Rest of the trip
Wow, I completely forgot to post my notes from the rest of the trip...and have since misplaced them somewhere. Here goes from memory several months later.
Day 5 - Dingle to Doolin
at Milestone House B+B in Dingle, best breakfast by far in all of Ireland. Hosts were very helpful....HOWEVER, they suggested we take this route called the Connor Pass to go north toward Doolin. (there's not really much of a choice as I remember there only being two ways in/out of the peninsula.) SCARY cannot even describe this drive. There were warnings everywhere teling us to turn back...and I somehow missed them in our guidebooks...but they were there. No buses or large vehicles are allowed on this road. Why? BEcause the road (which is supposedly two way) is only SIX FEET in several portions. Yes, two way road. Winding roads. Around moutainsides. Oh, yeah, on cliff edges. With falling rocks. And no guardrail. I think I have the Rosary bead marks still engrained on my hands from clutching it so tight.
AFterward, finally found port area to take a ferry across the River Shannon headed toward Doolin. On the way to Doolin, stopped at Cliffs of Moher. But first, found St. Brigid's Well. As a Catholic, I stopped and prayed and filled up a water bottle with some holy water from the well to take back to my mother. (labeled and put into checked baggage, obiviously) Then, Cliffs were five minutes after the well. Gorgeous, especially at sunset. No charge but you have to pay to park across the street. The visitors center was closing as we got there, but we only wanted to see the view. Some idiots went past the line and were actually on the cliffs. Whatever. I don't have a death wish...and several people have died over the years there. We took lots of photos and then headed toward Doolin. More small roads but nothing as bad as the Connor Pass throughout the rest of Ireland...thank God.
In Doolin, found Daly House easily after turning LEFT once you get into town. The town is actually divided for some reason...there are two parts of the town. Weird. After getting in and meeting our most welcoming host, Susan, went headed to the main pub in Doolin...o'Connors I think. It's right next to the B+B and Susan tells everyone to go there. Great food, good traditional music. Met really nice Americans next to us. Had a few pints then headed back to B+B where we encountered a nice room but strange smell from bathroom. LIke the water was bad or something. Food was good, but nothing topped Milestone House in Dingle for food. Really great guests we chatted with over breakfast. There was a hilarious old man that had a terminal illness and was dying but he was just living it up! Great man.
Day 6 - Doolin to Westport
Doolin was extremely small and though they had apier/beach area, we decided to forgo it to make it to Wesport and explore that area. Probably a bad call. Roads were much easier from Doolin to Westport after we got through the Burren. Stopped at a CAstle along the way and explored. Funny man in the giftshop. Bought some mead and some peat cause it was the only place in the country we encountered either. (Still have yet to try either one.) Drove through Galway but wanted to get to Westport, so didn't stop.
Got to WEstport in no time...in early afternoon...the earliest we arrived in any of the towns. Which was extremely unfortunate cause the town SUCKS. Dont' go there. Skip it altogether. Tried to make it to Croagh Patrick but we kept missing turns and decided to skip it. Headed back to town...town was very pretty. We explored some gift shops and peeked into some of hte pubs...were hungry but nothing looked good. Finally settled on a place...food sucked, people were not very nice here. Went to B+B...our room was upstairs on 3rd floor...rather warm up there. WEnt to bed early...B+B owners extremely unorganized and not nice at all...plus, food the next morning was not good and there was a fly in the orange juice...
Day 7 - Getting the hell out of Westport
Drove fast to get out of area and upwards toward County Donegal. WEnt through Sligo...not a fan of Yeats, so didn't stop and pay homage. Skipped Beleek as we missed the turn. Headed to Donegal Town. Very cute town. Got in just around lunchtime. Had lunch at a little cafe / tea place. They had my turkey/stuffing/cranberry/Thanksgiving sandwich! Yum. Had some tea. Shopped around town...really cute stores, nice people. Toured Donegal Castle. Interesting but tour not long. My husband swears he can see a ghost in two of our photos from the castle. I'm usually the crazy one of hte two of us, but he gets the "crazy" for the day. In one store on the way back to our car, the cutest little redhead girl was following me around the store and mimicking my movements, etc. My husband tried to take a photo but she got shy and ran off. Didn't really want to leave but had a far way to go to get to the Inishowen Peninsula, so we headed out. Roads not too bad. Extremely beautiful. Looks like Pennsylvania...which is appropriate since my grandfather was from PA and his ancestors were from Donegal. Finally made it to B+B on Inishowen Peninsula. Sheep! It's a sheep farmhouse. They baa'd constantly...which surprisingly was not annoying at all. Had tea/scones from host at Trean House...very nice and good. Beautiful house and gorgeous scenery...you can see the water from our room...as well as a soccer field that looked as if it dropped off into the sea. Word could not describe how beautiful this area is...definitely worth driving the extra distance. This place was the most remote of all places....not many people, very quiet and peaceful. Wish we'd had more time. Went to pub for dinner "down the road" accoridng to host...which meant about 1/2 hour....BAD food...cannot remember name of pub but my cheeseburger smelled like cow/sheep poop smelled. Horrible taste. Beer didn't help. Went back to B+B and went to bed early.
Day 8 - Northern Ireland...LOVED IT!
Took the ferry from Inishowen Peninsula over to NOrthern Ireland. No way to tell you are actually crossing a border except that they use pounds, not euros. (but their own pound not the same English pound.) Big motorcycle/racing event going on, so cyclists were everywhere. Tried to go to Bushmill's Distillery....booked thanks to busloads of French people. Didn't want to wait for hours, so left and went to Giant's Causeway. REally cool site to see....took photos with the bikers, mainly from Scotland...who were absolutely hilarious. Enjoyed it. Off to Carrick-a-Rede, even though I did not have any liquid courage at Bushmill's to face the swing bridge. Long walk to the actual bridge from parking lot. When I saw it, it didn't look so scary to me...hubby disagreed at that point but we did it anyway. Was very fun! Glad I had the courage to cross...even hopped up and down a bit...and was scolded by bridge attendant. (Apparently, it is safe enough to cross, but not to hop on repeatedly....oops...and yikes.) The island the bridge connects is very small but gorgeous views. Looked like scenery out of Pirates of the CAribbean. You can see Scotland from here as its only 17 miles away. Cool. Walked back, got in car, got lost again....and again....and again. Finally headed to Armagh...town where my grandmotther's family comes from. Town very "urban" feel to it. WEnt to the St Patrick's Catholic Church (there are two St Patricks in town, one catholic, one not) and picked up something for grandma. Didn't feel like exploring. Got in car intending to head back toward Dublin and stop at Newgrange....didn't make it in time. Went straight back to Dublin for airport hotel...