score two for natural cures!), but he didn’t drink beer for the rest of the trip!
I updated the web page and then we both went up to bed. It was 2am.
Fenit Pier and Bana Beach, teaching Dara HTML
Thursday, April 18
We woke up around 9 to clear sunny skies but by the time I went downstairs to take a picture, they had started to cloud over. At 9:30, the sheep were running towards the gate again and there were two cars parked by the shed. We went out to investigate and found Alec and Declan moving the sheep to another pasture to protect the saplings. The little lamb with the bum leg is not hurt, just very young, and there hasn’t been enough grass to help him get strong. How sad.
We stood by the gate talking to Alec for a few minutes but I was really cold and KC wanted to get on the road. Because it had rained so much last night we decided to drive to Fenit, just north of Tralee, check out the castle, the marina and the lighthouse, and walk along Bana Beach. We figured that the beach wouldn’t be any wetter because of last night’s rain whereas the mountain trails would be pretty soggy.
We were on the road at about 11:30 and, although it was very windy, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We estimated that it would take us an hour each way, giving us 2 hours there before we’d have to leave to be home in time for our 5pm date with Dara. We’ve driven this route a dozen times – it’s the route we take to and from Dublin – so I don’t have many pictures.
The clear sky when we left:
From the road, the pier looked so inviting: a long spit of land with the marina at the end. The lighthouse is on an island, not connected to the marina.
Driving past Fenit:
When we got to Fenit, we were both hungry and had to use the restroom; but, none of the restaurants were open so we drove back the way we came because KC thought we had passed a large one on our way in. We had, The Tankard, and there were cars parked in front so I went in to check it out. It looked very closed but because of the cars, I called out and someone answered.
The man explained that they were closed, but we could use his restrooms, and then he gave us directions to the closest place where we could get food. It was 6 miles away so we decided to see the marina first, then go get food, then return to the beach. We drove back across the causeway to the pier.
On our way we passed a truck hauling manure and realized what was causing that smell around the marina. It wasn’t fish! Alec had told us that the farmers had been praying for rain so that they could start fertilizing and we’ve certainly had rain.
The manure truck:
When we got back to the pier, it was starting to cloud over, but I bundled up and we walked towards the statue of St. Brendan at the very end. The rocks lining the pier were fairly low and I noticed the spray from the waves – it was still very windy – flying over the rocks onto the pier. I moved as far to the left as I could because I did not want to get wet.
Bundled and ready to go (notice the huge cement blocks holding down the boats behind me):
I seemed to be getting wet anyway and was amazed at the size of the waves making that spray when KC said, That isn’t spray, that’s rain! Yes, it had started to rain and now it was POURING! I ran to the base of the stairs leading to the statue, thinking we should get this over with and get back into the warm car, when I saw a beehive hut! I peered into it and it was both too small and too wet so I abandoned that idea.
The old beehive:
Then I saw a REPLICA beehive hut, large enough for both of us, so I ran over to that. We crawled in through the small door and there were two other people taking shelter there already! It was big enough for all of us so we huddled together waiting for the rain to stop. They were very interesting people, locals, who had been to the US many times and were about to visit DC.
Although we enjoyed talking to them, it was really cold, and my legs were getting drenched as I was standing in front of the door. Whoever designed this hut had put the door in the wrong side! The wind comes from the west…why would you put the door on the western side?
Suddenly, the rain stopped (but not the wind), we crawled out of the hut, our hut companions went back to the marina, and we went on to the statue.
The new beehive hut:
I wondered why there would be a statue of St. Brendan here since he started his voyage from Brendan Creek, near Ballyferriter. Apparently, he was from this area. I fought the wind all the way up the stairs, the same wind that was blowing the clothing on the statue. I could never be a sailor.
Barb, barely making it to the statue, hanging on to the railing for dear life:
Statue of St. Brendan at the tip of the Fenit pier:
Proof that I did make it. I’m so bundled, all you can see is my nose:
We were now looking down on the place where in 1922 the Irish Free State landed a ship, the Lady Wicklow, with troops and armored vehicles, to take the town of Tralee and its surroundings. We didn’t know this at the time because KC had not gotten that far into his book. In retrospect he was really happy to have seen it.
Lifeboats in the marina:
KC told me those lifeboats are designed to right themselves if they flip over. Everyone on board has to strap themselves to their seats so that they’ll be righted, too. Isn’t modern technology wonderful?
The pier is used to load huge cranes, manufactured in Killarney, onto ships for export. John Brown had told us that the roads leading to the pier had been widened and reinforced to support the weight of the cranes as they were being brought to port. We were hoping to see one being loaded but they told us that the next lading date was April 26. Too bad.
Cranes waiting to be loaded:
The long pier we had come up:
We walked back down the pier and, finally, we were back in the car, protected from the wind. I ramped up the heat before removing my swaddling.
Returning over the causeway bridge and the mud flats underneath it.
We drove for what seemed like ages before we found the closest place with food, O’Donnell’s in Mounthawk.
It was large and comfortable with an extensive menu. I didn’t have big expectations for the food but it was decent. I ordered the Baked Salmon which came with diced turnips and a carrot-parsnip puree that was really delicious. KC had their fish and chips and said it was very good (but not as good as Niall’s).
Baked Salmon at O’Donnell’s:
Fish and Chips at O’Donnell’s:
After lunch, we drove back to Fenit, to the small beach next to Bana Strand. As we approached the parking lot, I couldn’t believe there were people golfing in this wind.
Here’s the castle we had hoped to explore. It looks way too far away…taken from the parking area for the beach
Negotiating the rocks leading to the beach:
This was a very interesting beach to walk along because of the cliffs rising up from it. We walked to the base of the biggest one we could see and then turned back. I wasn’t too uncomfortable because I was wrapped up in multiple layers, but KC had taken his hat off, so he wouldn’t lose it to the wind, and he was understandably cold.
Back on the road, we ended up behind huge bus and then watched it jockeying past a large tractor before pulling over to let us pass him.
Huge bus passing large farm vehicle:
We drove into Dingle and KC went up to Dingle Crystal to make arrangements to get together with Sean and Liz; then he went to Garvey’s Market to replenish our provisions while I checked in with Michael and Dara. After closing up the shop we went over to The Courthouse to use their Wi-Fi. I showed Dara how to maintain a website while KC cleaned up the email on his iPad and then we went home.
We took Slea Head Drive this time and got some great shots of the Blaskets.
The Blasket Islands from Slea Head Drive:
We were looking forward to our night at home. We got to the cottage at 6:30. KC went up to take a shower and I downloaded today’s pictures. The sun was going down so I snapped a few shots:
KC mentioned that we should probably call our neighbors back home to find out whether our house was under water. WHAT? I had no idea what he was talking about because we had not been watching the news. In fact, I don’t know how he found out about it because there is no Internet in the cottage.
Great. We’re 3000 miles from home and our house might be under water.
Our house backs onto the retention pond for our neighborhood and it had flooded 15 years ago when the area got 21 inches of rain in one night. Because of that incident, our house has two sump pumps; and, before we left, we made sure that both pumps were working – the main one and the back-up pump which has a back-up battery in case the electricity goes out – and that our security system was monitoring the area around the sump pit. If water had risen over the edge of the pit, we should have received a phone call from the security company.
This was much less rain than had fallen 15 years ago, and we had not been notified of water overflowing the sump pit, but KC was concerned that water might have seeped in elsewhere in the basement and we were both worried. Not that there was much we could have done but we did discuss our options.
The retention pond behind our house
The cattails around the edge of the pond are totally underwater
The trees around the edge are normally yards away from the water, now they’re in the middle of it:
What this pond normally looks like
It was late afternoon in Illinois so we tried calling but couldn’t get through. I sent a text and Mike responded that while there was lots of water, and more expected, the pond was not yet touching our property lines. His basement was dry so we assumed ours was too. He sent a picture of our sump outlet and it was flowing freely which was good news. We decided to try call again tomorrow when we were in Dingle.
For dinner, I scrambled some of the duck eggs we had bought from Ré Nua. KC had his with ham and nuked potatoes, I had mine with smoked salmon. I forgot to take pictures.
I used the non-stick wok to cook them because it would be easy to clean. We don’t use non-stick pans at home but I do all the dishes there and I will do just about anything in the interest of maintaining our health, including washing dishes with stuck-on eggs. On vacation, KC does the dishes, and I knew he would appreciate the easy clean-up. It wasn’t a health sacrifice because the pan was new and had no scratches. (When it comes to non-stick pans you should buy cheap and buy often. When they develop their first scratch, replace them.)
After dinner, I finished updating the webpage while KC read about the Civil War in Kerry / Easter Uprising.
I went to bed just after midnight and KC came up shortly after. We planned to attempt Cruach Mharthain tomorrow, the hills behind Phil’s house where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. If it’s too wet, we’ll do Inch Beach.
Inch Beach, Sammy’s Cafe, An Canteen, Music at John Benny’s
We woke up at 8:30 and got out of bed at 9:15. KC made coffee and I had a smoothie while we discussed what we should do. It’s a beautiful day (at the moment) and KC really wants to go back to Inch Beach. He figures that we won’t encounter anyone else on Cruach Mharthain on the weekend so we should do Inch today because it will be mobbed on the weekend, and he is right about that.
While we were having our coffee, KC noticed a ship on the ocean in front of the cottage. We took a picture of it and then zoomed in using Photoshop on my laptop and it looks like it was a bulk carrier, one with several containers in its belly, rather than a tanker or a container ship. It disappeared behind Sybil Head so we fantasized that it was going to Fenit and wished we’d asked the harbor master when the next ship would be in!
Ten minutes later, there was another ship! Friday must be a good day for ship watching. I got several pictures with both cameras as it crossed behind Sybil head:
Close-ups taken with the small Canon Powershot Elph 310 HS:
Close-ups taken with the big Canon EOS:
We got dressed and ready for our hike and, as we were about to leave, Phil walked by. We talked to her briefly, then piled in the car and were on our way! It was 12:15 on the clock in the car.
Inch Strand, is about 45 minutes from the cottage:
In the car, I tried to call Mike and Eva, our neighbors, to find out what the weather in Chicago was doing, but I couldn’t get through. I inadvertently got through to Michael Herlihy, though, and he told me that Pauline and Eilis would be singing at John Benny’s Pub tonight. West Kerry Live said it would be Méabh so adding Pauline and Eilis would be a trifecta for me! We had not planned to listen to music tonight but under those circumstances, KC agreed to drive me in.
Map of Inch Strand, each square is 1 kilometer:
There were a lot of people at Inch, understandably, given the beautiful weather, so we decided to start with the eastern side and walked behind Sammy’s looking for the path. We found something that looked promising but it ended in a locked gate with a cautionary sign about farm safety. FARM? Livestock? We didn’t see any animals….
What looked like a path along the eastern side of the strand:
Not wanting to come face to face with a bull, we went around to the western side. There were lots of people on the beach but they were clustered around Sammy’s so we hurried past them and then had the beach to ourselves. We started walking around 1:00 pm.
What a glorious day:
We walked along the water’s edge until a large wave washed over our boots. Mine are waterproof but KC’s feet were now wet so we moved closer to the dunes.
For the first time this trip, I was appropriately dressed. I had left my big Barbour jacket in the car and was wearing only my fleece jacket. Underneath I had a long-underwear zip-neck mock turtle, and underneath that, a wool camisole. I always wear my ski goggles when it’s windy, and a hair net to keep my hair out of my eyes. I did NOT have my balaclava today.
NOT bundled up for the first time since we’ve been here:
Look how far we’ve come:
We walked almost to the end of the strand and then stopped for a snack on a rock ledge. KC took his shoes off, to let them dry a little, and used a microfiber towel I had in my backpack to squeeze the water out of his socks.
The rocks at the end of the strand:
KC’s wet socks:
We walked around the end of the strand, Inch Point, and started back up the eastern side.
Looking back on where we’ve been (you can see our footprints):
Just after we rounded the point, KC saw a seal in the water!
We eyed each other for a few minutes, and then we moved on. We stayed close to the water’s edge because the sand was harder there and easier to walk on. There was a lot of seaweed on the beach but the waves were small and uninteresting. The water was so far from the dunes we think the tide must have been out.
We saw a pack of manx shearwater, those gorgeous black-and-white birds we’d seen on Brandon beach last year, and which I had since identified using the bird book in the cottage.
Manx Shearwater on Inch Beach:
About half-way we encountered some mud flats so we turned towards the dunes and walked along the edge of the mud flats until we found a path. We were hoping this was the path back to the road. There IS one marked on the map….
The mud flats:
We saw LOTS of rabbits along the side of the path but they were too quick to photograph. We also saw one heron, flying along the water’s edge, but we never saw a group of them like we did the last time we were on this side of the strand.
The path zigzagged along the base of the dunes, sometime taking us what seemed like miles from the shore, at other time right alongside it. It seemed to go on forever. When we had rounded Inch Point, at the end of the strand, we estimated we’d be back at Sammy’s before 4:00pm and it was nearly that now yet we weren’t even close.
The winding path:
We passed what looked like an irrigation ditch full of water and hundreds of irises! In a few weeks they would be glorious.
Irises in ditch:
Right past that was a berm. Was this land once used for agriculture?
We walked on and on and on… I removed my fleece jacket and tied it around my waist. I was so hot I had to carry my knapsack over one shoulder to let my back cool off. Thank goodness I hadn’t worn my Barbour!
Looking back on where we had come:
It seemed like we’d been walking forever, and the path kept taking us further and further away from Sammy’s, when we realized it was going to wind along the bottom of the dunes – ALL the dunes – before taking us back in. It’s a good thing we weren’t tired….just tired of walking.
FINALLY the path turned inwards and we started climbing upwards. We could see Greene’s Cafe, across the road from Sammy’s.
Crossing the dunes:
Greene’s across from Sammy’s:
But…we were now also seeing great piles of cow dung, fresh cow dung, and huge cloven hoof prints. I was really afraid we were going to come face to face with an angry bull. I would have taken a picture of the ground but KC had the camera and was way ahead of me.
All of a sudden, KC crested a hill, took a few pictures, and then turned off the path telling me to follow him. He said I would see why in a moment. Oh oh, a bull?? As soon as I crested the hill I saw it – a paddock full of cattle and the path was heading right for it!
Paddock behind Sammy’s:
Camera zooming in on paddock, we never got this close:
I didn’t see any bulls, only cows (I think the bulls are kept separately until they’re needed), but I didn’t want a confrontation with a cow, either. They were eyeing us but didn’t show any inclination to chase us. Nevertheless, we walked quickly to the fence and slithered under it in case it was electrified.
Barb after negotiating the possibly electrified fence, you can see the posts behind me
(notice that gap between my hairnet and goggles…more on that later):
We knew we were close to Sammy’s now, though, because we had seen it behind the paddock. We scurried up the next hill and laid our grateful eyes on the beach.
Sliding down to safety:
We slid down the hill, trudged across the patio, and plunked ourselves down inside Sammy’s for our reward – chocolate fudge cake and Irish coffee for KC, carrot cake and water for me. I totally forgot to take pictures. KC’s cake, which had been warmed, was delicious. My cake would have been better warmed as well. Sugar is a huge avoid for me and this was not worth the consequences so I ate a few bites and KC ate the rest. I drank the whole bottle of water.
Below is the surveyor’s map of the strand again. We had started at 1pm and it was now 5pm so we had been walking for four hours. We think we walked about 10 miles because the eastern side is much longer than the western (which is 3-miles long) and the trail zig-zags so much. The map doesn’t show that.
Next year, we need to bring a pedometer although I don’t think I would do this walk again. Not only is the back side pretty monotonous, but those cows were on the dunes at some point during the day; probably when we started, or we would have seen them beyond the locked gate. I would not walk the eastern side again before talking to someone at Sammy’s about the cow’s schedule. OR, I would leave the path and cross over the dunes half-way, as we did in 2010.
Map of Inch Strand, each square is 1 kilometer:
In Sammy’s I FINALLY got through to our neighbors back home, although the connection was less than ideal. They told us that the rain had stopped and it was now snowing! The water in the retention pond was receding and our pump was still working. It looked like we had dodged a bullet and would NOT have to cut short our vacation. Thank you, Mike and Eva, you preserved our peace of mind!
It was 5:30 now. We had been planning to have dinner at John Benny’s Pub and then stay for the music but I had been craving the calamari at An Canteen so we went there instead. The next two shots were taken through the car window on our way into town.
My favorite valley:
Cruach Mharthain, the pointed peak in the middle:
An Canteen was crowded today, Friday, so we didn’t have as much opportunity to talk to Niall and Brian.
KC started out with a Sunburnt Irish Red beer but my picture didn’t turn out.
For my appetizer, I ordered the garlic eggplant, and for dinner a huge portion of calamari; KC started with a bowl of turnip-bacon soup and finished with fish and chips. I know, boring, but Niall does these SO WELL.
KC’s second bottle of beer was a Howling Gale Ale.
We had already had dessert, at Sammy’s, and were too full for more so we drove home, intending to return later for music at John Benny’s Pub.
KC stopped in front of Global Village so I could run in and make a reservation. The girl who took it down commented that I had gotten some sun today and I wondered how she knew. When we got home I looked in the mirror and I had a bright red stripe across my forehead, in-between where my hairnet and goggles were! Oh well, there was nothing I could do about that now.
We were tired so KC took a nap. I didn’t want to risk missing the music so I updated this webpage. An hour later, I woke KC up, he showered and dressed, and we drove back into Dingle.
We got there just after 9:00pm and got two seats at the end of the bar with a great view of the musicians. I ordered an Irish coffee, hold the Irish, with sugar and extra cream. It was PERFECT, and looked as good as it tasted, but I forgot to take a picture until after I’d had my first sip. The pic is a bit yucky looking but you can still see the proportion of coffee to cream.
KC worked his way through their extensive selection of Irish whiskey and John was able to provide expert advice. He must be a whiskey aficionado, too.
The music started on time and a few minutes later Dara walked in with Liam and a cute little blonde who was introduced to us as Kathryn. I talked to Liam until he joined Mark and Méabh. Two musicians are good, but three are great.
About half-way through the set, Liam announced that the men sitting at the table behind Méabh would be dancing to the next tune. Dancing! Well, only one man got up, and while he wasn’t a professional, he was very entertaining.
Riona came in with her red-headed friend and sang three songs:
And then Méabh sang a beautiful Irish tune, accompanying herself on the accordion. I asked John (Benny) what it was and he told me it was an old traditional song but I don’t remember the name. I need to find it on CD.
All of a sudden, John said, Méabh, they’re on! The live music stopped and everyone turned their attention to the TV in the front room which was tuned to The LATE LATE Show . The host was introducing a group of young musicians from Dingle: Walking on Cars , playing their debut single, Catch Me If You Can. Apparently, John Benny’s son is part of the band and they were getting national exposure. Exciting!
I woke up at 9:00 and found KC next to me playing scrabble on his iPad. I fell back asleep and woke up an hour later to exactly the same thing. I got out of bed, came downstairs and mixed my smoothie, and took pictures of the second beautiful day in a row. KC came down around 10:15 and made coffee. Note to self: This is the first day I’ve mixed almond butter into the smoothie and it’s the first day I haven’t tasted the bladderwrack. It’s better this way.
We wanted to climb Cruach Mharthain , given the gorgeous weather, but we also needed to do some things in Dingle so we decided to go in early (for us), have breakfast at John Benny’s Pub, and climb the mountain in the afternoon.
I took a quick shower and we were on the road at noon. For breakfast, I had eggs benedict with cheese instead of ham and KC had a cheese omelet. We shared a pot of tea and played cribbage while we waited. I forgot to get pictures of the food but it was good and we both cleaned our plates.
We walked up to Green Street,bought some earrings from Tig Maya, and a wool sweater from Lisbeth Mulcahy on our way to Dingle Crystal . Sean’s bike was in front – he had been sprucing it up now that the weather was improving.
We had come to place our crystal order. We knew we wanted four roly-polys in the Dingle Flame pattern, our favorite glass ever, but we disagreed on the four smaller glasses: KC wanted 2 shots, and 2 liqueurs, I wanted 4 liqueurs because we already had shots. KC was adamant – he’s become more interested in whiskey recently and wanted to use the shots for nosings. We ended up with 2 and 2.
We confirmed tomorrow’s dinner date and then continued on to the bread shop where KC bought a few pastries. We also stopped in the cheese shop for some Appenzeller and an award-wining local cheese made with nettles. They had a beautiful loaf of bread covered with sesame seeds which we snagged as well. On our way back to the car we stopped in Spar for cream, soda, and chocolate; and then in Garvey’s Market for a bottle of wine to take with us tonight.
We drove home and found a book stuck in our mail slot – the book on making cider that Brian had told us about! By then it was almost 2:00pm, and too late to climb Cruach Mharthain , so we called Phil and Alec and left a message on Phil’s cell inviting them over for coffee.
I tidied up the cottage and then worked on the webpage while KC read the book Brian had left for him. It really opened his eyes about making home-made cider. It’s not as easy as juicing some apples and letting them sit in a carboy in the basement until it ferments.
The book Brian left for KC to peruse:
Phil popped in around 5:00 with a small container of home-made scones! I started one and KC finished it. It really hit the spot with the coffee KC had just brewed.
She stayed for a few hours. Among many other things, we talked about the fact that Declan was constantly moving his sheep to find enough for them to eat and how Alec had driven up north to buy fodder. She told us that the hens they used to have, which laid such delicious eggs, were killed one night by a weasel. What a shame.
We left the cottage again at 7:10 to meet Michael at The Courthouse for a pre-prandial drink. We were a bit late so I hopped out and KC went to park the car. Michael was late, too, so I talked to the bartender until he arrived. It was Mícheál, the same bartender that was there last Sunday, who lives near the cottage.
I asked him about the farm buildings next to his home and he said they belonged to his uncle who owned sheep and cattle. He corroborated the problem Phil had mentioned about there not being enough feed for the animals this year, due to having too much rain. He said it would affect next year as well because the current conditions meant there wouldn’t be enough grass to store over winter.
Michael came in with KC on his heels, they each had a pint, and then we went up to Michael and Dara’s apartment. Dara had dinner almost ready to serve so we sat right down and were eating within minutes. He had prepared a leg of lamb with gravy and mint sauce, roast potatoes, au gratin potatoes, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms with onions and rosemary. I couldn’t believe how much food there was! And, there was both red and white wine. I had the white, a Pouilly Fuisse, and KC had both. Everything was delicious and we both had seconds.
Delicious dinner with Dara and Michael:
After dinner, while we were talking, Dara managed to clean all the dinner dishes AND serve dessert – ice cream with strawberries. He is an incredible young man and a credit to his father. He left at 10:00 for The Courthouse and we followed about half an hour later. There was a phenomenal accordion player there and a woman with a gorgeous voice. We couldn’t see them, we were in the back room, so I have no idea who they were.
While we were in his apartment, Michael had been regaling us with horror stories about how the Garda nabbed people who had been drinking, so KC only had coffee and was very unhappy about it. As we were leaving he told me that if he wasn’t going to be allowed to drink, then he wasn’t going to any more pubs! We’ll see about that….
We were pretty tired so we left at midnight. When we got home, KC had one of the pastries he’d bought earlier and I updated the website. I went to be just after 1:00.
When I woke up this morning KC was still asleep so I went back to sleep and when I woke up again, he was reading. I came downstairs just after 9:30 and it was overcast and raining. I guess we won’t be doing Cruach Mharthain today. We haven’t been very lucky weather-wise this year, have we? It’s fortunate that we like hanging out in the cottage almost as much as we like exploring.
KC came down around 10:00 and made coffee. He finished his book and then fried the sausages that had been languishing in the fridge. He used the non-stick wok that I had used to scramble the eggs because it was so easy to clean. I was skeptical – there didn’t seem to be enough surface area for sausages – but he managed to do it.
I had a smoothie and vitamins with my coffee. Not only do I no longer eat pork, I’ve never been able to eat sausages because of the MSG, so he had the whole package to himself and he ate every one of them with bread, butter and mustard. The bread we bought at the cheese shop was as beautiful inside as out with a dense even crumb.
I don’t have pictures of my smoothies because they look pretty disgusting. At home I make them in a Nutri-Bullet with hibiscus and olive leaf tea but the Nutri-Bullet isn’t dual voltage and even though there IS a stick blender in the cottage, I decided not to make the tea because it’s a diuretic and I didn’t want to be running to the bathroom while we were hiking. Instead, I mix the smoothie ingredients in a small glass with a little water to make a paste and I eat it with a spoon. It doesn’t taste that good and I want to get it down as quickly as possible. I could live on the smoothie, literally, and it helps get me through the day when healthy options aren’t readily available.
After our long hike on Inch Strand last Friday, I had no muscle soreness even though I get very little formal exercise; while KC, who studies dance 3 times a week, had some cramping after sitting in Sammy’s and An Canteen. He postulated that there must be something in my smoothie that helped my body deal with the lactic acid our muscles excreted while we were resting. I know there are many things in the smoothie that help my body deal with every toxin it encounters so he’s right. I offered to share it with him but he declined.
Smoothie ingredients are all organic:
royal jelly powder
mangosteen rind extract
barley grass juice powder
kamut grass juice powder
fruit powders – bilberry, cranberry, blueberry, cherry, goji
veggie powder – broccoli, beet, carrot, cilantro, spinach, pumpkin
sprouted ground chia seeds (protein, fiber, and complete amino acid profile)
bladder wrack (tastes horrible, without this, I wouldn’t need vegetable glycerin)
vegetable glycerin in place of the hibiscus and olive leaf tea purely to make it palatable
The supplements I take are magnesium, vit K2, vit D3, krill oil, astaxanthin, turmeric, COQ10, Vision Quest, resveratrol, silica hydride, schizandra, and coleus forskohlii. I have very dry eyes and many of my supplements support eye health. That is also why I wear ski goggles whenever we hike – the wind would make hiking unbearable. The supplements seem to be helping – my eyesight has improved in the past year (it has reverted to the way it was two years ago) – but the dryness has not abated.
Some of the supplements are also meant to prevent migraines – the krill oil and magnesium for instance – and I have not had one since we came to Dingle; BUT, I have also gotten at least 8 hours of sleep every night, something I rarely get at home.
The rain stopped and the sky cleared slightly but we decided to make today an easy day at the cottage, something we haven’t done yet this trip. I perused the books in the cottage and found one of birds which I used to identify some of those we’d seen, like the Manx Shearwater we’ve seen on the beaches. The little black and white bird that visits the patio every now and then is probably a house martin.
KC lazed around on the sofa. I took the cheese out of the fridge in anticipation of lunch and corrected the mistakes on the web page. Lunch was bread, cheese and sausages. The bread is really delicious but the cheese was too strong for me. I don’t eat much cheese now, since it’s not good for my blood type, and prefer the milder varieties. If you like strong cheese, you will LOVE it.
Local cheese with nettles:
We listened to the Irish music on my phone’s MP3 player and played cribbage.
Since KC usually wins, I developed a new cribbage tactic: when it’s my turn to cut the cards, I take one card off the top which means I get KC’s hand instead of mine, and I won two games in a row. The first one was a gift – I got exactly the 12 points I needed to go out before he counted, but the second I was ahead from the beginning.
The first game of the second round was mine, too, but after that KC was on to me and foiled my attempts to steal his luck. At one point, I suggested that we trade hands, after they were dealt but before we had looked at them, and he agreed. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up with 3 points and he got 14. FOURTEEN! Fourteen points that should have been mine. From that point on my luck had changed and KC won the game.
It was 5:30 now and I had to start getting ready for our dinner date with Sean and Liz. We both took a quick shower and were out the door at 6:30 which got us to Global Village ten minutes early. We parked right in front of the restaurant and I took pictures of the outside and the menus.
We had eaten here last year with Michael and I was looking forward to a healthy meal. According to their website, they serve only "fresh fish from inshore local fisherman, fresh meat from farmers who operate a sustainable farming policy and the seasonal vegetables grown in the Global Village chemical free vegetable garden run using biodynamic principles."
While we waited for Sean and Liz, KC had a Dingle Gin and tonic and liked it as much as I had. We’ll have to stop by the distillery tomorrow and if it isn’t sold in the US, we’ll bring back a bottle. Sean and Liz both ordered wine and I stayed with water.
For starters KC ordered the leek and potato soup, Sean the crab bisque, Liz the duck pate, and I the risotto with John Dory and cauliflower. KC said it was the best leek and potato soup he’d ever had and my risotto was excellent.
For dinner, KC and Sean both ordered beef, Liz had the lemon sole, and I had the sole-brill-scallop-plate. KC said his beef was done to a turn as was my fish. It was a treat to have scallops with their coral. The garlic potato cake was delicious but I would have preferred more of the celeriac, a vegetable we rarely see in the US. I suppose I should have asked for some – they were very accommodating.
We had a French pinot noir with the meal and Bailey’s on ice afterwards. We talked and talked and talked about everything from gun control to motorcycle vacations to products made-in-china. We really did close the place down. We weren’t done talking, though, so we went over to Dick Mack’s, where KC and I had never been and where Sean and Liz’s son, Adam, was tending bar.
Sean and Liz right before we left:
As we were making our way there, we passed a fish and chip shop and saw Niall inside, so KC nipped in to say hello while we continued on to the pub. Inside the pub, who should we see but Brian. He had a gorgeous blonde on his arm, and introduced her as Petra. It was nice being able to talk to him outside An Canteen.
We were actually quite impressed with Dick Mack’s. The interior is almost entirely natural wood with a wonderful old patina. Like Curran’s, one side of the room was full of old shoes, boots, books and other miscellany. I took some pictures of the snug, where women used to drink when they were not allowed in the main part of the bar, and the barrels of tea and sugar behind the counter, but the flash destroyed the ambiance.
One photo that did turn out was of the current owner, Oliver Mackenzie. Apparently, he’s quite a colorful character and has been photographed all over the world in that wide-brimmed hat.
Dick Mack’s current owner, Oliver:
The bar was full of locals at this time on a Sunday night. Sean knew everyone there and they were giving him and Adam the business. We laughed a lot! The Irish have such a wonderful sense of humor.
Dick Mack’s must have the town’s largest selection of whiskey, including some we’d never seen before.
Whiskey at Dick Mack’s:
KC ordered something called Dingle Gold whiskey, supposedly bottled by the Cooley Distillery in County Louth. We were told this whiskey was being sold until the real Dingle Gold, a triple-distilled single malt matured in sherry casks, has matured. HOWEVER, I could not find any for sale, anywhere, so I suspect it’s something the Porterhouse Brewing Company cooked up before the new distillery opened and that this misleading practice has since been discontinued with Dick Mack’s holding two of the few remaining bottles. If that’s the case, I’m glad we got to taste it.
Dingle Whiskey’s three pot stills:
I tasted the Dingle Gold and didn’t like it as much as the Bushmills Black, my benchmark, but I’m not a connoisseur. In fact, I never drink whiskey except in a mixed drink, so what do I know. I didn’t get a picture but was able to crop one out of the shot above.
Dick Mack’s also had one bottle of 26-year-old Midleton’s, purchased at auction years ago, that was selling for €100 per shot! We smelled it but no one ponied up the coin so it went un-tasted.
26-year-old Midleton’s at Dick Mack’s:
Sean and Liz left at 11:30 and we left soon after, walking back to our car with Brian and Petra. They pointed out the Smurf artwork that had been popping up un-authorized around the town. An unknown artist is decorating random storefronts with them. I suggested the city create a treasure hunt, awarding a prize to anyone who identifies every location. We hadn’t noticed them until now and we’ve walked past them multiple times.
All the way home, KC kept exclaiming how much he had enjoyed the evening. We can’t believe tomorrow is our last day here.
We were home at midnight. KC brewed a pot of coffee and I downloaded the pictures. He went to bed around 1:30 and I followed just before 2:00. It had been a wonderful evening except for one thing – we had both felt really guilty for not eating at An Canteen.
I came downstairs just after 9:30 today. KC was already up and said he hadn’t slept well. He’d woken up in the middle of the night with bad stomach pains. He managed to fall back asleep and they were gone the next time he woke up but he had a restless night. He should know better than to combine gin, wine, Bailey’s and whiskey in one night!
It’s raining again today so we won’t be hiking up Cruach Mharthain . This has been such a people-centric trip that we really want to spend some time in Dingle today saying a proper good-bye to our friends.
There was some activity at the new shed next door and we saw Alec’s van so KC went over to spend some time with him. KC has been getting into woodworking lately and is fascinated with Alec’s skill. When we return next year, the new shed should be finished.
When KC came back in, there was so much fog that outside had been cancelled.
Fog obscuring the view:
Phil stopped by to pick up a book and confirmed our dinner date for tonight.
For lunch we had appenzeller and bread. It’s one of our favorite cheeses and, for some reason, we can no longer get it. All I can get is the antique version which we don’t like. I have really been bad diet-wise this trip … I hope the consequences aren’t too bad.
Around 1:30 the fog lifted and I went up to start packing. I wanted to enjoy the evening and I knew I wouldn’t if I had packing hanging over my head. Between the two of us, we managed to get both big suitcases to the point where all we had to add was the shoes we were wearing. We were very close to the weight limit on both of them so we would be wearing our heaviest clothes home.
Our flight leaves from Dublin at 10:30 Tuesday morning and our plan is to leave the cottage at 3:00 am which will get us to Dublin airport before 8:00. KC needs to get at least 3 hours sleep so we need to be home early. I won’t sleep, worrying about whether the alarm will wake us up, so I’ll finish updating the web page and make sure he gets up in time.
We had hoped to be in Dingle at 3:30 to give us enough time to say goodbye to everyone but it took longer to pack than I had anticipated and we didn’t get in until almost 4:30. KC dropped me at Dingle Music Shop and went to fill the car up. Thank goodness he remembered to do that – we know from experience that there are no filling stations open at the time of day we’re travelling.
And here is an annimated version by Órla Fallon, one of the Celtic Women:
OK…back to the travelogue…
It was really hard for me to say goodbye this year. I actually broke down. Dara drove up just as we were leaving and I had to go through a second wrenching goodbye.
We walked up to Dingle Crystal to say goodbye to Sean. He offered to take us to see the ancient bridge by his house, but we didn’t have time, so we’ll save that for next year. Another difficult goodbye.
Fortunately, we had something to take my mind off all these goodbyes. We raced off to An Canteen to meet Phil and Alec.
We were the first ones in the restaurant and took the table by the window. I was disappointed that they didn’t have calamari on the menu today and was perusing my options when Niall came out and offered to do a ‘Chef’s Choice’ dinner for us. We all loved the idea although I suspect he was disappointed when I asked for no pork.
Phil and I split a Stonewell Irish Craft Cider, and it was much, much better than Bulmer’s. It actually tasted like apples and wasn’t too sweet. I wish it was available in the US…. Alec also had cider and KC had the Stonewell Porter.
For dessert, I had the tiramisu, KC had the chocolate brownie, and Phil and Alec shared the pear and apple tart. We both love the fact that Irish desserts are not overly sweet and these were no exception. Each one was served with a fruit garnish and a small scoop of ice-cream in a lace cookie. KC inhaled everything on his plate and helped me finish my ice cream. It was delicious but I was too full by the time I got to it.
Phil and Alec are so easy to talk to, the time just flew by. Phil explained that the burnt-looking area at the base of the volcano down the road was exactly that – burning the grass encourages it to grow greener, and it is done frequently in the spring, but it requires a permit and the perpetrator must stand by and manage the flames so they don’t drift towards the houses nearby.
Phil and Alec asked us what we liked about the area, something Michael has also been asking. We like everything – the sea, the weather, the hiking, the history, the ruins, the food, the shopping, the pubs, the music and especially the people. If any one of those things were missing, it wouldn’t have the same draw. But none of them are which is why we keep coming back.
A young couple and a group of three women came in while we were eating so we didn’t get to spend as much time with Brian and Niall as we had hoped to. We did learn that Niall had done a cooking show on the local TV station and had just been invited back to do 4 more. I asked for his autograph and we had a good laugh over his new-found celebrity. He will go far – he’s a very talented chef AND he has an engaging personality.
Niall on TV4 show ocuisine:
When we left, we agreed to meet Phil and Alec at the cottage to settle our bill and to pick up the big camera so that Phil and I could go over to the small cottages and take pictures before the sun went down. We did that, but I think they need to be taken with a fish eye lens, similar to the one used by the Irish Heritage Trust for their pix of the Gatehouse. I wasn’t able to get good pictures of some of the smaller rooms.
When Phil and I returned from our picture taking, Alec and KC were discussing economics. Alec is very astute so KC listens closely to whatever he has to say and he was offering advice on when to buy property.
We settled our bill.
It was after 9:00 now and they were worried that KC wouldn’t get enough sleep (as was I) so we said another difficult goodbye and promised we’d see them next year.
KC and I finished packing, moving a few things around to insure the cases were under the weight limit, and KC went to bed.
I took my carry-on downstairs to more easily pack the laptop when the time came and then tried to avoid falling asleep myself. Listening to music helped but I was fading fast and the time was passing so slowly! I had some walnuts and a glass of water, I wrote in the cottage’ guest book, I stubbed my toe going to the bathroom and even the pain didn’t wake me up. But I didn’t dare sleep.
I woke KC up at 2:30 am. He took a shower while I packed my laptop and closed the other two cases. We loaded the luggage into the car and were on the road at 3:15, later than we planned, but we have no idea how it got so late! The drive was uneventful, there was next to no traffic, and no roadworks. I had no intestinal distress and was awake most of the way. We got to the airport at 7:30, earlier than we expected to, but that turned out to be a good thing.
The route from Graigue to Dublin:
KC dropped me and the bags at the terminal and went to return the car. He met me ONE HOUR LATER! It should NOT take that long to return a rental car so we will NEVER EVER USE HERTZ AGAIN.
We checked in, went through security, and then spent half an hour in the Aer Lingus lounge. We delayed going through pre-customs because, once you do, there is no lounge or shopping. We breezed through pre-customs this year, thank goodness.
One thing I keep forgetting to mention in these travelogues is that after you go through pre-customs, YOU ARE PASSED THROUGH A SECOND SECURITY CHECK where you have to go through the whole rigmarole all over again: taking off your shoes, opening your laptop, etc… What is the purpose of this?????
We boarded 20 minutes later and I accepted the glass of champagne they offered. KC drank half of it.
I intended to sleep all the way home, and I did try to sleep, but my book was so good I read most of the time. The movie selections were the same uninteresting ones as on the way out.
The food, however, was much better on this leg. We both had the chateaubriand with green peppercorn sauce and it was perfectly cooked (medium) with a spicy flavorful sauce. The salad was fresh and delicious and my wine, the malbec, was served when I requested it. The only weak link was the crab cake. It tasted OK but it was cold and there wasn’t enough sauce. I forgot to take pictures.
Unfortunately, I got a migraine right after lunch which didn’t go away until Friday morning.
We landed on time and our bags were the first two on the carrousel. The ride home was uneventful and although it was STILL raining there was no water damage in our basement, thank goodness. It was SO nice coming home to a tidy house.
KC had to leave Wednesday morning for NYC, so he spent the rest of the day preparing for that. I unpacked the big suitcases and scrounged up something for us to eat. So, within hours of our return home, we were back to our old routine.
The next day, Wednesday, I started working on the travelogue and didn’t finish it until May 13th, almost three weeks later. That is partially due to the fact that I had many other things on my plate, and partially due to the fact that I research every point I make and link to supporting websites.
The bloodtype and genotype diets are not diets to help you lose weight, they are designed to help you achieve optimal health. Optimum weight is typically a side effect. In a nutshell, just as the wrong type of blood administered in a transfusion will cause your blood to agglutinate (and ultimately kill you), so too do some foods agglutinate your blood and will just as assuredly kill you over time.
The bloodtype and genotype diets help you avoid those foods. If your body does not have to deal with the ravages these foods wreak on your health, it can concentrate on healing. If you’re only eating foods that your body can utilize, and you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs to do what it was designed to do, you will be healthy.
The advice on which foods agglutinate which blood types is based on hundreds of scientific studies. Ignore that advice at your peril. Saying the earth isn’t round, doesn’t make it flat if it is, in fact, round.
Here again are the links to the smaller pages.
I use them when I’m looking for something specific.
A new window will NOT open.
NOTES TO SELF:
Refund protocol: All the forms I filled out specified “no customs stamp, no refund” and I had seen no place in which to get a customs stamp so I wrote to their Chamber of Commerce and was directed to this WEBSITE (www.revenue.ie) where I discovered that (1) only those goods worth over €2000 needed a customs stamp, (2) there are drop boxes inside the terminal where you can place those envelopes to avoid having to send them in and (3) you can have your receipts notarized in the US if you are unable to get a custom’s stamp. All of this was good news. Keep in mind that it will take 2-3 MONTHS for your refund to be processed. I got mine two months after we returned.