Friday, October 19, 2012


        Okay, this is the day that I have been waiting for – my opportunity to see the majestic Cliffs of Moher.  I have seen the photos but I need to see it in person.  We have a fairly long tour planned from 8am to 5pm but I am ready.  With Maureen as our tour guide again and Paddy driving the bus, the tour begins.  It is supposed to cover the Cliffs and The Burren.   My camera is ready and the first photos are of Dunguaire Castle on our way to the Cliffs. It is located on rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay, near the town of Kinvara. Maureen explained that the “street’ comes first and then the village grew around the street. 

Soon after spotting the castle, we have our first comfort stop in the town of Ballyvaughan. My sister-in-law and I spotted a darling little tea shop, named “The Tea Junction”.  Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that my brother Danny and his wife Ginya joined us on the tour this morning.  After a cup of tea for me, and a cup of coffee for Ginya, the four of us visited a church in town – St. John the Baptist.  Hey, what can I say we love looking at churches?  I am thinking it is that Catholic upbringing!

Our bus ride then continued to Black Rock– where the Burren (limestone pavement with crisscrossing cracks) meets the Atlantic Ocean.  Well, it wasn't only raining here, it was very windy – you know the “Blustery days of Winnie the Pooh” kind of a day.  I was afraid I might be blown off the jagged rocks into the ocean before I even got to see the famous Cliffs of Moher!

From Black Rock, the bus driver drove us to the famous Cliffs of Moher.   It was raining there too, but nothing is stopping me from seeing those cliffs.  So, now I am beginning to look like those “weather reporters” covering an impending hurricane who look like they are going to be blown away at any time!

The Cliffs were majestic, the view awe inspiring!   Then miraculously the sun came out!  Okay, it is still extremely windy and my hair is a hopeless cause, but I take what I can get!  We decided to climb to the top of O’Brien’s tower.  It was supposedly built to impress female visitors.  I am totally impressed!! 

We got back on the bus and they drove us to the seaside town of Lahinch, which is on the Liscannor Bay in County Clare.  We ate lunch at O’Looney’s which is on the promenade and we could see the ocean from our window seat.  So, now a bit drier and full after eating lunch, I am thinking we are just driving back to Galway.  No, there is one more stop – okay, one sight to visit and another comfort stop!

Our next stop was Poulnabrone dolmen (a pre-historic tomb on the Burren).  It dates back to between 4200 BC and 2900 BC.  Wow, I am beginning to feel like Wilma Flintstone!  Excavations found the bodies of 16 to 22 adults and 6 children buried there.   Who knew these kinds of things even existed anymore?

One of the many things that I loved about Ireland was the food.  Yes, I thought I was going to hate it – Irish stew, mutton and lots of potatoes and it would be bland – but I loved that there is all kinds of food in Ireland.  So, tonight we went to a very nice seafood restaurant (and I do love seafood) called Martine’s in Galway.  Even though, the scallops with the asparagus risotto were tasty, the absolutely best part of the meal was the dessert!  I had read about “Banofee pie” and wanted to try it while I was in Ireland.  Tonight was my chance and I seized the opportunity.    With a sugar cookie crust, topped with slices of bananas and a big layer of whipped cream and then drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrup, the Banofee pie was utterly delicious!   It was a perfect ending to an exhausting but amazing day in Ireland!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I have been neglecting my blog for a month.  Not purposely, of course!  I think my life has been getting in the way of my writing.  Imagine that!  My daughter is back in her college dorm, my trip to visit my sister is over and now I am ready to think about all things Irish again!

          In my last post my husband Ron and I were having a lovely time in County Cork visiting the Blarney Castle, the port city of Cobh and of course the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.  But now it was time for us to join the guided tour in Dublin.  After an uneventful but enjoyable drive back to Dublin from Cork, we joined our wonderful tour guide Maureen from Anthony Travel.  While I really enjoy discovering places on our own, I find spending some time with tour guides of the native country to be very educational and time well spent. 

          Maureen was a delightful woman who knew so much about the history and culture of Ireland.  She and our bus driver Paddy had a great rapport.  Who else should be introducing you to the beauty and culture of Ireland but two folks named Maureen and Paddy?    Maureen taught us some words in Gaelic - “kell” means small church, “bock” means hill, “bally” means town, and the all important “mna” for ladies’ restroom.  She also taught us “cog mo thoin” which means “kiss my ***”.

          On our way to Galway, we saw strongholds that were built in the 15th century for the English landowners to protect themselves and their families from the natives.  There is about 1500 of them all over the country of Ireland.  We made a “comfort stop” (love their terminology!) in the town of Moate. Maureen explained that we would be there for 30 minutes so that we should feel free to have a cup of coffee.   Ron and I stopped visited briefly a church – of course, it was named St. Patrick’s – and took some photos.   

          After taking photos and needing a comfort stop, Ron had the idea we should stop in a pub – our first Irish pub!  So, of course, we walked into Bo Allen’s pub and ordered our first pint of Guinness on Irish soil.  The guidebooks were right – the Guinness tastes so much better here in Ireland!   We looked around in the pub and guess what?  At least 7 other people from our tour had the same idea.  We all agreed we could take our time drinking our Guinness because the bus wouldn't leave without all of us! 

Our tour continued on its way to Galway … we crossed over the Shannon River, the longest river in Ireland.   Houseboating on the Shannon is a popular way to “holiday”.  I think it would be awesome to visit all the little towns along the river.  Put that on my bucket list!  We also learned that the rock walls we saw all over Ireland are actually pieces of rock stuck one on top of the other.  There is no glue or cement holding it together.

After a 2 ½ hour trip from Dublin, we arrived in Galway and checked into the Galway Radisson Blu Hotel which is located across from the Lough Atalia.  Ron and I walked into town – about a mile or so – and with the help of a very thoughtful Irish young lady found Quay Street.  We ate dinner at McDonagh’s Seafood House.  Ron ate mussels (his starter plate was huge) and fish and chips (I think that is a prerequisite for visiting Ireland) while I enjoyed my salmon entree.   It was another wonderful day in the Emerald Isle!