My OE - Ireland                                           
MARCH 2003
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includes...
Boyne Valley (Day 1)

Boyne Valley (Day 2)
Boyne Valley (Day 3)
Rock of Dunamase
Wicklow / Glendalough (Day 1)
Wicklow / Glendalough (Day 2)
East Coast (Day 1)
East Coast (Day 2)

Mon 10-Mar 03	Dublin - Boyne Valley, stayed in Slane (Co. Meath)   [Fine & Cloudy]

Collected rental car (eventually – the bus driver refused to stop near the depot so went to the Airport office instead), left Dublin about 11:30 heading toward the Boyne Valley (north).  Arrived in Trim having somehow bypassed Tara which I had wanted to see (so went there tomorrow instead).  Had a look at various ruins around Trim including the Castle used in Braveheart.

Priory of St. John the Baptist, Trim, Co. Meath

Trim Castle, Trim

Trim Castle, Trim

The Yellow Steeple, Trim

Next, headed to Clonmacnoise Abbey (Co. Offaly) to see various ruins and first Round Towers (30 metres high).  Should you be visiting the Abbey, the nearby Clonfinlough Stone is literally just a rock in a paddock - don't bother!  

Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly

Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly

       

Round Towers at Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly

Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly

Headed back to Slane (Co. Meath) to a lovely Farm Hostel (Slane Farm Hostel - cheap, clean and such a pleasure I altered my plans to stay here on Tuesday night also so I could see more of the Boyne Valley (considering that I had left Dublin later than originally planned and so got to see less today than had hoped).

Tue 11-Mar 03	Boyne Valley  (Co. Meath)   [Overcast, intermittent rain]

Had a look around Slane, including Slane Castle (where major rock concerts play each year - I just sneaked a look over a fence as not open to the public normally) and the Hill of Slane.

Slane Castle, Slane, Co. Meath

Hill of Slane, Slane

Next on to Loughcrew (passage tomb from 3000 BC) which was more impressive than Newgrange and there was no-one else around! (rain, hail, sleet kept them indoors I guess), and then managed to find Tara to view the Hill of Tara (mounds and ditches remaining from fortifications of 2500 BC – 6th Century AD; an amazing description I know! - even the photos below don't really show it very clearly - Needed a Helicopter but didn't have one on hand).

Loughcrew Passage Tomb, Co. Meath

       

1) Inside a cairn at Loughcrew
2) Remains of another passage tomb at Loughcrew
(showing internal structure with earth washed away)

Neolithic Art at Loughcrew

Hill of Tara, Tara, Co. Meath

"Mound of the Hostages" c.1800 BC, Hill of Tara
[and some postcards]

On to Old Mellifont Abbey (Co. Louth), which is an old monastic ruin with definite Roman architectural influence, followed by Monasterboice (more Tinkers living in the carpark) with a Round Tower and High Celtic Crosses of 5.5 – 6.5 metres tall.

(Old) Mellifont Abbey, Co. Louth

(Old) Mellifont Abbey

Monasterboice, Co. Louth

High Cross at Monasterboice (about 5.5m tall)

Headed north to the picturesque Cooley Peninsula and managed to find myself over the border in Northern Ireland without a passport – no incidents here as left before I could find any British Soldiers to deport me back to NZ (yes an idea for a cheap ticket home should I need it).  

[I have since found out that all border checks have been removed and quite often there is absolutely no indication that you've entered another county, let alone country!  I hadn't read/been told that at this time, hence the unwarranted apprehension!  Although, that said, I have since been stopped by British Soldiers in the middle of nowhere!]

Cooley Peninsula, Co. Louth

Cooley Peninsula

Saw my first Dolmen dating from 3000 BC with the top rock weighing in at 47 tonne - see picture below of the Proleek Dolmen near Dundalk.

Proleek Dolmen, Cooley Peninsula

Wed 12-Mar 03	Boyne Valley (Co. Meath) - Glendalough (Co.Wicklow) - with many detours   [Fine]

Went to see Dowth and Fourknocks - more passage tombs, the latter of which was quite elusive - took over an hour to locate!  The nearby town of Naul hosts a shop that is a Supermarket and Funeral Furnisher – believe it or not!  

Finally headed south past Dublin to find the Rock of Dunamase, in Co. Laois - large castle ruins on a dramatic cliff top with impressive views.

Dowth, Boyne Valley, Co. Meath

Neolithic Stone Carving, Dowth

Newgrange, again!

       

Outside & Inside Fourknocks, Co. Meath

Rock of Dunamase, Co. Laois

Rock of Dunamase

Headed towards Glendalough through the Wicklow Gap of the Wicklow Mountains – an alpine look with extra reds and oranges from bog plants.  Tonight stayed in a 21st Century version of a Monk’s Hermitage Hut (called a Cillín), no hardships here though, including a lovely open fire - see photo below.

Browne's Hill Dolmen, Co. Carlow

Wicklow Gap, Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow

Monk's Cillín, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

Thu 13-Mar 03	Glendalough (Co. Wicklow)   [Fine, although misty in morning]

Took the military road through the Wicklow Mountains/peat bogs - very beautiful with more alpine scenery, drive through Vale of Clara, and wandered the Upper Lake of Glendalough (literally meaning valley of two lakes) - a very pretty valley with Monastic ruins.

Lower Lake, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

Ruins at Lower Lough, Glendalough

Round Tower, Glendalough

Upper Lake, Glendalough

Ruins of Old Miners Village, Upper Lake, Glendalough

Lake Tay, near Sally Gap, Co. Wicklow
Ironically owned by Guinness family and it looks like Guinness!!
(and the white sand was imported from Florida!)

Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains

Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains

Cut Peat Bog, Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains
(looks like chocolate!)

Fri 14-Mar 03	Glendalough (Co. Wicklow) - Ballinaboola (Co. Wexford)   [Fine]

Headed east to the coast at Wicklow, following the 'Coast Drive' (which incidentally is nowhere near the coast for most of it!) towards Wexford, detouring at various points along the way to try to find the coast.  Despite what I'd read/heard I wasn’t overly impressed by this coastline.  Maybe spoilt in NZ!?

In Wexford went to the Irish National Heritage Park, and open air museum showing reconstructions of progress through 7000 years of Irish History – really worth the visit as it helped me understand the ruins I had been seeing.  Back on the road again trying to find the coast - I saw the ONLY thatched windmill in Ireland (about one hour down the road from another one!).  The day was getting late so stopped in  Ballinaboola at a B&B (run by Mrs Doyle out of Father Ted, honest - well OK, she reminded me of her anyway!).

Clogga Point, Wicklow Coast 

Early Irish Farmstead - The Stone Age 7000-2000BC
(Irish National Heritage Park)

Animal Shelter, Early Irish Farmstead - The Stone Age 7000 - 2000 BC
(Irish National Heritage Park)

Early Christian Monastery - Celtic/Early Christian Age 500 BC - 1169 AD
(Irish National Heritage Park)

Crannog - Celtic/Early Christian Age 500 BC - 1169 AD
(Irish National Heritage Park)

Tacumshin Windmill, Co. Wexford

Sat 15-Mar 03	Ballinaboola (Co. Wexford) - Cork (Co. Cork)   [Fine]

Drove on to Waterford where we went to the Waterford Crystal Factory, did a tour and brought a souvenir vase.  Headed south east to the real coast at Passage East and Dunmore East – this was more like it with lovely seaside towns and beautiful coastal scenery and plenty of thatched cottages.  

Got some good Irish quotes here:
    "People say it would be a lovely country if they'd just put a roof over it"
    "When it starts to rain around here it forgets to stop"
    "We've just come across on the car ferry from the other side of the harbour - Sounds like you're come a bit further!" - Doh!

Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

Carried on the road towards Cork stopping in Ardmore (in a Gaeltacht area – they speak mainly Gaelic/Irish – the road signs are only in Gaelic, which is difficult when you are lost!).  Went to stay a week at Backpackers in Kinlay House, Cork – stay away from this place!  Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin would be cleaner.  It is cheap, that's all that was going for it.  The room is old and run down and a bit grotty – The shared bathrooms/showers are really grotty.  Sadly I kind of got used to it and ended up staying longer!

St. Declan's Church, Ardmore, Co. Waterford


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