My OE - Ireland                                           
MARCH 2003
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Ring of Kerry
Charles Fort / Drombeg
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Cork
Blarney Castle
Cahir / Cashel / Tipperary
Dingle Peninsula
Beara Peninsula
Nire Valley / Hook Head

Sun 16-Mar 03  Cork - Drove around the Ring of Kerry (Co. Kerry)   [Fine, but very hazy]

Drove west to Killarney to drive around the Ring of Kerry; visited Ross Castle which is very picturesque on the edge of Lake Leane.  The scenery on the 'Ring of Kerry' was incredible with views of the Killarney Lake District, rocky terrains, coasts with high granite cliffs etc.  Some VERY narrow country lanes and two lane bridges only really wide enough for a motorcycle!.

Saw some 1000 and 2000 year old stone forts with walls up to 4 metres thick.  Found a castle ruin (Ballycarbery Castle) that still has staircases intact, so just had to explore – very cool!

Macroom, Co. Cork
(on way to Killarney from Cork)

Macroom Castle, Co. Cork


Ross Castle, Killarney & Torc Waterfall, Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry

Ladies View, Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry

A Stone Bridge of unknown name! - Near Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry

Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry

Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry

Misc. View, Ring of Kerry

Misc. View, Ring of Kerry

Misc. View, Ring of Kerry

Cahergill Fort, Caherciveen, Ring of Kerry

Leacanabuile Fort, Caherciveen, Ring of Kerry

Leacanabuile Fort, Caherciveen, Ring of Kerry

Ballycarbery Castle, Caherciveen, Ring of Kerry

Mon 17-Mar 03	Cork   [Fine]

St Patrick's Day – although I didn’t really do much in the Drinking department or very St Patricky!

I still had the rental car for the morning, so went for a drive south of Cork to Kinsale which is supposedly the gourmet capital of Ireland, and saw Charles Fort, an English Star Fort from 1670.  With an hour or two to spare before returning the car I then decided to fit in the Drombeg Stone Circle (Stonehenge without the horizontal stones).  After having trouble finding the right place to return the car, finally caught a bus back into the city.  The driver was quite a character – drove like an idiot with lots of swearing and horn tooting at anyone and everyone, during a traffic jam - it didn't help but I'm sure he felt better for it.

Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork
[and a postcard]

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co. Cork

Fulacht Fiadh - A bronze-age cooking place, Drombeg, Co. Cork

I got back into Cork to see the last part of the St Patrick's Day parade which was rather cheesy! - see below  

St. Paddy's Parade, Cork

Wed 19-Mar 03	Cork

Applied for a job online and got a call within about 30 mins for an interview for Saturday lunchtime in Swords, north of Dublin.  Not a Network/System Admin role at all - an IT call centre, but it’s a job for 3 months and some much needed income so I can stay in Ireland!

The problem now was how to get to the interview!  Decided to get another rental car to leave Friday and see some sights on the way up and back.  Because cost no extra, kept car a further day for Sunday so could go and see Dingle Peninsula too.

Thu 20-Mar 03	Cork - Visited Blarney (Co. Cork)   [Fine]

Went to Blarney Castle - A very interesting castle on pretty grounds.  Very steep and narrow staircases and a long way down looking through the various holes around the edges of the top floor (these have a special name that I can't remember - for pouring hot oil and stuff down).  I kissed the Blarney Stone which was a little hair-raising lying backwards looking down at the ground about four stories below.  Hopefully I didn’t catch some nasty disease that medical science hasn’t classified yet.

Had a torch, so went for an explore of the dungeons underneath the castle with an American guy that wanted to have a nosey also but didn’t have a torch.  He found someone's airline tickets for Saturday from Dublin to Amsterdam in a cave nearby!

Sadly, decided to extend my stay a further week at Kinlay House backpackers - Till Sat. 29th March  (yuk)

Blarney Castle, Co. Cork

'The' Blarney Stone, Co. Cork

Fri 21-Mar 03 	Cork - Cahir - Cashel - Tipperary - Slane   [Fine]

Picked up rental car from Cork Airport and started driving north for interview tomorrow.  First stop was Mitchelstown Cave – Very large caverns with lots of different mineral colours on the walls and large lime formations that were still growing – a lot more moisture compared to other caves I’ve seen in NZ and Aussie.

Next on to Cahir and it’s large castle for a tour and then to the Swiss Cottage nearby, built in the 1800’s.

Cahir Castle, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Swiss Cottage, Cahir

River Suir, near Swiss Cottage, Cahir

Drove on to Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel (a bit more exciting than that sounds) – a large complex of castle and church ruins on a rocky outcrop above the town.

The Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel

As everyone knows “It’s a long way to Tipperary” especially if it’s just to have lunch (well, sort of, at 5pm) – but that’s were I detoured off to next and I have a photo of the road sign to prove it (see below).  Back through Cashel to continue the drive past Dublin to stay in Slane again.  It was further than I needed to go but I had stayed at the Slane Farm Hostel before and it’s very nice and cheap and has a very friendly pussy-cat!  (There was no cheap accommodation to be found in Swords)

It's a Long Way to Tipperary!!

Sign for very cheesy Tipperary gift store

Sat 22-Mar 03	Slane - Swords - Kilkenny - Cork   [Fine]

Had interview at 12 noon.  Went okay as no problems with test for a desktop support type role!  Should hear by Monday or Tuesday.  About 1:15 I was ‘on the road again’.

Headed towards Kilkenny to have a look around and see Kilkenny Castle.  Arrived after 4pm so running out of time and all tours booked up – cannot enter except on a tour so took some photos from outside, saw a cheesy video and continued on my way.  Photo stop at Jerpoint Abbey (closed) – where St Nicholas is supposedly buried (i.e. Santa).  On to Cork.  Very cool sunset through the misty/smoky haze that seems to continually hang over Ireland – lots of people burning peat-bog bricks.

Kilkenny Castle

Well, um, a sunset - through the haze of peat smoke!

Sun 23-Mar 03	Cork - Visit Dingle Peninsula (Co. Kerry)   [Fine]

Headed out west again, this time to the Dingle Peninsula, the next peninsula north of the Ring of Kerry’s Iveragh peninsula.  Very rocky, rugged mountain and coastal scenery that looked good despite the constant bluey haze.  Along the way I stopped to see a stone fort from at least 800AD, Beehive (shaped) huts and the Gallarus Oratory (a small drystone church about 1300 years old).  Missed a few things along the way as the signposting isn’t as good as around the Ring of Kerry (and most of which is there around Dingle is in Irish/Gaelic).  Even though very pretty and some interesting ancient ruins, I actually enjoyed the Ring of Kerry more as didn’t seem as commercialised (at least at this time of the year), more to see and a greater variation of scenery.  Still worth a visit though.

Minard Castle, Dingle Peninsula

Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Fluffy Donkey, Dingle Peninsula

Dunquin Pier, Dingle Peninsula


Gallarus Oratory & Connor Pass, Dingle Peninsula

 Brandon Bay, Dingle Peninsula

Mon 24-Mar 03	Cork

Returned rental car in the morning.  

A couple of things I have forgotten to mention previously - Lots of places (towns or in the middle of the country) there are large billboards advertising bottled water with Jonah Lomu on them!!  Also, people here park on either side of the road so cars facing both ways on the road sides and can therefore pull out in front of you from the ‘wrong’ side!  

Tue 25-Mar 03	Cork

Have decided once and for all that Cork City is actually quite boring!  Lots of good things to do in Cork and Kerry counties if have a car but a bit far for walking!  Waiting to hear back about job in Swords to see what I will do from Saturday (when current accommodation payment runs out again).

Wed 26-Mar 03	Cork

Not much today - Eagerly waiting for call about job again!  (Took 16 (!!) films in for processing!)  

Finally heard back that I HAVE THE JOB, at about 6:15pm today.  Start next Monday, so have to figure out how to get there, where to stay etc.  Decided will probably get a rental car from tomorrow or Friday - emailed to get quotes and then left other planning to get an early night's sleep because very tired and stressed!

Thu 27-Mar 03	Cork - Visited Beara Peninsula (Co. Cork & Kerry)   [Dull, overcast, raining day!]

Booked rental car from midday today, until next Thursday!  Decided might as well go somewhere, so quickly packed some stuff, made my way out to Cork Airport on a bus, picked up a car (a tiny Fiat Punto) and just started driving nowhere in particular.  Headed in the general direction of Mizen Head/Beara Peninsula - finally decided I'd try Beara Peninsula despite the fact that it was overcast, dull and intermittently raining!  

Even with the bad weather and poor visibility it looked very pretty and I really loved it!  Very stunning (better than Dingle Peninsula I thought), harsh/dramatic rocky hills/mountains with peat etc, interspersed with lush green farmland pastures, all with beautiful coastline and lots of small rocky islands of black rock with lichen - reminded me of the Black Rocks in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand!  Beara Peninsula is a must see (even in bad weather!).

Out at the very end of the peninsula I saw the cable-car across to Dursey Island and a sign that gives the distance to Moscow - I have no idea why!  Drove around the peninsula in an anti-clockwise direction, cutting back across north-south(ish) at Healy pass.  

Bantry Bay, near Beara Peninsula (Co. Cork)
(a very hazy, rainy day!)

Beginning of Beara Peninsula Drive (near Bantry)

Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula

Dersey Island Cable Car, Beara Peninsula

On the way around I went through the village of Eyeries which has REALLY brightly coloured houses - very badly clashing at times and very funny.  I could only imagine what happens when someone wants to repaint their house and goes to a paint store to get a selection of bright and badly clashing paints!  The photos below don't give them full justice, but give you some idea!

All in all a great drive.  (although if you ever go there, the Dereena Stone Circle is crap, at least compared to others I have seen - they can't even agree on a correct/consistent spelling!).  Also saw my first Ogham Stone too - Ireland's tallest at 5.18 metres tall!

The rather colourful village of Eyeries, Beara Peninsula


Ballycrovane Ogham Stone, Beara Peninsula

Running on Empty? - Healy Pass, Lauragh, Beara Peninsula
(crossed over into Co. Kerry now)

Fri 28-Mar 03	Cork - Visited Killarney (Co. Kerry)   [Absolutely terrible day - pouring rain!]

Again, no specific plans, but decided to head back to Killarney for the day before leaving the area tomorrow.  One of my only terribly miserable rainy days since arriving in Ireland - been very lucky in that regard.

Outside of Macroom on the way down, stopped in at Prince August Toy Soldier Factory to check out their range of cast Hobbit and Lord of the Rings figures - and no, they aren't just trying to make a quick buck (or Euro) from Peter Jackson's movies, as they have been producing them under licence since 1987!  Amazing detail, especially the painted ones. Check out the various websites at, and

Returned to Ross Castle to do a tour (had visited during Ring of Kerry Drive, 16th March).  A well restored castle and an interesting tour during the times when I could actually understand the guide! (a VERY thick Kerry accent)  Next headed to Muckross Estate, where I had the original intent to go in a Horse Drawn Jaunting car around the grounds - however due to the cold wet whether I decided otherwise (despite being nagged by the bored drivers).  Went on a tour of Muckross House which has lots of very ornate furnishings, a lot of which was bought and rooms remodelled due to a visit by Queen Victoria (who stayed only two nights!).

A good day despite the whether - mostly did inside things so didn't really matter.  Headed back to Cork for last night in the hostel - yay!


Lough Leane, Killarney Lakes (at Ross Castle)

Boats in inlet to Lough Leane, at Ross Castle

Sat 29-Mar 03	Cork - New Ross (Co. Wexford)   [Clear Fine Day!]

Surprisingly after yesterday, it was an brilliant blue day.  Left Cork on my way north to Swords so I can start work on Monday.

Tried to find the Nire Valley Drive in County Waterford, between the Comeragh and Monavullagh Mountains - couldn't find any signs, so decided to take my luck and took turn-off for the 'Comeragh Drive' instead, which turned out to be the right way after all!!  Drove over a (low) mountain pass through peat bog scenery, that looked a bit like the Wicklow Gap in miniature.  Only took 15-20 minutes before I was on the other side and into farmland - and somewhat lost and disoriented.  The signs for the 'Comeragh Drive' continued and so did I, along all sorts of country roads, goat tracks etc and then as if by magic after about half an hour found myself on the Nire Valley Drive that I had wanted to start with.  Again, not a very long drive, but a very pretty view at the summit where I had lunch and then figured out how to get back a quicker way (to Clonmel and then back to Dungarvan) to then head out to the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.

Hook peninsula was a picturesque little peninsula with various old ruins and the world's oldest operating lighthouse at the end of it.  The rocks around the area looked quite similar to the Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki, New Zealand. 

Had been thinking of heading to Kilkenny tonight, but day getting on and all the hostels I had emailed there were booked up, so stayed in New Ross instead - at another lovely Farm Hostel (MacMurrough Farm Hostel - which even had an open fire.  Unfortunately arrived late and left early so didn't get to enjoy it fully.


The Nire Valley, Co. Waterford

Dunbrody Abbey, Hook Head, Co. Wexford

The 800 year old Hook Head Lighthouse, Co. Wexford

Hook Head (as seen from lighthouse)

View from Tintern Abbey, Hook Head

Sun 30-Mar 03	New Ross (Co. Wexford) - Slane (Co. Meath)   [Fine Day]

Left New Ross early and headed towards Kilkenny.  Drove around Kilkenny a bit - nice and quiet early in the morning, unlike my last visit which was overrun with tourists.  Decided didn't actually want to wait several hours to wait for Castle to open and get on a tour, so headed on north to Swords (Co. Dublin) - arrived about midday.  

Arranged to see an apartment in a Martello tower in Portmarnock!  Of course it was absolutely lovely, but after a couple of days deliberating, decided it was not only too expensive as a percentage of my wages but also too far away for walking to work (€960 per month; 9km).  Would have taken it right there on the spot if had had a car and wasn't quite so expensive!

Went for a drive out to Lusk and Skerries before finally heading out to Slane for the night - the great Slane Farm Hostel again.


Castle outside of Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

Skerries Harbour, Co. Dublin

Mon 31-Mar 03	Slane (Co. Meath) / Swords (Co. Dublin) /Slane

First day of work in Swords at ClientLogic, an outsourcing company.  The position involves call-centre technical support for British Telecom OpenWorld Internet customers.  Start of three week training period!  Thanks again to those whom were contacted as referees - You must have stretched the truth a little over my Customer Service skills!

Organised viewing of a couple of rental apartments in Swords.  Although very nice still seems very expensive at €900+ per month.  Getting stressed about accommodation!  Stayed in Slane again.


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