Our trip to Dingle Peninsula, SWVIII, and Glenlo Abbey, Ireland
Connemara National Park:
April 11-25, 2016
The Star Wars VIII set on Sybil Head, across from our cottage:
We often receive notes from strangers using our travelogues to plan their own trips. We welcome comments and questions. I put the travelogues up quickly, while the memories are still fresh, with little regard for grammar or punctuation, and I'm SURE there are many errors. If you find one, please let me know! If you find any broken links, please let me know that, too. The web page was developed in Mozilla FIREFOX; if you use a different browser it will not look as intended.
That said, 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. The personalization makes for some very, very long webpages. We came home with 800 pictures from which 414 were chosen. This is about 25 more than last year but last year was a 10-day trip and this year was 15 so I managed to reduce the average-per-day photo count by 10!
If you prefer smaller pages, here are links to daily pages (they are repeated at the end of each page as well). A new window will NOT open.
Page 01: Mon - Prep and Travel to Shannon.
Page 02: Tue - Drive to Dingle, John Benny's for brunch, Clogher Head
Page 03: Wed - Archaelogy Tour, lunch at Sheehy's, dinner at Benner's.
Page 04: Thu - Adriane arrives, lunch in Adare, dinner at Murphy's Pub.
Page 05: Fri - Killarney, birthday dinner at Grey's Lane Bistro.
Page 06: Sat - Hike and lunch at Blasket Center, Top Gear, Adriane makes dinner, concert at Siopa Ceoil.
Page 07: Sun - Aquarium, shopping in Dingle, lunch at Benner's, Adriane goes home.
Page 08: Mon - Herb&Elke leave for Amsterdam, lunch at Sheehy's, shopping, Holden.
Page 09: Tue - Hike An Drom, tea at Mulcahy's, dinner at Murphy's Pub, Sciopa Ceoil concert, Mighty Session.
Page 10: Wed - Inch Beach, dinner at Doyle's, drinks at Kennedy's.
Page 11: Thu - Dingle, lunch at Benner's, whiskey tasting at Dick Macks.
Page 12: Fri - Niall, lunch at Goat Street Social Club, dinner at Global Village, Kennedy's.
Page 13: Sat - Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Glenlo Abbey outside Galway.
Page 14: Sun - breakfast in Abbey, hike Connemara Park, lunch in Leenane, dinner in Pullman Car.
Page 15: Mon - Return Home
Original, all-on-one-page version.
Press here to return to personal picture menu.
This was our tenth vacation in Dingle!
This was our TENTH 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.
Press here for 2016 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2015 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2014 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2013 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2012 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2011 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2010 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2009 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2008 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2007 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2006 Ireland travelogue (a new window will open)
We have been coming to Ireland for so long that the minutia I used to record has become redundant and unnecessary. If you are a first-time visitor, I recommend you read the older blogs as they have information that will help make your trip more enjoyable. Starting in 2015, the blogs will be much shorter and will be primarily pictures. I no longer have time to add links and descriptions for every new thing we do. Therefore the 'disclaimer' no longer applies. The examples below will give you an idea of the type of information found in the older pages.
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 useful bit of information is that if you want half-and-half with your coffee, you must ask for "full cream" or you will get milk.
A NOTE ON THE MAPS
Most of the maps I post 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!
BUY YOUR OWN Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps HERE
These maps are also available on Amazon.
This year KC's mother, step-father, daughter, son-in-law, and grand-daughter joined us for the first week.
We booked our seats on Aer Lingus which flies direct from Boston to Shannon. We paid extra for premium seats, and booked the window and the aisle so neither of us would be stuck in the middle. We invited KC's family to join us and both his mother and his daughter accepted the invitation.
Herb and Elke would fly with us to Shannon, and then go on alone to Amsterdam the following Monday; Adriane and her family would join us on Thursday and stay until Sunday. KC really didn't want to drive a bus around so he reserved three (3!) cars. The first one was big enough for 4 adults and their bags, to get us from the airport to Dingle. Then, when Adriane arrived, we would swap it for a car big enough to hold seven; and, when Adriane left, we would swap that for a smaller car for the remainder of the trip.
Every year, we try and visit one new part of Ireland. This year, we chose to spend our last two days at Glenlo Abbey, outside Galway, for three reasons: (1) Dromoland Castle was way too expensive, (2) theAbbey's restaurant is a Pullman train car formerly used on the Orient Express, and (3) we wanted to see the Connemara again. As before, we wanted to eliminate the midnight drive from the cottage to Shannon Airport. Glenlo Abbey is further than Dromoland was, but closer than Dingle by 1.5 hours so we could leave at a reasonable hour in the morning.
Unfortunately, our favorite restaurant, An Canteen, closed last year so we'll have to find alternative places to eat. Since we'll be there for 2 weeks, I plan to do more cooking in the cottage.
A few weeks before we left, we learned that the opening scenes for the new Star Wars movie VIII, Rogue One, were being filmed on Sybil Head, which is right across from the cottage we rent. Filming was due to start the beginning of May so we would be able to see them building the set! This became one of the highlights of the trip for me, and for Adriane's family who are also huge Star Wars fans.
NOTE: We only brought the small camera this year, a Canon Elph Power Shot.
Travel to Dingle
Monday, April 11
Our flight left at 7pm which gave me most of the day to finish packing and tidy the house. Unfortunately, it took me two days to pack, I had trouble getting both bags under the weight limit, and I wasn't able to tidy the house like I did last year so I was a bit stressed when we left. The car picked us up at 3:30 and I was ready to go just has he pulled up!
We took all three suitcases again this year, and they were packed to the gills because I planned to cook in the cottage and brought spices, teas, snacks, and my favorite pan. I also brought way too many clothes, thinking we would be spending more time in the pubs.
Traffic was not heavy and we got to the airport before 5:00. Check-in and TSA weren't as empty as they had been last year but they weren't a nightmare either.
We had arranged to meet KC's mom and step-dad at Vino Volo, a wine bar, and they were waiting for us there when we arrived. As usual, I asked for organic/biodynamic and they offered me a sauvignon blanc from a company that runs 1000 head of sheep through the vineyards to compost and keep weeds under control: Shannon Ridge High Valley 2014. It was so good I had two glasses! KC had a white flight, and then a glass of my Sauvignon Blanc. Herb and Elke each had individual glasses. We shared the charcuterie plate.
The flight boarded right next to Vino Volo, which we thought was both nice and weird. Why weren't we boarding at a normal gate? We soon found out.
Paying for the upgraded seats got us priority boarding, and we were the first ones through the gate, only to discover that we were being bussed to the plane! Why did they bother with priority boarding when everyone ended up on the same bus?!?! Then, when we got on the plane, we discovered that they had reconfigured it after we booked and our seats were no longer where we thought they were. I was pretty irritated until everyone had boarded and the stewardess offered us the seats we thought we had booked, since no one was sitting in them.
Right after take-off we watched a beautiful sunset OVER the clouds! Then, 5 hours later, we watched the sun rise.
Sunset and sunrise:
I fell asleep almost immediately and missed the dinner service. Everyone else had the stew and agreed it was very good. KC says he slept for an hour or two. In spite of the late start, we landed on time.
Drive to Dingle, John Benny's, Garvey's, and Best Cottage on Earth
Tuesday, April 12
The walk to the carousel was v-e-r-y long but our bags came out quickly. They both made it, intact, so we loaded them on a cart and got our rental car. We used Hertz again this year. KC had booked a Jetta but when the agent saw all our bags - Herb and Elke also had four (2 checked and 2 carry on) - he blanched, so we swapped it for a Nissan SUV. Even with the bigger car we had trouble fitting all the bags in the boot so we will have to remember to bring less next year!
The cost for the week was €330 including €116 fuel deposit and €16/day comprehensive collision. If we return the car with a full tank, we get the fuel deposit back. Net-net, we're paying €22/day. We used an American Express points coupon.
Our Nissan ??? had a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 engine
(EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg)
and a 6-speed manual transmission.
We were on the road just after 7:00 and took the shorter interior route. The drive was uneventful except for periods of fogginess that prevented us from seeing the scenery. We decided to drive right to the cottage, unload the bags, and then drive back into Dingle for breakfast and groceries. We arrived there around 10:30am. This is much earlier than the cottage check-in time and, techinically, we should have waited, but we've been there so often Sharon assured us it would be OK.
Route from Shannon to Dingle, 120 miles (191 km), approx. 3 hour drive:
We dropped our bags off and returned to Dingle. We had breakfast at John Benny's - full Irish for KC and Herb, 4-egg omelet for Elke, and eggs benedict for me. The meal was enormous!
We stopped at Garvey's Market for provisions, then went to the bank for cash, and Re Nua for organics. I couldn't believe they had biodynamic veggies in their freezer! I bought spinach and green beans. I wish they were available in the US.
The weather had cleared and it was now bright and sunny! We drove back to the cottage, arriving around 2pm.
What a beautiful day:
Location of The Cottage in Graigue (pronounced groig) northwest of Dingle:
The Cottage in relation to 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. Although it was a gorgeous day, we took the shorter route.
Tig Meaig - Meg's Stone Cottage
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!
our PHILOMENAL home base for the next 9 days
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 NINE 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 the website I created for them with dozens of pictures and other information that anyone looking for a rental in this area would be interested in knowing:
Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).
The EXTERIOR IS ALL STONE, a requirement for us,
and there is parking for at least 4 cars:
Press here for additional pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).
The cottage is RIGHT ON THE COAST, another requirement for us,
and has an INCREDIBLE VIEW of the ATLANTIC OCEAN
Press here for additional pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).
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:
We always use the master bedroom, upstairs, because we like the extra space the sitting area offers (and the phenomenal view of the coastline 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.
The master bedroom suite:
View from master bedroom:
Press here for additional (almost 100) pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).
Elke noticed that Declan was tending his sheep so I went out to see what was up. Apparently, sheep are vulnerable to many diseases, and one of his lambs had something called ORF, or scabby mouth, which is highly contagious but easily treated. He was treating the lamb.
One of our traditions is to hike up Clogher Head on our first day to drink in the incredible views and to get our bodies ready for subsequent hikes. It's right by the cottage and it's an easy climb, but it can be very wet, so Elke decided to stay in the cottage. I wore my new wellies, to see how they performed on rocks. We started around 7:00.
It was too early to see the sun go down over the water but we got some wonderful pictures of the surrounding area. The last three were taken into the sun and appear darker than it was. My boots were very comfortable and did surprisingly well on the uneven surface. We waved to Elke when we could see the cottage but she says she never saw us.
View from Clogher Head:
We were back in the cottage a little after 8:00 and ate dinner while the sun went down. Elke asked KC if she could slice the bread and he said something like, "Yes, as long as you don't mangle it." Elke couldn't understand what he meant by 'mangle' - how hard could it be to slice bread? She cut two slices and gave up. Here's what they looked like:
We all had a good laugh, and let KC slice the bread from then on. The St. Killian's brie we'd enjoyed on previous visits was too young but we ate it anyway since it was the only cheese we bought. I made a horseradish cream with the wasabi powder I'd brought along and ate it with some 'pastrami cured' smoked salmon. The flavor was nice but it was sort-of tough. Herb and Elke had smoked mackerel and KC had cheese and cold cuts. The sunset was spectacular.
After dinner we played cribbage, KC and I against Herb and Elke. They went to bed and Herb showered while I updated my journal. Then I showered and went to bed. KC stayed up and read a little before joining me.
Dingle - Archaeological Tour, Lunch at Sheehy's Anchor Down, Dinner at Benner's
Sciuird Archaeological Tours
Wednesday, April 13
Before we left the USA we arranged an archaeological tour with Tim Collins of Sciuird Archaeological Tours,
the same guide we used last year. Adriane wasn't interested in the tour, but Herb and Elke were, so we had to do it today, before Adriane arrived.
We were to meet Tim in the music shop at 10:30. We got in early, just after 10, and the shop wasn't open yet, so we wandered around looking for a good place for coffee and a scone. We had just decided on Strand House when Dara appeared. We chatted with him until Tim arrived and were disappointed to learn that it wouldn't be a private tour - there were 5 other people on the bus. I was about to bail when Tim offered to continue the tour privately in the afternoon: the morning would be on the west side of the peninsula, and the afternoon would be the east side. Since beggars can't be choosers - we had to do the tour today - we agreed.
I sat in the front and KC sat beside me. Herb and Elke were in the back.
Many of the things on the tour we had seen multiple times but you get little extra tidbits when you see them with Tim.
For instance, the seagull we often see on the wall along Slea Head Drive is known as "Oscar." He hangs out there because tourists feed him, and he will chase way other birds that try to horn in on his terrirory. One of the other tour participants fed him a breadroll and we got to see this in action.
At the Ventry Estate, we learned that the plants along the paths are wild garlic, or what we call bear garlic in the USA.
The most interesting part of the morning was the 6th century Reask Monastic Site outside Ballyferriter. How many times have we driven past it and never known it was there? The entrance was quite rocky and hard to negotiate so Herb and Elke sat this one out. It was hard to photograph without people.
When we got to the Gallarus Oratory it started to pour so we ran down to the oratory and huddled inside while Tim spoke and there was planty of room for the 10 of us plus a few others who wandered in. Back at the van, one of the tour members realized she had lost her hat, so KC ran back and found it for her. My gallant husband! Elke's gallant son!
Slea Head Drive:
Reask Monastic Site:
The pillar stone Tim is pointing to, which is 5.5 feet tall, was 2/3 burried when excavation started in the 1970's. It was this stone which hinted that there was something hidden here, as all the walls were buried, too. After excavation, the top layer of existing stones was painted with tar to show their original height, and the walls were then built up to their current height.
On our way to the oratory we stopped at Louis Mulcahy to use the bathroom. Some people also grabbed a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. When we drove past the cottage, Tim stopped and used it as an example of the best stonework in the area! He then mentioned that we were staying there and had invited everyone in for tea. Evidence that his sense of humor isn't canned.
After the oratory, Tim dropped everyone off at the music shop and arranged to meet us back there in one hour, at 3:15. We lunched at Sheehy's Anchor Down, the fish restaurant that opened right next to the shop, and wow was it delicious!
Herb had steamed mussles, Elke has langoustine bisque, KC had fish (cod) and chips, and I had poached eggs on asparagus. KC had a bottle of Bric's beer, which is still very good.
Sheehy's Anchor Down Restaurant :
The second half of our tour was very much like last year's. We stopped at Conor Pass, Menard Castle, Eoin's Well, and the stone bridge. The most exciting part for me was when we squeezed past a huge tractor and came face to face with a herd of at least 50 cows following the tractor to the barn. Those were Murphy's cows, of the renounded Murphy's Ice Cream shop in Dingle, and it took them a long time to go around our van!
Ancient bridge, BUILT ENTIRELY WITHOUT MORTAR:
Minard Castle, outside Anascaul:
Like most castles in Ireland, this one was attacked by Cromwell's armies - you can see that the corners have been damaged making it unstable. It's on private property and the owner has surrounded it with barbed electrified wire. The cliffs beyond appear to have been mined or eroded but they are actually 380 million year old fossilised desert sand dunes. The stone beach is one of the finest storm beaches in Ireland.
Coast Guard office where Tom Cream joined the Navy (someone lives in this house now, we saw them tending the fruit trees behind it):
St. John's Well (Tobar Eoin) and rag tree:
An ancient spring where pilgrims would come to 'leave their troubles behind'. They would circle the well nine times while saying the rosary (dropping a stone or berry into the well after each round) and then leave a rag on the tree behind it. The rag represented your trouble(s) and by leaving it you would be cured of whatever ailed you.
Herb circled the well but never said what troubles he was hoping to leave there. I'll need to follow up with him and see if they're gone.
The area was recently restored: A gorse-lined path leads to wide earthen steps which take you down to the shaded clearing where the well is. You can see the Atlantic through a break in the trees.
We were back in Dingle around 5:30 where we settled up with Tim (€200 plus €20 tip). The tour was worth every penny!
It was dinnertime now, and we didn't have anything planned, so we decided to dine in town. We walked over to Lord Baker only to find they were closed. KC asked if I knew anyting about Benner's and all I could remember was that they were a high-end hotel with rave reviews on TripAdvisor. They were right next door so we decided to try them.
Our first impression was excellent - warm, cozy, and pub-like but elegant with stained glass paritions between the booths, leather chairs, and walls of books. We chose a booth by the bar, away from the door, and ordered beverages: Irish coffee for me, Guinness for KC, gin for Herb, and Jameson's for Elke. The coffee was large and super hot with lots of cream (but not enough sugar for my taste). The other drinks were also generous pours.
The menu was diverse - there was lamb for Herb and duck for Elke, sole for me and chicken for KC. Everything was superbly prepared and delicious. The bread was a huge hit so we asked if we could take some home. We will definitely be coming back here! We had dessert but I forgot to take pictures - profiteroles and flourless chocolate cake.
Dinner at Mrs. Benner's Bar:
On our way home Elke saw a huge rainbow! It was still there when we got home.
We played cribbage again tonight. KC and I won the first game, Herb and Elke, the second.
Tomorrow we drive to Shannon airport to pick up Adriane, Martin, and Lashay. We discussed stopping at the Foynes Flying Boat museum on the way there and having lunch in their restaurant. To do this, we need to leave at 9:00am.
We all went to bed early.
Drive to Shannon to pick up Adriane, Martin, and Lashay; lunch in Adare, dinner at Murphy's
Thursday, April 14
What a beautiful day!
We were on the road at 10:30, after deciding to stop at Foynes on our way home for a late lunch.
KC had reserved a ??? but we swapped that for a VW Caddy when the agent commented that with seven people it would be "a tight fit". In other words, there would be no room for luggage, not even carry-ons. They only had an automatic, which KC hates, but they gave us a break on the price. In retrospect, it was easier to drive than the Nissan because it wasn't as wide, and there was plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably PLUS a small boot for luggage or groceries.
The flight got in late, which meant we didn't have time for Foynes, so we stopped in Adare for a late lunch. We couldn't find parking on the main street so we took the first open spot on a side road and went into the nearest restaurant offering "food all day". I didn't get the name of the restaurant, or pics of the food, but they had a table big enough for all of us and the food was good. I had smoked salmon, Adriane and Herb shared a pizza; I don't remember what everyone else had.
When we got to Dingle, we stopped in Garvey's for provisions, and then went to Murphy's Pub for an early dinner. I had a side of vegetables which was delicious, and sticky toffee pudding which was better than I remember it. They're cutting it thinner now and serving more sauce. Again, no pictures.
While we were in Garvey's, Caitriona came in so I asked her for a recommendation for dinner tomorrow night and she recommended Grey's Lane Bistro. It's the former Goat Street Cafe that we used to love. They changed their name when the moved to the bigger space on Grey's Lane. I made a reservation for 7pm.
Back at the cottage, we put the groceries away and Adriane and her family settled into their rooms. We hung out together, decided what to do for the net few days, and we admired the sunset before hitting the sack.
Adriane's partner, Martin, is wonderful! He's intelligent, funny, nice, good looking, and very good with KC's grand daughter.
Drive to Killarney, Dinner at Grey's Lane Bistro
Friday, April 15
After a quick breakfast, we were on the road for Killarney at 10:00am and arrived just after noon. We decided to do the castle first, then lunch, then the abbey.
The castle tour was about to start so we passed the time reading the panels in the entryway. There was a new one this year, a painting of a castle scene with several hidden incongruities for you to find, things like rifles, sunglasses, and bicycles. I was able to find most but not all of them so I am reproducing it here. There were 15 incongruities and 9 black cats. If you click on the photo a new tab will open with the full-size version.
Another new item was the mock up of the castle with cut-away areas showing the different rooms.
Castle mock up:
The tour itself was not as interesting as I remembered it. The guide was a woman and I thought her delivery was boring and that she left many interesting details out. Adriane didn't like her, either, but the guys thought she was OK.
They don't allow photographs so there are none of the interior.
We all had to use the bathroom, which is outside and about as far way from the entry as possible. Plan ahead if you have a weak bladder.
We drove from the castle to the restaurant/gift shop and had a quick lunch. It's a cafeteria and the food is decent. I had poached salmon (cold) with a delicious horseradish sauce (that I hoped wouldn't give me a migraine). I don't remember what anyone else had. We had to use two tables so KC and I sat with Martin, and Adriane and Lasha sat with Herb and Elke.
It was cold and windy now, and the walk to the Abbey is about half a mile, so I recommended that Herb and Elke take a Jaunting Car (horse drawn carriage). Adriane and Lashay wanted to join them so KC, Martin and I set off along the path from Muckross House to the Abbey.
Jaunting car with bad weather protection:
This photo of Killarney National Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The walk was invigorating and as beautiful as I remembered it but many of the trees appeared to be damaged including one enormous one that had fallen over completely.
Trees along the walk between Muckross House and the Abbey:
There was also some interesting moss:
We arrived at the Abbey long before the Jaunting Car did and had plenty of time to walk around. I got a good picture of the yew tree in the courtyard and the diagram of the age of each section. They continue to restore and the bell tower is now open. The bell tower roof has been restored (wood) and there is a slate roof over the corridor surrounding the courtyard.
Yew tree in courtyard and legend:
Slate roof over courtyard corridoor:
Amazing stonework in ceiling over archway:
The Jaunting Car has a roof, plastic windows, and copious blankets, so they were warm and cozy. They also got to see the Torc waterfall which KC and I have never seen. Adriane said the waterfall was the best part of the day for her. I don't have any pictures so here's one from the park's website:
Torc waterfall pictures from Zicasso website:
When they finally arrived at the Abbey, we gave Lashay as much time as she wanted to explore.
We took a few pictures of the exterior and then walked back to the car. Adriane and Lashay visited the giftshop and I visited the bathroom.
View of lake from graveyard:
Outside the choir loft:
We wanted to be back in Dingle for our 7pm dinner reservation and had a little time to kill so we drove up to Lady's View before returning home. Although it was now rush hour traffic wasn't too bad and we made good time.
We got in a little early but went to the restaurant anyway. The new space is HUGE! There was a big wedding party on the lower level so they seated us upstairs where it was nice and quiet.
We started with beverages - beer for KC, Martin, and Herb; Prosecco for Elke, Stonewell cider for me, and Coke for Adraine and Lashay. For starters we all had salad of some sort. For dinner KC and Martin had steak (sirloin?), Elke and Herb had chicken, Lashay had pasta with shrimp and salmon, Adriane had Thai chicken curry and I had Thai vegetarian curry. I think. That's all I have pictures of. For dessert Lashay had creme brulee and didn't care for it. Elke ordered the pear and almond tart and enjoyed it. I ordered the cheesecake and it was delicious - light and creamy.
Dinner at Grey's Lane Bistro
It was a long day but a very good one! We drove back to the cottage and were in bed before midnight.
Hike behind Blasket Center, Clogher Beach, Top Gear in Dingle, Risotto, Concert at Siopa Ceiol
Saturday, April 16
We left at 10:00am today for the Blasket Center. Herb and Elke wanted to finish exploring it, and the rest of us wanted to hike the trail so we dropped Herb and Elke at the door and started up the looooong road to the top. We ran into one group of schoolgirls on that road but no one else the rest of the way. Lashay was able to keep up with the rest of us and even climbed the rock pile (seen in the picture above). Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this adventure!
We met Herb and Elke in the Blasket Cafe around noon and had lunch there.
On our way home we stopped at Clogher Beach.
We drove into Dingle to pay for our concert tickets and restock our food provisions. We parked by the Farmer's Market and walked up to Main Street to stop at the bank. There were a bunch of people in front of Dingle Pub waiting for the Top Gear crew to arrive. KC had heard they would be in town today and wanted to stay as well. So, we waited. And waited, and waited, and waited! Finally, the Garda said it would be at least an hour so we left.
Herb and Elke had gone into Paul Geaney's Pub to wait so we joined them there and decided to split up - KC would go to Dingle Crystal to say hello to Sean and we'd go on the Garvey's. When we passed Dingle Crystal KC was still there so we nipped in. When we left, KC raced on ahead of us and we assumed he was going to Garvey's. When we got there he was nowhere to be found. We lost Martin somehow, too. So, I called KC and discovered that he had gone to the music shop to pay for our tickets and was on his way. It took him forever!
Lashay looking beautiful with me hiding behind her:
We still couldn't find Martin, so we got what we needed and went to the car where, thank goodness, he was waiting. On our way home we drove pat the Dingel Distillery and, again, there was a crowd outside so we stopped and sure enough it was the Top Gear crew. It was very hard to get pix.
Top Gear at Dingle Distillery.
We hurried home so Adriane would have time to fix dinner before we had to leave for the convert. While she was cooking, Brian stopped by to take us to see the ponies so we piled in the car and followed him to Dunquin. Lashay and I hand-fed them carrots, played with Petra's two King Charles Spaniels, and then returned home. Brian told us the Top Gear folks were supposed to pass by the cottage later that day and the neighbor would drive his sheep behind their car. We were worried they would prevent us from getting to the concert but they were nowhere to be seen when we left at 6:30.
Adriane's dinner was delicious - risotto with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and peas, and garlic bread. We opened the bottle of wine Phil had left for us, a tasty red from France, and savored it with the meal. When the wine was gone, the guys shared a bottle of beer Martin had recommended - Hobgoblin, a red ale from the UK. We're hoping it's available in the US.
We got to the music shop just before 7 and grabbed our seats in the first row. The shop cat jumped up on Elke's lap and stayed there until the music started. The performers tonight were a woman we'd never seen before, Rosie Mackenzie from Cape Breton, on the violin/fiddle and Matt Griffon on guitar. She was amazing! She played so fast I couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurry. She also sang.
At half-time we took a 30 minute break and they served us Irish coffee - the best one I've had this trip. We watched Dara make it: he put a good sized spoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of decaf coffee granules into the glass, filled it half full with hot water and stirred to dissolve the sugar. Right before serving he poured in 1 ounce of Bushmills and then filled the top with shipped cream. Delicious!
After the break, Theresa Horgan played one tune on the flute with Michael accompanying her on the accordion, and then she sang one song with Matt accompanying her. I love her voice! It's so haunting. She then joined Matt and Rosie for one instrumental and one vocal. After the concert I bought one of each of their CDs and can't wait to listen to them.
After the concert they were all going over to John Benny's, and we wanted to join them, but it would have been too late for Lashay so we went home. We were peckish so we set out some bread, cheese and cold cuts.
Star Wars, Aquarium, Shopping in Dingle, lunch at Benner's, Cruach Mhartain, drive to Shannon Airport
Sunday, April 17
Today was a very important day - we were going to drive as close as possible to the Star Wars set and see if we could get some pictures. There were NO TRESSPASSING signs everywhere and KC refused to drive up to the gate, where we would have been stopped anyway, so he pulled over as close as he was willing to go and we hopped out and took as many pictures as we could.
Fortunately it was a nice day and I was able to get fairly close with the zoom on the camera. This was the first time on this trip that I wished we'd brought the big camera. Oh well. If you compare the shots below to the one at the top of the page, taken when we first arrived, you can see that they continue to build huts. KC thinks Luke is training Jedi knights up there.
The Star Wars VIII set being built on Sybil Head:
We reluctantly tore ourselves away and proceeded on to Dingle. We had promised Lashay she would see the acquarium so KC parked by the Framer's Market and we split up: the guys took Lashay to the acquarium and took the ladies shopping in Dingle. This was the first time I'd been shopping in Dingle on a Sunday and I had assumed everything would be open since the weekend is a busy time for them (and I know the music shop IS open). Well, I was wrong. MANY stores were NOT open!
Some of them were, so they got our business. Adriane bought a few souvenirs and Elke and I looked at others but didn't buy anything. We stopped in Lisbeth Mulcahy where I bought a few greeting cards. Elke did point out some gorgeous lavender bags in Holden, which was closed. If I buy anything this trip it will be one of those bags.
Once Adriane had her fill of shopping we started looking for a place to grab a bite. I called KC and he said they needed another 20 minutes - the acquarium was much bigger than it looks. We were right by Benners so we went in for a coffee while we waited for the guys. When they arrived we decided to stay for lunch even though the table was too small. When the food arrived, Martin took his plate and sat the the next table over. Once again, the food was delicious.
I had fried calamari, Elke had vegetable soup, Herb had lamb (mutton) stew, Adriane and Lashay had fried shrimp, and KC and Martin had spicy chicken on foccacia.
Lunch at Mrs. Benners Bar:
As we were leaving we noticed a sign in the loppy indicating that the chandeliers were made by Sean!
On our way back to the car KC went into Garvey's for bread, kleenix and cold cuts. While we waited for him, Elke and I got ice cream at Murphys Ice Cream two doors down. They had sticky toffee ice cream!! Martin, Adriane and Lashay also got ice cream but across the street (I don't know the name of that place).
When we got back Adriane, Martin and Lashay climbed the hill behind the house while KC set out the cold cuts he'd picked up in Garvey's. We had a long discussion about cheese and the correct way to slice it.
While we were eating, KC remembered a photo we had taken years ago with four generations of his family sitting on the sofa in Herb and Elke's living room. He wanted to recreate that photo now so all the women piled onto the sofa and KC snapped a few pix. They were awful! So, we rearranged ourselves and took some more. There still wasn't one shot where everyone looked good. Here's the best of the bunch:
Four generations of Healy women:
Adriane's flight left from Shannon at 10:15 and they needed to be there 2 hours ahead of time. KC suggested that he and Herb make the drive alone so Elke and I didn't have to spend 5 hours in the car and we agreed. We reluctantly said goodbye and they left the cottage at 6:30. They made good time both ways, traded the big Caddy for a small Peugeot, and were back at 12:00. Elke spent some time packing since they were leaving tomorrow morning. It was sad knowing that the family portion of the vacation was ending.
The Kerry Airport is only 1.5 hours away and their flight left at 12:50am so we had to be on the road at 9:30.
Kerry Airport, lunch at Anchor Down, shopping in Dingle, Holden Leather,
Monday, April 18
We left the cottage at 9:30 and got to the airport early. It's a very small airport with only one check-in counter and it doesn't open until 20 minutes before the flight. Herb and Elke told us we didn't have to hang around but we were interested in what the airport had to offer so we waited until the restaurant opened at 11am. While we waited, we looked at the pictures on the wall and saw one of Ted Kennedy in the filed behind our cottage!
Ted Kennedy behind cottage:
Nicole and Tom on Main Street in Dingle:
The restaurant was quite nice for such a small place. Herb and KC both had Guinness, Elke had coffee and I had a latte. Since it's impossible to get cream with coffee, the best way for me to get something I like is to order either latte or cappuchino. Cappuchino has more foam, latte has more milk, so I order a latte if possible.
Elke had a sandwich, KC had an eclaire, and I had a scone. KC said the éclair was very good but my scone was a bit on the dry side. Unfortunately, I think that's standard for scones. Perhaps that's why Dara doesn't like them.
Restaurant in Kerry Airport:
When we finished our snack, we said goodbye, and returned to Dingle. We decided to do our souvenir shopping today since half the day was over. We started at the music shop and bought tickets for Tuesday's house concert. Then, we had lunch at Anchor Down, fried cod for both of us, and it was again delicious. The batter is so light and crispy. I d idn't eat the chips but KC said they had no grease flavor. We shared a glass of Chilean sauvignon blanc that was also very good.
Lunch at Anchor Down:
After lunch, we went into Strand House where KC bought a hat to replace the one he lost last year. Next, we stopped at Lisbeth Mulcahy for a scarf for KC. Her scarves are beauriful but they're delicate and after one season they're covered with snags so we buy a new one every year. After that, we stopped in Dingle Crystal and ordered a small pitcher and two roly poly glasses. Adam told us the Dingle Whiskey Society was hosting a whiskey tasting Thursday night at Dick Mack's so we bought two tickets. Supposedly, they hold a tasting on the 3rd Thursday of every month.
We went to Garvey's for dinner provisions and stopped in Holden to look at the lavender bags. The color was still gorgeous but I was reluctant to buy another tote bag since I have so many already and rarely use them. They didn't have any smaller bags but suggested we stop at the workshop and have one custom made. So, we did.
Conor was there and helped me design the perfect bag! It will be lavender leather with a lavender croc flap. The flap will be lined in purple suede, the interior in lime suede. There will be two zipper pockets, two slip pockets, a pocket for my salt packets, and two clips for keys. A matching notebook will fit in the back pocket. I took a picture of the order sheet to remind me what will be arriving in about 6 weeks:
Custom purse order:
Back in the cottage, we decide to chill out tonight. KC started a load of laundry and was reading (sleeping?) on the sofa, and I was doing crosswords, when Sharon showed up! We invited her in, broke out the whiskey, beer, cider, cheese and crackers and talked until after 1:00am! She is an amazing woman: she works with mentally challenged people who are living in a community home. She's also very funny and had us roaring with laughter on more than one occasion. We hope she stops by every time we visit.
Hike An Drom, tea at Louis Mulcahy, dinner at Murphy's, concert at Siopa Ceoil
Louis Mulcahy Cafe
Tuesday, April 19
It was a bit overcast this morning but we were determined to get some exercise so we discussed our options over breakfast. Brandon Mountain, Conor Pass, Inch Beach, and An Drom were our options. Since we tied one on last night and I had a slight headache (too much cider, obviously) we decided against something big like Brandon and Conor. Inch beach was an hour away so we settled on An Drom. It's nice having so many options right at your doorstep!
We left the cottage at 1:15 and walked for almost two hours. The pictures aren't the best because it was overcast but it was stunning in person. The coastline is so rugged, and it all seems to slant at the same angle. There is a waterfall along the way which we hoped to find, and DID find, but were surprised by how big it was. Scroll down to see it. We walked to the waterfall and then returned home.
An Drom and Coastline:
We stopped at Louis Mulcahy for coffee and a pastry - chocolate beet cake and latte for me, berry crumble and cocoa for KC - then we placed an order for a large pot for the living room. KC wanted a huge pot for the yard but decided he should get a cheap one first and use it to determine where it would go before investing in a work of art.
Louis Mulcahy Cafe:
Pottery at Louis Mulcahy:
The one we chose, which arrived home before we did!
When we got home KC redid the laundry. The load he did yesterday didn't rinse properly and everying reeked of detergent. We use unscented detergent at home and the smell was overwhelming for us. We cleaned ourselves up as well and headed into Dingle for a quick dinner at Murphy's Pub before the concert at Siopa Ceoil. Pork and Apple sausages for KC, side of veggies for me.
Dinner at Murphy's Pub:
The concert tonight was Seamus Begley, Maebh's father, with Donogh Hennessey accompanying him on guitar and Maebh singing one tune. We didn't have front row seats tonight because there was a Rick Steves group in attendance and the shop is contractually obligated to give them the front rows. We had good seats, though, off to the side with our own table and no one in front of us.
Seamus is hilarious! When he asked for requests I asked for Mo Ghile Mear (Our Hero - Sé mo laoch) and he had the whole place singing the chorus. He even had Dara singing one verse. During the intermission KC chatted up a young Japanese woman we had seen in the shop every day we'd been there. She had been in Dingle since January and was learning to play violin there. Her name was Aya.
Seamus came over and told us that he had been to Japan the year before and had played the only Japanese tune he knew. After the intermission he played it for us and Aya sang it. It's the only time I've ever seen Donogh smile.
Seamus in concert at Siopa Ceoil:
After the concert, we talked to Seamus some more and he told us there would be a birthday party at Curans Thursday night. I was in a bind now, we were already committed to the whiskey tasting at Dick Macks for Thursday.
Maebh was going to Mighty Session so we fallowed her there and sat at the bar. I had a great view of the musicians until this gregarious Austrailian came over and stood between me and them for the rest of the night, bragging about his travels. Some people are such boors. There were 7 musicians when we arrived - 4 accordions, 1 squeezebox, 1 violin, and one guitar. Aya came in and played both the flute and the fiddle, and then two more arrived, another accordion and a banjo. When we left there were 10 people playing!
KC had intended to have only one Guinness but Michael bought a round so he had another. Then, when the Australian came over and bought a round he had a Jameson's. It was his turn to buy but he'd had too much so we left promising to catch them next time. We were home at 11:30.
Hike Inch Beach, Dinner at Doyle's, Kennedy's
Wednesday, April 20
Weslept in today, until 9am. I still had a slight headache but it went away after I had a cup of coffee. I need to wean myself off coffee before we go home. We decided to walk Inch beach today. It was ging to be warm and sunny and we were still craving exercise.
We left the cottage at 11:45 and started walking jut befor 1pm. We went around the bend, didn't see any seals, and then returned. There were many more people this time probably due to the warm weather. Several cars had driven down to the end and one of them got stuck in the sand. On our way back we saw a tractor racing to the end to yank it out. As they say in France, Dumas.
Inch (my pot belly is a fanny pack):
We were bck in Sammy's at 2:35 having walked about 3.5 miles. We both felt great! We treated ourselves to a pastry - raspberry cheesecake for me and warm chocolate cake for KC. I had water and he had a soda. His cake looked delicious and he said it was. My cheese cake was tasty but it was much denser than the one at Grey's Lane Bistro and I now prefer the lighter version. I didn't finish it.
KC called Doyles and made a reservation for 6:30. We were meeting Sean for dinner so we went back to the cottage and cleaned up. We returned to Dingle a bit early so we could go to the bank, then we walked over to Doyles. Sean was there waiting for us. Sean and I had a starter - risotto for me and shrimp for him. KC abstained because he ordered a ribeye steak for dinner. Sean had risotto for his entree and I had salmon. Yes, salmon again, I love it and it's healthy. We ordered a bottle of French chardonnay which was so good we had a second. For dessert I had sticky toffee pudding and it was the best ever! I think it's the sauce - the more sauce, the better!
Dinner at Doyle's:
Sean's wife is not well and we spent most of the evening discussing her condition and the changes he's making to their home to help her cope when she comes home from the hospital. I will be sending him some essential oil to help her heal.
After dinner, we went over to Kennedy's Bar for a nightcap. Sean's son, Adam, and his cousin, William, met us there. The three men discussed motorcycles and old rockers like ZZ Top and Tom Petty. I listened. They told us that Kennedy's had been closed for many years (30?) but they had re-opened once a year so they wouldn't lose their license. To buy a new license would have cost them several thousands of euros, but keeping an old license only requires that you open one day a year. What a weird system!
Sean's cousin William is really wonderful! I hope we see him again. We left when KC reached his limit for driving home and we were in bed just after midnight.
Shopping in Dingle, PO, lunch at Benner's, Whiskey Tasting at Dick Macks
Thursday, April 21
We decided not to hike today. Phil stopped by while I was getting dressed so we spent about an hour catching up with her, then drove to Holden to make small small adjustments to my purse order and to pick up a few notebooks for gifts. On our way into town we finally stopped at The Stone Place we'd been driving past for ten years. We wanted to find out whether he would ship to the US and how much it would cost.
He had some interesting elves that would look great in our lawn but they were really expensive - $800 for the small one and almost $2000 for the bigger one. At first he quoted us $200 to ship the small one but then he showed us a standing stone about 2 feet tall that had cost $600 to ship! We decided to wait until we won the lottery.
In Dingle, we walked over to the Post Office to mail a package to Martin, then crossed over to An Gailearai Beag and bought two scarves from Sue Redican , the weaver who lives on Great Blasket and dyes her local fleeces using wild flowers and plants. The wool is so soft, and the colors are sublime. We crossed over again and had lunch in Mrs. Benner's Pub, my new favorite restaurant. I had a latte and a scone, KC had cider and a grilled ham and cheese.
Lunch at Benner's:
We went over to the music shop to sort out the evening. Matt and Maebh will be performing there tonight but we have tickets for the whiskey tasting so we might come by for the beginning. We stopped at Garvey's for bread and then went back to the cottage. It's been cold and overcast all day. For dinner, I roasted two sweet potatoes and sauteed the spinach with some onions, and harissa. I then dropped 2 eggs into boiling water for two minutes and they were perfectly cooked: the yolks were still liquid and the whites were creamy. KC fried up the sausages he bought for breakfast last week. Both the veggies were delicious - I wish I'd cooked them earlier.
We left the cottage at 7pm and caught the last 10 minutes of the house concert before the intermission. I would have liked to stay for the rest but I was also interested in the whiskey tasting so I left with KC and we went over to Dick Mack's. The tasting was held in the new room just opened in the courtward behind the old bar and it was perfect for this event. There were long tables set up and tasting glasses for 6 different whiskeys. A water glass and a whiskey glass completed the setup and there was a large pitcher of water at the end.
After everyone was seated (we chose two of the red seats against the wall to be able to see everything), the Teeling rep gave a short talk on the history of whiskey in Ireland and how Teeling is the first company to return to Dublin since the heyday when there were several hundred distilleries in that area. Although the company has recently changed hands, the previous owner secured all of the older product and were tasting both the old and the new today.
Teeling whiskey tasting at Dick Mack's:
I had little sips of each one and saved the rest for KC. At the end, they voted on which one was the best and the vote was split between numbers 4 and 5. Number 6 was something called poteen and was really awful! Number 4 was a rare blend of 5 different single pot whiskeys and was very smooth. Number 5 was my favorite but I can't remember what it was. Number's 1-3 were their regularly available offerings.
KC asked the rep whether they exported to the US and he said yes. Binny's, of course, is one place to get it, but they also have a rep in Boston so KC will follow up with him when we get home.
Both Adam and Sean met us at the tasting but they weren't interested in going somewhere afterwards - they had stayed at Kennedy's much later than we did and were both under the weather so we went home and made it an early night.
I learned some new phrases at the tasting:
"At liberty" referred to those people living outside the city walls. They were not taxed because they did not have access to the services the city offered - police protection, judicial services and the like - and were not bound by the laws governing whiskey production so they were 'at liberty' to be creative, and there were, dreaming up new and innovative ways to distill and flavor spirits.
"Beyond the Pale" meant not under English rule therefore not civilized - immoral, unacceptable, etc…
We also learned that the traditional pot still is the least efficient way to distill spirits. The new column stills require less maintenance and produce a cleaner distillate for less money. It was the traditional distiller's reluctance to accept this new-fangled method that caused them to go out of business.
History of the Column Still.
History of the Irish Whiskey.
Niall, Goat Street Social Club, Dinner at Global Village, Kennedy's
Friday, April 22
Today is our last day in Dingle. We will be dining at Global Village tonight and hoped to get one last hike in before leaving. But, I also need to meet with Phil to discuss transitionong control of her website if something happens to me. She asked Niall to meet with me this moring so we cancelled our hike and spent the moring with him.
It was actually wonderful to see him again! He's working with a naturopath in Tarbert and was MUCH healthier than the last time we saw him. KC and I both thought he was taller! We sorted out the best method of transitioning the website and then caught up on everything he's been doing over the past year. He brought me two eggs from Brian's chickens - pasture raised!
After Niall left, we drove into Dingle to say goodbye to our friends. We gave Michael the ghee and pink salt I had brought along and explained why he should use them. We walked over to Dingle crystal and said goodbye to Adam and Sean. Then, we went up to An Gailearai Beag for one more of Sue Redican's scarves.
Niall had recommended the restaurant that moved into Goat Street Bistro's old space - the new GJoat Street Social Club - so we went there for lunch. KC had soup and a sandwich, I had the chili calamari. When our food arrived I was astonished at the amount of calamari they served me! It was delicious but there was no way I could eat that much. I shuld have order the starter portion, not the entree. I did the best I could but only manged to eat half.
Lunch at Goat Street Social Club
We went back to the cottage to change clothes and kill time before dinner.
We met Michael at Curran's for a pint, then went over to Global Village for dinner.
Menues at Global Village :
Before the meal I had a wonderful ginger cocktail and tasted the two breads they offered - a white bread with lovage, and a brown bread with treacle. Both were very good but the brown bread was outstanding. KC couldn't decide which wine would be best so they brought him a taste of the two he was considering. He chose the Pinot Noir.
For starters Michael had crab, KC had cheese croquettes, and I had an organic salad. For dinner, KC had hake, and Micheal and I both had the beef filet. I asked for mine medium rare and it was perfectly prepared and delicious. The salad was good, too, but it was too much food for me after that huge lunch. I didn't order dessert but had one of KC's profiteroles which were probably the lightest I've ever tasted.
After dinner, when they offered us a post-prandial drink, we all ordered sambucca.
Dinner at Global Village
After dinner we went over to Kennedy's for a nightcap. KC had Yellow Spot, the whiskey he was going to bring home since it's not available in the US, but he decided he liked the Teeling better. We didn't stay long because we still needed to pack and were home by 11:30. I was too tired and went right to bed.
Drive to Glenlo Abbey via Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Dinner in Abbey Pub
Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Glenlo Abbey Hotel
Saturday, April 23
I got up at early today and threw everything into our two cases not caring whether they were balanced weight-wise or that everything was roperly folded. I can sort that out on Sunday before we fly home. For now, I just need to get everying packed and into the car. For breakfast I had some of the spinach I'd cooked last Thrsday and the yolks of the two eggs Niall had brought over yesterday. They were delicious!
We had hoped to be out by 10am but we didn't have to because we knew there was no one else coming to the cottage until Tuesday. At 11am I called Phil and told her we were ready to settle up with her. She came right over and we chatted for half an hour then left at 11:48 for Dingle. We stopped at the music shop to say goodbye to Dara and Michael and were on the road to Foynes Flying Boat Museum at 12:30.
The museum was open until 5pm so we had lunch in their café first. The food was very basic - I had the quiche which was overcooked and very dry - and KC had a club sandwich that looked better than my quiche and he said it was tasty. He also had a cup of coffee.
Lunch at Foynes Flying Boat Museaum
The museum, on the other hand, was phenomenal! We spent about an hour there and enjoyed every minute of it. You start out with a short film on the history of flying boats which includes old footage of them actually taking off and landing. Since I never even knew they existed, I was fascinated. There are several rooms with equipment and costumes - old radios, stewardess unforms, and some wreakage remains. The museum is located in Foynes because that is the port they flew in and out of. The museum is in the old terminal and you can go up into the old control tower.
One of the most interesting parts of the museum is the replica that you can tour. Only 14 of these planes were built and all of them have been scrapped or destroyed so the museum built a full scale replica. It's amazing how big and spacious the interior is. Imagine a plane as big as a 737 that only seats 36 people. Passengers had a 14-seater dining room with linen tablecloths, crystal glasses and a full waiter service. About 300 lbs of food would be loaded for a transatlantic flight with all the food prepared by two stewards. Passengers would find their shoes cleaned and polished overnight and each passenger had a bed to sleep in during the flight. This was essential as some of the flights were 17 hours long.
Foynes Flying Boat Museaum
We left the museum and continued to Galway then on to Glenlo Abbey . I called the Abbey to inquire how to reserve a time for dinner and was told that they had made a reservation for us for 9pm that night. I asked if we could change it to tomorrow night and they agreed so I requested a 7:00pm reservation. We were both relieved that we didn't have to suit up for a formal dinner minutes after checking in.
We didn't hit traffic until we were about a mile away when is screeched to a stop. A few cars would periodically come from the opposite direction and then nothing for several minutes. As we crept forward, we realized there was some kind of roadworks in progress that was limiting the road to one direction only.
Then, while we were waiting, 3 ambulances, 2 fire trucks and several Garda drove past us with their sirens blaring. So now, not only did we have road works, we had an accident. A few minutes later, we came upon a funeral that must have just ended because there were about 20 cars parked in front of a roadside church with people milling around and all those cars trying to reenter traffic.
Talk about a perfect storm! Roadworks, an accident, and a funeral. We were about 1 mile away from the Abbey and couldn't get there! When we finally made it up to the signal controlling the roadworks we saw that it was cycling every 200 seconds, or every 3.3 minutes. We assumed that someone had ignored the signal and caused a head-on collision. We proceeded with caution but got to the end of the roadworks without ever seeing an accident.
The entrance to the Abbey was at the end of the roadworks. We pulled in and drove around to the parking area behind the main entrance. Check-in was a breeze and we were given a room around the corner from reception. We had requested a room with a grounds view and were given one with a lake view so we thought we'd been given a free upgrade. Granted, the room looked out on the parking area, but beyond that was the lake. More on that later.
Glenlo Abbey :
The room itself was very nice. We had a king size bed with Egyptian cotton bedding, a large closet with a minibar and safe, and a marble bathroom with a large shelf over the sink and a shower. The bed in the picture below looks rumpled because KC flopped down on it as soon as we entered, before I had a chance to take pictures.
Because we were so close to where we had parked the car, we brought our bags up ourselves. While hanging up our clothes for tomorrow night, I discovered a door stop embedded in the rug that I managed to stub my toe on EVERY time I hung something up. This was EXTREMELY ANNOYING! After a while, it annoyed KC, too. Strike one against this otherwise elegant hotel.
We checked out the three restaurants and settled on the pub in the basement because it was the most casual, with stone walls and subdued lighting. KC ordered a Guinness and I asked for an irish coffee. I had a slight caffeine withdrawal headache. For dinner he had a hamburger and I had salmon and shrimp on toast. Both were delicious even though KC's bun fell apart and he had to eat his burger with a fork. For dessert he had some kind of mousse with meringue and I had chocolate cake with brown bread ice cream.
Dinner in Glenlo Abbey Oak Cellar Bar:
We were very tired now and wanted to sleep. However, it was Saturday night and the hotel was REALLY NOISY, both the hallway and the parking lot outside our window. Was there no insulation? Not only that, the parking lot was lit with a huge floodlight that streamed in through our window. The room was warm, so we wanted the window open, but if we closed the drapes to block the light, we also blocked the air; and, we prevented the sun from waking us up in the morning. Opening the drapes as far from the light as possible shone the light directly on our heads; opening them away from our heads led a huge amount of light into the room. We no longer felt like we'd gotten an upgraded room. In fact, we probably won't come back here.
We both finally fell asleep, much later than we had hoped to.
Explore Connemara, lunch in Leanane, tea in Glenlo Abbey, dinner in Pullman Car Restaurant
Connemara National Park
Sunday, April 24
We were both up at 8:00am and dressed for breakfast in the hotel dining room. We were the first ones there and were given a nice table with a view of the golf course. KC ordered a coffee and I asked for a latte. Five minutes later when our server arrived to take our order the coffee had not been served so we ordered it again. Another five minutes and we still didn't have it! KC was getting increasing lirritated - why did it take over 10 minutes to get coffee in a breakfast room?
We placed our order - a ham, cheese and onion omelet for KC, and eggs benedict without ham for me. We both got a croissant and butter from the buffet and I also got some smoked salmon to have with my eggs. The meal was served promptly (faster than the coffee) and was very good.
We went back to the room and gave ourselves a half an hour or so for the coffee to pass through us and then left to explore the Connemara at 10:06am. We arrived at the park at 11:48 inspite of the dozens of bicycles we passed on the way way. There must have been some sort of race in progress because there were way too many of them and they were riding in groups, some of which had a support vehicle following them. Fortunately, they turned off at Leeanane and we continued on to Connemara National Park. The scenery was striking but very different than I remembered it, much more brown and rugged, and much less green than Dingle. The weather was volatile: it would rain one minute and then the sun would come out.
On our way, we stopped at Klyemore, a working Abbey, and took a few pictures. There was a wonderful view from the road but KC was driving too fast and we missed it on our way out; but, knowing where it was, we were able to get some picutres on our way back when I was on the correct side of the road.
Connemara Park was WONDERFUL! There are three trails of varying lengths - yellow, blue and red. We chose to do the blue trail so we'd have time for lunch at Leenane before returning to the Abbey for dinner. It had taken us almost 2 hours to get here and we needed to leave that much time to get back.
At the start of the trail was a pair of Connemara ponies looking for carrot handouts. Further on was a ewe with two lambs that allowed us to come within feet of her before running off and nursing her young. The path was steep in some places, rocky in others, and a boardwalk in some. I appreciated the fact that the path was constructed to be dry but KC prefers the challenge of negotiating muddy terrain. There was a lot of furze and it was in bloom.
Connemara National Park.:
We left the park at 1pm and drove to Leenane for lunch. Sean had recommended the hotel overlooking the fjord and he was right - it was worth visiting. We sat in the very comfortable bar and had a delicious lunch: baked salmon with lemon chive beurre blanc for me, and a grilled roast beef sandwich for KC.
Lunch at Connemara National Park.:
We got back to the Abbey sooner than we expected to so we walked down to the lake and discovered several pair of swans FEEDING! It was fascinating to watch them dip their upper bodies' waaay down into the water and come up with a fish. I watched them do this multiple and thought KC was taking pictures but when we got home there was only one. I blew it up and you can see the swan's feet above water.
Swans at Glenlo Abbey :
We still had time to kill so we went back inside an ordered tea for two. When we walked into the drawing room there was one table set for tea. We chose a different table, away from the fireplace, and waited for someone to serve us. No one did so I asked reception whether they still served tea in that room. She assured me that did and offered to send someone over. While I was in reception I noticed several people having tea in the room next door. She confirmed that they were indeed having tea and that we were welcome to sit in that room, too. We preferred to say in the drawing room
When a waiter came over he told us that they only served tea in the Pullman Car. When I asked why they were serving tea in theh room next to reception he went off to find out. When he returned he said they would indeed serve us tea in the drawing room but that we would have to moe to the table that was already set. We did, reluctantly, and while we were sitting there he set another table. Why make us move?!? We are really getting fed up with this place.
KC ordered Earl Grey tea, hot; and I had an organc fruit tea. Our tea came out 10 minutes before the food. Mine was a gorgeous pink color and the strength didn't change when I poured a second cup so they must have brewed it in the kitchen. The second cup of tea made me cough - I wonder why. When the food arrived, we had both already consumed 2 cups of tea. So, in the breakfast area, they make you wait for coffee; in the tea room they make you wait for food.
The wait was worth it. We expected a few tidbits but this was a full meal. In retrospect it was the best tea we've ever been served from a quality perspective and was a good value for E23. Elsewhere this would have cost about $60. Each serving was comprised of 4 sandwiches: liver pate, salmon, chicken salad, and onion jam; 4 desserts: chocolate mousse cake, strawberry mousse, lemon tart, and a cream puff; plus the obligatory scone (raisin) with jam and butter. Every time I've been served a scone on this trip the cream has been whipped, not clotted, and this was no esception. Do they not serve clotted cream in Ireland?
Unfortunately, there was WAY TOO MUCH FOOD! We didn't want to eat it and spoil our dinner! I ate the liver pate sandwich and the smoked salmon (but not the bread) and both were delicious; KC had the onion jam (he won't eat either liver pate or salmon). KC had all of his desserts, I tried the strawberry mousse and lemon tart, and we split a scone. Our waiter boxed up the rest and we took it to our room. I felt really bad wasting food.
Tea at Glenlo Abbey :
At 6pm we went back to our room to change for dinner. We had brought nice clothes - a tie and sport coat for KC and a little black dress for me - but in retrospect they were unnecessary. Everyone one else was wearing casual clothes. However, this was a special night for us and the clothes made us feel special. We went down a few minutes early to take pictures of the outside.
Pullman Restaurant at
Glenlo Abbey :
We were the first guests and had our pick of the tables chosing a larger one at the front of the car with a view of the grounds, seen above. I had requested a table in the Leona car which was the first class car used in the movie Murder on the Orient Express. The other car, Linda, was nice but not as special. I am a HUGE Agatha Christie fan and this was a real treat for me! Here is photo of the writeup on the history of this car:
The inside of the car looked exactly like the photo on the website! We ordered cocktails while we perused the menus - a martini with a lemon twist for KC and an elderflower cocktail for me. Mine wasn't the standard elderflower cocktail, though, it was a Tom Collins sweetened with St. Germain and it was delicious.
I asked for the dessert menu right away to know whether I needed to leave room for it, and I did. Here are the menues:
For our meal, KC selected the Potato and Goat Cheese starter and Chicken Supreme entree; I selected the Duck Foie Gras starter and the Halibut entree. We had trouble chosing a wine: KC wanted to try the French Chardonnay but they had two vintages and the price varied wildly. We don't know enough about French wine to make an intelligent choice. The sommelier explained the difference and we settled on the 2012. It was delicious. According to this website, the Cuvee des Forgets comes from the Volnay side of Meursault and the style is a bit like a Meursault. No wonder it was good - I love Meursault!
Patrick Javillier Bourgogne Blanc Cuvee des Forgets 2012:
Bread, amuse buche of pear and greens, and our starters:
My starter was heavenly! The foe gras was crisp on the outside and creamy inside with a wonderful mild flavor. The mousse was so delicate we thought it was cauliflower. Even KC enjoyed it and he doesn't like liver! My halibut was a tad overcooked - I like my fish more on the medium side - but it was nicely flavored and I inhaled it. KC also licked his plate clean.
For dessert KC ordered the chocolate tasting and I had the apple beignets with caramel semifreddo. Both of them were light and not too sweet. My beignets seemed to be filled with air! When they brought our bill, they also brought a few truffles - two coconut and two chocolate. The dinner was included in the price of the room but the wine and cocktails were extra. We left a generous tip as the service had been exceptional.
Dinner and dessert:
I took a few pictures of the interior of the car but won't post them because the ones on the restaurant website are much better. There were several lovely details: the overhead racks held small suitcases covered with travel stickers, and there was an audio track playing of the clicked-clack of the wheels on the rails.
By the time we left, the cars were both full, but they weren't noisy as some restaurants can be. We would definitely come back here (although we weren't impressed with the hotel) and can highly recommend it.
Here are some pictures from the Pullman Restaurant website :
Back in our room, I started repacking our bags. It took me about 3 hours but I did eventually get both bags under the weight limit without overloading our carry-ons. Next year, we're bringing a LOT LESS!!! While I was packing, KC consolidated and filled out the VAT return documents.
I need to mention one other thing about this hotel that bothered us: although the bathroom was very nice, the door was a problem. It was very hard to open and refused to stay open so you had to push hard every time you wanted to go in or out. Especially at night, you don't want to be struggling to open the bathroom door! I thought it was just me and my less-than-ideal strength but it irritated KC to the point where he attempted to do something about it.
First, he shoved a newspaper under the door and secured it with his hiking boots but after an hour it had slid almost closed. He finally took his boot and wedged it in the spring at the top of the door which held it open for the remainder of our stay. Although the hotel was reasonably priced and nice in many ways, there were too many little irritations that would prevent us from returning, especially since it's not that much closer to Shannon than Dingle is. Next year, we'll either stay in Dingle, or find another place closer to Shannon.
Our attempts to prop open the bathroom door :
We went to bed at 12:30 and the hotel was a lot quieter tonight but we still had to deal with the light from the parking lot.
Monday, April 25
Our flight left at 11:40am, so we needed to be there at 9:40 and wanted to leave 2.0 hours for the trip due to the construction just outside the hotel. In order to leave at 7:40 we would need to have breakfast at 6:30 and they didn't start serving until 7:00 so we elected to skip breakfast even though it was included in our package.
We got up at 6:30, dressed quickly, and KC settled our bill while I closed the the suitcases. We were on the road at 7:30. There was no traffic in the roadworks and, although it was raining, very little traffic around Galway. The rain produced a rainbow - was this good sign or a bad one? We got the the airport at 8:00am which meant we could take our time with everything.
There was no one in the checkout line which was a good thing. Our seats were no longer in the row we had originally booked, and that row was now taken, so the agent moved us to the premium seats in the back near the lavatories. She gave us the window and middle seats. Security hss been a bit of a problem for KC on this trip because they keep asking him to remove his laptop, which he keeps at the bottom of his carry-on, and his shoes, which lace up. So while our bags go through without incident, it takes him several minutes to put himself back together again. For once, it was not me slowing us down.
We went up to the restaurant and placed our order - full Irish for KC and latte for me. I took my supplements with the banana and walnuts left over from Dingle. We filled out the customs form while we ate and then KC went over and dropped off the VAT documents.
Although it was still very early, we walked over the the customs pre-check area and waited for them to open the doors. It baffles me why they have a second security checkpoint but I'm prepared for it now. While we waited in line for the customs officer, a member of the beagle squad came over to sniff our bags. She liked my carry-on which used to hold the banana and walnuts I ate for breakfast. Beagles have to be the cutest dogs ever!
In the duty free shop, KC bought a bottle of Powers John's Lane Release 12yr Whiskey which had been recommended by several people in Dingle. Awarded 94 points by Whiskey Advocate it's described as "A single pot still release of Powers whisky. It's matured in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks, and named after the distillery where it was first made, now sadly closed. Very smooth with vanilla, dry spice, chocolate and coffee. There is dark fruit here too, raisins and blackcurrants. A very well balanced whiskey with not a note out of place." I got 4 boxes of Lily O'Brien's Sticky Toffee chocolates.
We boarded as soon as they opened the gate and were pleased that we weren't being bussed to the plane. We stowed our bags and waited to see who had the seat next to me. Two very tall Irish women claimed it and the one across the aisle. Although they seemed to be seasoned travelers, they acted like novices drinking huge amounts of alcohol, fidgeting constantly, and talking non-stop. Being so close to the bathrooms was also a problem - there was a constant steady stream of people lined up outside them. Although I didn't eat or drink anything, I had to use them once and they were disgusting. Next time, we're going to look into flying business class.
I inflated my neck pillow, put on my eyeshade, and fell asleep. KC had lunch (stew) and a snack (chicken sandwich). I woke up right before we landed.
Although we left about 20 minutes late, we landed early, just after 1:00. At Logan airport, the route from the gate to the baggage carrousel is still long and convoluted, and there is only one carrousel for all Aer Lingus flights. Is this a temporary situation or is Are Lingus a low status airline? Our bags took FOREVER to arrive. We were actually worried they had missed the flight even though we weren't the only ones waiting that long. A flight from Dublin arrived about 30 minutes after we did which complicated the situation as there were now twice as many people trying to get at their bags.
About an hour later - yes it took an HOUR to get our bags - we were walking out to our limo. The driver was waiting for us and she was very nice. She also drove very carefully and didn't throw us around, a nice change after two weeks of KC's driving. We will use this company again, Border Limousine . We were in the car at 2:15pm and home at 3:30.
Everything is still brownish here, but our daffodils are up and the apple tree is starting to leaf. There were also two wrens bathing in the bird bath. I was so glad to be home!
KC took a nap right away, showered, and went to bed early. He had to work tomorrow. I had slept on the plane so I forced myself to stay awake unpacking and tidying the house until 11:00pm. I slept until 5:00am and got up as soon as KC left. I spent the day doing laundry and restocking those things that I'd run out of before we left (I don't restock before we leave in case we don't make it home).
I started this webpage Wednesda afternoon, after spending the morning creating the individual pages for the 2015 page. This year, I'll do that task right away. It took me 2.5 days of constant coding to get the page up, and another half a day to create the individual ones. Every year I come home thinking that we didn't do as much as we hoped to, and then discover that we did much more than I remembered. Next year, I really AM going to try and shorten it.
What follows are notes to myself for next year's trip.
Our wish list, from most to least important:
00. Ruins at base of Conor Pass lookout
01. Climb to the top of Brandon Mountain, Cnoc Breanainn, highest mountain on the peninsula.
02. Climb to the top of Eagle Mountain, Sliabh an Iolair, second highest mountain on Dingle.
03. Ballymaloe Restaurant in County Cork; and, possibly
Dún Chathail, the star fort.
04. The Cliffs of Moher and/or
the Aran Islands .
05. The other side of Loch a'Dúin valley
06. Coumaloughig (Valley of the Lakes) in Feohanagh River Valley
07. the Skellig Islands off the Iveragh Peninsula.
08. Kate Kearney's Cottage
Killarney National Park
09. Ruins at Adare .
10.Walk to the second peak on Great Blasket.
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.
Link to a universal travel adaptor (this is NOT a voltage converter, only a plug adapter)
Link to Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps
Things to do next year:
Call ATT BEFORE we leave next year and sign up for international plan. They're only good for the duration of your trip.
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Last Revised: April 29, 2016
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