Page 2 of 4: 22nd - 24th
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We picked up a rental car tonight after work to get out of Dublin now instead of tomorrow morning and stayed in Trim so could visit Trim Castle first thing in the morning before heading off towards Co. Mayo - the castle was closed when we were last here in March.
A really bitter cold winter's day today (even though it's only autumn!) - Thunder and lightning for 9+ hours, sleet, hail and even snow in some areas of Dublin, which made the ground completely white and closed the airport!
Thu 23-Oct 03 Trim (Co. Meath) - The Valley, Achill Island (Co. Mayo)
This morning today we went for a tour of Trim Castle (as seen in the movie "Braveheart"). A very cool castle with one of the best tour guides we have come across - interesting and obviously very interested!
Trim Castle Keep, Trim, Co. Meath
View from Trim Castle
Castle view, with the Yellow Steeple and Trim in the background
Leaving Trim we then drove west to Westport (County Mayo). Before heading north towards Achill Island we first we did a loop of southern Mayo (where we had originally visited on the 12th in the rain!), first taking the inland road from Westport to Leenane, through Delphi and along beside Doo Lough (the Doolough valley) and then made our way to Croagh Patrick in one of our usual round about ways. We could actually see Croagh Patrick this time and it was hard to believe that we couldn't last time a couple of weeks ago as it is very close to the road! A very rugged beauty in this area, especially with amazing autumn colours everywhere and various small loughs/lakes.
Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo
Near foot of Partry Mountains, Westport - Leenane road, Co. Mayo
Killary Harbour, near Delphi, Co. Mayo
Mountain Pass somewhere near Liscarney
Past Westport again we headed north to Newport and then did what we thought was a small loop drive back onto the same road - the 'Nelphin Drive'. An hour or so later I found myselve up near Bangor, about 50kms beyond Achill Island where we were staying for the night!! Oh well, it was an okay drive and we did see a lovely piece of irony - A set of wind turbines as a good environmentally friendly form of electricity generation, within a kilometre of a large peat-burning power-station pouring out dirty black smoke! Practically dark by the time we got back down to Achill Island, so no photos of it today! Stayed at the Valley House Hostel.
Nelphin Valley, Co. Mayo
Fri 24-Oct 03 The Valley - Ballina (Co. Mayo)
Explored Achill Island this morning. A lovely peaceful place that almost had the charm of the Aran Islands (because it is so much more accessible it is not quite the same, but very nice anyway). Also more mountainous and covered in bog then we had imagined. This would be a lovely place to get away from it all for a few days.
First we drove past the peak of Mount Slievemore, and the Slievemore deserted village that was abandoned sometime in the middle of the 19th Century. The weather also started to throw hail stones at me about now!
Mount Slievemore, Achill Island, Co. Mayo
Slievemore Deserted Village, Achill Island
Next we drove on to the small town/village of Keel and on to the lovely Keem Bay at the far end of the island (or at least as far as the road goes anyway). The weather had decided to turn fine again briefly.
Keem Bay, Achill Island
Keem Bay again
Back past Keel we drove up above the cliffs of the Minaun Heights for some great views and then on around the Southern side of Achill Island on the 'Atlantic Drive'. A very pretty 'little' island - although actually Ireland's largest.
View from Minaun Heights, looking towards Keel, Achill Island
On the Atlantic Drive, Achill Island
Kildownet / Carrickkidavnet / Grace O'Malley Castle, Atlantic Drive, Achill Island
Around Noon we left Achill island and headed back through Bangor into the northern half of County Mayo. Drove out on the Mullet Peninsula, down to Blacksod Point and up to Doonamo Point. The weather was starting to really pack it in so we decided to leave the other little detours we had planned and headed on North/East to Céide Fields (pronounced something like 'Kay-Ja' Fields) near Ballycastle.
The Céide Fields are the remains of Stone Age walled farm fields from over 5000 years ago. The information centre was very interesting, but the fields themselves didn't really look like much, although not really sure what we expected. Worth a visit anyway.
Céide Fields, near Ballycastle, Northern Co. Mayo
Stone Wall, Céide Fields
Coastal view from Céide Fields
The coastal views around this area were really amazing. Drove on towards Ballina for the night, via Downpatrick head (with a sea stack, arches and blowhole) on the way.
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