Ahoghill to Dublin. June 8 – 14th
This final week of our Ireland adventure continues in Northern Ireland for a couple of days. On Wednesday June 7th, Deirdre, Lynne and I left Deirdre’s house early to catch a ferry boat from Ballycastle harbor over to Rathlin Island for the day.
It wasn’t long before we were approaching the harbor of the island and we quickly found ourselves aboard the Puffin Bus shuttle bus which took us around the island and over to the west side where a very unusual lighthouse stands and the puffins, razorbills and guillemots were nesting for the season at the bird preserve. What a fascinating sight that was.
It was also Lynne’s birthday so it made for a very special day for her. After touring the island we went back to the mainland via the fast ferry and had a nice, but quick visit with Deirdre’s Aunt Marion who owns a a B&B near the harbor in Ballycastle. So nice to meet Marion, and Deirdre’s cousin, Boyd, as well.
For dinner we stopped at Stewart Frew’s fish and chip shop in Ahoghill and had the pleasure of seeing him and his daughter, Nicola, as well as feasting on some of their absolutely scrumptious fish!
On Thursday Lynne and I drove to nearby Antrim Castle & gardens after we renewed the paperwork on our rental car at the Belfast International airport.
The grounds were very pretty and the castle ruins interesting to wander through and admire.
There was even a very old Motte from the old motte and bailey. In days of long, long ago they used to build wooden castles upon a motte before the more modern stone and mortar types we are more familiar with. A motte-and-bailey castle is a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade.
After our stroll through the grounds we stopped in to ‘refresh’ ourselves in the Tea Room and I indulged in a raspberry and white chocolate scone with clotted cream and fresh raspberry jam. yum!
That evening Deirdre, Lynne and I were invited over to Maureen’s house for a lovely dinner, a little libation and some really great laughs at her beautiful home.
Friday we stayed put all day and took a break. I spent most of the day writing my blog post for the 2nd week of our adventures. It was rather nice to just take it easy for a change, do a little laundry and just chill.
On Saturday, my good friend Heather took us all out to the north Antrim coast again. We started out with a really nice lunch at Strawberry Fayre Tea Room. Although we were way too full after the delicious food, they certainly had some killer desserts that were extremely difficult to resist!
To walk off the lunch, we then ventured down a bit further to the coastline to visit a nice National Trust property, Downhill Demense House and Temple, perched upon a meadow on the cliff overlooking a beautiful stretch of beach below.
Sunday morning, after packing a picnic and saying goodbye to our wonderful and generous hosts, Roy, Deirdre and their son, Alex, we headed south toward Navan, visiting some interesting and very old sites along our path; Monasterboice Abbey, Valley of the Boyne river, Slane’s hill and castle, and last but by no means least, the ancient burial tomb at Newgrange.
At Newgrange, we toured the Exhibit in the Visitors Center before our schedule shuttle bus took us out to the actual burial mound. The exhibit was quite extensive, and had a lot of displays and dioramas which depicted the the people, their ways of living, and how they possibly built these types of ancient burial mounds. It was very interesting and very informative.
When it was time to meet our bus, we walked across a bridge of the river Boyne and when we arrived at the mound sight another guide talked even further about the mounds before taking us inside.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any photography allowed once we entered the narrow passageway way which took us right into the ancient ceremonial chamber in the heart of the mound. It was incredible and other than a few braces that had been put in place for stability, the inner chamber was exactly the way it has always been.
Quite an interesting experience!
The following day we drove a short distance to the tidy town of Trim. There Lynne got to tour Trim castle, where the movie Braveheart was filmed, while I walked around the outside of it and walked a bit around the lovely village of Trim. I had already visited the castle once before a couple of years ago.
After her tour we met up once again, had a delightful lunch at Raychel’s Cafe on the Main Street of town and took a nice river walk along the Boyne river getting some fabulous shots of the castle and other nearby sights of the old sheeps gate, St. Mary’s cathedral, and the ruins of St Peter’s and Patrick’s cathedral. We finished off our evening with a an hour or two of live Trad music at James Griffins pub before retiring for the day in our lovely accommodations at Highfield house B&B.
As much as hated to leave that nice village, we still had a couple of days left in our escapades to spend in Dublin. So off we we went the short drive and soon found ourselves checked into the hostel and headed down to the giant spire on O’Connel street to join in a free walking tour around that bustling city.
The walking tour gave us a nice overview of some of the sights and history of Dublin and culminated near the Dublin Castle at St. Patrick’s cathedral.
Afterward we found a hop on – hop off bus tour and finished seeing from atop the open air bus more sights all over the place.
Then we went to visit a museum which houses some of the treasures found by means of archeaology. Here are just a few samples of the unearthed treasures.
We had a bit more of a wander about town, taking in some more Trad music at a great pub, ate some dinner at a great Italian restaurant, visited a sweets shop and then called it a day
The next morning we set out once again, heading first to Trinity College to see the Illuminated Book of Kells and the adjoining library that is totally amazing with its collection of rare books from famous smart people throughout the centuries.
One is not allowed to photograph the Book of Kells, but I did get to take some shots of the library and some of its many treasures.
After enjoying an absolutely delicious eggs Benedict in a small cafe in the Temple Bar district, our last little bit of touring the sights included the old prison and the Museum of Modern Art.
The following morning our wonderful escapades had to come to an end. We packed up our bags one last time and then I drove Lynne to the airport to catch her flight back home to Oregon.
I hated to see her go! We had such a great time traveling all around the beautiful Emerald Isle and made a lot a very special memories together. As they say however, all good things must come to an end and we had found ourselves at that point in time.
She flew off to chase the setting sun the day long as she flew west and I went to the docks to catch a ferry east over to Wales to continue my travels. I boarded the Jonathan Swift fast ferry headed to Holyhead, Wales. And that, my friends, is another travel tale to be continued on my next installment! Until then… hope you have enjoyed this 5 part series of exploring Ireland.