My OE - Ireland                                           
AUGUST 2003
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includes...
Sally Gap
Skellig Michael

Sat 9-Aug 03	Swords - Sally Gap (Co. Wicklow) - Portmagee (Co. Kerry)

On our way south to Co. Kerry, we headed towards/through Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin.  We had been here back in mid-March but wanted to see it again with the bog plants in flower (or at least the remains of the flowering!).  It was subtle but very pretty with purple heather flowers (plus the odd whites and yellows) and in general a lot greener instead of the browns/reds/oranges we'd seen in March.  Also saw our first bog cotton too (again, just the remains of it really).  At Laragh/Glendalough we then went through Wicklow gap and made our way back to Naas to rejoin the motorway south. 

Flowering Heather, on Bog at Sally Gap, Co. Wicklow

Pitiful remains of flowering Bog Cotton, Sally Gap

Sally Gap, Co. Wicklow

Made our own (somewhat inventive) route down to Killarney, Killorglin and onto the Ring of Kerry to get to Portmagee to stay the night.  Also had a look in the Skellig Experience Centre (at Portmagee) which had been closed in March.  A reasonably interesting but slightly cheesy video and a small number of exhibits - still good to see before heading out to Skellig Michael tomorrow though.   

Went for a drive to Ballinskelligs to see where our boat to Skellig Michael would be leaving from the next morning - didn't want it to be doing the leaving without us.  Lovely sunset tonight across the harbour in Portmagee and Caherciveen.

Coast between Port Magee and Ballinskelligs, 
Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry

The Barracks, Caherciveen, Ring of Kerry

Stay at The Waterfront B&B , Portmagee.

Sun 10-Aug 03	Portmagee - Skellig Michael (Co. Kerry) - Swords (Co. Dublin)

Headed across to Ballinskelligs Pier (only about 20mins drive from Portmagee) to meet our 11am boat across to Skellig Michael.  Another fine and (mostly) cloudless day.   (Feehans Boats, Ballinskelligs.  seandive@yahoo.com. ph 066 9479182)

Skellig Michael (Archangel Michael's Rock) is a World Heritage Site 12km out in the Atlantic Ocean off the end of the Ring of Kerry / Iveragh Peninsula.  It was the site of an early Christian Monastery from the 6th - 13th Centuries - It is also a beautiful secluded spot with breathtaking scenery and views.  The trip out took about 1 hour 15, with amazing views of the Kerry headlands, Small Skellig (which is a bird sanctuary - looks like either a lovely glistening oasis in the Atlantic Ocean, or a big rock covered in bird shit, depending or your point of view), as well as Skellig Michael itself. 

Skellig Michael and Little Skellig
(The Skellig Rocks), Co. Kerry

Little Skellig

Skellig Michael, with Monastic ruins just visible near top

Skellig Michael was absolutely amazing, it was just a pity that we were a little too rushed - had 2 hours, but another 1/2 hour would have been good (although considering that there are no toilets on the boat or island one could argue against having more time there!).  It is a step rocky island with great views, but with a surprising amount of greenery in the form of mossy and alpine looking plants (and flowers too).

It was a very steep and hot walk/climb up to a plateau for a picnic and then further up (and up and up) to the Monastic sight.  The Monastic site consists of (roughly) a half dozen beehive huts, another more conventional newer square church and an 'upside-down boat' style one like the Gallarus Oratory on the Dingle Peninsula.  This was all surrounded by old stone walls and paved walkways.  A very 'magical' feeling place, even though there were quite a lot of other people there - although apparently about half as many as had been there the day before, so very lucky in that regard.  An aerial photo can be seen on the Ring of Kerry Tourism site (bottom of page).

View from Skellig Michael, back towards Little Skellig and the mainland

Summit steps, Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael, looking towards Little Skellig again!

The Monastic ruins, Skellig Michael

All too soon it was time to head back down to the boat and to the mainland.  We both slept most of the way back across, arriving in Ballinskelligs about 3:45pm.  We now had a long drive home!  Unfortunately this weekend was the Puck Fair in Killorglin, where they vote a goat as Mayor of the town - very strange.  However, maybe it could do better than some Mayors or Presidents one could name - I'm sure it doesn't have vendetta's against any middle eastern countries!. 

Anyway, I digress.  Killorglin is a town/village of about 3300 people, but it took a full hour to drive through it (on the way down yesterday it had taken closer to 5 minutes, and that was slow, with a Gardai Officer directing traffic!).  Our long drive was suddenly even longer.  It was 9pm before we arrived at Limerick for some dinner, and then about 12:20am when we finally arrived back home in Swords and we were both working that day!  A very nice weekend away - hard to believe it was only two days.

Wed 13-Aug 03	Swords, Co. Dublin

We have been in Ireland Six Months now!  There have been some really tough times, but also some good ones with sightseeing etc and we have covered a lot of ground!  Hard to believe that we're halfway through our Holiday Work Permits!

Tue 19-Aug 03	Swords

Last day of work before starting my new job next week (25th).

Sun 24-Aug 03	Dublin City Centre

Moved into new apartment in Dublin City Centre (Little Ship Street, Christchurch, Dublin 8 - map).

Mon 25-Aug 03	Dublin

I started my new job at Microsoft in Leopardstown, Co. Dublin.

Sat 30-Aug 03	Dublin

Had a nosey at the Sand Sculpture Exhibition in the courtyard of Dublin Castle.

Rise and Shine!  - One of the Sand Sculptures at Dublin Castle

Sun 31-Aug 03	Dublin

The 'Cow Parade', an international art exhibition of painted (life-size artificial) cows, was on in Dublin for June - Sept (see http://www.cowparade.net or http://ireland.cowparade.net).  We had seen some of these in Sydney last year and because it was such a mental concept, we decided to go for a wander to find some - they were scattered throughout the city as well as a few further afield in County Dublin.  

We found some grazing around St. Stephens Green Shopping Centre and St. Stephens Green (i.e. the actual park).  Later in the day we went to Jervis Street Shopping Centre for general shopping and found some more! - including one covered in 15,000 pieces of Waterford Crystal!  Perfect for a bull that might be looking for a rich Cow to marry!  (They also all had silly names - I haven't made them up below!)

St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre

"Cowabunga"

"Ka-moo-flage"

  

"Winner Alright"                    &                    "When Cows Fly"

Saw "The Man who sued God" - a funny movie based in Aussie but staring Billy Connolly and the 'Good on ya mate' guy from the NZ Speights TV ads (as a priest!).


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