My OE - Ireland                                           
APRIL 2003
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Northern Ireland Flag 
Lough Erne
Republic of Ireland Flag  Knowth
Republic of Ireland Flag  Bog Railway

Tue 1-Apr 03	Slane/Swords/Slane  (Co. Meath / Co. Dublin)

Day two of work in Swords.  Organised another apartment viewing for 7:30pm.  Had a look at the place and really liked it - Brand new (in fact not quite finished - waiting for tiling), close to work, reasonable price, nice girl to share with, etc, just a little small.  Tiles going in during the week, so hopefully can move in over the weekend or Monday.  A great weight off my mind that I've found a place I can actually afford - ... Or so I thought! ...

After having trouble getting hold of her again throughout the week (via both cellphone and email) I started getting worried.  Finally got a call night of Saturday 5th that Monday was OK.  Packed up everything from Hostel Monday morning (7th) ready to move in that evening - Got an email (never got a phone call!) Monday afternoon to say she was getting transferred through work and so wanted to now rent entire apartment for twice the price, minimum six months instead!!  *!"@£"$@$£%!*.  Had to go back to the hostel in Slane again, and the drawing board!

Sat 5-Apr 03	Slane - Visited Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland   [Fine]   UK Flag (Union Jack) Northern Ireland Flag

Left Slane about 10:30 to drive north into Fermanagh to Lough Erne.  It was overcast and dull in the Republic, but as soon as I crossed the (invisible) border into Northern Ireland it become a beautiful fine day!  To totally confuse me the lower (southern) lake is called 'Upper Lough Erne', whereas the top (northern) 'Lower Lough Erne'!  

Headed up the west side of the lower 'Upper Lough Erne' to Enniskillen located between the two parts of the lake.  Next headed on up the west side of Lower Lough Erne (the upper one!) to Belleek (and Belleek Pottery) before swapping across to come back down the opposite side.  A very pretty and picturesque area with lots of small lakes all over the place, little islands etc.  

On the eastern side we visited Castle Caldwell National Park and the ruins of Castle Caldwell, covered in vines etc.  Lovely views from Boa Island - a skinny island connected at both ends via a bridge to the mainland.  Met a local there that asked me what part of England I was from - He then replied "Oh, you can't get much further from England I guess!"


Lower Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Castle Caldwell National Park, Co. Fermanagh

View from Boa Island, Lower Lough Erne

A rather isolated rural phone booth - of course!

Detoured off to see Drummoney Falls and Drumskinny Stone Circle, where we got stopped by the same group of British Soldiers (and a Policeman) after seeing each.  May have been in the area because George 'Dubya' Bush and Tony Blair were both in the country tomorrow.  Further down we headed across a bridge over Upper Lough Erne (the lower one remember) to Derrylin and back to Slane again.

Drummoney Falls, Co. Fermanagh

Drumskinny Stone Circle and Alignment, Co. Fermanagh

Jake and Elwood Blues!
Outside a pub near the Drumskinny Stone Circle

Upper Lough Erne

Sun 6-Apr 03	Slane - Visited Knowth and Shannonbridge   [Fine Day, a bit hazy]   Republic of Ireland Flag

Went to the Bru Ná Boinne Visitor Centre to go on Knowth Tour.

Very impressive grouping of passage tombs - About 18 Cairns scattered around the site in stages of decay/restoration, with the largest one in the centre.  Very interesting and informative tour, the only complaint being the limited time allowed considering so much to see (and photograph!).  Some really amazing neolithic art - the largest concentration in Europe.  Once again, we enjoyed this more than the more well known Newgrange, although all worth seeing as different from one another (Newgrange, Knowth, Loughcrew, Fourknocks).


Knowth, Boyne Valley, Co. Meath


Neolithic Art at Knowth

After lunch, decided to head north to the Shannonbridge Bog Railway* (which I had called ahead to make sure they were open), Co. Offaly.  After several 'short-cuts' we arrived there three hours later to find that the train had actually broken down - waited about 45 minutes in case it was fixed in time for the next tour at 5pm - unfortunately not.  Had now to drive back Slane for the night.  Somewhat annoying to say the least!  Saw a peat incinerator powerstation - disgusting the way it pours out black sooty smoke; smog all through the valley!

*   Shannonbridge Bog Railway = Blackwater Railway = Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Bog Railway = Bord ná Mona Bog Railway, depending on what road signs or brochures you happen to read!  I wasn't entirely sure at first if I was actually driving towards the place I had rung!

Shannonbridge Bog Railway, Co. Offaly

Bog of Allen (being harvested for power-station), Shannonbridge

Mon 7-Apr 03	Slane/Swords/Slane

Supposed to be moving into my new accommodation tonight, but it wasn't to be (see notes on Tuesday 1st April).  Had really just wasted €500+ keeping the rental car for longer and staying in Slane because I thought we had accommodation to move into - had turned down various other places!  Feel very angry, sick and stressed.  If can't find something affordable by the end of the week probably have to throw in the towel and head home!  It just isn't working out.  Ireland is VERY expensive.

Back to Slane again with all my stuff and the rental car still.  Have had to keep extending the rental car a day at a time as I don't know when I'll have accommodation in Swords.

Tue 8-Apr 03	Slane/Swords/Slane

Extended rental car by one day again.  After work looked at another couple of shared places - Decided I really liked one of them, but didn't want to make a rash decision like last time so decided to sleep on it. 

A bit further away from work than I was trying for (2.6 miles / 4km), but a nice roomy place, quiet area, separate living and dining rooms etc.  Ended up talking to Orna, the lady I'd share with, for over 2 1/2 hours!  Mostly just her living there with her Dad staying about 4/8 nights as he works night shifts at the airport.

There was one other place I was also waiting to hear back about and then I would decide which one to take.

Wed 9-Apr 03	Slane/Swords

Extended rental car for another day AGAIN - have to make a decision this evening about accommodation as can't afford to keep travelling back to Slane.  Made a decision at 6:30pm, rang Orna and moved in about 8:30pm that night!

Yay - finally have (Semi-)permanent accommodation in Swords!!

Thu 10-Apr 03	Swords

Finally are sure about my plans - extended rental car one final time, until next Monday so can go away for the weekend.  Once I go on real shifts at work (after training) won't have many weekends anymore.  Will probably head North.

Shifts for next week are 13:00 - 21:30 Monday, 13:30-22:00 Tues-Fri.  Nice Aye!?


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