Rosslare to Limerick - 1997

Thursday 17 July 1997                                                                                                                   197 miles Wed & 63 miles Thur

 

Our second year running for visiting Ireland. We decided to leave on Wednesday and visit our friends Clive and Rosemary in Haverfordwest. Thomas arrived home just before midday and was then offered work, so we said goodbye to him, then left ourselves.

We had a trouble free drive. The day had started drizzly, but then gradually cleared. We found our way to Clive and Rosemary's new place at Ambleston and had a look with them around their garden and fields, before coming inside for a lot of chat! (Sadly Rosemary has since died). We enjoyed a nice meal, with Huw and Laura as well and late at night watched our video of Gilbert and Angela's last year. We retired to the Tiv about 01.00.

It rained during the evening and in the early morning. We had slept well. After a leisurely breakfast, we left at 11.30 am and made our way towards Pembroke. The town looked very attractive as we drove through – across the bridge and past the Castle. We headed for Freshwater East, hoping to have lunch beside the sea, but were thwarted in this as the only car park charged £1!

We drove back towards Pembroke, stopping for lunch beside the road – not what we had in mind! We then headed for the dock, stopping (unnecessarily it turned out) to fill up with fuel. We arrived at about 1.45 for the 3.00 pm sailing, but couldn't believe the Fred Carno of the waiting to board. We initially waited in the road for about half an hour and then quite a while in the dock itself. There were cars by the million. Two different memories struck us both – firstly our sailing from Greece to Italy in 1967 and secondly the strike at Dover in 1985. We were travelling on the last of the "cheap" ferries, and consequently it was packed to overflowing. This accounted for the boarding fiasco. In true Irish fashion we were given boarding passes, but they were never looked at or collected!

We actually boarded about 2.40, but endless streams of cars kept coming. We viewed from the panoramic lounge of this strange new ship and stayed sitting there for much of the crossing. We eventually sailed at 3.45. Behind us was "O'Reilly's Pub" – a large smoky lounge with live music. We couldn't remember travelling on such a crowded boat.

This was the first time that we had made this crossing in daylight. It was lovely to see land for much of the time, both Wales and then Ireland looking attractive. The day was windy, but the crossing calm and the sky blue.

We spent most of the time reading, stopping to eat fish/ham and chips, as with the delay in leaving, we realise that we would need supper. The restaurant (packed out with people) was very badly laid out, so that there was nowhere to rest our tray while waiting to pay – the man in front tried balancing his tray on top of the ice cream counter and it fell to the floor and everything smashed. All in all it was the epitome of confusion – I tried to let them off by thinking that the boat was full to capacity. At least it was "no smoking" in here and although expensive (£5.50 for fish and chips) we were ready for it.

We then realised that we were approaching Rosslare and after the similar delays and confusion of disembarking, we found our way towards Wexford, an attractive town and then north as near to the coast as we could get – difficult as we had no large scale map, but we eventually found a site beside a lovely sandy beach at Blackwater Head.

It was quite late – we had a quick walk on the beach as the sun descended and then the moon shone through the pink/blue shades of the sky. There were lots of campers and holidaymakers, far more than in Donegal last year.

Friday 18th July                                                                                                                                                                                52 miles

 

We slept well and woke up late to a fair, dry morning. After breakfast we had a walk on the beach and left at 11 o'clock.

We drove northwards for a short distance then turned off to the beach at an unamed place where the beach was of sand and pebbles and it was windy. The place appeared to be called Tinnberna.

At Kilmuckridge we took the "coast road" – and it was just that – the road that went to the coast and no further! We ended up at a caravan site (one of many) and then turned round at Morecastle Strand and drove back to the through road at Kilmuckridge. We liked the name of the country hotel here – "Boggans of the heart of Kilmuckridge" – very inviting!

We turned off next to Cahore Point and lazed on the sandy beach. It was windy, but fine on the beach. We came back to the Tiv and I made up some rolls which we ate on the beach, then I had a paddle. There were quite a lot of people on the beach now.

Our next stop was Courtown, a pleasant little "50s" resort with little seaside shops (no maps) and Bingo and a little harbour. We bought a "99" ice cream – 50p each. There was a lovely sandy beach here too, but we didn't stop, but continued passed Tara Hill. We had wanted to find a road up the coast, but there didn't seem to be one. We ended up on the main road at Inch and continued to Arklow where we stopped beside the River Avoca and walked into the long main Street – reminding us of Dungloe, but with more flowers. We did manage to buy maps here!

Blackwater Head Beach

We returned to the Tiv and went in search of the beach, but came only to a quarry!

Just outside Arklow we took the coast road again and soon came across a field with a few caravans in it – no sign. On stopping, Adrian found out that it belonged to a farmer some way back, who occasionally called in to collect money.

We parked ourselves in a wonderful location right above the sea and immediately set off to explore the beach below. The sky was still a clear blue, but there was a constant strong northerly wind. After our exploration of yet another wonderful sandy beach, we returned to the Tiv.

After supper we sat enjoying the almost full moon shining down from a clear sky onto the sea, lighting it with a shaft of yellow light. Then – joy of joys – we saw a seal in the water below us and watched through our binoculars for a long time.

Adrian at Arklow

Saturday 19th July                                                                                                                                                 77 miles

 

We got up late to a beautiful morning – the sun shining from a clear sky. We ate breakfast outside then walked down to the beach below – absolutely deserted.

It was 11 o'clock when we left. We had not found anyone to pay.

We drove back to Arklow – queueing along with other cars to cross the bridge over the Avoca River, then parking beside it. We walked into the little town and bought several provisions from "Peter Powers" then a lettuce and some pears from the greengrocers and two excellent pork chops (59p each) from the pork butchers – seasoning added free.

We returned to the Tiv and ate our eclair/cream doughnut beside the River (35p each) then left just before midday. We drove up the Vale of Avoca and stopped at the little village of Avoca. We walked up the main street – the radio – with a man telling jokes!? was being played loudly through loudspeakers in the street. We found out that this little village was the location for the soap "Ballykissangel" – we would never have known!

 

Rosie washing up and Adrian on the beach near Arklow

We returned to the Tiv and a bit further on stopped at the "Meeting of the Waters" (Rivers Avonmore and Avonbeg to become Avoca). This was a delightfully tranquil place – written about by Thomas Moore.

The village of Avoca (Ballykissangel of TV)

We sat in the sunshine beside the peaty water, then drove on a bit further to Avondale Forest Park – former home of Charles Stewart Parnell. We parked outside as it cost £2 to park. I made up rolls, with delicious ham both bought in Arklow and we walked some way and sat beside the River in the sunshine to have our lunch. A few wild raspberries growing beside us supplemented it.

'Meeting of the Waters'

We walked back along the river and up past the house passing the 200+ year old beech tree and many other trees of interest. The Park is enormous. There were quite a few visitors, but very few where we walked. It was nearly 3 pm by the time we left.

We drove up into the Wicklow Mountains up the Vale of Clara where we saw signs to the "Clara Lara fun Park!" The next place we came to was Laragh (various spellings). We took the road through the Wicklow Gap, where we stopped to view the bleak moorland scenery, looking much like Scotland. Heather abounded.

Rosie in Avondale Forest Park

We turned off to Ballyknockan and followed the Lake drive around the Poulaphouca reservoir (various spellings) on the Eastern side to opposite Blessington then made our way to the Sally Gap. From here we unwittingly took a military road 1798! (the roads are difficult to follow on both of our new maps). We had followed the early stages of the River Liffey.

We came to attractive waterfalls and stopped in the warm sunshine to view them. Others did too – it amuses us that people just stop their cars beside the road if they want to see something!

We returned to Laragh and drove a bit further to Glendalough, hoping for somewhere to park for the night, but this was a touristy place with feepaying car parks, still collecting money at 6:10! Also being Saturday it was busy.

At Laragh again we took another military road and soon came across a suitable stopover place, looking over the conifer forested slopes.

We cooked supper (the pork chops were excellent, followed by apple slices bought today) then walked out along a forestry track, which ran out so we scrambled down through the trees to the road. We felt very warm as we returned. I had picked some heather and grasses.

 

 

In the Wicklow mountains

Sunday 20th July                                                                                                                                                             136 miles

 

An overcast start to the day, but the sun finally shone through. We were up earlier than usual and left by 9.30 am.

We noticed astilbe growing beside the road – we had noticed this last year. We drove back cross-country through Rathdrum to the sea north of Britta's Bay. We couldn't drive to Wicklow Head so headed for Wicklow. We had been listening to a very pleasant service on the radio from County Leitrum, with lovely singing. This, on the day when there is a supposed ceasefire, was very fitting. We love this country and can only hope for its future peace.

We walked up and down Wicklow main Street, but found nothing to inspire us. The one shop we went into had no fresh bread. We returned to the Tiv. Just past where we had stopped walking, we came to a bank. Adrian got some Irish Punts.

North of here we drove down to Five Mile Point – a single track road. The beach here was of shingle and pebble. There were just a few fishermen here. We looked back to Wicklow Head through the mist.

At Kilkade I went into a little supermarket and bought fresh rolls and doughnuts. The road here was smooth unlike others – a patchwork of tarmac. Yesterday the sink cover flew open and the chopping board jumped out. Today a cupboard opened and the salt jumped out!

We turned off to Greystones. It was rather busy. The beach -- of grey stone! It looked quite an interesting place. The wind was blowing from the south now, but it was quite breezy and the sun hadn't broken through.

We now took the main road between the Big & Little Sugar Loaf Mountains and then turned off to Powerscourt waterfall. – £1.50 each entrance. The waterfall was like a bigger version of the one we saw yesterday. However, here half of Dublin had emptied out to see it.

We sat outside to have lunch, then walked around. There were millions of people enjoying themselves – picnicking etc. – it is Sunday – we managed to photograph the falls minus the people – we left at 2.15.

We had difficulty in getting out of the Park – people were coming in in droves and the entrance/exit was over a narrow bridge. We couldn't get out as people were all trying to get in. Eventually a chap from the car in front got out and stopped all the incoming traffic so that we could get out.

We then turned left but missed a turn and went on the Glentree Drive, in a circle around the Hill – the scenery was lovely. Eventually we came out to the huge entrance to Powerscourt House, but prices now were £4 each and the queue to get in was very long, so we decided to give it a miss.

We drove to Bray just South of Dublin. We passed a cemetery with loads of cars parked and hundreds of people in the cemetery. We don't know what that was all about.

We continued along the coast towards Dublin, passing Killiny station and the Dunleary to Dublin itself. Here we followed beside the River Liffey as far as Phoenix Park. We found Dublin looking very smart and attractive on a Sunday afternoon.

We drove through Phoenix Park and stopped briefly in the now warm sunshine, under some lime trees. Phoenix Park is like Hyde Park, Regents Park, Bushy Park, Windsor Great Park, altogether and more.

We turned around and drove back and stopped again near the gates. An Irish band was playing in the bandstand – we sat and listened, they were just finishing.

We drove back on the other side of the River Liffey. We had liked what we saw of Dublin – a bit like Amsterdam. We saw it at its best – with the sun having just come out, on a Sunday.

We continued north past the island of Dollymount – a nature reserve. It was very quiet here, with unimpressive houses beside the sea. We drove round the Howth Peninsula, with fine views back past Dublin and then on northwards. Howth itself was very crowded.

We continued North past Portmarnock and Malahide – very nice, then briefly on the N1 and off to Donabate. There were numerous golf clubs here and sites marked on the map were static sites – we tried one, but it seemed not for tourists at all. Tired and hungry now, we retraced our steps to the N1 north, joining it with great difficulty (it was very busy), then shortly turning off to Rush. Here we came across a little site, part static, part tourist, right on the beach. We pitched ourselves beside the sea and quickly got supper.

The sunset and the full moon rose. We walked out along the sandy beach. This place felt good.

Monday 21 July                                                                                                                                 0 miles in Tiv (several on bikes)

 

So good in fact that we decided to stay another day. We didn't need much persuading. Today was a real holiday! The sun shone all day and we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was Ireland!

We breakfasted outside in our superb position just above the beach. We did one or two "chores" then I sat in the sun reading, while Adrian made a superb job of cleaning the scratches from the windows with the "wonder stuff" bought at the Auto Sleepers weekend.

After elevenses we cycled into Rush and visited many little shops to buy our a few bits and pieces, including hot rolls straight from the oven (all the French type – this really has taken off here). There are so many little tatty "general stores" and oddsie stores. We also noticed that butchers all seem to be called "Victuallers".

We cycled back and ate lunch outside, then I tried out my new relaxer chair – £9 from Mammoth at Le Havre and excellent. The tide had come in quite a way over the huge sandy beach and the sea enticed us for a swim. It was fairly chilly, but "nice once you were in". I thought so anyway.

The beach was filled with hundreds of Italian children – some in the sea windsurfing, but most like ants milling on the beach. They appeared to be staying nearby. There are also a lot of German and French here.

We lazed a short time on the beach, then went for a cycle around this Rush peninsular, from the North Beach where we are to the South Beach – a huge Quiberon type beach where cars could drive right on to the beach. We stopped and had a paddle (me) and an ice cream. I sat on the beach, which was damp at this point, so ended up with a damp behind!

We cycled back – this is ideal cycling country being almost flat and with very little traffic – arriving back at 5.30 pm. Almost everyone we had passed had said hello.

Powerscourt waterfall

Phoenix Park

Rosie on Rush beach at sunset

It did cloud over a bit then, but remained fine. I wrote a few postcards and then we barbecued the steak we had bought – expensive but good. We were watched over by a white and brown dog, who waited silently for our scraps.

The only unfortunate thing was that the people in the adjacent caravan had their television on loudly in the awning, so that the whole campsite could hear.

We followed our steak with strawberries and cream – quite a meal. Later we walked along the beach to the "Harbour Inn" – a pretty flower bedecked pub but quiet tonight – music was tomorrow and serving draft American lager, which didn't suit Adrian!

We wandered back across the beach to the campsite, which was still bubbling with people enjoying the fine evening. A coach load of young French campers had arrived earlier and apart from the other nationalities mentioned, there were Belgian, Dutch and Austrian. We sat enjoying the atmosphere and watched a large pinky moon rise. We enjoyed this place!

Tuesday 22nd July                                                                                                                                                                               101 miles

 

Is this Ireland? To hot to sit in the sun for breakfast at 9.00 am!

After our obligatory walk to the sea and a chat to the couple in the caravan next door – from Ripon – it was 10.15 when we left (they were not the couple with the loud TV!)

We stopped in Rush and bought a French loaf and two pork chops then continued to Skerries where we caught up with the "GP 14 championships" entailing hundreds of sailing boats. Having negotiated the main street there and back again – it didn't go anywhere – they then closed the road!

We extricated ourselves from the village – probably quite quaint – and found our way up the coast to Balbriggan, beside the railway for part of the way. Balbriggan is a very crowded, busy town encumbered by the main Dublin to Belfast road – it desperately needs a bypass.

We travelled a few miles on this road then turned off to the sea again at Laytown. We continued a short distance up the coast and then down the side of the estuary of the River Boyle to Droghedra, then back down the northern side to Baltray – a pleasant village with a golf course (so many here) then onto Clogherhead, but we didn't actually find the road to the head. We continued on the "scenic road" north and had difficulty in finding somewhere to stop for lunch – a motorhome pulled in in front of us to a suitable spot, and then there were lots of people (oh no!)

Eventually we stopped just before Annagassan, but the coast was not so attractive here. The water was dirty and smelly and the beach not too special. It had clouded over a bit. We ate lunch in the van and then continued north via Blackrock to Dundalk and on round the next peninsula. We viewed a caravan site at Giles Quay, but it was static and not very inviting.

We continued to Greenore, where we stopped and sat in the warm sunshine looking over to the Mountains of Mourne.

We continued up the Carlingford Lough to Newry – it looked beautiful looking across the Lough in the sunshine. The only way that we knew we were leaving Ireland for Northern Ireland was two Irish policeman stopping us in the middle of nowhere and asking where we were heading.

We drove through Newry and back down the other side of the Lough on a fast road and soon reached Warrenpoint and then Rostrevor where we located a pleasant site in Kilbroney Park. The price (£8.75) included electricity. This was a touring site – no statics – and each place had a hard standing.

We settled in the sunshine, then walked down through the Fairy Glen to Rostrevor and back up through the Park.

The day had now become a bit unsettled, so I cooked pizza instead of barbecuing the pork. I also made some fated and strange tasting "buns" – firstly putting in salt instead of sugar and then finding that my new baking tray didn't fit in the oven and anyway they tasted YUK!We had several large drops of rain, but that was all. We walked up into the forest with lovely views down over the water to Ireland (S).

Wednesday 23rd July                                                                                                                                                           141 miles

 

We woke to an overcast morning with some light drizzle which had cleared by the time we left at 9.30.  We were very impressed with the drainage for dirty water on our actual pitch – the first time ever!

We drove on the adjacent Forest Drive and parked at the top and walked to Cloughmore – a huge rock perched on top of the hillside. It was warm and still and quiet and a steep walk both up and down with lovely views.

We returned to the Tiv at 10.30 and then stopped in Rostrevor and bought a few things in Spar before heading off into the Mourne Mountains, following the Valley at first, so that it didn't look very dramatic. At the Spelga Dam we stopped and ate our doughnut. It looked pretty wild and barren here. The water from this dam was for the Portadown area, not for Belfast, which is served by reservoirs in the adjacent Silent Valley. We drove there next, but it was a "tourist attraction" and feepaying and we saw no need of that, so retraced our steps. We did see the Mourne Wall.

We returned to the sea at Cranfield West, but this was occupied by a huge static caravan site, so we didn't stop long, but headed for Kilkeel. This was very busy and crowded. We took the road past the playing fields to the harbour where there were lots of fishing boats.

We headed up the coast on the eastern side of the Mourne Mountains and stopped for lunch at a picnic spot above the sea. We walked down some steps to the rocky shore then climbed back up to have lunch in the Tiv.

After this came Newcastle – which looked an attractive seaside resort as we drove through and around. We then drove up to Clough and round an inlet and back down through Ballykinler and then on to St John's Point, with ruins of an ancient church and then back up to Killough – an old-fashioned little place on the waterfront. By now it was raining and continued to do so for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

After this was Ardglas – another interesting waterfront place and like so many others here, bedecked with red white and blue – on the kerbstones and railings (painted).

This was one of the few signs that we were in Northern Ireland. Others were police stations surrounded by barbed wire fences – and called "Police", not "Guarda" as in Southern Ireland. Road distances were always given in miles not kilometres and there was more evidence of international road signs, instead of "cul-de-sac" for instance.

At Strangford there was a ferry across the bottom end of the Strangford Lough, but I decided that we ought to drive this distance around the Lough, which we proceeded to do, heading first for Downpatrick – we had been seeing signs to it from miles back – all roads lead to Downpatrick. Strangford had looked very quaint – a bit like Dartmouth – but would have looked better in the sun!

We didn't quite get into Downpatrick, but headed north up the western side of the Lough. We noticed how many picnic sites and country parks there were – obviously the playground for Belfast.

We took little roads towards Comber, trying to keep close to the Lough. Sometimes these were tiny narrow tracks with grass at the middle and at other times wide roads with the tourist look. The Ulster Way followed this way, but boringly for walkers seem to be all on roads.

Newtownards was at the northern end of the Lough – this was pretty boggled with going home traffic. We continued down the eastern side of the Lough – the road ran beside the water for much of the way. How lovely it would have been in the sunshine! Particularly lovely was the bit just before Portaferry.

We continued to Ballyquintin Point – the most southerly tip of this long peninsula. Just afterwards we stopped at Tara caravan site – a static site in a lovely situation right by the sea, but the rain came in good and proper for the evening, making it too wet to explore.

The owner was in the bath as we arrived and this pink figure appeared at the window! He gave us the key for the loo block and asked us to give it back when we paid tomorrow!

Thursday 24th July                                                                                                                                                           83 miles

 

It seemed to rain all night and was still raining in the morning. However as we finished breakfast at 10 o'clock, it stopped long enough for us to go for a walk along this wonderful bit of coast – all rocks and sandy coves. We passed a dilapidated house right by the shore and mused about its potential.

We returned to the Tiv at 10.45, washed up and set to leave just after 11 o'clock, but then we went to pay and it was 11.25 when Adrian said goodbye to the farmer! We are of the firm opinion that Northern Ireland is full of lovely, sensible, friendly people who can no more understand the "troubles" than we can.

We stopped at Cloughey and bought a few things in Spar, including half a bag of potatoes, as they always come in big bags. The lady happily split the bag for us.

It was now almost midday and the sea mist had come in. We drove through Portavogie, down round the harbour. It was very pro-British, with Union Jacks and red, white and blue everywhere (even flower beds).

A bit further on we stopped at a little Street market at Ballyhalbert, in a superb situation beside the sea. As well as stalls selling carpets and T-shirts there were hoopla stalls and you could even win a goldfish! One of the stalls sold small Union Jacks and red/white/blue sticks and shakers.

We drove back across to the western side of the peninsula to Grey Abbey. We stopped by the ruins of the Abbey (founded 1193).

It was picturesque, but didn't go in (entrance fee), as we were stopping at Mount Stewart a national trust property close by. It was drizzling when we arrived, so we sat in the Tiv to have lunch, overlooking the Strangford Lough. It wasn't raining as we walked into the gardens, but soon started. We sheltered a bit under trees – but then acted "Irish" and took no notice of it! It soon stopped. It was warm and humid and felt like a rainforest.

We looked around the gardens nearest the house – but didn't wander far into the extensive estate or have a tour of the house. We did walk up to "Temple of the winds" – a lonely tower copied from one in Athens in 1785. Again it had a wonderful location to the Lough. It was now warm and mostly sunny.

We left at 3 o'clock and drove back to the eastern side of the peninsula, passing Millisle, with lots of static caravan sites (mobiles here) to Donaghadee, a pretty little seaside town which absolutely dripped with hanging baskets and flowers.

The weather now deteriorated as we drove through Bangor and Belfast. It rained heavily and visibility was very poor. We were impressed by the road system and apart from traffic police looking as though they were stopping traffic at one point, there was absolutely nothing any different from any other town. In fact we were struck by the smartness and the neat and colourful flower beds in parks as we passed.

We followed round the coast to Carrickfergus where there was a fine Castle and where they were digging up the road to Island Magee, where we drove up the eastern side and stopped just after 5 o'clock at the plain open little touring site at the northern end at Brown's Bay, looking out over the Antrim coast north of Larne and we could sometimes see the Mull of Kintyre in the distance. We walked up to a little shop and bought a shandy and some Dulse – dried seaweed – a speciality? and very salty of course – and some honeycomb.

After supper we decided to go for a walk, as the rain had stopped. A beautiful evening followed, with the sun setting gloriously and wonderfully coloured skies of pink and turquoise.

We walked across the beach, but the sand was followed by rocks and seaweed and it was difficult to cross. We came back and walked over the hill to Ballylumford – a tiny row of cottages dwarfed by a power station and with a little harbour, facing Larne. We stood here and watched the sun going down.

Friday 25th July                                                                                                                                                                                      132 miles

 

A reasonable day with mixed sun/cloud. We walked on the beach in the other direction, before leaving at 11.00 am.

We drove back down the western side of Island Magee and then back up the coast to Larne, having now completed the coast of Northern Ireland. We drove right down to the docks at Larne and then turned inland.

We stopped in the Ballyboley Forest looking down over flat land to more hills – a lovely view. It was just gone 12 o'clock, so we decided to have lunch.

We then drove cross-country to Lough Neagh, reaching it at Cranfield Church (ruins).

There were lots of flying insects, and a height barrier kept us out of the car park, so we didn't stop long. On our return a man stopped us and got chatting. He was annoyed at the height barrier and asked us to ring the local council about it. Adrian told him it was a beautiful country, in answer to whether we were enjoying ourselves, but added that they just needed to sort out the troubles. At this the man's eyes looked sad and resigning.

We continued across this flat bit of land at the northern end of Lough Neagh, still in Antrim (five counties meet at Lough Neagh) then continued down the western side. At Coagh we took a photo of the red, white and blue loyalist banners – luckily as it turned out, as it was the last place we saw them.

At Ballyclog we stopped by the ruins of an old church and a delightful new church – grey stone and red and a slate roof and the long tall spire like a witch's hat.

We had now gone through County Londonderry and were in County Tyrone. At the next place we drove through – Stewartstown – there was an absolute absence of flags. The police station was very heavily barbed wired and there were letters IRA painted on the wall.

Not long after this was Dungannon, where lots of roads converge and it was very busy with people and traffic. The town was prettily decorated with bright flower beds and baskets but no sign of a union Jack. On the way out we passed a burnt out petrol station and house. It left us with a nasty feeling and bought the "troubles" home to us. Up till now, they hadn't seemed real.

Soon afterwards we stopped in a picnic area beside the busy A4 road – lots of both lorries and cars. We drove off just before 5 o'clock and turned off the road at Lisnaskea, where we stopped to go into a Spar supermarket. Soon afterwards we passed a horse-drawn caravan with lots of people dressed in strange clothes and some playing instruments. The vehicle contained lots of odd items.

We were hoping to camp in this area of Upper Lough Erne – there were one or two caravans symbols on the map, but we had difficulty in locating them. The area very much reminded us of Finland, being pretty flat with numerous lakes interspersed with land!

We finally turned off to a place where we could see some caravans. It turned out to be an activity centre called Share for handicapped and able-bodied. However, it did appear to incorporate a campsite – primarily we think for families with a handicapped member. There were also numerous chalets and houses. We enquired and were told that we could stay, but none of the staff were around tonight so we would have to pay in the morning.

I started writing the book while Adrian went to investigate facilities prior to us getting supper, but he came back and said "all change" – he had located a swimming pool - part of the centre and we could go in for £2.50 each (normal price for "outsiders" £4.50 each). We set off immediately – the pool was indoor and of a reasonable size and we both enjoyed a refreshing swim.

We came back and I quickly cooked supper, it now being 8 o'clock and we sat outside in the sun to eat it! It had turned into a beautiful evening, so we decided to get out the bikes (ideal flat country). Unfortunately the road we were near was very fast, and although not all that busy, it wasn't very pleasant cycling.

We managed to find a turn off to a lake and watched the sun beginning to set and after a bit of cycling around, came back to "our" bit of lake and a bit called Smith's Strand Beach, which was a picnic spot with a cinder path we could cycle around.

After viewing the setting sun again from here we returned to the Tiv to clear up and watch the beautiful red sky

Saturday 26th July                                                                                                                                                                       109 miles

 

After the beautiful evening it rained heavily in the night and was still raining in the morning, when we woke up late!

It had stopped by the time we left at 10.30. We took small roads across the area of Lough Erne. It was still very damp, with low cloud and poor visibility. What we could see was very green and verdant and pretty.

We came to what must have been the border – all we could see was the evidence of old road markings across the road. Nothing seemed very different as we continued through the Republic. I might have thought there would have been a feeling of relief at having left Northern Ireland, but as for most of the time, we were not aware of being anywhere with a problem, this wasn't so. We slowly became aware of bumpy roads, "yield" instead of "give way" and one or two other minor differences.

We stopped in Ballinamore and found a well-stocked Mace supermarket where we bought some rolls, a couple of beers and some meat. We didn't need much and hadn't much Irish money at that point, but just afterwards Adrian located a cash machine.

At Keshcarrigan we stopped at a quay on the Lough Erne/Shannon canal system and had lunch. This area would appear to be Ireland's answer to the Norfolk Broads.

We stopped at Carrick-on-Shannon and thought we were going the wrong way. The day had warmed and brightened considerably. We bought a "99" ice cream. "Softee" ice cream is found in lots of shops in Ireland.

The road to Ballyhaunis was straight and fairly wide, with very little traffic, so this was an ideal time for me to have a turn at driving. We went wrong again at Ballyhaunis – I seemed to get another mental aberration – or maybe I was noticing the fact that there were no flowers in the town at all (I wasn't driving then).

We continued through Claremorris (where Adrian bought me some beer) to Ballinrobe. Just outside here Adrian got some cheap diesel with two free glasses (good for the beer later).

From here we drove to Cong – on the piece of land between Lough Mask and Lough Corrib.

We quickly located the hostel/campsite and decided to stay there as they had facilities for washing clothes. We handed over a load for £5 and hope to collect it in the morning – this includes drying, the most difficult part of constant travelling, particularly in unpredictable weather.

However, the sun had now come out and we decided on a short cycle to the shores of the Lough and then a barbecue. It had turned a beautiful evening. We watched a French family with three children arrive and erect their tent.

At 8 o'clock we left to cycle into Cong. The sun was still warm. We passed Ashford Castle – the entrance looking impressive – against the blue sky. In Cong itself we investigated the Abbey ruins. These led to the river and Cong Wood. All looked great in the evening stillness. After a short cycle through Cong we came back to the path of the dry canal, which we cycled along. It felt like being on a disused railway.

On passing Ashford Castle we decided to cycle in. (In the morning we saw a £3 entrance fee for the Castle. It had once been the empire of the Guinness family). The grounds are enormous and immaculate – being used as a golf course – and very beautiful with lots of majestic trees. After some distance we came across the vista of the Castle itself in its exquisite setting with the Lough behind. Some people had arrived by boat from a trip on the Lough.

The path went on through the grounds and we cycled on through the tranquil beauty. Eventually the track came out to a small road in between fields of sheep. The clouds glowed pink and the scent of honeysuckle pervaded the air. We eventually came back to Cong and then to the campsite – arriving at 10 o'clock. It had been a lovely ride.

Sunday 27th July                                                                                                                                                                                 86 miles

 

The sound of a short, sharp shower woke us at 8.45, but the sun soon followed.

Adrian went to collect the washing – washed, dried and folded, and apart from the loss of one sock (we found it days later) an excellent job. We filled the tank with water and left at 11 o'clock.

We drove into Cong and bought some rolls in a supermarket. Cong is quite a touristy little place and was busy with a group of cyclists setting off. Nevertheless, it is very attractive.

 

Rush

Rosie in Kilbroney Park

Cloughmore

Ballyquintin Point

Grey Abbey

Sunsets at Brown's Bay and Ballylumford, after a wet day.

Adrian at Brown's Bay, Island Magee

We were very aware today of the wealth of wild flowers in the hedgerows – fuchsias (already mentioned), honeysuckle, purple cone flower in profusion, all contrasting with the cream fluffy astilbe. Also montbretia. It was very beautiful as we drove along the northern side of the Lough Corrib.

We were soon in the wonderfully distinctive Connemara scenery with its barren rocky hills and large amounts of water. After Naum we came across a flock of sheep on the road. The scenery was very barren – rocks just sparsely covered by grass.

After Maam Cross we stopped for lunch beside Oorid Lough. We made a hurried departure when a French family arrived in the car behind us and we could only reverse out.

We hadn't noticed any increase in traffic yesterday, but today – Sunday – there was a marked increase in the amount of traffic, despite being in a fairly remote area.

We stopped by "One of the finest craft shops in Ireland" but it wasn't open today! We turned south after Recess through very barren country occupied by sheep and with lots of little fast flowing streams and lots of peat.

We took the road eastwards, still a peat digging area and stopped here. Soon afterwards we passed a herd of cows on – the man had travelled a long way with them, as we had been behind him before we stopped!

We then stopped at Pearce's Cottage – a restored whitewashed and thatched roof cottage in a superb setting, just before the Rosmuck peninsula. Pearce was executed in 1916, but led the Irish in the riots against the British, so is held as a hero by the Irish people.

Increase in traffic?

Adrian asked the attendant at the cottage – a chubby faced but pleasant young woman – why so many cottages in Ireland were left derelict, with new houses built beside them. The answer is that you can get a grant to build a new house, but not to restore an old one. We hope that someone will soon come to their senses about this.

We had now got back to the point where we had stopped our "round the coast" last year – in fact on the exact day, we now carried on from there.

We drove round the peninsula next to Rosmuck. It was hilly, barren and peaty with lots of exposed rock. We stopped by a little seaweed encrusted quay. It was pretty remote, with just one little road going round, but it was dotted with isolated dwellings. There were wonderful views across land and water. Swifts (or martin's) swooped before us and some tiny birds – very light-coloured underneath, which we didn't know (may be wheatears).

We now drove across various islands connected by bridges to Lettermore Island and Gorumna Island, but were thwarted in our attempts to get to the last island – Letter Mullen – as there was a rowing race in progress – three boats each with three bare-chested men rowing like mad. Everyone had turned up to watch, and there were people and cars (even a coach) everywhere.

There was only one bridge to the last island and as we had to scrape past several cars already, we didn't relish getting stuck again! A race of old sailing boats was also in progress. It was strange to think of all these people in this remote place.

We returned across Gorumna Island and Lettermore Island back to the mainland. The signs for the races said welcome (Failte) Chuig.

We sum up this area as rock strewn wilderness with water everywhere. Lots of greenery, lots of fuchsias, cows, donkeys, rocks, stone walls and a sprinkling of dwelling places.

We drove a few miles to Carraroe where there was a windswept campsite overlooking the sea. We in fact drove a bit further on and got lost on the tiny roads so returned to the site – £6 per night and £1 for electricity. We decided to opt for this luxury (showers were 50p anyway) and used my iron for the first time in the Tiv and ironed a few things from this morning's washing that needed it.

We then went for a walk – first down to the adjacent tiny jetty, with a couple of Connemara boats, then along the road into the "town" which was full of young people. The bar offering "music every night" was silent and empty! On the way back we walked down to the shore of a little lake. We got back at 10 o'clock.

All the signs in this area are in Gaelic.

Monday 28th July                                                                                                                                                   61 miles

 

A reasonable morning which turned into a warm, sunny day. We left at 10.20 and firstly followed the signs to "Coral beach". We were not sure what we would find and when we got to the beach initially thought it was of course gravel, but then realised that it was in fact made up of broken coral. The setting was quite exquisite with clear turquoise sea and land and sea in all directions. There were a lot of wild flowers beside the road on the way there.

We drove back to Carroroe and stopped by the busy and thriving Spar supermarket (Spar shops everywhere here) and bought rolls and Danish pastries.

We continued around the Connemara coast, listening to Chris de Burgh's song of that name.

On the next promontory we came to Rossaveel and were surprised by the full car park, wide road and busy fishing harbour. We then realised that this is where the boats left from for the Aran Islands.

We were looking for somewhere to eat our pastries, but the roads were very narrow and as mentioned before, houses are dotted everywhere. The only available stopping places were in front of houses or piles of concrete slabs waiting to be houses. Eventually we stopped near Lough Baille opposite a small pond. The cakes were good, but it was now midday and we wouldn't be wanting lunch for a while!

We joined the main road to Galway. We had travelled on this road last year in terrible visibility. This time we were seeing it in sunshine. Last year I had written "we must return to Galway Bay". We couldn't have seen it in better light.

At Spiddle the coast road actually ran by the beach. We stopped briefly and walked on the beach, then visited a craft centre housed in several small bungalows. Adrian bought a nice T-shirt. A bit further on at Furbogh, the road again ran beside the beach. We parked at the side of the road (what joy!) I made up some rolls which we ate on the beach. It was breezy but warm and sheltered on the beach.

We lazed on the sand and watched at the children at play. I had a paddle. We had arrived at 1.45 and left almost an hour later. We had enjoyed revisiting Galway Bay.

We drove on and parked just before Galway and walked into this busy, bustling little town, full of shops and people and very "alive". The sunshine must have helped. There are lots of narrow streets, and lots of buskers and music makers. No "softy" ice cream though!

We bought some beer and whiskey and returned to the Tiv about 4.00 pm. We drove out of Galway joining the main road for a short distance before turning off at Oranmore to explore the headland there. It looked much less hostile than Connemara.

At one point the road ended in a private beach and on turning round Adrian unfortunately scratched the back of the Tiv.

We returned to the main road at Clarinbridge, then turned off almost immediately to explore the next area of coast. We passed a huge derelict windowless house covered in ivy. It looked very spooky.

We stopped by a little harbour and had a blowy walk and heard curlews. It would have been an ideal place to stop overnight, but high tide would come in the middle of the night and we were scared that it might be a "Cadiz job" i.e. that the tide might come in and turn us into a boat! The sea at this point was in all directions and it could have been rather scary.

Reluctantly we set off again and followed another little road down to the sea and stopped overlooking one or two little boats just before Kinvarra Bay. The nearest place seems to be called Mulroog.

A magical evening followed. It was breezy but not cold. We walked on a bit across the rock beach overlooking Kinvarra Bay. The little headland was covered with wild flowers. We counted about 20 different types here and on the beach, including the pretty blue harebells and eyebright.

We came back and I cooked supper. We thought of dear Mum Cape, who died exactly a year ago. It seemed fitting to be back here, where we were last year at this time.

We had heard the weather forecast, which predicted rain and gales. We could not believe it after such a lovely evening. The wind had now dropped and it was perfectly still. We got the chairs and sat outside to enjoy the atmosphere. There were three little boats in this tiny natural harbour and the local fishermen all came down to check their boats – they must have heard the forecast too.

We had read of the subtlety of colours in Connemara, but we certainly saw them here. We were in fact looking over to Connemara in the distance, but with Galway in front. As it got darker and we could see the Ferris wheel lit up and then the cathedral. We watched a heron and a shag on the rocks and in the water. The sea was creeping in slowly and silently, but the rocks were reflected perfectly in it, it was so still.

We heard a curlew call and a distant dog bark and children's voices carried across the air. We could see an ungainly horse – I thought it looked like a pantomime horse – and its little foal gambling on a hill beyond the water.

We watched clouds scurry across the sky. The sun had sunk into them but both the sky and the water reflected the turquoise and pink and the deep grey. Bats flew past as we reluctantly came inside 10.30, still looking at the colours of the sky and water. A curlew called.

Tuesday 29th July                                                                                                                                                                                   64 miles

 

The weather forecast was right – wind raged all night and the rain came in the morning. We sat in bed and finished reading this diary, which we had started reading last night. We left at 10.30.

We drove back to the main road into Kinvarra at the bottom of the long Kinvarra Bay. We stopped by the picturesque Dunguaire Castle. It was in a lovely setting, but still raining hard.

We drove along a long isthmus to Aughinish Island where there were a few houses and the road just stopped. We drove back to the isthmus to have lunch. It had now stopped raining and we stood on the inward facing shore for a while, watching the wealth of seabirds, notably two large herons (we had watched them before) and a curlew.

The rolls (crisped in the oven) were excellent for lunch. The tide came right in and all the bird's left. We left there at 2.15 by which time it was a nice day and the sea glimmered turquoise and aquamarine.

We made our way back to the main road for a short distance, then turned off on to the next headland and looked back to where we had stopped for lunch, but now with the intense blue sea.

We passed a tiny place called Newquay and stopped a bit further by a sandy/pebbly beach with clear water reflecting blue. A couple were in swimming. It was quite breezy. The scenery was like an extension of the Burren here, with its limestone platforms.

Behind us were some attractive thatched Irish cottages for self catering.

We stopped in Kinvarra itself where the few houses/shops vied with each other for which could be the most garish – gold, peach and puse! The first shop we went into didn't have much selection – we bought some eggs and some postcards. The second shop was unbelievable – a tiny dingy shop which smelled as if the candle had been just blown out. The little old lady sat behind the long counter. We looked around at the sparse shelves and were able to buy some rolls (the only pack) and a small loaf. The old lady added it up in her exercise book. I counted out the right money, but she tried to give me a penny change. She said it was a shame about the rain.

We drove down the peninsula to the west of Kinvarra Bay right down to the "pier", looking across to where we stayed last night. The sides of the narrow road were mauve with tall wild thyme or marjoram. We stopped for elevenses and Adrian got the map up to date. The heavy drizzle turned heavy rain, just as we were leaving.

We drove to Trought beach on the North of this peninsula where there was an impromptu caravan site, with caravans lined up beside the sea – many of them "Garage Mort" it didn't look at all attractive. The beach had brightly painted red and blue seats, but was devoid of people.

Passing Newtownlynch we came across a limestone pavement in a field. We realised later that this was an extension of the "Burren".

 

We tried to photograph white Swans on the dark pond in front of a "burren hill" but they wouldn't perform for us and stuck their heads in the water.

We joined the main road again near the village of Burren then continued westwards, coming down to the sea a couple of times – once by a Castle where some gaudily coloured houses had been built next to it and once where there was a pond by the sea. It was very blowy. We decided to head for the Burren, but in fact returned to the spot later.

We stopped at Ballyvaughan and bought enormous "99" ice creams from the service station for 40p each! (best value yet).

We drove up into the Burren from here and were amazed by the myriads of flowers growing amongst the limestone paving – a magenta coloured pink; a white orchid; and a lovely cream-coloured strawberry type flower with eight petals (avens); astilbe; thyme. Lots of other people were looking to. We happened to stop by a couple of megalithic tombs, so lots of people were coming to visit these.

We drove down as far as Leamaneh Castle, then turned west and came back via a smaller road to join the main road at Corkscrew Hill then back to Ballyvaughan and on to our earlier stopping place by the sea at Bishops Quarter.

We had beautiful views in all directions looking out across Galway Bay – we could just make out the coastline in the distance. The sun sent shafts down on to the sea. The "barren Burren" was behind us. I cooked supper and then we went for a bracing walk along the sandy and stony beach, fringed with sand dunes.

It was very blowy, but not cold. Curlews continued to call as, once again, we watched the colour fade from the sky.

Wednesday 30th July                                                                                                                                44 miles in Tiv (+7 miles walking)

 

The wind howled all night and the van shook. We slept little. Occasionally I could hear a curlew above the sound of the wind.

Consequently we were in no hurry to get up I finished reading my book about a family living in poverty in Liverpool in the 30's.

There were frequent squalls of heavy rain, interspersed with sun.

A man came down and had a long swim in the sea, which Adrian couldn't get over! We left at 10.20

We parked in Ballyvaughan and did some shopping – in Spar! We also bought pork chops from the butcher and some stamps and a leaflet on the Burren. The little town was crowded with people and cars. The wind was very strong but not cold.

We drove up to Aillwee Cave and parked (£1 for parking – a mistake!). We decided not to go in anyway for several reasons – 1. The price – £3.95 each 2. It was very touristy – coach parties and guided tour only 3. My claustrophobia. Anyway we have visited lots of caves.

We did stop here for elevenses – I had bought some espresso coffee and the most yummy maple and pecan nut pastry. We ate this with a good view of the Burren, before the Irish mist came down again.

We drove back towards Ballyvaughan. We had decided to go on a circular 7 mile walk in the Burren and thought it best to start with the steep part first, in case it proved too steep for me. We drove several times up and down the road looking for the start of a footpath. By now it was after midday, so we thought we had better have some lunch before we set off.

This we did and left about 1 o'clock.

We located the start of the walk. In fact this steep part was the best. After that we went across several fields, often full of cows and never signposted. At one time we came straight to a stone wall – it may once have had a stone stile, but not now.

We were disappointed never to be very near the flat limestone of the Burren, although we did see lots of flowers.

Adrian at the Pinnacle Well near the start of the walk

It started to drizzle heavily and we realised how lucky we have been on our walk.

A wee bit further on we stopped again for me to walk again on the limestone rocks, so rich in flowers, and here, devoid of people.

We drove inland through a bit called the Khyber Pass, to a quiet road with very little traffic. We stopped once more for me to walk in the remote wilderness.

We did a "U" drive inland and back, driving through a conifer forest then back through grassy fields surrounded by stone walls. We suddenly viewed the Aran Islands, highlighted by streams of sunlight through the grey sky – it looked very dramatic and magical.

 

The waves were crashing on the rocks as the road reached the sea. We then went through an area reminding us of the Valley of the Rocks and behind this we could see the tall steep Cliffs of Moher. We came to Doolin and had to decide which of the two sites to stay at. One was in a lovely location near the sea and looking across to the Cliffs of Moher. However the wind was very strong now and we still remembered last night!

After the field stretch, however, the rest of the way – 4 or 5 miles, was all on roads – Adrian's pet hate. The roads were not very big or busy, but they were still roads. We did pass a beautiful clear stream reminding us of the one in Frazer Island, Australia.

We were lucky in that the weather stayed dry and was ideal for walking, in fact even warm at the end. The last stretch was the worst – along the main road, where cars came in bunches of four or five. We got back to the Tiv about 4.30 and set off westwards.

The road immediately went round a sheer "head" on bare rock above the sea. Many people were fishing from here. We stopped at the actual head – Black Head – and walked over flat rocks to see the huge waves crashing against the rocks.

We settled on the other site, where it was supposedly sheltered, but still windy enough. A stream ran by and dippers swooped above it. We plugged into the electric and I got supper.

A great evening followed. We knew that this area attracted Irish musicians to its three pubs. We walked out in the cold windy air to one of them. It was packed tight with people reminding me of when we first saw Manfred Mann in Portsmouth or of Cowley Jazz Club. We bought a beer, but it was impossible to find a seat. We listened to a talented Irish group performing, but after a while, I knew that I had enough of standing.

Back in the fresh air and we walked the short distance to a second pub. This one wasn't quite so crowded and we soon got seats. The music was being played in a corner by a group of unassuming looking musicians. Unfortunately there was no amplifier so it was difficult to hear the music above the voices of all the people. Several were standing, which blocked our view.

The people in the pub were as international group as you could find – many German-speaking and maybe a few Irish amongst all the others. We got chatting to 3 young fellows – most particularly a 33-year-old Australian called Pete from Melbourne who was doing his "big trip". Back home he worked for the Forestry Commission, which he loved. The others were his brother and his brother's friend – an Irishman from Dublin (both called John). The two Johns had met while working for the Red Cross in Bosnia.

Around midnight the pub cleared a bit and we were able to get nearer to the music which was good. We particularly liked watching the deft movements of the Bodrum player.

We were amused by "Lonely Planet" – a chap looking like Mike Taylor/Art Garfunkel who carried the book of that name and periodically flicked through it. He had had too many beers and we wondered if he would get home! Just before 12.30 the bar lady chased everyone out, shouting "time". We got to bed about 1.00 am

Thursday 31st July                                                                                                                                                                    74 miles

 

It was still very windy. We slept well and I found it hard to wake up – an instant shower helped. We filled the tank up with the peat coloured water and left at 11.30 am.

We drove back down to Doolin Pier, pleased that we had not camped at the campsite there as it would have been a long windy walk to and from the pub last night – even the third pub of the three. It was pretty bleak and reminded us of Lundy. The boat arrived from the Aran Islands. Lots of people were waiting to board – we were glad that it wasn't us!

We drove back to the other part of the village and parked outside Gus O'Connor's (the third pub) and looked at the little row of tourist shops which has grown up here, including a shop selling Irish music and housed in an Irish cottage with a real cottage garden entrance.

We drove on to the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre (car park £1). The whole of Ireland appeared to have also come here – rather like at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. We were very disappointed in the visitor centre – it was really only a gift shop with a few leaflets, most of which you had to buy.

We joined to view the Cliffs of Moher with the other thousands of people. The weather wasn't the best – it was a howling gale and visibility wasn't good. Two separate musicians were braving the weather – a fiddler up near O' Briens tower (Adrian gave him a donation) and harpist Paul Dooley – we bought a tape of his delightful playing.

We returned to the Tiv at 1.40 and drove on little roads towards Hags Head, stopping for lunch in a track which ended in "no trespassers" (part of the Burren way). It was difficult to turn round here and visibility deteriorated. We continued after lunch to the southern end of this peninsula and saw the water foaming below the cliffs.

We continued round Liscannor Bay to Lehinch and soon afterwards took a small road, which was the wrong one and ended exactly at the sea.

After one or two more false starts we came down to the sea at Spanish Point where again waves were crashing up against the cliffs.

From Quilty we took the road to Lurga Point looking over to Mutton Island then continuing on small roads. At one crossroads at the end of a "loop", a gentleman stopped his car and kindly told us that the bar with the number plate attached to the bikes was falling off and dragging on the ground. We thanked him and fixed it. We continue south-westerly down this peninsula through Kilkee (bunged with traffic like most towns) and then followed the road beside the sea above more spectacular black cliffs rather like the Cliffs of Moher but more indented and without the people. The scenery here was unspoiled grassland devoid of houses. The aquamarine sea crashed in frothing white against the dark cliffs.

We drove right to the end of the Loop Head, stopping by a lighthouse and "no entry". We had come on roads of varying quality and the back of the van was thick with dust from an unsurfaced stretch.

We returned from Loop Head and soon reach Kilbaha Bay where we located a little harbour, which seemed a good place for us to stop for the night. The village of Kilbaha seemed to contain two pubs and a couple of houses plus a chap living in a caravan further back along the harbour. He said to stay as long as we liked.

After supper we investigated the two pubs. The first contained a few groups of uncommunicative people and was run by a woman slightly resembling Mum Cape. The television was on silently and music was being played on a cassette player. We had a beer here then moved onto the second, run by a pale faced worn out looking but more talkative woman. She asked if we were staying on the harbour – she'd seen us arrive she said. There were a few men in the bar (later a couple came in) and the floor was strewn with bits of rubbish. The woman handed us newspapers – one a week old to read. Back at 11.30

Friday 1st August                                                                                                                                                                               94 miles      

 

We left just after 10 o'clock on a damp and miserable morning. I posted a couple of postcards in the post office/shop/pub. We noticed all the vehicles transporting their milk to the depot and had to reverse some distance to let one pass.

The beach here was of almost horizontal slabs of rock looking like stone waves in reverse.

 

We drove through the pretty village of Carrigaholt which would have been enhanced by sunshine.

We stopped for elevenses at Querrin Point – an interesting spot of mudflats and sand with a grassy island and several birds and Irish mist (and a curlew).   

Next stop was Kilrush – a heritage town with a town trail and museums and big wide streets. I found it cold here but the sun was beginning to appear. We bought rolls from a traditional bakers then went into a new large size "Supervalu". We then tried to locate a petrol station and finally found three – all together.

We drove on to the harbour at Cappa Village and had lunch.

We continued eastwards along the northern end of the Shannon Estuary. The countryside was green, flattish, gentle, unremarkable and very English looking. The sun was often shining.

Near Shannon we telephoned Donal's parents (Simon's friend from university) and arranged to visit them later on today. We stopped by Bunratty Castle which was very busy with tourists. We looked into the couple of expensive tourist gifts shops but didn't go into the Castle or adjacent Folk Park.

We continued on our way through Limerick, which we remembered driving through last year in the rain and now with lots of traffic on this start of the bank holiday weekend.

We found our way without too much difficulty to Donal's parents house. We spent a very enjoyable evening with them, eating, drinking and talking and came back to the Tiv at 1.30 am

Cranfield Church Ruins

Coagh with its red, white and blue.

Ballyclog

Cong

Cycling on the dry canal

Ashford castle

Approaching the lough

Cong again

Looking down to the lough

Montbretia

Connemara

Pearce's cottage

The boat race near Gorumna Island

Carraroe

Rosie on the coral beach

Adrian on Furbogh beach

Galway

Kinvarra bay

    

Our cycle to Smiths Strand Beach in the setting sun

Dunguaire Castle

Limestone Pavement at Newtownlynch

Aughinish Island

The  Burren near Newquay

On the Burren

Our camping spot at Bishop's Quarter

On our walk

Black Head

The Burren near Black Head

Gravestones at the Kyber pass

The Aran Islands in the distance

Rough seas at Doolin

Gus O'Connors pub, Doolin

The Cliffs of Moher (note person on cliff in 2nd picture)

Harpist Paul  Dooley

Rough seas at Spanish Point

Our overnighter on the harbour at Kilbaha bay

Connemara boats resting at Cappa Village